Vehicles from M113 family are used by many armies throughout the world in many variants. Initially most foreign users of these US designed vehicles used original American design T130 tracks, but experience showed that they had several flaws. The tracks wore down relatively quickly mainly because of their single pin design and also small rubber shoes wore down fast. The solution came from German Diehl company in the form of Diehl 213 tracks. They had big rectangular rubber blocks and unlike US tracks were double pin design, what extended their life. These tracks were used for years by most foreign users of M113 family vehicles. Diehl 213 tracks are available in 1/35 scale among others from AFV Club. Recently however Diehl introduced improved version of their tracks for M113. New tracks were designated 513B and feature wider links, larger rubber blocks and smaller link connectors. New tracks were so far adopted for use by German Bundeswehr and also Australian and Danish armies. Perfect Scale are the first manufacturer to offer Diehl 513B tracks in 1/35 scale. These individual link tracks are made from grey resin and come with matching drive sprocket wheels and two pairs of spare links cast integrally with mounting brackets.
The set comes in the surprisingly big cardboard box filled with styrofoam chips. Between these chips hidden is folded instruction sheet and a small zip-bag with all resin parts. We get 150 track links and instructions show that 66 are needed for each side of the vehicle, so there are some 18 spare individual links included. Each link is cast integrally with two end connectors and is attached to the resin casting block (7 or 8 links on each block). Link is connected to the block only along the thin edge and can be very easily snapped off from it without using any tools. Once the link is free from casting block a few touches with sanding stick complete the cleanup. Drive sprockets, each cast in two halves, require slightly more work, as each tooth must be cut off from the casting frame but it is also very easy.
Instructions show how to put sprocket wheels together and on a couple of diagrams display layout of tracks on wheels. Basic guidelines for painting tracks are also included.
The casting quality is very good. There are no air bubbles on track links and they are cast very cleanly with no flash. Spare link pairs are also bubble free, although the quality of casting is just very slightly worse, as the details particularly near end connectors are not so crisp. These parts are still useable, but if someone feels that it is a problem we get enough extra individual links to replace those spare links with better cast ones (scratchbuilding of brackets should be very simple task). Sprockets are cleanly cast, although there are two air bubbles in parts in my sample - nothing that a drop of gap-filing super glue couldn't fix though!
The assembly of track is a simple process and links fit each other well, although it is a loose fit. This means that the glue has to be used immediately as otherwise there is nothing to keep links together. The fit of actual link blocks around drive sprocket is very good, but unfortunately the end connectors don't looks very good, as they don't follow the curvature of the wheel. This is unfortunately a flaw of all individual link track sets with connectors molded as part of the link. In case of M113 the problem is more visible, because drive sprockets and idlers are quite small. The only way to solve this problem is to cut off the end connectors and reattach them at correct angle.
When I examined the Perfect Scale track for the first time I quickly noticed one interesting detail. There is a small circular depression cast on the inner side of each end connector, but no corresponding pins are present on the links to fit into these depressions. Such pins would make the assembly much easier as track links could be kept together with them and could even remain workable. Unfortunately such way of connecting links would make the fit of tracks around sprocket and idler wheels even worse, and this is probably the reason why Perfect Scale didn't add pins to links.
I compared the shape of track links and sprocket wheels in Perfect Scale set to photos of real things and it looks like parts are quite accurate. Maybe only guide horns could be slightly thinner as they are too wide at the base now (it can be corrected with the sharp knife if anyone really wants to do it on 132 track links...). The teeth of sprocket wheels are a bit too long, but it should be easy to correct with a knife and sanding stick.
Perfect Scale tracks are very well cast and quite accurate. Very minor inaccuracies can be easily corrected if someone feels it is necessary. The cleanup of parts is very simple and assembly also shouldn't cause many problems, although the very loose fit doesn't help. The set is essential for modelers building modern German, Danish and Aussie M113 models.
Many thanks to Gerold Betzler of Perfect Scale Modellbau for the review sample!
Perfect Scale Modellbau products are available directly from their website: Perfect Scale Modellbau.