11 years ago
Tractor; 382 parts (211 in tan styrene, 150 in brown styrene, 21 in
clear styrene); retail price US$59.95
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
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: 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
During the 1930s the Soviet developed families of guns which used
common carriages and different barrels for different purposes. One
such set was called =93The Large Triptich=94 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 =93Voroshilovets=94 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 =93rasputitsa=94 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
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 =93dull=94 so it is up to the modeler to use a
finishing technique to make the vehicle=92s well-executed molded details
Overall, while not a =93star=94 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.