DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6691, German RSO/01 Type 470 Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 325 styrene parts (including seven clear), one bag of Magic Tracks, two photo-etched brass frets, one sheet of self-adhesive masking material, seven water-slide decal/marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 13 steps.
Originally designed as a low-speed, hi-torque, all-terrain cargo carrier and light artillery tractor, the Raupenschlepper-Ost (RSO) saw some variety in its manufacture. In its original form as the RSO/01, as built by Steyr, it had a fully-enclosed all-steel cab and was powered by a Steyr gasoline-fueled engine. After releasing two variations of the RSO, DML has now provided a kit of the /01 variation to add to the collection.
It is based on parts from both previously-released kits, as well as a single new sprue for this kit. Some of the fixes DML applied since the introduction of the first kit, as seen on kit 6684, have also been retained. Inexplicably, other fixes from kit 6684 have NOT been included. This is certainly cause for wonder!
Modelers should also check out Terry Ashleys PMMS site for his brand-new, full-build review, at the link provided below as reference 5.
These are typical of DMLs recent kits in that they are provided as so-called Magic Tracks, which are loose individual links packed in a bag. Each link requires some clean-up of sprue attachment points and has some very fine ejector pin marks to deal with. The track runs will fit together quite easily, but they do require cement to keep them together. Using proper technique, the typical sag seen on these tracks can be achieved relatively easily.
This is based upon an articulated series of bars, the main ones of which are attached to a central transverse axle. These long bars each feature a pair of articulating bars with etched brass end caps, each of which carries a pair of road wheels; these lesser bars can be left un-glued to articulate for use in a diorama, while the road-wheels are also a press fit. There is a leaf-spring bundle at each end of the main suspension bar as well as mounting brackets, idler wheel adjustment parts and an idler wheel axle. Be careful when cleaning up the leaf spring bundles as it is easy to remove too much of the squared-off mounting tabs.
The road-wheels have a separate inner sleeve that fits into the back of the hubs; these in turn are a press fit to the axle bars. There are etched brass strips that are to be bent and placed over the hub nuts. They show up in some photos, but often not on every wheel; I suppose they can be used or not as the modeler sees fit. The re-tooled road-wheels feature more accurate bolts and hub detail compared to kit 6640. However, to do so, the dish shape of the wheels has been visibly flattened out a bit. Some re-shaping will not go amiss and it should be relatively easy to do. Additionally, the rear faces of the wheels have had their details changed.
The drive sprockets are fitted to a multi-part trans-axle unit which itself is based on a slide-molded core part. The fit of some of the parts of this sub-assembly are extremely sloppy. In addition, the revised part on the no longer included H-sprue (see below), which included the curved track-pin retainer plate is absent. This is rather disconcerting, to say the least. The idlers and drive sprockets also have ribbed brake housings. The drive sprockets have the Steyr logo on their hub caps and are otherwise fully detailed. The idlers, while not powered, also have sprocket teeth but only a plain hub-cap.
Unfortunately, for some unfathomable reason, DML has NOT provided the revised parts from kit 6684 to mount the sprockets to their drums. Those given in the original RSO/PaK40 kit simply did not feature a means to fit properly and this has been carried over to this kit, even though DML fixed the problem with kit 6684. The deletion of the entire sprue, marked as H (not to be confused with the entirely new sprue H) is a puzzle to say the least. So, the modeler must carefully align one pair of sprockets with their brake drum units; this is not really difficult, thank goodness! The modeler will also have to tweak the fit further by opening up some of the holes on parts B-15 so the locating pins fit properly.
The chassis pan is based on a slide-molded core that includes the outer side walls and belly plate. The side plates are detailed on their outer faces with stamped stiffening ribs, while the belly plate has the stamping effect on its inner and outer faces. Separate parts are given to fit inside the chassis to represent the detail seen on the inner face of the side panels. These are tailored to fit the cargo bed; the original parts from the RSO mounting the PaK40 are still in the box, so be sure to use the correct part.
Tow hooks are fitted up front, but they do not properly match the original configuration; fortunately the fix (trim them) is easy. Separate exhaust pipes are mounted on either outer side plate; these connect with a muffler that features a separate exhaust pipe with pre-drilled end. It is further embellished with etched brass fittings. Note that the pipes themselves may not stretch far enough to actually connect with the engine exhaust manifold, but this is hidden after assembly. Front and rear frame cross-members are then fitted as are several other structural braces. A multi-part fuel tank is fitted between the frames. The rear-most cross-member gets a two-part, slide-molded trailer hitch.
The lower nose section is provided as a detailed, multi-part etched brass assembly. It is also provided with a pair of tiny styrene half wing-nits for use as fasteners. An all-styrene part, A-22, is not called-out in the instructions and is marked as not-for-use. It is there, it is simpler, so why not use it? The sometimes-seen tow coupling, fitted above this assembly, is not provided.
Engine and Drive Train.
The engine consists of several new parts for the pair of top-mounted cooling units. Use these instead of parts E-22, -23, -24 & -25. The engine is a fairly detailed and intricate assembly, with, for instance, each cylinder head represented with two delicately-detailed parts. Once installed it is barely visible from the sides, below the cab and also through the cab front grill if the cold-weather shutters are left off. A separate engine compartment cover is given inside the cab, which, if left off, will allow for an extremely limited view of the engine. An eight-part drive shaft connects the engine to the rear-mounted transfer case, which is part of the final drive brake drum assembly. Part A-14 needs trimming to fit, so lose the four tabs and a bit of the edge. The engine will be secure enough using the two pins on its oil pan.
The new, all-steel, fully- enclosed cab is a multi-part assembly with separate parts for the front, rear and floor. The main part, which is slide-molded, includes the nose, window framing and the roof; this part features the stamped panel on the roof, which should not be confused for mold seam. The latter part does include some extremely fine mold lines radiating out from the front corners of the roof stamping; only they should be carefully removed. The rear wall is separate and features stamping patterns, in-correctly-patterned grill openings and an opening for a clear styrene window panel insert. If the cab is to be a point of attraction on the finished model, the faint ejector pin marks on the interior of the back wall part should be eradicated. Photos indicate that the molded-on rectangular vent flaps are improperly-sized both in width and height. These can scraped-off and replaced with properly-sized bits of sheet styrene.
Separate doors with separate external handles and stamped internal panels are also included. Although the inner panels have a hole to mount internal handles, none are officially given. Use the superfluous parts on sprue E (two parts E-9); make-up window crank handles from scrap styrene and the area will be properly finished. Separate clear window panels are also provided and these are complimented by self-adhesive masks to aid in final painting.
The front of the cab gets a pair of clear styrene marker lamps for either side, as well as a three-part Tarnscheinwerfer-Notek black-out head-lamp. This fits into a separate well part that, contrary to the kit instructions, must be fitted from the inside. Note also that the small circular base for the head-lamp is supposed to protrude forward, past the edge of the well. The central engine cooling air grill comes as two options, but one (part B-34) is marked as not for use; in this case, apparently, DMLs instructions can be taken at face value. However, the number of slats in the grill part, B-33, is far fewer than the number seen in photographs. In addition, the proportion of the overall grill opening to the remainder of the part seems not to match photos. Fitting the cold weather grill covers will partially alleviate this problem. Finally, the grill features a separate latch handle.
The prominent wind-shield wiper blades are now provided as separate styrene parts; their motor housings, mounted internally, are no-where to be seen. The wiper blades and the motor housings were both not present in kit 6684, so this is a piecemeal improvement. Photos and drawings indicate that some tools were stowed externally on the back wall of the cab. This is not provided for in the kit.
Internally, two separate side covers and a top cover enclose the engine. All have molded-on grill-work while the top part will require a bit of very fine tweaking to properly fit. There are three-part seats and their mounts. These feature a two-part assembly for the frames and a separate seat cushion. Due to the way the seats are engineered, this whole assembly should be done in stages with the frame parts (H-36 & H-37) being allowed to dry overnight, before carefully fitting the cushion. The latter has no positive attachment points in place, so plan accordingly. Use both sets of seats and ignore the fact that the instructions dont show one of the seats being installed.
DML appears to have done a fine job depicting the drivers controls. The two control levers and the two foot pedals are all mounted to a separate base, which is in turn fitted to the floor. There are another pair of controls down where the drivers right foot would rest and a shift lever behind his right elbow. Behind the passengers seat, a gas filler cap and pipe is fitted.
There dash-board has some panel and knob details in front of the driver and a glove-box on the passengers side. Based upon photos in reference 2, showing the interior of a restored steel-cab RSO, this part is fairly properly depicted. But where are the instrument panel dial faces? Where do they mount? Why is it that several decades ago, Peerless-Max thought there should be a separate instrument panel in their kit, but a brand-new 21st-century rendition still excludes it? Id be very happy to know the facts in this case.
The load-bed is based on a floor section with separate mounting supports and separate side, front and rear panels. The sides and rear can be shown raised or lowered and there are styrene and etched brass parts for use in depicting the latches. Optional racks for the stowage of the snow grousers are given for the side panels, which consist of etched brass and styrene parts. The rear panel features a brake-lamp, which is the only item I have seen in photos, although my references are somewhat limited. Normally, any vehicle fitted with the Notek system up front, had a distance-keeping tail-lamp at the rear; this may or may not apply in this case. A pair of mounting brackets, parts H-30, is given for mounting the not-included vehicle jack; their placement is ignored in the instructions. Finally, separate frames that support the (also absent) canvas foul weather cover are added.
This kit is provided with the extra-wide snow grousers sometimes seen stored on the side of the cargo bed. Each consists of three parts and they can be fitted in etched brass racks on the sides of the bed. The option given in kit 6684, for storing the grousers inside the load-bed, in their tailored rack, is not given here.
Accuracy and Details.
Some details seen in contemporary images and photos of a preserved example are not present in the kit. The vehicle jack is missing, although its mounting brackets, parts H-30 (nowhere noted in the instructions) are, nevertheless, provided. No tools are given and the wind-shield wiper motors are not included. No parts are given to simulate the canvas foul weather cover for the cargo bed. The jury is still out regarding the need for an instrument panel in the cockpit, while it would appear that some other external cab details are incorrect.
These are given in conventional line drawing fashion. They are, unfortunately, still typical for DML in that there are the occasional glitches regarding parts numbers, etc. Some parts placement is not even noted at all. Modelers should by now be familiar with this continuing weakness on the part of the manufacturer and are urged to act accordingly.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Molding is typical for a current generation DML kit, which, translates into excellent. There were no shrink marks, no visible ejector pin marks after assembly (except the tracks), no flash and minimal mold seams to clean up. Fit was generally fine, except for the numerous issues related to the final drive, sprockets and other suspension parts.
Painting and Markings Information.
As usual, the kits water-slide decals are made in Italy by Cartograf. The individual designs are crisply-detailed and in excellent register. Color saturation is very good, while the carrier film is thin, matte and cut close to the edges of the individual designs. There are three sets of pre-numbered Heer (army) registration plates, as well as one more set of blank plates. SS prefixes are given in two parts each to contravene certain legal restrictions. Six more sets of numbers, given as individual characters, can be added to the blank plates to match a sequence seen in a reference. Markings and/or painting instructions for seven vehicles are given, as follows:
Five different vehicles from unidentified units, Ostfront 1942-1944.
1.Ski-Jäger-Division, Ostfront 1944.
19.Volksgrenadier-Division, Ardennes 1944-45.
Photos confirm most of the markings as being substantially correct. All but one RSO is base-painted in Denkelgelb; the odd-man-out is painted overall in Dunkelgrau. One RSO is white-washed for winter concealment, while the others are either camouflage-painted with the secondary Rotbraun and Olivgrün supplementary colors, or left in the base color.
This is a fairly sound, although a bit tainted, new offering. Some of the design and production decisions are truly cause for some head-scratching on my part, but I suppose Ill get over that. Some modelers may well be disappointed while others will be quite happy with what is on offer.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included:
1. AFV G2 magazine, Vol.5, No.8, pages 23-25 & 44. Article by J. Steuard; scale drawings by Y. Tomioka.
2. Allied-Axis Issue No.20; article by J. Kleinhenz.
3. The RSO Project, at:http://www.armorfortheages.com/NACM/NACMmain/Projects/RSOProject/RSOProjectPage.html
4. Via Dennis Trowbridge:http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/9098116_g32g4#606193543_cirT7
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragon-models.com
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