by: Matt Smith [ ]
When the Germans ran into the spring thaw on the Eastern Front they desperately needed more mobile vehicles to provide men and materiel to forward units. One solution was to take reliable wheeled vehicles and modify them to use a tracked drive system. One of the best known of these conversions was the Sk.Kfz.3a Opel Maultier based on the 3 ton variant of the Opel Blitz cargo truck.
Opening the standard DML box with front cover artwork by Ron Volstad, you are greeted with 551 parts (340 in grey styrene, 197 Magic Track single links, 7 clear styrene, 7 etched brass) arranged neatly in a pile before you.
As with its predecessor Blitz cargo versions this is a typical DML offering with lots of slide molded parts. The kit includes a nicely done radiator shell with open bars and photo etched Opel Blitz grill badges. It comes with a complete engine and nicely done hood frame for opening the hood to view the engine.
The driver’s compartment is complete with all pedals, levers and instruments for the panel. Doors have inside and outside handles and separate clear windows. Additionally, DML have included three window masks for the front windshield, driver’s window and passenger window.
While maintaining several sprues from the 4 x 2 Blitz wheeled vehicle kits, this kit adds or replaces 323 parts to bring you the Maultier. You receive a totally new chassis and suspension, with the multi-piece tires for the front and an intricate rear suspension. Also included are both early (six bolt) and late (eight bolt) wheels to choose from as well, and a new engine block and crankcase are provided for the modified drive line.
The four-plank body has complete underside bracing and mounts but no troop seats. This is probably due to the folding sides, which DML designed for display either raised or lowered.
Kit Review - Sprues
Sprue A - 16 parts from the standard Opel kit – This sprue contains parts for the cab, hood and fenders.
Sprue B - 16 new tooled part for the Maultier kit – This sprue contains parts for the cargo body and sides. The wood grain is well textured and quite nicely finished.
Sprue C - 49 parts from the standard Opel kit – This sprue contains parts for the chassis, axles, running gear and engine. Most of this sprue will be consigned to your spares box, as Sprue H will replace the chassis and drive axle among other details.
Sprue D - 83 parts from the standard Opel kit – This sprue contains parts for the cab interior, handles, details and lights.
Sprue E (x2) - 17 parts from the standard Opel kit- As this sprue contains wheels and tires for the 4 x 2 wheeled version, half of these will be added to your growing spares box.
Sprue F - 7 parts from the standard Opel kit- This clear styrene sprue contains the windshield, door windows and headlight parts.
Sprue G – 21 parts from the standard Opel kit – This sprue contains the early style body panel details as well as the eight bolt/eight hole wheels on a separate “G” sprue with 11 more parts.
Sprue H - 47 new tooled parts for the Maultier kit – This sprue contains the new chassis and drive axle unique to the tracked Maultier.
Sprue J – 17 new tooled parts for the Maultier kit – This sprue contains the nicely detailed engine, front wheels and other details. A separate 14 part “J” sprue contains the idlers and details associated with the idler arms.
Sprue K (x2) - 12 new tooled parts for the Maultier kit – This sprue contains the halftrack suspension bogies and a separate “K” sprue contains 4 parts for the road wheels for the tracked drive.
Sprue “Z” – This is not a sprue, but a baggie containing 197 individual Magic Track links. The links are very tiny (6mm x 3mm) and very, very fragile. There is not much surface area for gluing, and you will probably need to make a jig of some sort for best results. I would probably use Testors Liquid Cement in the black bottle with the steel applicator tube for these tracks.
MB - 7 photo etched brass details including the aforementioned “Opel Blitz” badge for the front grill.
Instructions & Painting Guide
The instructions are in standard A4 size sheets, with normal DML exploded view drawings. Not nearly as complicated as most armored vehicles are; DML makes use of the “Smart Kit” label by not over-engineering the kit for the sake of a huge parts count. The last page lists the following five different finishing options for the kit:
Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943 (sand overall, WH-1437712)
Pz.Gren.Rgt. 33, Eastern Front 1943 (sand, door markings)
Pz.Gren.Rgt. 12, Eastern Front 1943 (sand with green, no registration number)
4th Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1944 (white bands over sand-and-green, no registration number)
Driver Training Vehicle, Germany, 1942 (panzer grey with white numbers, e.g. 28, WH-1437890)
A nice sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.
Overall, this kit offers a very popular version of the Blitz, and by contemporary standards, at a reasonable price. The only drawback I can see from this in-box review is that the tracks will frustrate some modelers, with 85 links suggested per side.