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Monday, February 13, 2012

German Cargo Trucks

While Germany took great advantage of Europe's rail network, supplies still had to be delivered from the rail station to the front line troops, not to mention that many places were out of reach by train. Or for instance, in the Soviet Union, the tracks were wider, so supplies had to be transferred to trains using Soviet train wagons, or tracks had to be made narrower (see this link for an in depth look at the German rail network during WWII). The problem was that it took time to peform such conversions and during the first couple years of the war against the Soviet Union the front line kept moving further away, so trucks had to fill the gap. A key vehicle for this in the German military was the Opel Blitz 3 ton LKW (Lastkraftwagen). It was used both for movement of troops and supplies as well as to tow artillery pieces. Weighing 5.8 tons, and with an 82 liter (20 gallon) fuel tank, they could travel up to 320 km on road, or 230 off-road. Over 82,000 of them were manufactured between 1937 and 1944 across several models, and they served in all fronts. Another earlier vehicle was the Krupp Protze Sd Kfz 70. This was a six-wheel truck/tractor produced between 1936 and 1941. 7000 of them were made and saw significant action in North Africa, the invasion of France, the Eastern front, and the Italian campaigns. It could carry a load of 1150kg for a distance of 450 km, using 110 liters (28 gallons) of fuel. It was phased out in favor of the Opel which offered better fuel economy. In terms of scale models we have a few options to examine.

21st Century Toys Opel Blitz Sd Kfz 305

This is the basic troop carrier or cargo truck, by 21C Toys. It is a nice model. It comes with a removable top, not included in this picture. It has a few moving parts lke the back door and the cabin doors. Can't go wrong with this truck to keep your German armies supplied. 

21st Century Toys Opel Blitz Sd Kfz 305

This is the same truck seen from behind. Note that it comes with benches -also removable- so that your troops can travel sitting down. Here I took advantage of some seated German soldiers to give it some passengers. I believe these guys are part of the Marx Battleground set. Now we can take them to the front.

Forces of Valor 3 Ton Cargo Truck - Eastern Front 1943-1944

This is FOV's version of the Opel Blitz Sd Kfz 305 without the top. I am not a big fan of the color scheme and how clean it looks, but I think the figures that come with it lift it up. Note also how the benches are along the sides of the truck, as opposed to across, as is the case with the model from 21C Toys. The upper portion of the railing is also a bit different, which makes it look a bit more realistic.

21st Century Toys Opel Blitz Sd Kfz 305

This is the same truck, with the top on and with the Afrika Korps color scheme. Just what you need to move supplies across the great expanses of the North African desert.

Forces of Valor 3 Ton Cargo Truck

This is FOV's variation of the Opel Blitz Sd Kfz 305 with the top on. I actually like the canvas a lot. It has so much texture and the ventilation flaps look so real that you might even think that you can open them. The paint scheme is not my favorite, but at least it has a minor amount of weathering, to make it a bit dusty and avoid making it look brand new. This truck also comes in grey, with a green tarp, which I think I like a bit more than this one. 

21st Century Toys Maultier - Grey

The Maultier or Mule was a variation of the Opel truck (and other truck types) that used the Panzer I track system which was no longer in production to give the trucks greater mobility in the Rasputitsa -the thick mud of the Soviet Union- Some Maultiers were armored (Sd Kfz 4) and even equipped with rocket launchers (Sd Kfz 4/1). Just as it was relatively easy for the Germans to add tracks to their trucks it was also easy for 21C to adapt their Opel Blitz model to have tracks. In addition to that they changed the divisional insignia and we got a new model.

21st Century Toys Maultier - Tan Cammo

Another variation on the Maultier from 21C Toys. I don't know if the Maultier was actually used in North Africa. I could imagine that on sandy terrain it might work better than a wheeled truck, plus these colors seem adequate, so this one has been allocated to the Afrika Korps.

Forces of Valor Sd Kfz 70 as Cargo Truck - Part I

Definitely a more attractive model than the Opel. The lines and the amount of wheels on it simply make it more interesting. A well made model, and the 3 figures which come with it make it come to life. The only thing not to like about it is the price, as has been the case with most recent FOV models. Well the other thing is that they are increasinly using more plastic pieces in these vehicles and they are losing the nicer, heavier feel that they used to have.

Forces of Valor Sd Kfz 70 as Cargo Truck - Part II

The back view. Note that in this configuration, the Sd Kfz comes with sitting benches and side walls to hold troops or cargo inside. 

Forces of Valor Sd Kfz 70 as Artillery Tractor - Part I

The same chassis, but this time a different configuration on the back, adapted to carry a bunch of ammo boxes for the PAK 36 which it is towing behind. I did not show it in this picture, but it is also possible to load the PAK on to the back of the truck, with the wheels resting on the middle seat and the tip of the gun pointing back. In such case, you can't have the men sitting there. 

Forces of Valor Sd Kfz 70 as Artillery Tractor - Part II

Here is a shot with the PAK deployed. This is BTW, the only PAK 36 that I have come across, so it was a nice extra that came with the truck. Unfortunately it does not come with an artillery crew, so I will have to find some guys to operate it. 

Forces of Valor Sd Kfz 70 as Artillery Tractor - Part III

A view from the back. I like how that man can sit facing the rear. It even seems like the vehicle provides him with foot rests by design.   

Forces of Valor Opel Blitz Ambulance

This one comes to us from Forces of Valor. A nice variation of the Opel truck. Die cast, so it has a heavier feel to it. All doors on the back and sides open, and you can actually see the inside of the ambulance. I should probably update this post to show it. Now I just need some German stretcher bearers to go with it.


  1. The OPEL is a great vehicle but so costly. And they seem to be on the market for such a short time! I did manage to get 4 of the Supply trucks.

  2. I know... 21C is now really pricey because they are out of production and FOV is also expensive because they don't have any real competition... Hopefuly some other company will step into the market and help bring prices down and introduce new vehicles in the process... otherwise, we lose :-(