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14Jan/190

Rubicon Models SdKfz 301a Opel Maultier with Box Body

Based upon the already available Opel Blitz Kit (RM280026), Rubicon published the Maultier variant that replaces the rear wheels with tracks. As with some of their other kits, like the SdKfz 25x, they cover further accessories. For the Blitz and Maultier there is the option to upgrade the cargo bed with the box body "Einheitskoffer".

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

After the first winter in 1941 on the Eastern Front, the German army high command realised that the trucks weren't capable of handling the weather and terrain conditions. The vehicles often got stuck in the mud and snow. A unit of the Waffen-SS build the tracks of a Bren Carrier under a truck to confront those conditions. After realising the benefits of this modification in 1942, Opel, Ford and Daimler added these variants to their truck production. Depending on by whom the LKW Gleiskette 2t was build, it was called SdKfz 3a (in case it was built by Opel), 3b (Ford V3000 S) or 3c (Daimler L4500). The variant was called Maultier (mule) and further variants were build upon the halftrack vehicles, like the Panzerwerfer or with a 2-cm Flak 38.

As these were the work horses of the German army, they saw action on all fronts during the war. Due to the late production start of the maultier in 42/43, this meant primarily Eastern and Western front, and only a few that (would) actually made it to North Africa.

The Maultier was not build in the same numbers as the Blitz, but still more than 20,000 units saw service. In this review, we're going to build a SdKfz 3a Maultier, the Opel variant.

The SdKfz 3a Maultier by Rubicon is a 28mm / 1:56 scale three sprue kit, with an individual driver's cabin, decals and a multipage instruction. The price for the kit is 18 GBP, the same price as the Opel Blitz. As all Rubicon plastic kits, it is made from ABS plastic.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer
Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

As for the Blitz and Maultier, some of them were assigned a LC-Koffer or geschlossenem Einheitsaufbau that was used for all kinds of different roles and purposes. Among them communication, command, ambulance or workshop. This conversion kit can be used on both the SdKfz 3a Maultier and SdKfz 305 Blitz kit alike. It comes as a single sprue upgrade, with an instruction leaflet. The price is set at 10 GBP.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer
Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

The kit build here is still casted in the older, darker grey ABS plastic. Casting is crisp and there are only a few mold lines. The sprues of both kits cover a lot of optional parts, to give you a high flexibility and broad range to choose from for the variant you would like to build. The Maultier is basically a Blitz kit, with an additional third sprue, covering the different chassis and track section.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Please read the instructions beforehand carefully. With some of the conversion kits you have to jump multiple times between the instructions. That was something that wasn't ideally handled with kits like the SdKfz 250 / Greif, but with the box body it is pretty easy, as the main difference is the cargo area.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Rubicon Models uses ABS plastic for their kits. Therefore you should use the appropriate glue to handle the material, I use Tamiya Cement ABS. Uhu Plast Special would be an alternative, depending what you can buy in your area.

Rubicon Models - Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer

The assembly of the carriage is quite simple. You have one larger frame, which the track section and front wheels are added to. Please make sure that you use the right cabin, as the Maultier covers both, the one for the Blitz and the one for the Maultier with the track mud guards (and in the instructions in step three, the wrong variant of D10 is shown, but the number is correct).

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

If you combine the box body with the regular flat bed, you can swap them (magnetise them if you want to, but just putting them into place will be sufficient). You can build the regular flat bed with the optional panel extenders, or of course add the canvas top. As I build the Opel Blitz with a canvas top, I went with the mid war rear trunk panels with extender. Not that this step is build in a different order compared to the regular instructions.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Next up the Einheitskoffer. Depending on whether you want to put this one on a Blitz or Maultier, you will need to trim the wheel house for the rear wheels of the Blitz.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

As for the roof, depending if you want to have the Laufgangdach that extended the height of the box body in the middle to standing height, you need to drill the pre-signed holes from the inside. The roof extension is called rooftop ventilation in this kit. As I plan to use this one as an ambulance, I went with the extension.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Next up the side panels. The instruction has a template for the windows. You can cut these from clear plastic or plastic card, depending on if you want to paint them after wards.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Assembly is pretty straight forward and without much hassle. As for the rear, you have two variants you can choose from. The regular single back door or the double doors used with ambulances. The kit covers additional parts for radio cars, where you can add antennas to the side or an optional set of stairs for the twin doors of the ambulance.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

I build both cargo bays, so I would be able to swap between them.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Going back to the chassis. You have to use a different tow bar from the conversion kit, to fit the box body on top. So please be aware of that. Besides that, you can add the tools and grill to the cabin, along with either standard or small blackout lights.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

As you can see, you can easily switch between the two cargo bodies. This works for the Blitz as well, it just won't work from Maultier to Blitz properly due to the wheel cases.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

The benefit of the third sprue of the Maultier is more room for additional parts, like the luggage for the cabin roof. So instead of the tow indicator, you can add a spare wheel and fuel cans on a rack on top of the cabin.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Here's a brief comparison of the Warlord Maultier next to the Rubicon Maultier. Both are 28mm / 1:56 scale, the differences in size a minimal and you could use both brands within one project.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

To conclude the review, the SdKfz 3a with box body and regular flat bed.

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer Rubicon Models - SdKFz 3a Maultier with Einheitskoffer

Conclusion
I really like the aspect that they use the existing range and extend it by adding further variants and options to it. They made good use of the already available Blitz sprues and added with the Maultier and the Einheitskoffer upgrade an interesting option to their range. For players this might not be such a big deal, but if you are more about building a model kit or a coherent army, this is a great choice to bring more diversity to your vehicle pool, especially with the transport and support vehicles, as you do not want to have to paint the same truck over and over again.

The price of the Maultier with 18 GBP is more than fair, if you add another 10 GBP for the Einheitskoffer it gets a bit expensive for an ambulance or radio car to be honest. But the 10 GBP for this well-made upgrade are appropriate. The assembly went without any hassle and the fit was very good. There were no warped pieces and the clean up of the few mold lines was easily done. If you want to further individualise the truck, you can use (parts from) the German Stowage set offered by Rubicon as well.

This Maultier with the box body will see service in my Afrikakorps and will fit right in between the Opel Blitz, SdKfz Greif and Panzer III and IV by Rubicon, along with the captured AEC Dorchester.

Link: Rubicon Models

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

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