Crawler tractor east

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East caterpillar tractor in action in " Enterprise Citadel ", June 21, 1943
Crawler tractor east in the Technik Museum Sinsheim
Crawler tractor east (mountain version) in the Army History Museum Vienna

The Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO) was a crawler tractor from the time of the Second World War from German production. It was specially developed for the difficult soil and weather conditions in the war against the Soviet Union .

History of origin

Its necessity was first made clear by the immense supply problems of the Wehrmacht in the winter of 1941/42. At Steyr Daimler Puch AG (whose General Director Meindl was also head of the special committee set up for this purpose in the Reich Ministry for Armaments and Ammunition ), a full-track vehicle was hastily designed based on the example of the Soviet Stalinez-65 , which Hitler recognized. However, he required a ground clearance in the order of 60 to 70 centimeters.

Essential components such as the air-cooled V8 engine came from the Steyr 1500 A all-wheel-drive truck , which made production of the new crawler tractor much easier. So it could be manufactured in the Steyr plant on the same line as the trucks .

Also based on the Steyr truck 1500 A, the wheeled tractor East was designed with oversized steel wheels. However, this version was not particularly convincing. Here Hitler demanded substantial improvements.

In September 1942, series production of the crawler tractor East began. It was manufactured under license by Klöckner-Deutz , Gräf & Stift and Auto Union .

Prototypes and use

Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO) with attached PaK 40 (soldiers sitting on PaK) and car crossing a body of water, 1944 in the Soviet Union
Crawler tractor east 1942

In 1943, attempts were made to use the RSO as a self-propelled gun for the 7.5 cm PaK 40 . A tarpaulin protected and camouflaged the gun during the journey; the driver's seat was poorly armored. This construction was demonstrated to Hitler at the beginning of October 1943. However, this version was not produced in large numbers. These RSOs were often used as assault guns , for which they were not intended.

Other versions:

Floatable prototypes were tested as well as RSO vehicles with ambulance superstructures. Photos show that some of these RSOs were brought to the Eastern Front. There have also been attempts to use the RSO as a semi-trailer . An RSO chassis (non-motorized) also served as the chassis for the semi-trailer. Among other things, there was a troop transporter for around 50 soldiers.

The mountain troops also took a liking to this vehicle. At their insistence, a smaller version was constructed, the mountain caterpillar tractor (RSG). The RSG carried a Belgian 7.5 cm mountain howitzer 34 captured in 1940. However, only a few prototypes were built.

However, the armed versions of the Ost caterpillar tractor soon showed that the engine was too weak for such purposes; so an RSO version was constructed with two motors installed next to each other. However, this design did not get beyond the prototype stage.

From 1944 onwards, the license RSOs from Klöckner-Deutz were equipped with newly developed diesel engines with air cooling in order to better withstand the low temperatures on the Eastern Front.

Including all special types of RSO, the companies involved built a total of around 28,000 units.

Developments after World War II

After the war efforts were made to resume production of the East caterpillar tractor for German agriculture and forestry. In fact, in 1947/48 Klöckner-Deutz delivered around 1000 half-track vehicles with air-cooled engines as “forest tugs”. They were derived from the RSO.

In the Soviet Union , a forest tractor was developed based on the East crawler tractor. Under the designation KT-12 , the vehicle was first produced in the Kirov plant from 1947, in the Minsk tractor plant from 1951 and in the Oneschsk tractor plant in Petrozavodsk from 1956 . It received a different body and engine from the ZIS-5 truck , which was converted to run on wood gas . Later versions used diesel engines. The model was continuously developed and still produced under changing names even after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In 1956, Steyr Daimler Puch AG built a further development of the East crawler tractor, the Steyr Muli , which was also used by the Austrian Post .

Technical specifications

  • Manufacturer: Steyr, later also Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz and Gräf & Stift
  • Empty weight: 5500 kg
  • Payload: 1500 kg
  • Length / width / height: 4.425 m / 1.99 m / 2.53 m
  • Motorization: V8 Steyr Otto engine (85 PS) or four-cylinder Deutz diesel engine (66 PS), both air-cooled
  • Speed: 17 km / h, or 14 km / h with RSO / 3
  • Driving range: approx. 300 km
  • Tank capacity: 180 l


In addition to the various test models, three variants of the RSO were produced in a noteworthy series.

  • RSO / 1 basic variant, with closed driver's cab
  • RSO / 2 in some cases also listed as RSO / PaK40 , variant with 7.5 cm PaK40
  • RSO / 3 simplified version with half-open driver's cab

Museum objects

See also


  • OKW: Regulation D 638/1 Raupenschlepper Ost, Steyr Daimler Puch AG type RSO / 01 Device description and operating instructions 1943.
  • OKW: Regulation D 638/2 crawler tractor East, type RSO / 01 , Steyr Daimler Puch AG, Auto Union (replica), Gräf u. Pen (replica), Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz (replica), spare parts list 1943.
  • Wolfgang H. Gebhardt: History of the German truck construction. 3 (in 6) volumes. Weltbild-Verlag, Augsburg 1994, ISBN 3-89350-811-2 .

Web links

Commons : Raupenschlepper Ost  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ЛОШАДИ И ТРАКТОРЫ В ВЕРМАХТЕ . Information about the caterpillar tractor East and the Soviet replicas on modelist- (Russian)
  2. Uwe Siemer: Tractors from the Soviet Union. A chronicle from the beginning to 1990 . TRAKULA, Rastede. Without ISBN, around 2015, different pages.
  3. ^ Manfried Rauchsteiner : The Army History Museum in Vienna. Styria, Graz et al. 2000, ISBN 3-222-12834-0 , p. 82.