Designed specifically with the intention of creating a tracked vehicle that could effectively traverse the Rasputitsa conditions of the Eastern Front, the Raupenschlepper had a Steyr V8 engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour cross country.
The vehicle itself was unarmed and unarmored, but since the vehicle was a transport, it had the ability to utilize any infantry weapons that the passengers had on board. The total weight of the vehicle was around 5,200 kilograms while its total length was 4.4 meters.
It operated very similarly to a regular truck and as such it only required a driver with the optional navigator and passengers. The transmission was 4 speed forward, 1 speed reverse and the operational range was about 250 kilometers.
During the war, several variants of the original RSO were developed because of the reliability and ability of the RSO to navigate difficult terrain. The first of these, the RSO/2 and RSO/3 were similar with both being given modified cabins, though the RSO/3 had a lower powered air cooled engine. The final variant of the RSO series was the RSO/PaK.
This model came out of the need for an infantry support vehicle that could be moved quickly so that it would not come under enemy fire on the move like static artillery pieces. However, the choice of chassis was not ideal considering it was then moved to Panzer Divisions instead to make up for losses. In that way, the RSO/PaK may have made a difference in infantry combat but the true outcome will remain unknown because of wartime shortages.
The Raupenschlepper Ost was initially developed in 1941 after the German High Command witnessed first hand the disastrous performance once Rasputits] season and winter set in. Their main purpose was to replace lighter half tracks that had trouble in the mud and it was used in this role of artillery tractor for the rest of the war. The RSO also eventually took the place of trucks as a reliable vehicle that could traverse the terrain became scarce.
- ↑ http://www.lonesentry.com/ordnance/raupenschlepper-ost-steyr-typ-rso01-full-track-light-prime-mover.html
- ↑ http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/rsoph_1.htm
- ↑ http://www.achtungpanzer.com/raupenschlepper-ost-rso.htm