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In-Box Review
Fruilmodel Diehl D139E2 Tracks
Fruilmodel Leopard 1 Tracks (Diehl D139E2) ATL-158
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by: Michael Shackleton [ MSHACKLETON ]

This project has taken quite a long time. I approached Fruilmodel eighteen months ago with the idea of developing the initial production tracks for Leopard 1. Having just visited Koblenz in July 2013, where they have a wall display of the all of the different tracks developed during Leopard 1 development, I came away with lots of photographs and measurements. One of my favourite Leopards is the very first production batch Leopard 1– possibly the purest Leopard of all. I started modelling a long time ago, apart from cheating by using a set of AFV Club M26 tracks which are too wide and not strictly the correct pattern, what was I to do about those early tracks? It is true that Perfect Scale Modellbau produce resin individual link D139E2 tracks, and I did try to use them, but I found them horrible to work with, too delicate, poorly engineered, and with an incorrect chevron pad pattern, my apologies to Gerold!

Armed with my photos and measurements I thought I would try to persuade possibly the best - and certainly the most well-known model track producers around. Well, he we are with a result!

On their box top Fruilmodel rather inaccurately describe these tracks as Vorserie (first series)/Prototype tracks granted that Series 0 (the final 50 pre-production series) used them, but there is no available kit of this beast.
Most usefully, these tracks represent the first production type which, as I say, have not been accurately represented in 1/35 scale until now. The Diehl D139E2 followed the same pattern that had been used on all American main battle tanks from the M26 through to the M48. The D139E2 was made up from 84 links on each side, the tracks were faced with non-removable chevron-shaped rubber pads held together by rubber bushed end connectors and centre guide horns.
By coincidence, Live Resin have also recently released a clip-together set of the same tracks in resin Review Here Live links and Revell are set to release an early Leopard 1 kit later in 2015, so it appears that we now have plenty of choice where there was little choice before. The Revell tracks on the test shot they showed at Nuremberg Toy Fair are vinyl, of course, so many modellers will appreciate this easier alternative.

D139E2 tracks were used on all four initial production batches for the Bundeswehr and some export versions, notably those used by the Dutch Army. The Dutch used these exclusively throughout the life of their Leopard 1NL, Leopard 1V and their special purpose vehicles. Even when Chile bought stocks of ex-Dutch Leopard 1V, these tracks were still in use in the 2000s, though some were replaced with the more common D640 more recently.
Inside a small cardboard there are three stapled plastic bags, a coiled length of wire and two small instruction sheets. Compared to the Live Resin tracks, the Fruilmodel package is quite weighty as the individual links are beautifully cast in white metal. Why three bags? There are individual bags for each side (though the links are identical) and a third smaller bag with links with angled end connectors. Here we can have NO complaints about the connectors not looking right because they are all cast in a straight line! Also included are white metal sprockets with the correct early eight-bolt hub and circular central guide.

Comparing them to measurements I have, they are bang on even though the chevron blocks do look quite deep. In reality they were deep as they were expected to have a long life. The detail on the end connectors is very nice with the correct hollows between the pins, and the base of the track guide even has the correct detail. Overall 10 out of 10 for accuracy.
They are very cleanly cast, only a very small amount of clean up is needed and the instructions advise that the holes should be cleaned out using a 0.5 mm drill. This is the work of a moment, so don’t be psyched out about it. I put a small length together as can be seen in the photographs without any clean up, so you can see how clean the casting are.

Only 3.5 mm of wire is needed to join the links, one piece into either side. The wire DOES NOT go all the way through. After drilling out the holes, take the uncut wire loop and push fit the wire through the end connector into the trackpad behind. Snip off the wire as close as possible. I used a plastic sprue cutter which worked perfectly – the wire is soft and won’t damage your cutters. Repeat on the other side. Add a tiny spot of super glue to prevent the pin from falling out. With careful gluing, the tracks remain workable and will not fall apart – one advantage of metal over plastic or resin tracks.
With the sprockets being supplied with the kit, there are no worries at all about the tracks fitting the kit sprockets. Do the angled connectors from the small bag work? Yes, they do!

The only problem might come when fitting the last link to your model where the track might be a little loose or a little slack. You will have to use your modelling ingenuity to make the idler adjustable as Leopards have no slack in their tracks at all.
It has taken a while, but now we have two alternatives both high quality D139E2 tracks first from Live ResinFruilmodel. Which is best I think depends on the modeller’s preference for which medium the links are made of, the advantage of the Fruilmodel tracks is that the sprockets come with the tracks and they have the correct hubs (neither of which the Live Resin set have). They also fit together tighter with less of a gap between links, so I have given them an extra 5% over the Live Resin tracks.

Many thanks go to Guiseppe Puppato of Fruilmodel for designing and supplying the sample tracks.
Highs: Very accurate, easy to assemble
Lows: None noted
Verdict: Fruilmodel have produced a fine set of highly accurate tracks with the inclusion of the drive sprockets
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: ATL-158
  Related Link: ATL-158
  PUBLISHED: May 07, 2015

Our Thanks to Friulmodel!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Michael Shackleton (mshackleton)

Graphic designer by trade, military vehicle enthusiast by choice. Wrote Leopard 1 Trilogy and Tilly Colours and now runs the Tilly Register - opposite ends of the MV spectrum! Also runs Leopard Club, Scorpion Miniature Models and Trackpad Publishing

Copyright ©2021 text by Michael Shackleton [ MSHACKLETON ]. All rights reserved.


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