Today, most modern model kits will have Link to Link tracks instead of the old rubber bans style, that we all grew up on. Some people love them, others hate them. Personally, they don’t bother me, but I do like to keep the tracks and road wheels separate, to make the painting and weathering process is cleaner. Since I love to work mostly in 1/48 scale, this becomes a chore in many ways. Following the steps below however, can make the process simple and easy and you will be able to keep the tracks and road wheels separate. For this demonstration I used Tamiya’s excellent 1/48 Scale Panzer III Ausf. N.
1. The first thing I do is cut the parts I need to run the first part of the track from the runners. I always start with the bottom track, go forward and over the drive sprocket. As you see below, I have cut out the parts and cleaned them. I then placed them in the order that I will glue them. Make sure your tracks are facing the proper direction of movement.
2. The next step is to glue the tracks together in two parts. First, I glue the bottom run together and then I glue the part that will go over the drive sprocket. I use Tamiya Extra Thin Glue (green top). This glue takes a bit longer to dry, so it gives you more time to form the tracks around the wheels and sprockets.
3. After I glued the two sections of the bottom and sprocket run together, I immediately turn the track run on it side and glue the sections together. Once this is complete, I leave the tracks on their side and let them dry for about 8 to 10 minutes. As they dry, I cut the upper portion of the track off the runner and clean this up. This usually takes the right amount the time I need for the glue to dry. As you can see below, the track is on its side and all sections for the front are together and drying.
4. After 8 to 10 minutes of drying, I take the tracks, place them on the tank, roll them up and over the drive sprocket and then connect them to the upper piece of the track. During this stage make sure to not glue the tracks to the kit. You want to be able to remove them from the kit to paint and weather.
5. As the tracks dry, I cut the rear section of the track and clean them up. Once clean, I will glue this together as an individual section, as shown below. Once you have waited 8 to 10 minutes, you need to attach the track section to the other already on the kit. Do not glue them together. Once on the kit, form the tracks over the rear idler wheel and make sure the length and sag are correct. To keep these parts together, I use Tamiya tape to hold them until dry. As a reminder, this section will not be glued to the other until painting and weathering are complete. As you can see from the picture below, I have placed the rear section of the racks on the kit to form the arch in the tracks. I have also placed a piece of tape over the section to hold them together in the drying process.
With the glue dried I remove the rear section of track and place it to the side. You can see that this action has achieved the desired curl on the track.
6. With the rear section of track not glued, as shown in picture one, you can remove the run of tracks and paint and weather them seperatly. In picture two I have fitted the two track sections together (not glued), to show the fit of the completed track.In the third and finale picture below you can see that the tracks on the tank. You now have a set of tracks that fit the tank and show the correct sag and best of all you can remove them to paint and weather.
I hope you find this helpful when you decide to tackle your next set of Link to Link tracks.