Read & Reviewed: Nuts & Bolts Vol.28 Gleisketten-LKWs “Maultier” (Sd.Kfz. 3) Pt1

Maultier or Sd.Kfz. 3 (en: “Mule”) is the name given to series of half-track trucks used by Germans during World War II. They were based on Opel, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa-Romeo or Ford trucks.

Soon after invading Russia, German troops discovered that their wheeled transport vehicles were unsuitable for the sparse road network, particularly in the muddy conditions of the rasputitsa. Only half tracks like the Sd.Kfz. 11 could haul supplies to forward units in these conditions, but removing them from their combat role for supply duties was not feasible, so it was decided to produce half-tracked versions of standard Opel, Daimler-Benz, Alfa-Romeo and Ford trucks (lorries) by removing their rear axles, truncating the prop shafts and connecting them to redundant Panzer I track assemblies. Heavier trucks (4 tons payload) were fitted with Panzer II track assemblies.

Horstmann suspension components employed by the Panzer I was practically identical to the light tank track system used on the Universal Carrier, with the Maultier’s use of them closely resembling the roadwheel/suspension system used by the T16 American-produced version in its roadwheel design. Most Maultier conversions were based on Opel Blitz model S trucks, which proved successful in service.

Although they lacked the overall mobility of purpose-built half-tracks, they were cheaper and sufficiently effective. From 1943 some Maultier trucks were fitted with armoured bodies, designated SdKfz 4. Some of these were armed with 10 tubed rocket launcher Panzerwerfer 42 and were designated SdKfz. 4/1. See Nuts & Bolts vol 30.

From the publisher’s website:

  • Volume 28: Gleisketten Lkw “Maultier” (Sd.Kfz. 3) – Maultier Part 1
  • by Joachim Baschin
  • published on December 1, 2011
  • soft cover
  • german & English texts
  • 160 pages
  • 341 photos (222 historic, 24 model, 86 modern)
  • 78 blueprints
  • 16 camouflage schemes, table of organisation (KStN)
  • Available for €29.90 from the Nuts & Bolts website.

Although almost 22,000 vehicles were built during the latter half of WWII, it seems as this vehicle class was neglected for the last fifty years in all publications. As leading model companies have now detected a market for soft-skinned vehicles it is time for Nuts & Bolts to release an in-depth publication on these vehicles. As ever we will publish a sound mixture of wartime shots to bring our readers an impression of their deployment during the war, detail photos of existing vehicles in museums and private collections and how to model the four versions by Tony Greenland. Also, Blueprints from John Rue and camouflage artwork from Laurent Lecocq complete the publication.

The texts are in English and German with the English texts on the left of the page and the German on the right. All images and photographs have captions in both languages. The English translation is excellent. Now, let’s take a look at the book to see what we get.

  • Introduction and development page 2
  • Opel versus SS page 4.
  • General construction page 6
  • technical construction page 8
  • technical data page 12
  • the Maultier in service page 14.
  • Unit strengths, page 16.
  • Summary page 29
  • Maultiers in 1/35 page 22
  • list of models, page 24
  • contemporary photographs, page 27
  • 1/35 scale drawings page 96
  • colour plates page 121
  • modern photographs, page 129
  • model builds page 155

This volume of nuts and bolts was published in 2011, so the information about models is still pretty relevant. The book contains 160 pages on glossy paper.

This vehicle came about because of the appalling road conditions in Russia. It was quickly realized that the existing German trucks just could not deal with the deep mud in spring and autumn. A simple upgrade to the trucks was to replace the rear axle with tracks.

The book starts by explaining the development of this type of vehicle and the different variants that were developed. The variants were based on different trucks but were all pretty similar, apart from the Mercedes truck, which was a much larger truck altogether and had different running gear, namely that of the Pz II.

Initially, there were two suggestions for the trucks that should be used from Opel and the SS. Even though the Opal design seems to be better the SS design went into production. The book covers the technical construction of each of the trucks that were used, the 2 ton Opal, Ford and Magirus and the Mercedes 4.5 ton truck. There is a large table, giving the technical data of these trucks.

In active service, these trucks proved their worth and we used for transporting ammunition, towing, transporting troops, pioneer equipment and as a Red Cross vehicle with a cabin on the back. The vehicle predominantly saw action on the eastern front, but could be seen throughout Europe. The book contains tables showing which units have how many of the different types of the vehicle along with unit organisation.

There’s also a list of models that existed in 2011 of the various vehicles and a description of the pros and cons of the more common kits.

Page 27 starts the contemporary black-and-white photograph section of the book, which starts right back at the beginning with the prototype tracked running gear produced by Opel. It then methodically goes through all the variations of all the trucks and the explanations are clear throughout, so you know what you are seeing. These photographs would be ideal for dioramas and show the multitude of tasks that these vehicles were put to. There are approximately 222 black-and-white photographs in this section.

Starting on page 96. There are 78 3D drawings of many types of the vehicles. These are useful in making sure that you have everything in the right place. Following this section are 16 camouflage schemes in colour based on black-and-white photographs seen earlier in the book. Then finally there are 86 modern colour photographs of vehicles in museums. This section of the book shows parts of the vehicles that you wouldn’t normally see in. Black-and-white photographs, such as in the cab and the underneath of the vehicle.

The book finishes with some detailed notes on some builds and conversions of models of these vehicles.

if you going to model one of these vehicles. This is the only reference book will need. It covers all the variations that are used for transporting and towing and gives multiple examples of their use. This

I have bought several books direct from the publisher at Nuts & Bolts.
Many thanks to Nuts & Bolts for supplying this review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International
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Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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