In order to standardise their vehicle fleet the German Army (which by the late 1930s had more than 100 different vehicle designs in service, leading to massive logistical difficulties), opted for a pre-war commercial truck design by Adam Opel AG of Brandenburg to become their standard cargo truck With only slight modifications to meet military requirements, the Opel Blitz would quickly become one of the most widely used Axis vehicles throughout the war years, being used in all theatres of the War and in a variety of roles. The usual body style was a flat cargo bed with a canvass cover, but others were fitted out for such roles as Field Ambulance, Mobile Workshop and Command vehicles.
Powered by a 3,600cc Opel six-cylinder petrol engine developing 73.5 hp (54.8 kW) driving only the twin rear wheels, the Blitz had an enclosed steel cab and wooden bodywork (although late in the war some were built out of pressed card to conserve steel), the Blitz could carry a payload of 3,000kg, or tow a load of up to 5,000kg, and although well built, suffered from being rather too complicated for reliability in the rugged conditions found on the Eastern Front.
To improve cross-country performance, from 1940, a limited number were built with four-wheel drive (under the designation-‘Allrad’). Additionally, in 1942-1943 a number of these trucks were converted in to half-tracks (Maultier) by replacing the rear wheels with a Carden-Loyd pattern track unit with two bogies on each side. Although these performed quite well the track units was not really designed for heavy load-bearing, and thus the payload was limited to a maximum of 2,000 kg (or 3,000 kg towed).
In total over 70,000 Opel Blitz trucks were supplied to the German Armed Forces during the war years with production only ending in 1944, when a combination of Allied bombing and ground advances resulted in the closure of the factories.
Weight: 3290 kg
Length: 6.02 m
Range: 410 km
Maximum road speed: 80 km/h
The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Military Vehicles (Ian V Hogg & John Weeks,-Hamlyn, 1980);
Armoured Fighting Vehicles (Philip Trewbitt, Dempsey-Parr,1999)