by: Andras [ ]
Plus Model has produced a resin version of the RL-20 keeping with their tradition of producing unconventional vehicles.
The RL-20 itself was not a very famous or glamorous vehicle. It is not really a readily-recognisable iconic tractor; it was a vehicle that was widely used and little noticed. Hanomag produced it as a cheap towing tractor between 1937 and Ď42 using car components, and it was quite ubiquitous in Germany with over 4300 units produced. After the war production re-started under the designation of RL-20N, and later a re-designed version as RL-25. There are still a lot of these tractors around, and you can still buy parts or even whole vehicles on Ebay.
The tractor had a Hannomag D19, 4 cylinder diesel engine with a nominal 19.8HP output. It was widely used in agriculture, and it found uses in the German Armed Forces as well (classified as leichter Radschlepper , or light wheeled tractor)
The parts are reasonably well secured within plastic bags within the sturdy box; some did break off their blocks, but I did not get any breakages. The resin is very well cast, with a minimal amount of flash. Most of the parts are simple to remove from their pouring blocks, however I had some serious issues with the steering wheel; itís very easy to break it as you remove it from the block. (I will need to fix it when I have the time; I needed to finish the model for this review.) The PE is also easy to use: not too thick and not too thin; the detail is well done. A word of warning: some parts are very small. We do get some decals with the model (licence plate, signs, etc.), however there is no decals for the instrument faces provided, which is somewhat surprising. The instructions- for most parts- are easy to follow, well laid out.
Two options are offered: German grey/civilian version. Donít let PlusModel limit your imagination- itís quite useful to browse photos online of the tractor as there are lots of modifications and lots of possible colour schemes out there; those photos might provide some inspiration.
Building the model was a relatively simple affair; you donít need an awful lot of experience with resin models to give it a shot. The frame is really tight fit- everything is absolutely spot on (the PE part M1 has small nicks to help with accurate placement to the resin frame). In general I had no complaints with the build, apart from a couple of smaller issues listed below.
It is somewhat difficult to set the proper angle for the front mudguards. I attached the wheels at the very last step, and found out that one of the mudguards actually sit on the front wheel. I would suggest dry-fitting the wheel before attaching the mudguard to serve as a point of reference.
The bolt heads on the mudguards are incredibly small PE parts, quite difficult to glue. Perhaps making these as a detail of the resin piece would have been better.
I had some difficulties placing the engine onto the frame: it does not fit perfectly as there is no placement point for it.
The drive shaft was also a bit too long, but thatís hardly something a small scalpel could not fix.
The holders for the headlights need to be perfectly aligned; even the slightest misalignment will cause the headlights to look wonky. (Hard learned lesson.)
I decide to leave the top of the tractor off because I liked the look better that way, and not to install the engine side covers; this way I can display the engine. (The really nice battery is hidden as it is under the floor of the driving compartment.) I also did end up not using a clear acetate sheet for the windshield. I did try it, but it looked very unrealistic (too thick and too foggy for the scale); so I left it out. I chose a deep green colour with red wheel hubs; I found a tractor like this for sale on a German webpage.
The headlights were painted chrome using a Liquid Chrome pen by Molotow, then covered it up with Abaddon Black by Citadel making sure a rim of chrome stays visible around the lens. There is a small indentation for the headlight holder on the transparent resin, but you will need to enlarge and deepen it with a hand drill to make sure it sits securely. I used white glue to fix it in place to avoid fogging. (If you make sure itís ventilated properly, it you can use CA glue as well.)
The model was painted with Scale Green from Citadel (I liked the intense, deep colour), and I applied the decals directly onto the paint (dry paint, obviously). Once the decals dried I sealed them with a semi-gloss varnish, and used light collared pigments to add some dust in several layers. (I brushed them on mixed with white spirit, waited until they dried, and removed most of the pigments using a wide brush dampened with white spirit.) I used a small piece of sponge to add rust to the edges of the vehicle. I did not want to go overboard with weathering; I wanted to keep the tractor relatively pristine. (The other option was to build it as a rusted wreck, but I could not resist the bright colours- they provided a rare opportunity for a modeller who focuses mainly on armour.)
Overall this is an excellent model by PM; it is accurate, highly customizable, and depicts a ubiquitous vehicle that is not available in model form. While it is easy to image this model as a ďsupporting castĒ in a diorama, its price tag is quite hefty; and this is why, to be honest, Iím not sure who the intended target audience is.