Opel 3 ton 4x2 Cargo Truck
Armies cannot operate long without supplies (food, fuel, ammo to start with) delivered to them. The German High Command thought so highly of this Opel truck that the German government nationalized production in 1940, taking it out of the hands of the US GM owners. The Opel Blitz “S” model began production in April, 1937 and by July, 1944, 82,356 3t trucks had been manufactured. The final number is actually over 100,000 when specialized vehicles built on this chassis are included. To further emphasize how valuable this truck was to Germany, in late 1945 the US Military allowed Opel to reopen the production facilities for the 3t truck to aid post-war recovery.
This is Dragon’s second kit of what they call the German 3t 4x2 cargo truck (early type platform), also known as the Opel Blitz. The first kit (#6670) came out in late 2010 and modeled a late version (1942-44). This new kit contains 279 parts, which includes seven clear parts, one DS100 part, one photo-etch brass sheet, one set of self-adhesive window masks, and a decal sheet. The parts are finely molded, with careful attention either to placing the punchout marks in places that will not be seen or being molded with none in the first place. This kit, as a bonus, includes all the parts of the first kit as well as the new parts that allow one to make an early version, so it is really a 2 in 1 kit.
From here on out, I will be going through each step and pointing out items that will make your building easier. The first thing to watch for is the Dragon instructions. They give you options but never seem to tell you what they are for. Step One is for tire assembly and if you were making a late version you would want to make the 6 bolt wheels and use parts from the E sprue, but since this build is about the early version, the 8 bolt wheels are found on the G sprue. We’ll begin with the front tires (A) – place part G6 inside of the tire half E1, then glue from the inside to prevent glue marks on the tire. Next, glue G10, then E8 and finally the other tire half E2. When assembling the two rear dual tires (B1 & B2) it is important that one side will have E10 and the other side will have E9 as these are keyed into the rear axle.
To assemble the inside tire, glue G8 to the inside of the tire half E1, then attach G10, then E10, and finally glue on the other tire half E2. Repeat for the other rear inside tire, but don’t forget that this one will have E9. To assemble the rear outside tires, place part G7 inside of E1, then glue on the inside, then glue on E2 to finish the outside tire. Repeat for the other outside tire. Note that since you used part G7 you will not need to add part E4 as shown in the instructions. It took me a while to figure this out, so I hope you will have an easier time with it. It’s at this point that you may wish to use sandpaper to reduce the glue line on the tires and give them some wear. You also may want to add the tire stems with some styrene round stock, since this is not provided for.
Step Two is engine assembly, which is a snap after the tires. The only comment I would make is that the engine is to be painted H 18-28; if you look at the paint listing, this is not listed. I did go online and found out that the paint color is STEEL. Step Three is adding the radiator, its housing along with the front tow hooks, and horn.
Step Four is front end assembly. Carefully scrape some fine mold lines off the leaf springs. When you look at the inside of the front tires you will see a line of three holes. These need to be facing the bottom as that will allow the steering linkage to mount properly to the wheels. While the model was designed for the front wheels to be straight, I think you can make them turn slightly by turning them when you glue them on. Just be careful of your alignment and you will have to adjust the steering linkage to follow. As I said, I haven’t tried this, but it does appear to be doable.
Step Five/Six is the rear end assembly and extra parts. Put together the spare tire using part G9. The kit provides two spare tires even though you will only use one, but the other could be placed in the cargo bed or saved for later use. Remember to drill out the end of the exhaust pipe before you attach it to the frame. Also remember to attach the leaf springs (C12 & C13) in the correct position after you have cleaned them up. You will assemble the rear tow hitch, tool box, and jerry can rack. The kit provides you with three early jerry cans but only one photo etch insert, so only one jerry can will be completely assembled. However, the other two can be completed with some .010 styrene sheet.
Step Seven has several sub assemblies that form the truck’s front end and cab. When I first opened the kit, the one part that was deformed was part A17 (hood assembly), but I did not panic and took my time and carefully glued it to the front end A6. With some slight bending and attachment of the radiator hood, it straightened the part out for me. Speaking of the radiator hood, Dragon has made it with see through bar spacing. This is also true of the hood panels A1 and A2. This is good use of slide molding technology. Since I wanted to show off the nice engine, I decided to have the right hood panel open and the left hood panel closed. The firewall/front cab panel part A16 is glued to the front end and the pedals and shifter are installed. The instrument gages are provided as decals and are best placed after painting the interior. The running boards are bonded to part A16. Both these parts have very shallow punch out marks that can be sanded or scrapped away. I did not glue the cab rear (part A11) in place at this time and waited till step nine before I installed it.
Step Eight is attaching the front end onto the frame. What you have to remember here is to glue the front end first, then glue the gas tank (parts D32/33). It will not fit the other way around. Step Nine finishes the cab assembly. In this step, the seat D63 is glued in. Once that was set, I attached the cab rear (A11) using the seat as a positive stop. The parts for the doors and the cab top assembled with no problems. I decided, since the kit allowed it, that the left door would be closed and the right door open. I also took advantage of the fact that the doors are hollow, being put together with an outside and inside panel. What this allowed me to do was cut a slot where the window would go and then trim the window and place it into the opening partially open on both sides. That’s above and beyond the kit, but I wanted to try it and it worked.
Step Ten assembles the support structure on the cargo bed underside. What you have to be on guard for here is to make sure the supports for the fenders are in the right location. They are keyed, so be sure to glue these in first. When dry, attach the fenders. Look at the painting/decal guide and see how the fenders look from the side view. Notice that the fenders had a thicker rim towards the rear. Make sure you glue on the fenders with this feature. The other item to watch out for is support part C18 (both of them). Do NOT attach them to the frame made up of parts C3 and C14, even though the drawing may seem to indicate this. Part C18 only attached to the bed at the rear of the bed. The other end will attach to the frame. If you look at the top of the frame at the rear, you will notice two sets of two holes that are for part C18 to be glued to. So now you know. Finally, you have a choice of three rear plate holders: D26, D34 or D36.
Step 11/12 assembles sides to the cargo bed, and then the bed to the frame. Pretty straightforward here with no problems. The kit provides parts D22 and D23, towing indicators. This is an optional part you don’t need if you know your vehicle is not towing anything. If you do decide to attach these parts, use part D22 which has the indicator up. If not towing, use part D23, which has the indicator in the down position.
Step 13 is final assembly. Again we have a part that just shows up on the drawing with no mention of it anywhere else. Part D41 goes on the front left fender. Another optional part is the spotlight mounted on the right window frame. It is tricky to put together and I would check your photos of the vehicle you’re modeling before using it. One thing not mentioned is that you will need to glue the clear part (F1) in place at the front of the spot light if you do decide to use it. Lastly, you’ll need to assembly the front lights and width indicators and place them on the vehicle.
Throughout this whole process, I painted the parts during each step and in some cases even did the weathering before I glued the parts together, as was the case for the inside of the cab. Otherwise, it would be much more difficult to do so afterward. Speaking of the cab interior, the kit forgot to provide for a fire extinguisher, so you may have to find one to place in there. The decals are by Cartograf and are excellent – flat with very little trimming necessary, and they went on with no problems. Decals for seven vehicles are provided, five in North Africa, 1942, one in France, 1940, and one for Barbarossa, 1941. The license plate for the 21 Pz. Div. North Africa, 1942, is provided. For the others, you will have to make up your own plates using the numbers and blank plates the kit has provided.
I found the model to have excellent details, providing the modeler with many opportunities for dioramas or as a stand-alone model. While some of the construction can be confusing, this is the result of the instructions, the one weak point on this kit. Overall, I can highly recommend this kit to any modeler who wants to make a model of this important military vehicle. I want to thank IPMS/USA and Dragon/USA for the chance to review this model.