Military Utility Truck
The Opel Blitz series of 3-ton trucks proved the true backbone of German military strength in World War 2.
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At the end of World War 1, the German war machine was dismantled - losing its power to manufacture aircraft, tanks, submarines and most other instruments of war. Throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s, there grew a new movement which felt the humiliation wrought onto the German nation by the victors of the conflict. The movement soon encompassed all of German life and allowed leader Adolf Hitler to assume control of the economically depressed populace. The war machine soon grew outside of the limitations of the Versailles Treaty imposed upon the Germans following World War 2. Tanks were being produced under the guise of farming tractors while the burgeoning German air force -the Luftwaffe - was secretly training its pilots on gliders. With the arrival of the Spanish Civil War, all was fair game and the German war machine received its first taste of real combat on all-new developments - Panzers, Messerschmitt, Stukas - all played a major role in developing the German doctrine of "Lightning War", an overwhelming military thrust using coordinated assaults from land and air.
However, as the German military might grew the reach of the German military was surely to be tested. Considering the aspirations that Hitler maintained for his conquest of Europe - beginning with Poland and ending with the United Kingdom and Soviet Union - the problem was going to be a sound logistical force capable of bringing men, weapons and supplies from one point to another. By the late 1930s, the German military inventory boasted a plethora of such "mover" vehicles but there was not the universal solution as required of war. The task of consolidation would fall to General von Schell who proceeded to deliver an ambitious plan to bring the number of German military logistical vehicles to a quarter of the original offering, each solution categorized by role and weight class.
The German concern of Opel AG produced a prime mover choice as a medium utility vehicle that would come to be known as the "Blitz". The basic 4x2 chassis would be evolved into a myriad of useful battlefield roles beyond the standard transport model. The vehicle could be charged with moving supplies, ammunition, medical litters, combat ready troops, general passengers, artillery shells, fuel stores, laundry, mobile field shops, gun carriers and the like. Additionally, the truck could be converted to more military-minded forms as radio stations, command posts and mobile offices for higher-ranking officials. The Opel Blitz design was a conventional system - fitting six wheels (the rear axle wheels doubled as pairs), a forward-set engine compartment with the driver's cab directly aft and a rear-set cargo/passenger area. The cab was windowed on all sides with hinged automobile-style doors for easy entry/exit. Construction was of pressed steel for the metal components and wood for the body while the two-speed transmission system featured no fewer than ten forward gears. These 4x2 forms were further known under the general designation of "Typ S" to categorized their 4x2 wheel nature.
However, the 4x2 wheel arrangement of the early Opel trucks left cross-country performance something to be desired. For the discerning military customer, there emerged a 4x4x form which included all-wheel drive performance (now adding the front axle to the mix) guaranteed provide for better off-road traction and speed. The wheelbase of the original truck design was also further shortened by nearly six engines to provide for better road grip. The 4x4 versions were further categorized in the German inventory under the blanket "Typ A" assignment to signify their 4x4 nature. Additionally, these particular vehicle forms were also known as "Allrad" vehicles for the same reason.
Utility trucks such as the Opel were in great demand, particularly as the nature of war ramped up. Production began in 1937 and proceeded into 1944 to which some 70,000 2x4 Opel "Blitz" trucks were delivered out of German factories. Even Daimler-Benz was ordered to produce the type in its original form, ending production of its own competing 3-ton class truck version. The total was further added to by the arrival of at least 25,000 of the 4x4 type trucks in that span. Sources variably state that overall production of Blitz units was in the vicinity of 82,000 to 130,000 vehicles. In 1944, a standardized German Army version was delivered, this without any Opel company markings on the truck and known as the "DB 701". A 1.5-ton version of the Opel was also recognized during its production run.