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Reference, Nuta & Bolts Volume 28, Gleisketten-LKWs “Maultier” (Sd.Kfz.3).

December 25 2011 at 4:06 PM
Frank V. De Sisto  (Login zappa93)
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NUTS & BOLTS

Volume 28, Gleisketten-LKWs Maultier (Sd.Kfz.3). By Joachim Baschin, with illustrations by Laurent Lecocq and John Rue, and a modelers section by Tony Greenland. Soft covers, A4-size, 160 pages, plus inside covers. Contains 215 B&W photographs, four contemporary line drawings, 109 color photographs, 17 pages of 1/35th-scale CAD line drawings, eight pages of 1/35th-scale CAD perspective line drawings, eight pages of color plates covering 16 vehicles, five tables, one K.St.N. chart, with vehicle profiles, modelers section and bibliography.

The Maultier (Mule) half-track was created as the result of Germanys experiences during the latter stages of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, which commenced in June of 1941. The autumn rains of 1941 created vast seas of mud, known locally as the Rasputitsa. German motor transport, essentially designed for the extensive and modern European road network was no match for Mother Russia, even when mud and snow was not the dominant weather/terrain feature. Even the relatively few four-wheel-drive vehicles in service could not cope.

Therefore the Waffen-SS and German industry each created independent programs to convert standard 3-and 4.5-ton trucks to a half-track configuration. In typical German fashion, the more durable and cheaper Opel suspension proposal for the 3-ton trucks was disregarded in favor of the suspension touted by the politically-connected Waffen-SS. The result was the Maultier. 3-ton trucks from Ford, Opel and KHD were constructed using a suspension system based on the British Cardon-Lloyd design championed by the Waffen-SS, while the 4.5-ton type was based on the Mercedes truck using suspension components from the Pz.Kpfw.II. Although the concept had its limits, it was considered a successful design, with somewhere around 21-23,000 Maultiers of all types being constructed.

Variations in body styles were seen, with later types replacing their steel drivers cab with a wooden version. Various load-bed configurations were seen and an enclosed box body was used as an ambulance, or a communications and workshop van. Various FlaK guns were fitted in the field and an armored version mounting a 10-tube 15cm Nebelwerfer rocket launcher, along with an ammunition carrier variation were also seen. The latter types are not included as the text states that a separate title is in the works.

The Nuts & Bolts team has now turned their considerable expertise into their latest book, which well-describes this expedient vehicle series. Combining authoritative text, archival photos and drawings, color art, scale drawings, photos of preserved examples, charts, tables and a modelers section, they have delivered their usual fine product to modelers.

The parallel, bi-lingual English and German text details the conception and the development of the series. It then describes the four types in turn, their colors and markings and how the modeler can add a Maultier to his collection using various means. This is buttressed by a two-page specification table, tables detailing unit distribution and a K.St.N (table of equipment and organization) chart with vehicle silhouettes.

The main attraction of these titles is their photographic content. The archival images cover all versions, including a number of vehicles that were field-modified by the troops. Reproduction, on glossy, coated paper stock is excellent although this is only the case (of course) if the originals had the visual information to begin with. Captions are usually well-done and fairly informative.

A total of 16 different vehicles are depicted in the color section. Created by my colleague Laurent Lecocq, these drawings are of excellent quality and they are well-researched. Each drawing is accompanied by a thumbnail of the photo upon which they are based, which leaves nothing to the imagination. In this regard I noted one glitch: the drawing at the bottom of page 125 is obviously not based upon the accompanying thumbnail image. Mr. Rue has also created a fine group of 1/35th-scale line drawings. The basic Opel, Ford, KHD and Mercedes versions are shown in four views, with variations seen as profile views. Profile views are also provided of several test and evaluation vehicle types, armed types and various other oddities. Detail drawings are also provided that show the differences in the various road-wheels, drive sprockets and idler wheels for the Opel, Ford and KHD types. The perspective views offer four angles, again of each of the four basic types.

Next up is the section showing several preserved Maultiers. This covers the Opel and Ford types in full color. Details of the suspension and bodies are given, with production variations shown and described.

Finally, the modelers section contains builds of the four main types by noted modeler Tony Greenland. These models are described in the text and captions, and are accompanied by two-dozen color photos of the models as completed and while under construction. The Opel is based on Cyberhobby and Italeri components, the KHD (also confusingly referred to as Magirus in some parts of the modelers section) is based on an out-of-production New Connections resin conversion as well as Cyberhobby and Italeri components, a third is the ICM kit of the Ford with Italeri parts and the fourth is the Zvesda kit of the Mercedes L4500. A table is also provided listing most of the known known kits and conversions related to the Maultier.

If I had one complaint it would be that the English-language text needs some improvement. In some cases, the oddities can simply be described as typographic errors, which are bound to occur. In a very few other cases the grammar or the words chosen are inappropriate. Since at least one member of the N&B team is primarily an English-speaker, I would suggest that more care in regard to the English-language section can be quite easily exercised.

Regardless of any (very) minor misgivings I may have, this book is an extremely worthy addition to the Nuts & Bolts range. It covers a large body of material in a manner that ought to prove useful, if not downright essential, to modelers. When DML finally (hopefully!) gets around to issuing a Maultier kit based on their Opel Blitz, anyone with this title in their library will be well-served.

Frank V. De Sisto

Nuts & Bolts books are available in North America from DragonUSA at: www.DragonUSAonline.com and from the publisher Heiner F. Duske at: Nikolaus-Otto-Strasse 10, 24536 Neumünster, Germany. E-mail: hfd.duske@t-online.de.

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