Germany's Wehrmacht used just about anything on wheels to supplement its motor pool during World War Two, including thousands of captured cars and trucks. It's a great time for trucks and cars of the period, with many new makes being released by manufacturers like ICM, IBG, Master Box and, of course, Dragon.
Yet probably the most-recognizable softskin in the entire German motor pool would be the Opel "Blitz," rated at 3 tons, and coming out in both a 2-wheel and 4-wheel configuration. Upwards of 70,000 were built, both by Opel (a division of the American company General Motors) and under license by Daimler-Benz. Historians have condemned GM for abetting the Nazis rearming Germany, while at the same time the Wehrmacht mistrusted the Opel factory in Rüsselsheim (along with Ford's factory in Cologne), and refused to have any militarily-significant production (such as tanks) undertaken by Opel. I guess there are no blacks and whites in war.
The Blitz 3-ton model served on all fronts, and in a variety of configurations, including fuel and water tank versions, firefighting and radio platforms, as well as a police van with barred windows popular with the Gestapo. Dragon Models has already released two limited edition versions of the basic cargo truck through its Cyberhobby arm, updating (and surpassing) the Tamiya and Italeri stalwarts. Now it has launched another limited edition Blitz, this one an AA gun truck. Given that the original release is long sold out, this new limited edition may prove to be hard to find shortly.
what you get
Inside the usual Cyberhobby white box are:
15 sprues of light grey styrene
1 sprue of clear parts
1 soft plastic container with 2 PE spent shell casing baskets
1 small sheet of divisional markings, license plates & instrument dials
2 frets of PE for the jerry can "seam," Blitz logo, screens, etc.
1-piece Dragon Styrene rolled-up "canvas" tarp
1 sheet of masks for the windshield & windows
8 page instruction & painting/decal guide
The model claims some new features over previous Blitz models, including:
a tailgate that can be assembled up/down
newly tooled gun sled for mounting the 2cm FlaK 38
weld seams on the gun cradle and hand wheels
detailed radiator grill w/filler cap
optional 8- or 6-bolt wheel rims
driver's door can be assembled in the open or closed position
The trenchant features about this model are the crisp molding, and the detailing, especially the 2cm FlaK gun. The 20mm was a staple of both anti-aircraft and anti-personnel usage, though its 220 rounds/minute rate-of-fire was undercut by its small projectile, with the heavier 3.7cm the preferred Wehrmacht AA gun. Still, nearly 150,000 were manufactured by Rheinmetall-Borsig and Mauser, so it's fitting that Dragon should have it on so many platforms.
The kit includes a moderately-detailed, engine, though if you plan on showing the bonnet/hood open, you'll need a detailing book like Opel Blitz in Detail
showing the many wires & feed lines.
The cab on the real Blitz was fairly Spartan, so the kit's details should please all but the ardent scratchbuilder. Details like the Notek light and tow hooks all look sound and to-scale.
One feature about the kit that disappointed a great deal and caused me to lower my rating were the tires. Up to now, all the Blitz models coming from Dragon have been their more-expensive, limited edition Cyberhobby subsidiary, so finding conventional 2-piece tire halves instead of the "slice" or "sandwich" technique Dragon used on the previous Early War Blitz kit reviewed superbly by Rick Cooper here
means you'll have an annoying seam to deal with. I don't know why Dragon opted for a "smart kit" simplification, and for $50, I think it's a missed opportunity. At least give us relatively seamless Dragon Styrene DS one-piece tires.
painting and decals
The kit unfortunately has only one option: the Hermann Göring Motorized Regiment, serving in the 1st Panzer Group commanded by Ewald von Kleist, which fought in the Ukraine during Barbarossa. I don't have any information on whether this gun truck fought elsewhere, though I do know the mounting sled did.
The paint scheme is Panzer Gray (naturally), with the decals showing a "K" for "Kleist." But the unit symbol appears to be an oak leaf, the insignia of the 1st Panzer Division, which fought around Leningrad and not part of Army Group South. In any case, the decals do NOT include the divisional symbol later associated with the Hermann Göring units (an eagle perched on a diamond). I don't know when that symbol was adopted, or when it was first placed on HG vehicles, but the decals are questionable until this is sorted out.
Unlike many earlier Dragon softskins, this one does have decals for the dashboard instrumentation, though I would probably opt for the Archer Transfer versions
if the door is going to be open and the dash visible.
As ground attack aircraft became more and more of a threat to the Wehrmacht, gun trucks proved a cheap and easy option. Removable sleds made conversion quick and uncomplicated, and could even allow for the truck to be reconverted for hauling goods should the gun be put in-place. This is one of the few styrene German gun trucks released, and it's a welcome addition to the flood of softskins hitting the market lately. While a bit pricy at over $50, the detailed FlaK 38 and limited availability make this one worth jumping on.
Having released three versions of the two-wheel drive Blitz, I hope Dragon now will release the four-wheel drive version; the differences are small but significant (mostly in the front wheel array and axle).
Opel Blitz in Detail, Wings & Wheels #39.
Thanks to Dragon USA for this review sample. Be sure to say you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.