The Russian ChTZ S-65 Tractor was in production from 1937 to 1941 and over 37,000 were produced. The majority of these were produced for the civilian market, but it is estimated 10,000 were used by the Russian military, serving as artillery tractors and heavy recovery vehicles in tank divisions. TheS-65 was not very fast, so needless to say many were captured by the Wehrmacht and put into service, mostly as artillery tractors. There are numerous photos of these tractors pulling multiple loads, so attaching an artillery piece and a limber or 2 in a diorama would not be unrealistic.
There seems to have been a few variations to the body of the tractor, from a full cab to no cab, and also some tractors were locally adapted to carry out specific tasks such as mine clearance. The best reference I can see for this tractor is “Tyagatshi – Soviet Full – Tracked Artillery Tractors of World War 2 in Red Army and Wehrmacht Service”. As a side note, Trumpeter are planning to release a full cab version of this tractor, and this PE set sits nicely between the 2 as it contains a sun/rain cover. While we’re talking about references, here’s a link to 216 image walk around or a tractor in a Russian museum that will definately come in useful: http://svsm.org/gallery/chtz-65
The packaging is the norm for this type of product. The 2 largest PE frets have a cellophane covering and are taped to a piece of black card. A separate sealed plastic bag, containing the smallest fret and the small piece of acetate, is also taped to the same piece of card. The card and 2 sheets of instructions are then placed inside a larger plastic bag with a header card stapled to the top.
The PE covers a few different areas of the tractor. It starts with replacing the 2 supports for the towing hitch platform and a 3 pointed star handle at the rear of the tractor. The support struts are made of 3 pieces each to give the lugs at the ends the necessary thickness. To complete the handle you will need a small piece of 0.4mm diameter rod. There are also 2 PE handles to aid in climbing up to the cab of the tractor that replace the plastic ones.
There are quite a few pieces of PE involved in updating the engine covers and radiator. There are 20 pieces used to replace the engine side covers, 8 per cover make the hinges, 2 handles per cover and then the actual vented covers themselves. The Trumpeter kits doesn’t have an engine, which is a bit remiss of them in my opinion. The tractor was very often operated with the side doors removed, so if you want to do this look for LZ Model’s resin engine for this kit. Trumpeter made a mistake in the lettering on the radiator and they have a couple of N’s when they should be the cyrillic version – which looks like a mirror version of an N. Also the letters at the top of the radiator are outlines, when they should be full letters. ET Models supplies a complete set of replacement letters, all 30 of them! You will need your optivisor for that one to make sure you get all the letters lines up. The front of the radiator is also replaced by 3 pieces and is a definite improvement, looking like a real radiator rather than a plastic rendition of one. Finally in this area 3 latches at the bottom of each grill are replaced by 2 piece PE latches.
The next area that is dealt with is the fuel tank. The kit comes with 2 PE fuel tank support brackets, but this set improves upon those 2 pieces and adds more pieces to this area. The 2 support brackets are each made from 2 pieces of folded PE and 3 pieces of angle iron are replaced by PE which is closer to scale thickness. The piece of acetate is used on the fuel tank to replicate guages and it is held in place behind a piece of PE.
The weather cover is not part of the Trumpeter kit, so this is made completely from PE. There are 4 uprights and 4 cross pieces. Two of the cross pieces are about halfway down the uprights, but the other 2 are at the top and have the required curve for the roof piece. With these curve pieces you can be sure that you have the correct bend on the roof before you start attaching things together.
The 2 mud scrapers, one per track, are replaced by PE and are much closer to scale thickness. FInally we move in the cab area. The handle to climb into the cab is replaced as is the latch and padlock for the storage area under the bench seat; yes, there’s a 1/35 padlock! Some of the finer pieces of the controls are replaced by PE. Finally 2 pieces of PE need to be bent to form tubes to replace the 2 pipes on the top of the engine.
This set dramatically improves the level of detail on the Trumpeter kit and is highly recommended.
Review sample graciously provided by ET Model http://www.etmodeller.com
ET Model is based in Shanghai China and produces aftermarket photo etch and resin detail/upgrade sets.