Sunday, 23 November 2014

Next up - Finnish Raupenschlepper Ost RSO

OK, you've probably had enough of trucks by now, eh? So I'm moving on - a little.

Altaya's Steyr RSO Diecast Model (Panzer Collection PZ08)
Thinking ahead to the heavy armour company I will be making I wanted a project that would bridge the gap between wheeled vehicles and tanks and the German RSO/01 - 'Caterpillar Tractor East' - seems the idea transition vehicle. The Finns purchased 30-50 of these 1.5 ton prime movers from 1943, presumably to replace the mish-mash of under-powered captured Soviet tractors and commercial vehicles that they had been using since the Winter War (1939-40).

I found Altaya's 1/72 diecast model on eBay at a reasonable price so I snapped it up as I am going for the option that the Rapid Fire rules give you for the late war Finns to upgrade their anti-tank guns to 75mm Pak40s. Alternatively - and more accurately - I could use these tractors to tow Finnish 105mm (German FH18 10.5cm Howitzer) as I have found a nice contemporary photo of this configuration being used by the Finns...

Here we see one of the Finnish RSO/01s towing a 105mm howitzer in 1944.
Source: SA-KUVA Finnish WW2 photo archive
This project will also be quite interesting as I now have quite a few of these type of diecast models and I want to see how well they turn out when converted and re-painted. With regards to the RSO I will have to do some dismantling in order to add a driver figure to match the rest of my truck models.

The Altaya model is held together with three tiny triangular head screws, luckily I have a precision screw driver set with these shaped screw-heads in it. But bear this in mind before undertaking a  similar conversion...

Once the screws are removed the model breaks down into three pieces. But the
windows are - unfortunately - glued in place. Pity, but I can mask them prior
to re-spraying the base 'Dunkelgelb' yellow.
Aside from the driver another addition to the basic diecast model will be a tilt canvas cover. The model does come with a set of very flimsy wire supports for a canvas cover, but no cover itself. I want a tilt cover so as to circumvent that annoying 'crew aboard or not' that war-gaming rules produce - while stationary your crew will be stand-alone figures on the table, when moving the crew are technically supposed to be aboard the vehicle.

You could make some 'removable crew' to fulfil the needs of the game, but the easiest way to get around this is to make a tilt cover so you can't tell whether the crew is aboard or not.

An German RSO/01 with canvas tilt towing a 10.5 cm leFH 18 light howitzer.
Picture Source: Wikipedia
I'll have to put some thought into how I will make the tilt, but it shouldn't be too hard. A simple plasticard 'box' with some textured paper over it should suffice.

Painting: The Finnish RSOs seem to have come from the factory in Germany and straight into service. Unfortunately as only monochrome photographs exist we can only make a guess as to the basic colour, but generally the factory colour for German military transport was either 'Dunkelgelb' (a dirty yellow) or 'Dunkelgrau' (a mid-grey).

After comparing several black & white photos I have chosen to plump for the 'Dunkelgelb'. The Altaya model is basically this colour but has green camo added, hence the respray. Vallejo do a passable 'Dunkelgelb' in their Model Air range, my local store didn't have this but did have Vallejo's Model Air 031 'Middle Stone' which is within the spectrum that can be considered 'Dunkelgelb' (which can vary shades from a ocre-yellow to a khaki/mustard).

Next: A driver and a tilt cover.


  1. Nice one Stephen. I like the RSO, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    1. Cheers Paul. Yes it's a nice design...Though Soviet-fans would say it was a copy of the Soviet STZ-5! :) But it adds some more variety to my Finnish collection.

      In theory this should be an 'easy build' (how many times have I said that) as all I'm doing is a repainting job. But I will be trying to do extra detailing with the painting to make it look a bit better than the standard diecast models , which are a bit clinical and lack character (IMHO).