Roden 1/72 Opel 'Blitz' (Daimler Built)
Scott Van Aken
Opel "Blitz" (Kfz.305) (4 x 2) During
World War Two the German Army adopted and intensively used many types of
cargo truck, but without doubt the three-tone Opel "Blitz" was the most
famous of all Wehrmacht vehicles. With more than 100,000 built, these
trucks with the Bitz's characteristic lightning emblem on the radiator
front panel became symbolic of Germany's conquests. Its tire tracks could
be seen in the great city squares of Europe; in the fields of France and
also in the endless sands of the African desert; and it even overcame the
infamous Russian mud. These trucks had a reputation of hardiness and
being easy to repair which made them a legend.
The story of the Opel "Blitz" began in the mid-1930s when the new German
National Socialist government instigated a program of economic
modernization with a clearly expressed militaristic direction. At this
time the American General Motors concern had already owned the Opel
factories for ten years and Opel had quickly become a major German car
manufacturer, with a great family of different vehicle types. One of
their most successful designs was the Opel "Blitz" S whose production
started in 1936. When the 'Western dam' construction began, more than
10,000 trucks of different types were involved. It was the original
competition for military cargo trucks and the result was that the Opel
"Blitz" won. The Opel factory received a massive order for this new
standard Wehrmacht vehicle.
The European conflict which started on September 1st, 1939, gathered pace
with many fronts opening up, and obviously huge numbers of trucks were
needed. Many thousands of civil Opel "Blitz" S produced before the war
was drafted into army units. These civil trucks were brought up to army
standard Kfz.305 - the official military designation for the Opel
"Blitz". In all about 140 different army modifications were installed on
the Opel "Blitz" chassis during the war years - they became radio cars,
repair stations, fuel trucks, and even some exotic types like mobile
laundries or printing-houses. Many other vehicles like staff buses or
fire trucks were also based on the Blitz chassis.
From 1937 up to 1944 nearly 140,000 vehicles were built, among them
82,356 standard army Blitz S trucks, 14,122 with a long wheelbase and
also 8,363 with a low-level base. In 1942 another famous manufacturers,
Daimler Benz AG was involved in Opel "Blitz" license manufacture.
Mercedes-built trucks were visually identical to the standard Blitz but
had their own designation, Mercedes L701. License production started only
in 1944, when the main Opel factory in Russelheim was destroyed by Royal
Air Force bombing.
From the first days of war the Opel "Blitz" was very popular in the army.
These trucks were integral to the organization of Panzer Divisions but
unlike all other German trucks they used gasoline, and tanks used the
same fuel. Ground pressure was low and the Blitz could overcome some
obstacles which other types, even three-axle trucks, had problems with.
Operation and repair in the field was very easy.
The Eastern campaign demonstrated another advantage of the Opel "Blitz",
whose gasoline engine could be easily and simply started with boiled
water in very cold weather conditions, when diesel-fuelled trucks
typically failed. Large numbers of trucks of this type were taken into
the Red Army as trophies, and if the condition of the vehicles was
satisfactory, they were used without any problem. Some Opel "Blitz"es
even took part in Russian-Japanese battles in eastern China in 1945.
This truck became a legend in the army and the absolute favorite among
drivers. Some of them were convinced that Germany lost the war because
the available quantity of Opel "Blitz"es was too little.
Thanks to Roden for the background
has gotten a lot of mileage out of its Open Blitz sprues over the years. After
the initial release of the standard steel cab Blitz, they went into a bevy of
very cool Opel busses and a Maultier. This is only the second time they have
done another version of the standard truck. In this case it is a wooden cab
version. Aside from the different bits on the main sprue to take care of the
differences in the cab, this kit is identical to the one released several years
back. The sprues have held up very well indeed, despite being quite well used.
Molded in a tan plastic, the quality
of the molding is first-rate. No flash, no appreciable sink areas and only
a few ejector pin marks, most of which will disappear when the vehicle is
built. In fact, the only ones that may be visible would be on the underside
of the bed and interior floorboard. The side and back panels are all
superbly done with excellent detail. As mentioned this version has the cab made from
wood to save on strategic materials.
You get a complete engine and a fully
detailed chassis. Even the driver's floor pedals are included as well as a
gear shift and brake handle. I'm not too thrilled about the two-piece rear
axle housing, but it will eliminate any problems from shifted mold halves.
There are wooden benches in the rear and one has the option of doing the
rear top up or down. Acetate
is provided for the transparencies. There are also a number of of rolls and
shovels to attach to the outside of the vehicle. The engine side panels are
separate, so you could leave them off to show the truck's engine.
Instructions are quite well done with
clearly drawn construction steps. Color information is provided using Humbrol and generic names. Markings for
a single vehicle are included, that being based in France during 1944 with
a large green and brown disruptive pattern over its base tan. Of course,
you can do a bunch of other vehicles if you so wish as these trucks carried a
variety of patterns.
Those of you who prefer to model in 1/72 scale will be
very happy with this one. It provides a late war truck to go along with your
other vehicles from that time period.
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. You can
get yours at
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