Sunday, June 28, 2009

Opel Maultier

The Maultier was developed to handle the immobilizing road conditions encountered on the Eastern Front. Conventional wheeled vehicles were useless on the unpaved roads; the supply columns could not get through the mud and snow. To remedy the problem, a field workdshop of the 2nd SS Division removed the rear suspension and wheels of a standard 3 ton truck and replaced them with the running gear of a captured Soviet light tank. This improvised halftrack proved superior to the regular trucks in rough conditions and several more were converted. The Maultier went into production by a number of manufacturers and over 6,000 were eventually built.
The best known Maultier conversion was built by Opel who reclassified their sturdy and reliable 'Blitz' 3-ton truck as a 2-ton because of the tracked suspension. Some Maultiers were fitted with an enclosed house-type body and were used as ambulances, command vehicles and radio vans. Because of the lack of raw materials near the end of the war, many were built with cabs made of cardboard and wood.
Almost 600 of the Opel Maultiers were produced with an armored body. Half that number were used as mobile rocket launchers while the other half were ammunition carriers. The armor was from 6 to 10 mm thick and the vehicle weighed 7.1 metric tons. The Maultier saw service on all fronts and saw limited use post-war in civilian service.

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