Russian Voroshilovets Tractor
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
|Stock Number and Description||Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 01573; Russian Voroshilovets Tractor|
|Media and Contents:||382 parts (211 in tan styrene, 150 in brown styrene, 21 in clear styrene)|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||First decent kit of a Soviet prime mover; neatly done suspension and cab details|
|Disadvantages:||No crew figures; no engine or driveline detail; lifeless canvas tilt|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for anyone wanting a Soviet heavy tractor or a prime mover for a B-4 howitzer|
When the Soviet Union started its massive industrialization campaign in the late 1920s, one thing they latched onto was the concept of the crawler tractor. Having seen the famous Holt (later Caterpillar) tractors during the First World War and their Civil War, the Soviet planners used them as their model and began to design dozens of different tractors for various purposes.
Inevitably that meant motorized drayage for artillery pieces, and a complete range of tractors was developed to tow guns and limbers. By the time the Great Patriotic War - WWII - broke out, they still had not fully converted over to tractors but did have a much higher percentage of truck and tractor drayage than the German army did.
Each type of weapon had its own class of tractor. At the bottom end - 45mm antitank guns and 76mm regimental howitzers, the tractor was either the tiny Komsomolets or a GAZ truck; 76mm divisional guns rated larger tractors or a larger truck (eventually settling on the US made Studebaker US6 as a favorite). This continued right up to their heaviest weapons.
During the 1930s the Soviet developed families of guns which used common carriages and different barrels for different purposes. One such set was called “The Large Triptich” and based on a heavy tracked carriage with a fixed trail and folding spade. It originally came in three calibers; the 152mm Br-2 heavy field gun, the 203mm B-4 howitzer, and the 280mm Br-5 heavy mortar. Only the last two saw full scale production, but this only meant that 48 Br-5 weapons were made as opposed to 977 B-4 series weapons.
The B-4 could be towed in either one piece with a limber or in two loads with the barrel carried separately. As the war went on, the Soviets generally moved the weapon in one piece.
To pull a big gun you need a big tractor, and as a result in 1935 the Kharkov Steam Locomotive Building Factory (KhPZ, later Factory No. 183) began work on a new heavy artillery prime mover (tyazheliy tyagach in Russian). Initially designed around a downrated M-17T gasoline engine of 400 HP, when the new BD-2 high speed diesel engine became available in 1938 the design was adapted to take a downrated version of that engine. Based on the soon to be famous V-2 diesel that powered all of the Soviet wartime medium and heavy tanks, the V-2V produced 375 HP in its reduced stress version but tremendous torque, and that meant the new tractor had a 22,000 kg towing capacity. Fitted with a powerful winch for use either as a recovery vehicle or in its artillery prime mover function, the new tractor entered service in 1939 as the “Voroshilovets” tractor.
Production was secondary to that of the T-34, but until the factory had to be evacuated in late 1941 several hundred had been built. But while tank production switched to Nizhniy Tagil in October 1941, production of the Voroshilovets went to the Stalingrad Tractor Factory, and by the end of 1942 had been terminated when the factory was overrun by the Germans. A total of more than 1,100 were built.
The vehicle was solid but plagued by narrow tracks in snow and the infamous “rasputitsa” mud in the spring, and also hard on brakes and transmissions when towing the B-4. (US heavy gun tractors used air brakes for truck and gun so did not suffer those problems.) Still, more than 330 were in service in 1945 as gun tractors. Needless to say, given the German situation any captured tractors were gratefully placed in service.
About three years ago Trumpeter released a lovely kit of the B-4M howitzer on its tracked carriage but no suitable tractors were available. Recently they released a kit of the Voroshilovets which is very nicely done and should be used by anyone who bought the big howitzer.
As tractors did not need high speed, they used small road wheels and Trumpeter has done a nice job of capturing the suspension of this vehicle. Each bogie unit consists of eight wheels and two bogies compose a suspension unit, complete with shock absorbers and return rollers. The slide molded lower hull has all around detail and comes in one piece.
The tracks are single link and come 15 to a sprue, but are relatively simple to deal with and cleanup is minimal.
The cab interior is relatively spartan but all main controls are present and a nicely done dashboard.
The hood and cab are also slide molded and neatly detailed. The radiator is a separate part from the hood and may be painted and detailed separately if the modeler desires.
The body is done with a wood grain and comes with three bench seats and two fire extinguishers, which introduce some color into the model. A jump seat with ammo and tool lockers is located at the front of the body. A large single-piece slide molded canvas tilt is provided along with ten clear windows.
The model does not come with a V-2V engine or any underhood or winch detail, which is kind of a shame with this tractor. While neatly done, the tilt also looks, well, plastic. Some stippling with putty to give it a rough texture will help if it is used (and photos rarely show it lowered or removed). A driver figure also would have helped - at $60 this is not a cheap kit and one would expect some extras (also note no etched brass parts are included).
Two finishing options are provided: a generic Soviet tractor in 4BO green and a captured one in German service painted grey with German unit markings. While absolutely correct neither one can be described as anything more than “dull” so it is up to the modeler to use a finishing technique to make the vehicle’s well-executed molded details stand out.
Overall, while not a “star” vehicle the Voroshilovets is a necessary model and one needed with any B-4 howitzer, and with some figures and good finishing will be a winner in that venue.
A 20x2 Drivers, idlers, cargo seats, suspension mounts
B 32x4 Road wheels, bogie arms, return rollers
C 22 Cab details, exhausts, lights
D 17 Body details, cab interior, radiator, fenders
GP 21 Clear styrene
T 15x10 Single link tracks
– 1 Hood
– 1 Cab
– 1 Canvas tilt
– 1 Lower Hull