|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
It iThe mud, snow and ice that prevailed on the Eastern Front were tremendous impediments to travel and mobility. This was especially true because of the poor condition of roads in Russia. To help solve the difficulty that wheeled and half-tracked vehicles had in negotiating the terrain, Germany introduced the Raupenschlepper Ost, which literally means “Crawling Tractor – East.” The RSO was introduced specifically for mobility on the Eastern Front, and it typically served as a prime mover. The fully tracked chassis ran on a running gear of four steel wheels either side. Latterly, the RSO’s mission expanded because of a severe shortage of antitank platforms. Thus, the RSO was eventually fitted with a 7.5cm PaK 40/1 antitank cannon. To facilitate its new function, the driver’s compartment at the front was replaced with a lightly armored superstructure.
However, the weapon system overall was very vulnerable to enemy fire, despite all its advantages of mobility in treacherous terrain. The first such systems were fielded for evaluations by Army Group South in 1944, though full-scale production never really began. Instead, a mere 60 such antitank vehicles were produced out of a total of 23,000 RSO vehicles.
When one opens the box, one can see that this is not a huge kit. Looking at the box art shows that this isn't a large vehicle. However, it is large in terms of detail. Of the 460 parts, a quarter of them have to be part of the individual track link suspension. Then the kit has a complete engine and detailed chassis. This detail extends to the PaK 40 gun and the complete driver's compartment, so you are definitely getting a lot for your funds. You'll find few options on this one aside from being able to mount the gun in the fighting or travelling position and there are some areas where one can substitute plastic bits for photo etch ones. I'll let Dragon cover the rest.
- Hand wheels included on new gun mount tooling
- Newly designed circular base plate w/molded locking holes and pin
- Delicate and realistic new engine provided
- True-to-scale gun shield w/newly produced armored plate
- Brand new Magic Track
- Two types of travel lock included
- Cannon can be freely posed at different angles
- Connecting bracket for gun mount
- Vertical brackets for mounting circular base plate
- One-piece chassis and upper hull w/accurate thickness and details
- Accurate lower hull
- Fine pattern molded on base of tanks
- Detailed control panel for driver's compartment
- Two seats for gun platform included
- Detailed fighting compartment realistically produced
- Gearbox accurately replicated
- Side wood panels can be opened/closed for travel or combat
- Detailed suspension included
- Delicate road wheels
- Separate road wheels w/photo-etched details mounted in pairs
- Detailed flatbed realistically presented
- Ammo storage accurately depicted
- Accurate bolted-on two hook
- Transmission realistically presented
- Workable gun breech
- Three kinds of 3-D designed muzzle brake option
- Gun shield w/photo-etched detail
- Muffler w/exhaust pipe accurately produced
- Ammo case is included
As usual, Dragon's instructions are superbly drawn and provide a lot of smaller detail sections. There are markings for seven vehicles in the instructions, most of them from the popular 'Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front'. Two of them are identified as Pz. Jg. Abt 152, 1.Ski. Jg. Div. , Eastern Front in 1944. The small decal sheet may go unused as most have no distinguishing markings aside from camouflage.
Another fine and somewhat unusual kit from our friends at Dragon. One wonders when they will run out of subjects, but I bet it won't be for a long time.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get it at your usual haunts.
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