Read & Reviewed: Nuts & Bolts Vol.29 Raupenschlepper Ost “RSO”

Raupenschlepper Ost (German: “Caterpillar Tractor East”, more commonly abbreviated to RSO) was a fully tracked, lightweight vehicle used by the Wehrmacht in World War II. It was conceived in response to the poor performance of wheeled and half-tracked vehicles in the mud and snow during the Wehrmacht’s first autumn and winter on the Soviet Front. The RSO was contemporary with somewhat similar Allied full-tracked small artillery tractors in use in other armies (such as the Soviet STZ-5 “Stalingradec”, and the U.S. Army’s M4 Tractor), mostly originated from the pre-war light to medium series of Vickers artillery tractors. Two variants of this vehicle were built: the basic cargo carrier, and a self-propelled antitank vehicle armed with a PaK 40 gun. Both shared the same chassis.

Approximately 23,000 RSO of all versions were produced by Steyr (2,600 pcs), Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG (KHD; 12,500 pcs), Auto Union’s Siegmar plant (former Wanderer; 5,600 pcs) and Gräf & Stift (4,500 pcs).

From the publisher’s website:

  • Volume 29: Raupenschlepper Ost – RSO
  • by Volker Andorfer, Anthony J. Greenland
  •  published on December 15, 2012
  • softcover
  • german & English texts
  • 176 pages
  • 375 photos (166 historic, 21 model, 188 modern)
  • 50 blueprints
  • 16 camouflage schemes, tactical markings, table of organization (KStN)
  • Available for €29.90 from the Nuts & Bolts website.

With the revised section of Volume 9, published in 2010 we brought up to date the 7, 5 cm Pak 40/4 auf gep. Selbstfahrlafette Raupenschlepper Ost RSO. This included new drawings, additional historical photos and text; and assisted those modellers who purchased the new Dragon kit 6640. However under 100 vehicles were produced, whilst it’s sisters the RSO/01 and /03 saw over 27,000 units manufactured. With a vast amount of information and Lutz Konetzny’s outstanding historical photos, the team decided this was an essential addition to the series. With an outstanding historical section, supported by museum vehicles, scale drawing and accurate camouflage renditions we are confident that this will be one of our most popular issues. This issue should also be especially welcome for the AFV modeller, as Dragon have now released their RSO/01 & 03 kits.

The texts are in English and German with the English texts on the left of the page and the German on the right. All images and photographs have captions in both languages. The English translation is excellent. Now, let’s take a look at the book to see what we get.

  • Introduction and development page 2
  • Opel versus SS page 4.
  • General construction page 6
  • technical construction page 8
  • technical data page 12
  • the Maultier in service page 14.
  • Unit strengths, page 16.
  • Summary page 29
  • Maultiers in 1/35 page 22
  • list of models, page 24
  • contemporary photographs, page 27
  • 1/35 scale drawings page 96
  • colour plates page 121
  • modern photographs, page 129
  • the model builds page 155

This volume of nuts and bolts was published in 2011, so the information about models is still pretty relevant. The book contains 160 pages on glossy paper.

This vehicle came about because of the appalling road conditions in Russia. It was quickly realized that the existing German trucks just could not deal with the deep mud in spring and autumn. A simple upgrade to the trucks was to replace the rear axle with tracks.

The book starts by explaining the development of this type of vehicle and the different variants that were developed. The variants were based on different trucks but were all pretty similar, apart from the Mercedes truck, which was a much larger truck altogether and had different running gear, namely that of the Pz II.

Initially, there were two suggestions for the trucks that should be used from Opel and the SS. Even though the Opal design seems to be better the SS design went into production. The book covers the technical construction of each of the trucks that were used, the 2 ton Opal, Ford and Magirus and the Mercedes 4.5 ton truck. There is a large table, giving the technical data of these trucks.

In active service, these trucks proved their worth and we used for transporting ammunition, towing, transporting troops, pioneer equipment and as a Red Cross vehicle with a cabin on the back. The vehicle predominantly saw action on the eastern front but could be seen throughout Europe. The book contains tables showing which units have how many of the different types of the vehicle along with the unit organization.

There’s also a list of models that existed in 2011 of the various vehicles and a description of the pros and cons of the more common kits.

Page 27 starts the contemporary black-and-white photograph section of the book, which starts right back at the beginning with the prototype tracked running gear produced by Opel. It then methodically goes through all the variations of all the trucks and the explanations are clear throughout, so you know what you are seeing. These photographs would be ideal for dioramas and show the multitude of tasks that these vehicles were put to. There are approximately 222 black-and-white photographs in this section.

Starting on page 96. There are 78 3D drawings of many types of the vehicles. These are useful in making sure that you have everything in the right place. Following this section are 16 camouflage schemes in colour based on black-and-white photographs seen earlier in the book. Then finally there are 86 modern colour photographs of vehicles in museums. This section of the book shows parts of the vehicles that you wouldn’t normally see in. Black-and-white photographs, such as in the cab and the underneath of the vehicle.

The book finishes with some detailed notes on some builds and conversions of models of these vehicles.

If you’re going to model one of these vehicles. This is the only reference book will need. It covers all the variations that are used for transporting and towing and gives multiple examples of their use.

I have bought several books direct from the publisher at Nuts & Bolts.
Many thanks to Nuts & Bolts for supplying this review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor

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Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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