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German RSO/3 w/5cm PaK 38

DML 1/35 German RSO/3 w/5cm PaK 38 - Smart Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review August 2011 Manufacturer DML
Subject German RSO/3 w/5cm PaK 38 - Smart Kit Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6684 Primary Media 518 parts (327in grey styrene, 144 “Magic Track” single links, 44 etched brass, 3 clear styrene))
Pros Virtually new kit compared to initial DML release; thorough chassis; PaK 38 kit included Cons Single link tracks very small; snow tracks add to complexity
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $47.95

First Look

As I noted when the initial DML release of the armored RSO tractor came out, the Germans were no stranger to the concept of “run what you brung”. This meant they had to use what was being produced in their new satellite companies and that meant the Czech Skoda and Praga tanks plus various Austrian armored and tracked vehicles. One of the handier ones – if so incredibly noisy for the crew that it was nicknamed “Austria’s Revenge” – was the Steyr Raupenschlepper Ost. The Germans used it in three versions: one with a pressed steel cab, one with an armored front end and a 7.5 cm PaK 40 mounted on it, or later in the war the equivalent of an “Einheits” cab made from wood. This kit is of the latter – RSO/3 – variant.

Even from the days of the old Peerless Max RSO with pressed cab version this has been a popular conversion, and now DML offers it as a full kit. Only five generic sprues are retained from the original RSO release (Kit No. 6640) as this one requires nearly a totally new cab, body and other details.

Quite a bit has changed. The original kit came with a 49 part air cooled eight-cylinder diesel engine but this one comes with a much smaller (and less complex) supercharged four-cylinder diesel with water cooling. No radiator is included nor are the radiator shutters positionable on the forward cowl (part E2). You will have to leave the cover (part E1) loose to display the engine, however.

As before assembly is straightforward. The chassis takes the first six steps of the instructions (as this is a small and “clean” vehicle the directions are easier to read than many DML efforts). There were some comments above drive wheels and brake drums, and this kit now offers a new sprue with modified brake drums and backing plates.

The running gear is simple but nicely done, with the bogie mount and springs as separate parts. The entire lower running gear forms one giant bogie assembly when done. There is a lower chassis pan all of this mounts on and it comes with separate frame risers and crossbars. Note that the drivers and idlers on an RSO are nearly interchangeable so you must keep them straight during installation.

The wooden cab offers a choice of either metal or wooden top bows for the canvas (not supplied, albeit the side curtains are provided as clear styrene parts to mask and paint). All of the primary controls are provided as well as two canvas “sling” seats.

The body is typical for open bodied cargo vehicles and also gives several options, including folded sides and either metal or wooden top bows for the canvas. Racks are provided from either styrene or etched brass for stowing the snow track links on the body sides.

The latter items are apparently only for “show” as the directions take great pains of showing where they are stowed (either 10 forward in a bin at the front of the body, or 20 with 10 on each side of the cargo body) and are assembled – three parts to each one. But installation is not covered very well, with the directions seemingly saying the side stowed plates store inside out with metal frames and cleats out with wooden frames.

The Pak 38 is a familiar item and comes on a single sprue with no etched brass. It may be displayed set for firing or towed behind the tractor.

But once again DML shows the “Magic Tracks” assembled (67 links per side) and simply slipped onto the running gear. Not gonna happen. Most modelers know there are many ways to skin this mule but this is NOT one of them without DS plastic one-piece tracks.  

Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson are cited as the consultants for this kit.

Finishing information is provided for six different vehicles and three different guns; the tractors are called out but not the guns, but most modelers can probably match the colors to the tractors. The six are: Unidentified Volksgrenadier Division, Eastern Front Autumn 1944 (sand overall, WH 1655861); Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944 (whitewash over sand, WH 5204247); Free French Army, France 1944 (whitewash over sand, Cross of Lorraine, WH 1566838); 21st Panzer Division, Normandy 1944 (sand with brown and green stripes, no license plate); 21st Panzer Division, Western Front 1944 (sand with brown and green patches, WH 21516); Unidentified Unit, Western Front 194/45 (sand with brown patches, WH-295503). The guns are sand with whitewash, sand with green and brown stripes, or sand brown overall. A sheet of Cartograf decals with a “number jungle” is provided for the RSO.

Overall this again should be a popular model as it comes “pre-converted” and it is contemporary design and production quality. All that is left is a new pressed steel cab version.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.

Sprue Layout:

  • A 41 RSO - frame sides, control linkages, details
  • A 58 PaK 38 - carriage, gun, wheels
  • B 27x2 RSO - wheels, drivers, final drives
  • C 1 RSO - differential
  • D 14 RSO/3 - platform body, sides, mounts
  • E 25 RSO/3 - cab, seats, details
  • F 19 RSO/3 - engine
  • G 7 RSO - driver’s controls
  • H 7 RSO/3 - brake drums
  • J 3 RSO/3 - top bows and frame
  • J 1 RSO - main frame
  • K 5 Clear styrene
  • M 70 RSO/3 - snow track plates
  • P 27 RSO/3 - frames and brackets
  • Z 144 RSO - “Magic Track” links
  • MA 44 Etched brass - RSO/3