"Polished" Desert Tracks

Even with color pictures available, it’s still confusing. How do you get tracks properly “polished” by desert sand without overdoing it?

Go gently as in light drybrushing. Would pix from arab-israeli contests help? I just don’t know who may have had all metal tracks in recent or more modern desert conflicts. Hey you guys who have been there, what do you say?

The tracks do get “polished” in modern desert ops. It is a dark, but shiny grey color. You can see it below.

I paint them black, then lightly drybrush with a gunmetal color.


Thanks Gino. I can just barely make it out on the picture you sent. Just the outer tangs. I was thinking about if it would be different with all metal tracks as in WWII? And would it look different after travel over hard rocky ground vs sand vs macadam?

Not with this…


I like the powdered graphite route.

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I did experiment with painting some model tracks with a base of Humbrol Gunmetal. Perhaps OK as an underlayment, but every picture I see of any metal tracks show some sort of lighter shade for the surfaces that actually rub against the ground. So where do I go from here?

It depends on the type of track and to some extent on the environment.
Some will get polished to a bright shine and some will be dull like the tracks
on the Bradley above.
Finding photos is the best way. Check the thread about armour in Ukraine for
some examples. Random photo from the internet:

Don’t know where, don’t know when but check out the polished edges of the rims
on the road wheels. Maybe the inside of the guide horns are polished too.
Doesn’t show in the photo though.
Some shine on the wear surfaces of these tracks:

The inside surfaces of Leopard tracks, where the rubber of the road wheels polishes them, can get polished almost to a mirror shine …

The last picture is a little deceiving. I believe the vehicle is on display and that the vehicle was driven for a short distance on asphalt or concrete to polish the edge of the track. Notice that nowhere else is shiny.

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Indeed. Just shows that photos of vehicles from a similar situation need to be used.
The intention with the last image was to show that those tracks do get polished on the
surfaces rubbing on the ground. The unpolished surfaces can be rusty or dark even when
the wear surfaces are shiny and bright.

Thanks. Though I have a picture book of Desert Storm vehicles, most of them are parked or abandoned, and I wanted to show one in motion.


What works well are some of the metalic paint you can rub and polish.

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Find a local construction site and take a look at any of the tracked vehicles (bulldozers, excavators) and the wear will be similar.

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