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Monday, September 14, 2015

Bolt Action - How To Turn An Opel Blitz Into a Maultier Half-Track Truck

By Old Man Morin

Greetings Bolt Action fans, 

Old Man Morin here with a handy dandy guide on how to turn your everyday German truck from a 6 wheeled transport into a half track truck. 

Now, you may think that this is an easy switcheroo or the rear wheel assembly and on a basic level, you would be right but...this process is not as easy as it seems.

The Maultier (or the SDKFZ 3) was what the Germans called half track trucks converted during WW2. The Maultier, or Mule, was not based on any one type of truck. Instead the name refers to a range of trucks/vehicles changed over time to become better at off road handling in the muddy conditions of the Eastern front. As you can see, it is not the prettiest or sleekest of vehicles (but I kinda like that about it).

In Bolt Action terms, The Maultier costs 5 points more than a regular German truck. It remains a soft skinned vehicle but gains the half track's mobility. Yes, this means that the vehicle's speed drops from 12 inches to 9 inches but it gains the ability to drive over more difficult terrain, which is a real bonus on some tables.

I began my conversion process with a standard Warlord Games Opel Blitz kit and a set of tracks from the Warlord Panzerwerfer kit (I had an extra set of tracks).  

The tracks
 The truck
 After giving the kit a nice warm soapy bath, I removed the vertical and horizontal axles from the undercarriage of the chassis. I needed this to be flat so I could build these sections back up later with plasticard.
 I then clipped the mud covers from the rear of the body.
 I very carefully trimmed the door steps and the backboard of the cab to accommodate the longer tracks.
 From another angle
 I built up two large long cubes of plasticard and glued them to the flat bottom of the chassis. You can see them poking through the tracks. I needed a stable platform to glue the tracks to the body... I probably could have done this more subtly but I wanted a solid foundation to glue to. I have not enjoyed wheels falling off my DAK vehicles and did not want these tracks to ever come off once in place.
 You can see them better in this photo. I also rested the tracks on the storage boxes for extra support. I don't think anyone will notice on the tabletop. I also built up storage boxes on the other side using plasticard so the tracks would be level and secure.
 Now all this track building meant that my front wheels were now too short. To level things out, I built up a larger more sturdy axle for the front wheels using plasticard.
 Annnnnnnnddddd.... Voila! The Maultier!
 For added detail, I glued the spare wheel and the old front axle to the rear white plastic box to camouflage its existence.
 So that it looks more natural from the rear.

 And there you have it gang, my first converted German vehicle. I plan on messing around with quite a few kits in the near future, so please stay tuned. A little imagination, some plasticard and a pin vice is all you need to make those never seen units come to life on the tabletop.

Till next time...

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