Full-tracked tractors






Already the imperial army gained first experiences with full tracked tractors during World War I. In the 1920s, the Reichswehr procured some full tracked tractors. Because the contract of Versailles forbade the development of such vehicles, this was accomplished secretly. The classes were differentiated into light, medium and heavy full tracked tractors.
At first, full tracked tractors played a subordinated role in the Wehrmacht. As towing vehicles for guns, the half-track vehicles had worked satisfactorily and were accepted, generally. During the Russia campaign, a radical reorientation was caused by the mud period in autumn 1941. The few procured full tracked tractors and drawn in civilian vehicles could not cover the need. The troop had to use Soviet full tracked tractors, which were captured during the campaign in large quantities.
Later, production of full tracked tractors was increased. The experiences made with the use of full tracked tractors during the mud period led to the development of the Raupenschlepper Ost – in short RSO – which literally translated means tracked tractor east. Already in 1942, more than 1,300 of these vehicles were manufactured. The RSO was used as towing vehicle for guns but in this use it showed straight large lacks. Some RSO were used as self-propelled anti tank guns. They were armed with mounted 7.5 cm Pak 40 anti tank guns. A further modification of the RSO had a boat structure and was floatable. Despite the lacks, the RSO was an indispensable transport vehicle until the end of war. More than 25,000 vehicles were manufactured by several companies.
Captured full tracked tractors played an important role in the stocks of the German Wehrmacht. Several full tracked tractors were taken over from the Czechoslovakian armed forces. Partially, production was kept up. During the campaign in the West, a larger quantity of armoured Renault UE full tracked tractors had been captured - among others. These were used as towing vehicles for anti tank guns, for example. In the Soviet Union, large quantities of civilian and military full tracked tractors were captured. They accomplished an important contribution to the mobility of the German units during the mud periods. Sometimes, the Soviet full tracked tractors were used by both war parties to a similar large extent!






Full-tracked tractors of German manufacturers, captured vehicles and production in the occupied territories






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