Russian ChTZ S-65 Tractor
Trumpeter has continued to add to its growing line of Soviet prime movers. The recently released ChTZ S-65 tractor is just that, a tractor. The vehicle’s history from the side of the box: “The STALINETZ S-65 (or Starlinze-65) was basically an improved design based on the S-60 and succeeding it on the production line from June 20 1937, it has a 65-75 hp M17 diesel engine. As of 1941 the STALINETZ S-65 was the most numerous type of full-tracked artillery tractor with in the Soviet Army. The exact figure how many of the 37,626.” The kit includes eight sprues of approximately 200 parts and thirteen sprues of track; approximately 234 parts. There’s a small sheet of PE, clear headlight lenses, and decals for the instrument cluster.
The kit is relatively straightforward in assembly. The running gear and tracks are assembled first. Unlike AFV running gear, there are basically two sponsons for the left and right side of the vehicle. There are some very small parts (A 16), so use caution when removing them from the sprue. Pay close attention to the alignment of the parts. Make sure they are square or they will not fit underneath the chassis. The second sub-assembly is basically the frame of the vehicle. The tractor does not have an engine, but it does have a transmission case that’s nicely detailed. After assembling the undercarriage and radiator, the two sponsons are attached underneath the vehicle. My sponsons were not exactly square, so the flange at the end of one of the arms did not fit as snug as I would have liked.
Once the sponsons are attached, it’s time for the tracks. These tracks are what you will find in a modern bulldozer. There is a plate and two brackets. The brackets are glued onto the plate and the pins of the previous brackets can be squeezed on the pins, keeping them loose and malleable. The instructions say there are 34 links for each track. I am not the biggest fan of individual track links, but I am sure that these types of tracks could not have been successfully rendered any other way. It’s tedious, but the result is worth the effort. I made an effort to keep every link lose so they would go around the road wheels with ease.
Once the tracks were completed, the remaining sub-assemblies went together. The driver’s controls, in particular the steering levers, are very delicate and great care should be used when removing them from the sprue. One of mine snapped in half. In front of the driver is the instrument cluster, basically two gauges that are the only decals in the kit. The cluster is attached to what I can only assume is the fuel tank. While that tank is attached directly to the control deck, it has two photoetch brackets on either side. I am not a fan of photoetch, so I am curious why this wasn’t done in plastic. Once the fuel tank is attached, the rest of the kit goes together quickly. The brackets that hold the headlights are delicate and must be handled with care.
The instructions give you two colors, Russian green or Panzer grey. There are no tactical markings or patriotic slogans on the vehicle. The only decals are the instrument cluster. I use Tamiya acrylics almost exclusively, but in this case I tried some of the new Italeri Flat Russian Armor Green Acrylic (4807AP). I tried it on a brush, without thinner, and was pleased with the result. Unfortunately, the paint is rather thick so it took a great deal of experimentation to finally come up with okay results. I like the color, but it took a great deal of effort to get to that point. The tracks are in Tamiya Gunmetal with some silver dry brushing. All in all, I am pleased with the results.
Trumpeter is to be congratulated for producing subjects that, under most circumstances, would have never made it to styrene. Despite the fiddly parts, this went together without that many challenges. I would certainly recommend it if you are interested in Russian subjects matter.
My thanks to IPMS, Stevens International, and Trumpeter models for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.