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Testors 1/35 Steyr RSO/1 Battle Tractor Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review February 2008 Manufacturer Testors
Subject Steyr RSO/1 Battle Tractor Scale 1/35
Kit Number 813 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat German soft skin vehicle Cons Not told what units markings are for. No crew figures or cargo load provided
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


When Germany first invaded Russia, the Wehrmacht transport system consisted primarily of horse-drawn wagons and light trucks. The long distances to be covered, coupled with adverse weather and terrain conditions soon proved the inadequacy of this system. During the summer months the Russian steppes became a choking dust bowl. During spring the roads turned into great quagmires of impenetrable mud. The Wehrmacht immediately drew up specifications for a new type of transport truck which would be more able to deal with these problems.

The RSO (Raupenschlepper Ost or Tractor East) was designed in 1942 by the Steyr Werks of Austria. Requirements demanded that it be simple to produce and easy to maintain. The fully tracked running gear gave the RSO excellent cross-country ability and the fully enclosed, heated two-man cab provided crew comfort in cold weather. The Steyr V-8 engine was situated between the crew seats on a sturdy box monocoque chassis.

Over 27,000 RSO tractors were produced in three different versions by Steyr, Klokner-Deutz-Magirus, Ulm Graf und Stift, Wein, Auto Union, Wanderer, and Siegmar. Although designed primarily for carrying cargo, the RSO was often used as a prime mover for towing light artillery pieces such as the Nebelwerfer (Testor kit No. 782 at one time) and the Pak 40 (Testor kit No. 857 once). The RSO served on all fronts and was popular with the German troops.

The kit came in Testor’s signature bright orange end-opening type box, that they marketed many of the Italeri kits in. This box contained a cardboard tray, that snuggly fit the outer box. The box art is an actual photo of the RSO/1 built up and sitting on a modeler’s bench amidst paint cans and tools. The back of the box has 4 more color photos of this model as walk-around type pictures. Credit is given to Mike Good for building it. There is a copyright date of 1982 and a list of features in the kit.

The kit’s molds origin is Peerless, who in the 80’s went out of business in Japan and sold most of their molds to Italeri. Italeri marketed the kit as kit no. 227 and then went in cooperation with Testor’s for this Re-issue. I saw a listing and box art for a RSO/1 by Tamiya on the internet too. Theirs was kit no. 32404 and I strongly suspect that it too was the ex-Peerless or Italeri molds.

Inside the box, in the tray, is a single sealed cello bag with 4 dark olive drab trees of parts, a single cab shell part (also dark OD) a tree of clear parts, rubber-band type tracks, the decal sheet and instructions.

The instructions consist of 2 large sheets that are folded in the center and then inserted into each other to form a 8 page unbound booklet of 8 ½” x 11” parge format. A single loose page, printed on both sides of the same size accompanies the booklet.

The first page of the instructions starts with a color photo of the model made up in profile. This is followed by the RSO’s history in English, “Before Starting” instructions, “Preparation of parts” instructions and “Painting” instructions.

Page 2 is the parts tree illustrations.

Pages 6 through 7give a total of 9 assembly steps. Next to these steps is blow by blow instructions of how to proceed in each step. Good move Testors! Painting and weathering instructions begin on the bottom of page 7 and all of page 8.

The single sheet in the kit has four 3-views for various schemes to paint and mark the model. However we are not told what units these represent.

The first scheme is in dark yellow with dark green and red-brown overspray. It carries SS license plates and what I believe is the division mark for Hitler Jugund.

The second scheme is in dark yellow with a white-wash finish over it. It has Wehrmacht license plates and a division emblem that is a white shield with a mailed armored fist on it.

The third scheme is in panzer gray with a squiggly overspray of dark yellow. It has Wehrmacht plates and a division sign of a white shield divided into black and white squares.

The fourth scheme is in overall panzer gray. It has a division mark on the fender that has a parachute on it. I assume it’s for Fallschirmjager division. The license plates have the WL prefix for Luftwaffe unit.

It is too bad that Italeri did not bother to say what units these were. The trees on the parts illustrations are marked with geometric symbols, rather than alphabet letters that are common in most other kits. One tree is marked with a star, another with a circle, one with a square and the clear parts with a black dot. In the assembly steps the parts are marked with one of these symbols and then the part number. Part numbers are on the trees next to the parts like usual.

The tree labeled with a star holds: the vehicle’s floor, frame parts, seats, muffler, wheel discs, control levers and foot pedals etc. (27 parts).

There are 2 identical trees labeled with a circle. They hold: drive sprockets, road wheels, idler wheels, axle etc. (19 parts per tree).

The tree labeled with a square holds: the cargo bed wood walls and floor, the cargo bed’s canvas roof supports, the cab floor and doors, the radiator and the slats that go over it etc.(46 parts)

The clear parts tree, labeled with a black dot, holds all the cab windows.(5 parts)

The rubber-band type treads and the decal sheet (already described above) complete the kit’s contents.

This is one neat model. However, some figures in the kit would have been nice. Also, some kind of a cargo load would have been appreciated also. Highly recommended.