During the second world war the Soviets relied heavily on the use of tractors for their heavy artillery and mortars to make their way across the battlefield. The most ominous of these was the ChTZ S-65 “Stalinez” tractor which was built in the Chelyabinskiy Traktornyy Zavod (ChTZ in short) , founded in 1933 in the city of Chelyabinsk. The core business from 1933 of the company was producing tractors initially for agricultural use and the first series, the S-60, was a copy of the Caterpillar 60. However the war effort demanded vehicles to be used as heavy tractors in the field, so most of the 37,626 Sons of Stalin
(Stalinez) S-60’s, and the improved diesel powered version S-65, found their way to the military. They were put to use hauling around the big guns such as the 152 mm M1937 ML-20 Howitzer and the B4 M1931 203mm Howitzer.
From 1940 onwards the ChTZ plant almost completely switched over to producing tanks such as the T34 and the SU series. The plant also was renamed to Chelyabinsk Kirov Narkomtankprom Zavod. The rate of production was so incredibly high the city of Chelyabinsk literally earned the nickname of “Tankograd” (Tank city).
The S-65 tractor, although strong, would pretty much only outrun Continental drift . It ran at a maximum speed of 7 miles per hour (11 Km/H) and the Germans managed to get hold of thousands during the first year of the invasion of Russia in 1941. They were put into use as a means of recovery vehicle and pulling stuck vehicles from the heavy Russian mud during the fall period known as Rasputitsa, but more often than not in their original role as artillery tractor pulling the sFH 18 and the like.
The kit from Trumpeter
comes in a slip top box measuring 20 cm high, 34 cm wide and 6 cm deep and is made of a very sturdy cardboard. Something that was proven by the fact that the box the review item came in looked as though it was attacked by a small rhino but the contents managed to get unscathed out of the ordeal. The box top shows a very nice box art by Vince Wai showing the S-65 in its natural habitat towing a 152mm Howitzer laden with Soviet soldiers.
Inside you will find 8 sprues containing 200 parts in the light grey styrene that Trumpeter uses for their kits. 13 Sprues which hold the 234 parts for the workable running tracks and which are molded in the brown styrene that Trumpeter nowadays uses for their track sets. One small transparent sprue holding 5 lenses. A small sheet of PE with 6 parts, a little decal sheet with 4 decals, a sheet with some painting schemes and a 12 page instruction booklet in A4 size. The instruction booklet is quite handy on smaller work surfaces in favor of the folding instruction manuals that a lot of other manufacturers use.
Dimension wise the kit measures up very good at first glance. I held some of the major parts like the hood, the sprocket and the engine bay’s sides alongside the 1:35 drawings in the Tyagatshi book from Tankograd and they were all pretty much in scale.
The quality of the molding is spotless with absolutely no flash in the kit, bar the easy to clean up mold line. There are quite a few push out marks on the parts but the clever people at Trumpeter put them in places invisible after assembly as far as I could work out from the instructions. The details are nice and crisp and all in the right places as well. And there are enough rivets to keep the detail painters happy.
You will find 2 Sprues labeled A on which you will find the road wheels, sprockets, engine bay side panels, transmission drive housing and an assortment of smaller parts. Sprue B holds parts of the radiator in which the backside of the radiator housing deserves some extra attention because of its really neat details, which are quite useless when you build it OOTB, but more about that later. Sprue C contains the hood, the fuel tank, and more parts of the radiator housing. Sprue D has parts of the chassis and transmission drive housing. On Sprue E you will find more chassis parts, the drivers platform, the backside of the fuel tank along with more radiator parts. Sprue F… more chassis parts as is the case with Sprue G.
Sprue Tr holds all the track parts, the track pads themselves are attached to the sprue by two points and the links by one. It will require some clean up but luckily you only have to worry about 68 track links when it comes to that. And if you assemble them carefully they should be working.
The transparent sprue holds only lenses for all the lights the vehicle is sporting. The small Photoetch sprue has two parts to enhance the fuel tank and some smaller bits and bobs. And on the decal sheet you will find two dials and two placards that are going beneath the dials.
The instruction booklet is very nice and I like the fact that it is a real booklet instead of the fold out type manuals as it should not take much space in the smallest of workbenches. The build process is shown in 11 steps and mainly deals with sub-assemblies. However… study the plans before every step as in some cases the subassemblies are shown upside down. And often they show the final assembly in the middle of the page with all the subassemblies that form it scattered around it, which can make it a bit confusing every now and then. And when you are not paying attention you could end up with parts not in the right place or upside down (and
not in the right place!). Aside from that I have not spotted any inaccuracies in the instructions although I’ll have more on that in the build log.
What the HOLE?
Well it ain’t all sunshine with this kit. Remember the mention of the backside of the radiator housing being so nicely detailed and it being completely useless when building it OOTB? Well here is why. Pretty much 98% of all the pictures I have seen from this particular tractor have the engine bays’ side panels removed for better cooling which shows the really nice backside of the radiator housing that this kit has. However it will also show the gaping hole where the engine should be. Trumpeter somehow decided to leave that tiny detail out which is a curious choice in my opinion as the tractor pretty much was a diesel engine with a driver’s seat. Yes there are pictures showing the S-65 with a closed up engine bay, and yes you can still build it correctly, but if you want to have it opened up you’ll have to find your power plant from an AM manufacturer. And luckily enough there is one. Libor from LZ models just finished one that will fit the Trumpeter S-65. I have one on the way as I type this and I will review that kit as well.
Also there is something wrong with the lettering on the radiator. I missed it initially but found out through other reviews that the lettering is not correct. Again LZ models will bring out a revised version so you can build an even more accurate S-65 Tractor.
The kit is, without doubt, very nice and OOTB should build up to a really nice vehicle with all the details present as long as you leave the engine bay closed. And this makes the kit much harder to rate as well. Incredibly sharp molding, very accurate dimensions, superb details, nice and clear instructions, workable tracks. But then you have the incorrect lettering on radiator housing and the fact that the engine appears to be stolen and with that I think Trumpeter left out the kits’ most important feature. Luckily people like Libor are around to fill in that void.
For a review of the LZ models engine kit Click here
A build log has been started and can be found by Clicking here