.: Bob Williams' Italeri Steyr RSO/1 Raupenschlepper Ost (Tracked Tractor East)

Italeri #227
Modelling Time:
many Bob hrs
PE/Resin Detail:

"I bought this quite old kit at a recent swap'n'sell at a fraction of the cost of a newly released kit of this vehicle (Dragon).
This kit was an easy build, thanks partly to the one-piece vinyl tracks,
rather that the hated, ridiculously time consuming, separate links of the Dragon kit. I find the vinyl tracks perfectly adequate, particularly if the vehicle is going into a diorama. "

Bob's rant - you may 'just' have gathered that Bob's not keen on building tracks, link by link!!!.......RjT

Raupenschlepper, Ost

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Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO)
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-203-1696-25, Albanien, Raupenschlepper Ost mit Kanone.jpg
RSO towing 105 mm howitzer
Type Prime mover
Place of origin  Nazi Germany
Weight 2,5-3 t
Length 4.425 m
Width 1.99 m
Height 2.53 m
Crew 2 (including Driver assistant)

Armor None

Steyr V8 3.5l / 8-cylinder Petrol/ 85 hp (RSO/01)

5.5l / 4cyl Deutz diesel / 66 hp (RSO/03)
66/85 hp
Suspension Fully Tracked
300 km
Speed 30 km/h (18 mph)

Raupenschlepper Ost, literally "Caterpillar Tractor East", is more commonly abbreviated to RSO. This fully tracked, lightweight vehicle was conceived in response to the poor performance of wheeled and half-tracked vehicles in the mud and snow during the Wehrmacht's first winter on the Soviet Front. The RSO may have been inspired by very similar full-tracked small tractors in use in other armies (such as the Soviet STZ-5 "Stalingradec", and the U.S. Army's own M4 Tractor), mostly originated from the pre-war light to medium series of Vickers artillery tractors.



After the Wehrmacht's first fall and winter (1941–1942) on the Russian front, they found that the extremely primitive roadways in Russia and seasonal mud required a fully tracked supply vehicle to maintain mobility. Steyr responded by proposing a small, fully tracked vehicle based upon its 1.5-tonne truck (Steyr 1500A light truck) already in use in the army. The vehicle was introduced in 1942 as the Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO).

Initially designed as a prime mover and artillery supply vehicle, it eventually served in a wide variety of roles. Immediately after the vehicle reached the Eastern front, the combat units started using it for general transport duties. It gave outstanding service due to its reliability, its ease of maintenance, and its capability to take over a variety of roles - in every kind of terrain - that other vehicles lacked. The four road wheels per side, all in a single line as part of a "slack-track" system with no return rollers, comprised a much simpler suspension system, much more able to handle the rasputitsa mud season and Russian winter conditions, without mud or snow freezing between the wheels of the complex overlapping/interleaved Schachtellaufwerk suspension systems that German half-track vehicles like the SdKfz 7 possessed. Soon the orders for the RSO surpassed Steyr's production ability, and more manufacturers joined the vehicle's production in order to meet the ever increased demands.


The original version had a pressed-steel cab with a truck-like configuration similar to the wheeled trucks. The next two versions - RSO/02 and 03 - had a simpler, soft-top, slab-sided metal cab. All models had wooden, drop-side cargo beds typical of light trucks of the era. It had an impressive ground clearance for its size of 55 cm and was originally powered by a gasoline Steyr V8 cylinder engine of 3.5 l giving 85 hp, which in the RSO/03 Magirus-produced vehicles was replaced by a superb (although of lower power -66 hp-) Deutz diesel air-cooled engine.

A Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO) in service just before the Kursk offensive in Russia

The later model used a Cletrac-type final drive (instead of the automotive-type differential unit used previously) along with many other improvements. The engine was mounted on the floor of the driving cab with the drive taken through a single plate clutch to the transmission. The transmission had four forward gears and one reverse. The suspension consisted of four large pressed-steel disk wheels on each side, mounted in pairs with elliptic springs. Steering involved upright steering levers to four hydraulic brakes on the sprockets and idlers. A spring-loaded pintle was fitted at the rear, and towing hooks were fitted in the front. It had a speed of about 30 km/h.

Thanks Wikipedia!

Click on each image for a closer look

Box art:

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