by: Robert Blokker [ ]
On the first of June 1933 the Chelyabinsk Tractor plant opened its gates to unleash the first batch of strong tracked tractors for general use onto the grounds of the motherland, as part of Stalin’s 5 year project to drag Soviet Russia kicking and screaming into a new era of prosperity and wealth. It would be the first meeting of the Soviet people and the S-60 tractor… for the Soviet heavy tractor industry this was Genesis.
And it would not be the last meeting either. The Chelyabinsk Tractor plant continued to produce on a biblical scale, manufacturing tractors like they were going out of style. In 4 years’ time they managed to produce no less than 69,100 of the S-60 Tractor before switching over to the improved and more powerful Stalinetz 65 Tractor.
The original design of the S-60 tractor came from the American-made Caterpillar S-60 and was license built in Chelyabinsk. The S-60 was powered by a petrol engine which provided 60 horsepower. Although powerful, the tractor was also incredibly slow. The 3 speed gearbox allowed for speeds up to 5,9 Kilometers per hour which is only fast if you compare it with continental drift. Still the petrol engine was able to tow huge loads and because of that it became popular with the Soviet people from the farmers to the army. The S-60 and the S-65 played a huge role during the second World War. As the war progressed a lot of the slow moving giants ended up in German hands where they were immediately put into good use.
The Ireland based company LZ models doesn’t really need an introduction. Libor Zachoval is by now well known for his really accurate research, amazing attention to detail, great quality in their castings and superb service. They provide the market with some of the most well thought out resin kits and conversions. Be it for 1:35 railroad to German, Italian, Allied or Russian WW2 subjects.
I have already reviewed 2 of the LZ models kits specially designed for the Trumpeter ChTZ S-65 and if those two sets are anything to go by then this conversion (which is for the same vehicle) will not disappoint.
The whole conversion is packaged in a Ziploc bag which is stapled shut at the top with a folded piece of paper telling you, the customer, what you just bought, what is inside, the company details, and a part count. The Ziploc bag is really well filled and the amount of parts at first glance might seem daunting to those new to the products of LZ models.
Inside the Ziploc bag you will find 3 more Ziploc bags. 2 are filled to the brim with cream colored resin parts, the third bag holds 3 frets of PE (1 big 2 small), a mini cd containing the build, paint and decal instructions, 1 small decal sheet, some lengths of metal wire and a bit of white styrene rod.
Over the 2 bags you will find a grand total of 83 cream colored resin parts.
Bag 1 holds pretty much all the big parts with 19 parts in total. This ranges from the big transmission block under the driver's seat, the chassis beams, the bigger parts for the engine like the block, oil pan, cylinders, the radiator grille with some very nice lettering on the sides, the chain drive housings for the sprockets, driver's seat, and the bigger parts for the running gear. All these are very nicely detailed with sharp details in the correct places. A minimum of cleanup will be needed and thanks to some smart master making a lot of the parts have pins that fit into holes which makes for easy and strong assemblies.
Bag 2 contains pretty much the rest. Among the 64 parts you will find all the major plumbing to the engine, the exhaust system, the steering system, all the parts to detail the running gear and the lower regions of the S60 Tractor. Pretty much every bit ‘n’ bob to detail your way into oblivion.
The PE fret contains 40 parts. The biggest parts are the fenders and they are also the most challenging. They have to be rounded at the back and a flange needs to be added to it. Some care is needed here. Further you will find all sorts of details and levers to spice up the engine and several parts to detail the running gear. Also included are straps for the petrol tank, PE holders for the headlights, etc., etc.
The third bag also provides you with 4 lengths of wire from varied thicknesses, a bit of styrene rod,
and a decal sheet with 3 decals on it: the numeral “132” and 2 swastika’s
The parts are all really well done. No air bubbles are visible and all parts are attached with the smallest possible casting blocks. Often you can just snap off the part from the casting block and a minimum of cleaning is required. This is one aspect of why it is a joy to assemble the kits and conversions from LZ models since you can start on it immediately and continue till the end in quite a short amount of time. All the parts are really well mastered, the amount of detail is simply stunning and the quality of casting is simply one of the highest I know.
To say that this is a conversion is probably not the best description. The S-60 differs quite a lot from the S-65. Which in turn of course means a lot of different parts to make the vehicle.. a whole lot to be truthful. In fact there are so many resin parts in this set that it is almost a complete kit missing some parts which you get from the Trumpeter ChTZ 65 kit. Basically the Trumpeter kit provides you with the running gear and some smaller bits-n-bobs to detail it. The rest of the S-60 is provided by LZ models.
The Instruction manual… or better said: book, is provided as a PDF on the mini CD that comes with the conversion. It is A4 size, has 25 pages and just as with the other kits I reviewed it is full of clear photographs showing neatly which part number goes where. When in doubt big arrows will lead the way. It simply is one of the best instruction manuals that is provided by an aftermarket company.
Cat or ChTZ?
With the S-60 being derived from the CAT 60 you might think it is easy to build either one from this set, but that is not the case. Kit# 35409 only provides you with everything needed to build the Russian tractor. Sure some parts only need some small modifications but some key parts that make it a CAT are different. If you want to build a CAT 60 you should take a look at Kit# 35506 from LZ models. That way you can make the American built tractor.
Kit vs the real deal:
I still haven’t got around building the kit so I can’t comment on the dimensions. But knowing the research Libor puts into his products I’d dare to bet it is spot on. The earlier conversions for the Trumpeter ChTZ S-65 were correct in every aspect as well.
Detail wise I’d say it is spot on as well. Everything on this conversion matches up with every picture I have seen either on the web or in the Tankograd Tyagatshi book, from the radiator grill to the back of the seat everything looks exactly like it should be. This set earned top points there.
It seems LZ models made another winner. Through fantastic research and some impressive master making skills Libor managed to create another nice conversion to turn the Trumpeter S-65 into yet another significant role player in the history of WW2. It is very complete, everything you need is in the bag. Details are superb and I have been lyrical in the past about the casting blocks. And I still am.. again the parts are cast on such tiny parts of resin that cleanup is a breeze.
Yes it is an elaborate set. Anybody whose experience with resin and PE is not that big might find the number of parts daunting. And the PE in the kit comes with a few challenges as well. However I’m pretty sure that if you follow the steps in the extremely well executed instruction manual and take some time and care to dry fit before assembly even the lesser experienced should be able to construct the S60 with ease.
My thanks goes out to Libor from LZ models for providing the review sample.