The Type 3.6S was the standard military truck produced by Opel for the Wehrmacht during World War II. It had an Opel 1920 6-cylinder gasoline engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour. The transmission of the vehicle was a 5 speed forward, 1 speed reverse type. The operational range meanwhile was around 410 kilometers, which was critical to maintaining Panzer divisions as they advanced forward. However, oftentimes it was not enough with advances requiring sudden stops to resupply. Furthermore, not enough Opel Blitz trucks or half-tracks had been produced during the war to fully mechanize the army anyway.
The total weight of the Blitz was around 2,100 kilograms while its total length was around six meters. The armament of the truck varied, with some vehicles carrying machine guns such as the MG 42 and others mounting 37 mm to 20 mm anti-aircraft autocannons such as the FlaK 30. However, it is not correct to designate these as official variants of the series as many were conversions made in the field.
The reliability of the Opel Blitz in the field was very good but it was not capable of handling everything. For example, like just about any other motor vehicle that served on the Eastern Front, the Opel Blitz was also typically bogged down.
The first variant of the Opel Blitz series was the Type 3.6-47 model Blitz which had a lengthend chassis. Following came the Opel Blitz Type A or Type 6700 A which had a 4 x 4 chassis. Furthermore, the wheelbase was shortend by 15 centimeters and the gearbox was modified. Next was a series of miscellaneous variants built on the chassis such as a radio truck conversion with a metal and wood superstructure on the rear that housed radio equipment. One of the most famous of these variants was the Kfz. 385 Tankwagon, a specialized fuel tanker conversion.
Lastly, was the Opel Maultier half-track conversion which came in 1941 following observations by German troops that their standard trucks could not handle the Rasputitsa conditions of the Eastern Front. This model had the rear wheels replaced in favor of tracks yet retaining the original cab. However, it should be noted that throughout the production of the Opel Blitz, various changes were made such as redesigning the cab or engine compartment. For example, the DB 701 did not bring about any major changes but the 1944 model eliminated the Opel logo from the truck and made it a standardized vehicle.
The Opel Blitz was initially developed in 1934 through civilian production but eventually found its way to being the standard LKW of the newly forming Wehrmacht, and thus entered mass production. The military versions meanwhile began production around 1937. Eventually, the Opel would equip just about every armored division the Germans had fielded, supplementing the relatively out of date horse-drawn carriages that made up a large part of the army.
However, production suffered as the war went on, with the factories producing the vehicles being bombed until destruction by the Allied Strategic Bombing Campaign. Production would march on, albeit much slower than was needed. Furthermore, many Opel Blitz trucks were lost to the ever growing Allied air superiority which would go on to be the demise of the German logistic effort during the war. In total, around 100,000 examples had been produced during the war.
- Rosado. Jorge and Bishop. Chris. German Panzers of World War II:The World's Greatest Weapons. Amber Books (2013), Page 199