Backbone of Blitzkrieg – The German Opel Blitz Truck in 20 Photos

 
Afrika Korps Unit Marked Opel Blitz Truck LKW
Afrika Korps Unit Marked Opel Blitz Truck LKW
 
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Serving as the backbone of Wehrmacht’s and Waffen SS’ motorized corps, the Opel Blitz truck was involved in the transport of pretty much anything during WWII ― from soldiers to ammunition, from towing artillery pieces to delivering supplies.

Since the 1930s, Opel had been the largest manufacturer of trucks in Germany, but in 1934, one year after Hitler took office, their production numbers rose rapidly due to the German re-armament plan. New facilities were built in Brandenburg, leading to the production of the Blitz 3.6 three-ton version, which soon became the trademark of the Wehrmacht.

It was the truck that put the Blitz into Blitzkrieg, as its mass production led to wide use during the swift invasions of Poland, and subsequently other European countries.

Wehrmacht truck Opel Blitz 3600 S 3 ton
Wehrmacht truck Opel Blitz 3600 S 3 ton

From Blitz 3.6 came variants such as the four-wheel-drive Blitz A and the half-track version called Maultier  (meaning “the mule”) SdKfz 3 v, designed specially to tackle the mud seasons on the Eastern Front which often left the roads completely useless.

Opel Blitz firetruck
Opel Blitz firetruck

The Maultier also became the service vehicle for the Messerschmitt Me 323 military transport aircraft, nicknamed The Giant, as it was the largest land-based transport aircraft of the war.

Opel Maultier towing an artillery piece off a Me-323. By Bundesarchiv-CC-BY-SA 3.0 de
Opel Maultier towing an artillery piece off a Me-323. By Bundesarchiv-CC-BY-SA 3.0 de

During the war, controversy arose in the United States due to the fact that Opel was formed as a General Motors subsidiary. Since there were reasons to believe that Opel was using forced labor, GM’s role became a subject of debate, as it was unclear to what extent the American company had control over its subsidiary during the war.

On the other hand, once the German army started retreating due to rapid Allied advances on both fronts, and leaving broken hardware behind, the trucks were easily put to use again, as American spare parts fitted the Opel Blitz trucks made under license from  General Motors.

Wehrmacht truck Opel Blitz 3600 S 3 ton in Germany
Wehrmacht truck Opel Blitz 3600 S 3 ton in Germany

Although more than 130,000 Blitz trucks and chassis were produced in a period between 1935 and 1944 in the Brandenburg department of Opel, an RAF raid conducted in August 1944 put an end to the factory.

Attempts were made to resume production but with little success, as defeat became more and more imminent.

After the war, however, Opel besides from producing cars ― continued to operate as a successful truck manufacturer under the license of General Motors.

Opel Blitz breakdown truck 1962. By Bundesarchiv-CC-BY-SA 3.0
Opel Blitz breakdown truck 1962. By Bundesarchiv-CC-BY-SA 3.0

But in 1968, the company suffered a huge blow from its long-term rival, Mercedes-Benz, whose popular T2 model pushed it from the market. In 1975, Opel ceased production of commercial trucks.

Opel Blitz at the Warmuseum in Arnhem. By Ciell – CC BY 2.5
Opel Blitz at the Warmuseum in Arnhem. By Ciell – CC BY 2.5

 

Opel Blitz Wehrmacht truck 2
Opel Blitz Wehrmacht truck 2

 

Opel Blitz Panzergruppe Kleist
Opel Blitz Panzergruppe Kleist

 

Opel Blitz Command Truck Luftwaffe
Opel Blitz Command Truck Luftwaffe

 

Opel blitz ambulance Luftwaffe
Opel blitz ambulance Luftwaffe

 

Waffen SS Opel Blitz truck
Waffen SS Opel Blitz truck

 

Lastkraftwagen der wehrmacht Opel Blitz
Lastkraftwagen der wehrmacht Opel Blitz

 

Opel Blitz trucks
Opel Blitz trucks

 

Wehrmacht Lastkraftwagen (LKW) Opel Blitz and other German trucks
Wehrmacht Lastkraftwagen (LKW) Opel Blitz and other German trucks

 

Opel Blitz Wehrmacht truck LKW
Opel Blitz Wehrmacht truck LKW

 

Opel Blitz 3to winter in Russia
Opel Blitz 3to winter in Russia

 

Opel Blitz Luftwaffe with red cross
Opel Blitz Luftwaffe with red cross

 

Wehrmacht truck Opel Blitz 3 ton
Wehrmacht truck Opel Blitz 3 ton

 

German Opel Blitz, a tracked vehicle, and a towed 7.5 cm PaK 40 gun. By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
German Opel Blitz, a tracked vehicle, and a towed 7.5 cm PaK 40 gun. By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Read another story from us: King of the Battlefield: 26 Pictures of The Hummel Self-Propelled Artillery

Opel Blitz in 1940
Opel Blitz in 1940
 
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