Monday, March 11

Nuts and bolts 29: Raupenschlepper Ost – RSO Review

Nuts and Bolts are known for their excellent and thorough approach to all of the subjects they feature in their titles - but is this claim as good as the recipe? Let's have a look in their latest title - number 29 featuring the interesting little tractor - the Raupenschlepper Ost – RSO

By Volker Andorfer, Anthony J. Greenland & Lutz Konetzny
Soft cover A4 Portrait format
Dual German & English texts
176 pages
375 photos (166 historic, 21 model, 188 modern)
50 blueprints
16 camouflage schemes, tactical markings, table of organisation
Available at your hobby bookstore or directly for 27.50€ + P&P

I was charmed when I saw pictures of this round shaped little tracked artillery pulling truck on modeller’s tables. Whilst there is a lot to say about the large, technical approach of many armoured fighting vehicles used by the Germans and other nations during the war it is often good to have their tiny counterparts on your modelling desk to give perspective – this is why I thought we should look at Nuts and Bolts new book on this interesting vehicle.
Nuts and Bolts continue their series of in Depth books and this one is centred directly on the Raupenschlepper Ost – RSO.  This is an A4 Book in portrait form – printed on a glossy softback cover and packed with 166 black and white period shots, a walk around section of 188 coloured shots as well as photographs of model Raupenschleppers  made by talented modellers especially for the book. This is all packed into 176 pages of Dual German and English text. Although I am not a big fan of this format of dual languages you never really get mixed up, the German in on the right and the English text is always on the left.
Written in an informative and helpful manner, this book isn’t a boring text that speaks down to you. Indeed the publishers have several bits of text on their website where readers have written in to add or correct some of the passages in these books. So a feeling of inclusion is there. I was never bored reading a book of nearly 200 pages on a tracked artillery truck – that is an achievement!

The book’s first chapter is twenty eight pages of text and pictures describing how the RSO came about – the requirements that laid down the physical side of the vehicle and how this was achieved – of note are the not so satisfactory outcomes of the design, the slow speed, the uncomfortable “accommodation” of the “sleeping quarters” for the driver and his mate, and indeed the very loud noise this vehicle made. I had no idea of some of these traits – or the nickname of this vehicle as “Austria’s Revenge” or even better still “Blatant licher” which meant a lame duck or a “damn slow chap.” Surprising then It was produced in such numbers. Often having to be transported itself to parts of the front isn’t such a good reputation for a tractor!
The Raupenschlepper indeed was employed in many roles, not just as a towing device but a field kitchen and ammunition carrier, a medical evac car, rolling workshop with hard sides, infantry carrier, snow plough and an anti-aircraft platform to name a few– though it was not so good at this as it was so noisy the soldiers in it could not hear the aircraft above the noise of the truck. All of these uses and the traits of the RSO are covered here in this part of the book. Though the deficiencies of the vehicle are mentioned so are the good facets – the low ground pressure of the vehicle made it a reliable vehicle in muddy or snowy conditions which could be a lifesaver for the troops.

We get some comment on markings and after war use of the vehicle before an interesting and quite up to date section on modelling the Raupenschlepper. A few very good tips about the instructions on the otherwise excellent Dragon kits was well heeded! Now its time for the reference pictures..
A large section ( 53 pages) of reference pictures follow. With text in both English and German to accompany these varied images you learn a whole lot more about his vehicle than you already knew. Some of the shots are truly eye opening as well – like the pics of the extreme angles this little truck could navigate. There are insightful shots of maintenance being conducted on the truck, others of it wading through mud and snow and others of it loaded for bear ( even pulling a Ju-52 down the road) it surely was maligned but was also a jack of all trades and surely it was rugged as well.
The next section takes us through many plans of this vehicle in 35th scale - profiles and isometric views of this vehicle as well as it’s noisy trailer are here for you to use as reference. Great that they are in the most popular scale –though the truck is small enough to fit easily on a page!
Several profiles in full colour follow, each with a small but VERY relevant picture included in ach box to show the proper colour interpretation.  Really helpful for modellers and included in this section is a list of tall of the surviving vehicles – this will surely help your references out as well – what with the internet to do the leg-work and all.
A very large section of photographic reference follows – a walk around of nearly every part of the vehicle being snapped on several different types still around today. In service and being restored, pictures of pretty much every nut and bolt are here. There are some black and white modern shots but mostly they are colour, in excellent focus and all relevant – a lot of crawling underneath was done to get some of these shots – a great addition.
What else could you cram into this book?  Well a modelling section with several kits made up would be nice – Ohh and here it is – at the end of the book. Two excellently crafted models are here which are a credit to the maker – and a source of modelling inspiration to the reader – this is a great way to finish this book.
Never have I seen a better reference for this vehicle – “Nuts and Bolts” has certainly lived up to their name here – this is simply a must have for anyone who wants to model, look at or just read about the Raupenschlepper.
Adam Norenberg

You can get this book from your hobby store or why not get it directly from Nuts & Bolts great website – it is worth a look for all of the additional comments by the readers. Thanks to them for sending this book to read and review