AMPS is all about armor modeling and the preservation of armor and mechanized heritage.

German 3 ton 4X2 Cargo Truck

Kit Number:
Friday, June 13, 2008
Retail Price:
$34.95 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Tamiya German 3 ton 4X2 Cargo Truck


This truck, most commonly referred to as the Opel Blitz, was the workhorse of the German Armed Forces in WWII. More than 80 thousand were produced, serving from the frozen wastes of the Artic Circle to the burning sands of North Africa. This vehicle was used in an ever widening variety of roles as the war dragged on, from hauling light guns and troops, to carrying virtually all of the goods necessary to wage war.


Dueling Opels

As I had an old Italeri {boxed by Testors} Opel Blitz in my stash, I decided to do a side by side review of major components of the new Tamiya offering and the venerable {decades old at least..} Italeri kit. I liked the old warhorse vs. the young Turk idea so much that I wound up doing two full builds. As the purpose of this review is to showcase the Tamiya kit specifically, the review will focus mainly on it, with photos and text regarding the Italeri kit as additional information. Tamiya has obviously shied away from calling this kit an Opel Blitz for trademark reasons, but their name for this kit's a mouthful, so I'll just call it the Blitz.

The Kit

As is common with Tamiya kits, this kit consists of cleanly molded parts on six sprues, with no flash, minimal seams and just a few pin marks of note. { More on the pin marks in a bit }. Sprue "A" is duplicated, which will provide your spares box with several useful items like a Notek light and mount, a nice jack, foot pedals for the cab, a steering wheel, and an extra spare tire. There are 2 "Z" sprues, which will build into a total of 6 fuel drums with some nice barrel pumps and spigots, and a total of 16 jerrycans. These are a nice addition to the kit. There is also 1 clear styrene sprue for windows, headlights etc. A very nicely printed sheet of decals  {4 different markings options}, 4 poly caps for the wheels, and a sheet of window masks {not pre-cut by the way} complete the kit inventory. The instructions are up to the usual excellent Tamiya standards. They are easy to follow, nicely drawn, and straightforward.







The Build {s}

Steps 1 - 4, Chassis Assembly
All parts fit together exceedingly well, with very little cleanup required. Clean up of mold seams on leaf springs is something I hate. I wish somebody could make those things just go away. Other than that, both assemblies went together quickly. Interestingly, the Italeri Blitz features the full version of the under cab seat gas tank and complete engine assembly, while the Tamiya kit has just the bottoms of each. The Tamiya exhaust pipe end is hollowed out slightly; the Italeri kit's was not., So, I opened up the Italeri's pipe with my trusty #11 blade. The Tamiya kit also has the later "doubled" rear leaf springs as seen below.

Note - the Tamiya kit is molded in dark gray and the Italeri kit in a sandy yellow




Step 5 Window masking and painting
This will be done later in the build.

Step 6 and 7 Wheel Assembly and Mounting
The biggest differences between kits are in the numbers of parts required to do the same things {create wheels} and the material used for the tires. Tamiya uses styrene, the Italeri uses rubber. Tread detail on both is similar, and adequate to my eye. The Italeri assembly method for the rear tandem wheels results in a visible seam on the wheel rim. The Tamiya kit uses fewer parts for the wheels and this results in a cleaner look. Step 7 also has you mount the cargo bed support struts to the frame, I added these later.


Front wheel parts


Front wheels



Rear tandem wheel parts



Assembled rear tandem wheels


My apologies for the sub-par pic, but this shows the seam on the inside of the Italeri wheel




Steps 8 - 13, Cab Assembly
This is where the Tamiya kit really shines versus the older kit. Cab details in the Tamiya kit are much crisper, including clutch and brake pedals which the Italeri kit lack. The Tamiya seat and back cushions have subtle, but nice texturing. The Tamiya kit has separate doors, while the Italeri doors are molded closed as part of  larger pieces which include the front fenders. The Italeri kit also had some flash to be dealt with on the fenders and cab window openings. Both kits had a fair number of pin marks on the cab interior surfaces, but to be honest, these would be difficult to see.  The exterior cab door handles are separate parts for the Tamiya kit and molded on for the Italeri.

DSC0391335291-16.jpg       DSC0392435291-20.jpg



Italeri cab parts



Tamiya cab on left, Italeri on right. There are different approaches to accomplish the same thing. As can clearly be seen above, the Tamiya fenders have locating points for headlamps and tool mounts, the Italeri kit doesn't. The Tamiya kit lacks the Opel Blitz lettering on the radiator grill ornament though. 


Italeri cab above. I'd read that this cab could be fairly tough to assemble, but I must have gotten lucky. It wasn't bad at all. As mentioned earlier though, the Tamiya cab is detailed better, and was somewhat easier to assemble. The locating points for the dash on the Italeri kit were rather vague, and required repeated dry-fitting and some serious head scratching.

As stated earlier, the Tamiya kit includes masking material for the cab windows {inside and out!}. It is not pre-cut, but this is a simple matter to accomplish. 


Steps 14- 16, Attachment of External Cab Parts and Cab to Chassis

These steps place headlights {blackout covers optional}, tools, width indicators, tow indicator, jack, notek light, etc. to the cab. Mounting points for these parts are generally more user friendly on the Tamiya kit, with overall level of detail a bit crisper too. No problems were encountered mounting cabs to the chassis with either kit.

Steps 17 -19, Cargo Body Assembly and Mounting to Chassis
For both kits these steps went very quickly and smoothly. The Tamiya kit cargo body has nice wood grain, but pin marks mar the internal surfaces. Sanding them would remove the nice wood grain, so I chose to "blend" them into the wood grain somewhat by repeatedly scoring the smooth pin mark area with a # 11 blade to simulate wood grain there too. I think I was relatively successful in this attempt at a fix.


Tip of blade points to "blended" pin mark



Underside of cargo bed, lots of pin marks which won't be seen


Both cargo beds attached easily and securely to their respective chassis. The Italeri version of the Blitz has higher sidewalls, and also came with a "canvas" cover for the cargo bed. Just to give the kits a bit of difference between them, I opted to use the Italeri kit's cargo bed cover.


Finishing the Blitzes 

I finished the Italeri kit with Tamiya acrylics, panzer gray for the body and field gray for the cargo bed cover. I really expected the kit decals to fragment once hitting water due to their age and was pleasantly surprised that they behaved beautifully. I marked the Italeri kit as a commisary unit truck in "Fast Heinz" Guderian's Army Group driving on Moscow, 1941. I attempted to reduce the monochromatic look of the vehicle by weathering it with applications of WARPIGS pigments.


Above - Italeri Blitz


For the real subject of this review, I wanted to do something a little different by using a technique I've used with when trying for a beat-up winter whitewash paint job. I wanted to depict a DAK vehicle with its original panzer gray paint showing through its DAK sandy yellow. The look I was attempting to replicate is rather weather worn and generally a little beat up. Step 1 of this technique is to apply an enamel finish, which I did using Model Masters panzer gray. 


After a wait of a few hours, I overpainted the panzer gray with Tamiya acrylic Dark Yellow, in a somewhat careless fashion. After about 20 minutes of drying time, I went to work, scrubbing at the paint with cue-tips moistened with isopropyl alcohol. The general idea is to think about how the scouring effects of sandstorms, blistering heat, blazing sun, flying gravel, etc. may have on a paint job, especially on what may be a thin, hastily applied paint job at that. This is a heckuva thing to do to a perfectly good paint job, and a belt of good booze might be a good idea before you start.

Following the scrubbing, I again applied WARPIGS pigments generously, scrubbing a couple of shades into the paint, again looking for a reduction of the monochrome look.  




Finished product, a veteran of scorching sun and scouring sand.





The Duo



In general, I'd have to say that despite it's advanced age, the Italeri Opel Blitz is still a decent kit, and with some care the old veteran is still well worth building. It's a bit quirky in it's engineering, has a generous amount of flash here and there, and it slightly lacks the overall crispness of molding we're seeing these days.  But, it ran a good race against Tamiya-san's product.

The Tamiya kit? Well, read on....

Pros - top notch molding, superb fit, and instructions that are the industry gold standard. This kit is a gem. Nothing more really needs to be said.

Cons - only one really; Those silly pin marks on the cargo bed walls.

Another in a long line of Tamiya's masterpieces. It's nice to see Tamiya hasn't forgotten it's 1/35th scale heritage as a leader in the industry.

Highly Recommended

Thanks to Tamiya USA for the review sample!

Chuck Aleshire - AMPS Chicagoland