Army Wheels in Detail - Skoda RSO Typ 175, by Petr Brojo, subtitled 'Radschlepper Ost Typ 175 Porsche'
Booklet published by Capricorn in 2012, 40 pages. Square(ish) booklet - c.22cm by 24cm (N6087PE)
All text in English and Czech
The book is packed full with drawings, schematics, and colour and black and white photographs of the German Army Skoda RSO 175 Military tractor. All explanatory captions are in both English and Czech text.
From the introduction: Thanks to the lack of success of German offensive and the difficulties in moving through the Russian roads and plains, Ferdinand Porsche was sent to the eastern front to assess the situation and to design a tractor that will allow movement through the difficult terrain. He retumed with the idea of a wheeled tractor for Russian plains. Porsche arrived with first drawings to Mlada Boleslav in January 1942. At that time the Skoda factory was incorporated into Reichswerke Hermann Goring corporation. Ferdinand Porsche called on the chief design engineer Oldfich Meduna, to select 11 additional design engineers and travel to Stuttgart where they were to take part of the design and production of the RSO program. Medunas team therefore finished the project while changing few Porsches proposals. The prototype production was done at the Skoda plant in Mlada Boleslav; some components were made in the Skoda plant in Pilsen.
First driving trials were conducted in November 1942 at the Wermacht proving grounds southwest of Eisenach near Berka. The trials were witnessed by Albert Speer, the minister of wartime industry and by generals of all fronts. The production of RSO was given to Skoda plant in Mlada Boleslav. However during subsequent trials in Mlada Boleslav, the vehicle was sinking into mud and the perforated wheels were cracking. This drove the change for full wheels in serial production. The production was subsequently stopped in 1943 after completion of 206 vehicles (the factory records show up to 430 engines produced). The official reason was never given, however the Soviet offensive was in a full swing at that time. Few vehicles however reached the eastern front, and the vehicle proved its usefulness during the German retreat. The tractor was capable to pull up to 4 trucks through the swamps.
The RSO project was also assigned to the Renault Company in France. The vehicle of Renault design failed trials at Eisenach in November 1942, where the rear axle driveshaft broke. After this fiasco, the design and production at Renault was stopped. Vast majority of the total 206 vehicles were sent to the western front to France, Belgium and Holland.
RSO was a tractor with three men cabin of composite construction of wood and sheet metal. The vehicle had a short cargo bed that was possible to be covered by a tarp. The frame of the vehicle was made of welded steel profiles. The winch was mounted in center section of the frame. The vehicle was powered by a four cylinder OHV engine, as opposed to the original 6 cylinder engine proposed by Porsche. The engine was a four stroke air cooled gasoline engine. The gearbox and the inter-axle drive-boxes were mounted in one bloclewith the engine. The 4 wheel drive was done by four drive-shafts. An auxiliary starting unit was mounted at the back of the. It was a two cylinder four stroke gasoline engine (basically half of the KdF engine). The unit was manually started by a crank and served to pre-heat the air intake pipes and engine oil, and for engine start after connecting by hydraulic clutch to the engine. Additionally this unit was used to heat the driver's cabin. The wheels of the vehicle were massive all steel wheels with removable spikes that allowed moving through muddy terrain.
Condition of the booklet is generally excellent. The covers are clean and bright, the staple spine is intact and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.