In the 3-ton (or medium) category the major and most successful design was the Opel Blitz. This was a 1938 design from Opel (the German subsidiary then, as now, of General Motors) and was quite conventional in layout. The Opel Model S3.6-36, to give its maker’s designation, was a 4×2 vehicle with pressed steel cab and bonnet. Suspension was by conventional leaf springs.
During its war production run, there were many special purpose variants produced; over 100 different types were recorded. Most important of these featured a house-type body (Einheitskofferansbau) which could be fitted as a workshop, laundry, laboratory, command caravan, radio van, cipher office, ambulance, or for dozens of other purposes. The box-like house body was made of wood and compressed card, partly for ease of production and to save metal. Late in the Blitz’s production life it was similarly fitted with the famous ‘ersatz’ cab, a wood and pressed card structure know as the ‘einheitsfahrerhaus’, again as a major economy measure when steel became short.
Getting straight to it, construction begins with the lower chassis which I assembled per the Tamiya instructions with only a small deviation to replace the stowage boxes with a new set of Aber brass. Tamiya has reproduced this kit with the double leaf spring suspension found on later
production vehicles, though provided the early bolt patterned wheels. If you are using the kit wheels then the upper leaf spring should be removed. However, I found that the MIG Productions wheel set shows the later bolt design thus eliminating the need for modifications to the suspension. The MIG replacement wheels feature very crisp molding and make for a nice alternative to the kit parts; however the mounting holes are very shallow. The quick fix is to drill out the holes and/or shortened the axel ends to achieve the proper fit. I chose to also insert a section of brass rod for added strength. I realize now that I should have added snow chains to the real wheels…oh, well. We'll just say that there was a material shortage.
Continuing along with the instructions the next steps move onto the crew cab. Here again the basic Tamiya instruction are clear and assembly is straightforward. But, once again I deviated from the basic instructions I spent quite a bit of time dressing-up the cab with Aber brass, while Royal Models resin replaced the kit’s headlights. I also choose to replace the kit’s pioneer tools with some better detailed DML tools I had in my extra parts box. Moving forward, the impressive snow plow is from Plus Model. I approached this particular part of the construction, the plow, with some apprehension as it appeared very complex from the box top photos.
Opening the box to take a peak at the minimalist instructions inside (line drawings) did little to boost my confidence. Once begun, however, I was pleasantly impressed by the logical sequence and sure fit of the parts. The only issue I found was that the Plus Model conversion is designed for the Italeri Mercedes L 3000 kit which required a little fudging on some of the bracket mounting. Nothing too drastic: Only requiring a little sanding here or a replacement bolt head there. The familiar Tamiya rear cargo bed features nice wood grain texture and some very inconvenient sink holes. Be prepared to spend a relaxing evening of puttying, sanding and re-scribing of the wood grain texture. Here again, the rear cargo area is supplemented with bits and pieces of Aber brass.
Of course any respectable “Snow Blitz" would need proper camouflage; a rough winter white wash. I relied upon the "hairspray method" while also incorporating a kitchen pad to mask the pattern’s edges for a rougher, hand-painted look. The hairspray process is well documented and very simple. Briefly, over the base grey color and a protective coating of Johnson’s Future floor polish I misted a layer of hairspray. After letting the hairspray dry for about 1 hour I went about adding the rough, white stripes over top the layer of hair spray. Finally, again after about one hours drying time I used a small brush and water to scrape away flakes of the white camouflage paint. Finally, I went back over the white with a fine brush and white Vallejo paint and re-applied, or color mapped some of the chipped areas to add refine some detail in the flaked off areas.
I followed with some localized chipping and scratches to the cab’s running boards and fenders using rusty brown colors and a scouring pad. Next came a few very light acrylic color washes over the entire surfaces to unify the colors. I wanted to continue to accentuate the different color tones between the cab and wooden cargo area so on the cab my filters consisted of brown and cream colors, while the cargo bed was filtered using a little touch of green in the color mix.
The next phase of the weathering process is the familiar back-n-forth process of adding detail and depth to the finish. MIG Productions 502 Abteilung artist’s oils were used to add depth, define details, and additional color tones to the finish. Here again I tried to vary my color choices to emphasis the subtle color variation between the metal and wooden surfaces. Through-out the process my bottle of
For a little added color (and to have some fun) I decided to paint the mounting brackets for the snow plow in rusty metal colors. Base colors were applied using Tamiya and Vallejo colors with the finishing touches being made using MIG Productions 502 Abteilung artist’s oils and MIG pigments. The business side of the snow plow blade was first painted using Model Master Metalizer Stainless Steel to achieve a nice, polished steel finish. To weather the metal finish I first moistened the blade with tap water and then applied a fairly heavy layer of salt, especially over the lower blade. To the upper areas I sprayed light areas of brownish rust colors to replicate surface blemishes and stains. Finally, I applied light “washes” of MIG pigments dissolved with thinner to further discolor the surface.
Military Miniatures In Review – Issue 54, 2011
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