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Academy Kit

Academy 1/72 WWII Ground Vehicle Set 5 Build Review

By Bill Kreuger

Date of Review October 2005 Manufacturer Academy
Subject WWII Ground Vehicle Set 5 Scale 1/72
Kit Number 13404 Primary Media 94 parts (81 in tan styrene, 13 in clear styrene)
Pros Kit provides both cab options for standard production or "Einheits" standardized production Cons Still only provides 4 x 2 truck variant
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.00

Background

The Opel “Blitz” was the standard truck used by the German Army during the course of World War II. It was developed in the mid-1930’s when the German government began a program of economic modernization. Opel had already become a major manufacturer of automobiles and trucks in Germany; one of their more successful designs being the Opel Blitz “S” whose production was begun in 1936. When competition for military cargo trucks was held, the Opel design won and the factory received a large order for this new standard Wehrmacht vehicle. Between 1937 and 1944 almost 140,000 of these trucks were built and used. Most were built as cargo vehicles but many other variants were produced. These trucks were also license built by Mercedes-Benz beginning in about 1942.

Late in the production life of the Blitz truck, it was fitted with the famous “ersatz” cab. This was a structure made of wood and pressed card known as the “einheitsfahrerhaus.” This was done as a major economy measure when steel production became short.

The Kit

This is set number 5 in Academy’s World War II “Ground Vehicle” series. It consists of 94 parts on 5 different trees. Most of the parts are molded in a light tan plastic, and 13 are molded in clear plastic. Included are a 12 page instruction booklet and a decal sheet. The decal sheet is the same as that in Set No.3 (fuel truck and schwimmwagen) and is for trucks attached to Luftwaffe units. The instructions guide you through 17 steps in the construction of the kit; each step is a diagram detailing the location and fit of the parts. A painting guide for the kit is found on the last page of the instructions, along with a diagram showing the parts trees. The kit is packaged in a traditional “tray” type box with colorful box art on the top. The box art shows both early and late versions of the Opel truck parked on an airfield near a Junkers Ju-88 fighter. The box art, wording that describes the kit, and photographs on the side of the box lead one to believe there are two (2) models in the box. However, if you read the fine print at the bottom of the box art, you will see words which say “The kit contains one kit model.” There are optional parts included that will enable you to build either the early version or the late version. In my mind, this should be more clearly identified by Academy.

Construction

Opel Blitz The first few steps (1-6) in the construction have you assemble the engine, exhaust, tires and drive train of the kit. When you finish with step 6, the chassis for the vehicle is completed. The kit has a pretty detailed engine, exhaust and drive train assembly. It is too bad that all this is covered by the engine hood.  By step 7, you need to decide if you are building the early or late version of the truck. I built the late version as it seemed more interesting. Step 7 goes on into the late version, with steps 8 - 9 completing the assembly of the cab. If you opt for the early version, you move on to step 10 and finish the cab construction in step 11.

If you have built the late version, then step 12 shows the completion of the cab with the assembly of headlamps and side mirror to the cab. The headlamps include clear glass lenses. If you have built the early version, step 13 shows the completion of the cab for this version.

The construction through step 13 is easy and straight forward. The cab may be a little difficult, but if you are careful, it should not present any major assembly problems.

Opel Blitz Step 14 begins the construction of the truck bed, with the assembly of the side panels to the floor. This is where a few headaches began for me in the kit construction. Three sides of the truck bed went together fine, but the tailgate did not seem to want to fit very snug. I ended up re-building this section three times, making sure I had the construction right. I finally gave up and figured this was a troop transport and so the tailgate may have fit fairly loose after being used a few hundred times. Step 15 is the completion of the assembly of the bed. Here you assemble the slat seats into the bed and attach the spars to the bottom so the bed can be attached to the chassis.

The last two steps (16-17) complete the kit construction with assembly of the two main sub-assemblies to the chassis. This is where I experienced a little more difficulty, as the cab, if placed where indicated in the instructions, would not leave proper room for the bed on the chassis. I dry fit these parts a couple of times to make sure and they just would not fit correctly. I ended up making a “creative” adjustment to the chassis that allowed the cab and bed to fit properly.

Painting and Markings

Opel Blitz In painting the kit, I did as much detail painting as possible with the small parts on the sprues. Most of the kit was painted using Model Master Acryl Sandgelb. This was used for both the cab and the truck bed and sides. Such items as the tires, engine and the chassis were painted with Model Master Acryl Flat Black. With dry-brushing, I was able to highlight various details of the vehicle, especially the panels on the sides of the bed. The decal sheet provides license plates/vehicle i.d. panels for three different Luftwaffe vehicles. The decals were easy to use and settled into place very nicely.

Conclusions

Opel Blitz I enjoyed building this review kit, it presents a nicely detailed 1/72 scale model of either an early or late version of an Opel Blitz truck. I found the late version of the truck to be a very interesting subject to build. Most of the kit was easy to get through and minimal experience in kit construction is needed. I did have a couple of glitches in my construction, as described above. It was probably O.E. (Operator Error) rather than the kit. The one criticism I have for the kit, also mentioned above, is a need for clearer identification of what is included in the box. The description of the kit in large bold letters says “German Cargo Truck (Early & Late).” Photographs on the sides of the box, as well as the box art show both versions of the truck side by side. It is not until you read the fine print on the box top that you see the kit only builds up into one model. You are left with a lot of unused parts for the spares box; which is not a bad thing. With that said, I would recommend this kit to anyone interested in German military vehicles. I congratulate Academy for continuing its series of World War II ground vehicles. I look forward to seeing what they have planned next for the series.

Thanks to MRC/Academy for the review sample.

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