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Built Review
172
Opel Blitz Ambulance
German Military Truck (Opel Blitz Ambulance)
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by: Matthew Lenton [ FIRSTCIRCLE ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Intro

A confession: I've never built a Fujimi kit before. A still unbuilt 1971 Matilda Mk III bought long ago for a conversion that never happened is the closest I got. I’m aware that there is a quite a history of 1/76 scale military vehicles from this company over three decades, but it seems that after a hiatus of several years, Fujimi have started to produce a new series of military vehicles in the now more standard 1/72 scale. In 2010 they released a “German Military Truck” which was an Opel Blitz with a wooden cargo bed and tarpaulin, and came with small red cross decals; this was followed in June 2011 by another version of what I think is essentially the same kit, but with camouflage decals of green stripes. In late 2011 they released three further versions, this time each a “proper” variant on the same chassis: a flatbed mounted with a 2cm flak; a fuel tanker; and finally, the subject of this review, a box type truck ("Einheitskofferaufbau")provided with large red cross decals. Confusingly, every one of these five kits bears the same English title “German Military Truck”; the Japanese titles must be more precise, and with help from Google translator I’m sure I found the words “Emergency Salvation Car” on my kit box, but it’s something to be aware of if ordering on the internet perhaps - make sure you can see a picture.

Parts

It seems that each of the truck kits share four of the same sprues: wheels, cab, suspension / exhaust and the clear cab windows; then there is the variant sprue for the truck top, which also contains the main chassis. The sprues are in dark grey, coming in three or four stapled bags, and there is also a small bag with a pair of metal rod axles. The decal sheet is quite big for a 1/72 kit, containing as it does some very large red crosses, as well as two different ready-made number plates for front and back, three small Afrika Korps symbols (with the swastikas provided in pieces for compliance purposes) and a single yellow 21st Panzer Division marking.

The instructions reveal immediately that this is a relatively simple kit to build: attach suspension and chassis details to one piece chassis frame, build the box on the back, then the cab, add the few external details and put it all together. While there are some internal cab details, there is no engine, other than the bottom of the sump and transmission, and all of the doors and covers are moulded in place, so there are no real choices to be made. A nice quick build can therefore be had, which may be a relief to some, and you can get on with the painting…
For this review the kit was built straight from the box, though I didn’t necessarily build it in the order shown in the instructions, as I will now describe. Note that the instructions use both lettered steps, for sub-assemblies, and numbered for major assemblies.

Construction

Step A Make up two pairs of rear wheels. The to be expected mould seam around the tyres was rapidly removed with my now favourite tool, the glass nail file, and the tyres given a slightly flatter, more worn looking profile. Wheels are crisply moulded, with just a little flash inside some of the cut outs.
Step B Combine two halves of the rear differential axle; one side had a chunky moulding pin that needed to be cut off, then the profile of the mating surfaces was levelled with the nail file (that it is so flat is its beauty). The rear suspension leaf springs then attach to the axle.

Step 1 The rear suspension assembly is mounted on the chassis frame, along with the front leaf springs, the sump/transmission piece and the rear towing coupler. I didn’t attach the spare wheel (part W4) as shown in the instructions, wanting to paint it first, along with the rest of the wheels.

Step 2 The three boxes (what are these, fuel tanks?) attach to the chassis, as does the exhaust unit, which was actually removed at a later stage and reattached. The exhaust is delicate, mine snapping in half while I was cleaning up what mould lines there were; it also has relatively sparse attachment points, and can quite easily be attached right at the end of the build, so it may be better to omit it at this stage. The metal axles are also added; it was necessary to use a drill bit to enlarge the holes through which they had to pass, especially as the last thing I wanted to do was force them through and end up breaking the chassis. Once in place they were secured with cyanoacrylate (super glue).

Step 3 This stage is to attach the wheels, but I didn’t do this, though I did attach the drive shaft. As with the exhaust unit, the drive shaft is one long piece and is even more delicate; it also needs to fit precisely in between the front transmission cover and the rear differential in order to be attached, and a bit of fiddling needed to be done in order to get it into place; unfortunately this also snapped and needed to be glued back together on several occasions, the repair at the universal coupling being so very thin that it was difficult to obtain a good join. As with the exhaust, it may be better to leave this part until almost the end of the build.

Step C Cement the grab handles to the one piece rear wall of the truck box unit. I left the access steps off for now so that the painting could be done separately in order to ensure that the steps remained looking like a separate item that could be detached from the truck. The holes for attaching the handles here and elsewhere are a little over sized, so there is a little gap left once the handles are in place which may need to be filled (I don’t think I did that…)

Step D This is the front wall of the box to which attach three tiny handles / steps – I guess this is to give access to the roof. Note that these have small horizontal indentations that should be left in place, not removed as if they were mould seams.

Step E Grab handles attach to the box left hand wall. Apparently not much to see here… except there is; here we see one of the odd aspects of the kit: the “windows” that aren’t windows. On this side of the box there is a moulded in window frame between the two doors, on the right wall there are two more, and in the raised roof of the box there are then a further eight small windows along each side. This example is meant to be an ambulance, though this type of box truck was also used for other purposes, such as workshop, office, radio car and so on, a mobile room suited to personnel doing something that required proper shelter. The box cover art does show one of the two windows on the right wall as “glass” in that it is painted as a grey reflective surface, while the other one has the red cross symbol painted right over it. So if you want the windows to be windows you would have to cut them out and add in something to represent the glass; that may then present the problem that there is no internal detail in the truck body. Anyway, as I stated, I am building out of the box, so I am ignoring it in terms of construction, and have a cunning plan to excuse myself: as this is will eventually be a vehicle deployed to Libya, I will assume that the glass has all been covered over with a layer of mud in order to prevent it reflecting the sun and being visible from miles away. We can speculate that many of these types of trucks may have had windows that were painted over, camouflaged, or broken and replaced with pieces of board and so on, but there we go – how anyone else deals with this issue is up to them.

Step 4 The upper raised roof attaches to the main roof – here we see those sixteen little roof lights. There is no particular locating shape, so care was taken to get the two parts attached symmetrically. Note in the photo the correction to the part numbers – not that you’re likely to mix them up.

Step 4 The four walls are attached to the box base; quite straightforward, the pieces all fit together well, and the usual method of allowing the liquid cement to run along the internal joints was liberally used in order to ensure a rigid structure would result. The unit was carefully squared up then put aside to set overnight.

Step F Attach base and lid of this locker together; the instructions omit to show that this is a “x 2” operation.

Step 4 The final step here attaches the two lockers F, the rear wheel mud guards, the number plate / convoy distance light unit, and the rear lamp to the bottom of the box assembly.

Step 5 Most of the top of the cab and engine compartment is in one piece, shown as being joined to the cab back wall and the glazing piece. I added the back wall first, intending to add the glazing later, but found that once the back is on the cab, the glazing fitted in so tightly that after a dry run I couldn’t get it out again, and so removed the back wall to get it out. The inside of the back wall has a couple of ejector marks that would only really be an issue if the modeller wanted to attempt to open up the side windows in which case they would be visible through the windows. The one piece glazing is above all a convenient and quick solution to the cab windows; it has a quite thick appearance and allows little visibility of the internal details, as well as giving the tops of the side windows a slightly curved appearance. I don’t think it would be too difficult to improve things by replacing the supplied windows with some clear sheet, and if it wasn’t for the strict out of boxness of this review I might well have done so.

The cab base receives basic details of pedals, hand brake and gear lever; I then added the steering wheel to the dash board, but kept it separate for now.

Painting and Decals

Here I paused in the construction and everything went into soapy water to prepare for painting, followed by attachment to cardboard with blue tack; the photos show the breakdown of parts. Everything received aerosol grey acrylic car primer, then the box roof received a coat of the same paint in white, some of which is spattered across the sides as well… not sure why! The cab interior was detailed with brown and black acrylics plus a little pigment powder, and the exhaust system was roughly painted in vermilion acrylic followed by pigment, and looks very bright orange in the photo. The tyres were done in black Vallejo Air which gives a lovely smooth finish with a brush.

Now the cab goes together; a photo of the inside shows where the paint was removed to allow the dash to be cemented in place, which seemed to me to work better than attaching it to the cab floor, and this was permanently supported by a blob of blue tack. It all looks a bit rough: note the painting of the glazing where I was trying to disguise the transparency in the non-window portions. With everything in place, the cab back wall was then reattached, the joins all re-sanded, and the windows were then masked off.

A coat of Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish was sprayed on prior to, and this might seem wrong, the application of the red cross decals; these were added before the very dark base coat to avoid any risk of the dark grey showing through the white of the decals. Due to the size of the decals and their placement over those “window” frames, plenty of Micro Sol and Micro Set was used, and the decals bedded down well, and although one suffered a tiny tear, I managed to disguise it with white acrylic paint. The big cross on the roof is in three parts, and this was placed straight on to the already finished white roof. Another coat of the gloss varnish was sprayed on. The decals on the grey walls were masked off, the large ones with paper, the small ones blue tack and the roof was masked as well. Now everything was set up to be painted again and Tamiya German Grey was sprayed on. Although my masking wasn’t quite 100% perfect, note that there is no visible edge to the decal, and the white is very white.

Step 5 Returning to the instructions, the last of step 5 was completed, being the addition of the external cab details, minus the tools. The width indicators and mirror stem could of course be replaced with thinner items to be more in scale, but here we see the kit items in use. I have been advised that the little triangular device on the top of the cab is called something like a “Anhänger Warndreieck” (Trailer Warning Triangle). Perhaps it could be completely omitted and the locating studs on the cab roof removed, and I think I am right to say that it should only be in the upright position if a trailer is attached; I retained it, but originally chose to have it folded back – I know, I know, it should be folded forward… so I redid it!

Step 6 The cab attaches to the chassis, all straightforward, followed by the ambulance body, a little awkward: the rear springs on the chassis are wider than the wheel arches on the body in both directions, so the two parts cannot easily be brought together without a clash of parts (see the yellow arrows in the photos). I slightly flexed the wheel arches inwards with pointy pliers in order to clear the springs, the body then located very well on to the chassis and was fixed in place with some CA glue. The final part in the instructions is the front tow hooks attaching to the bottom of the chassis.

The smaller decals were applied in between further coats of gloss varnish. I have to admit that I copped out on the door decals and used some Archer DAK palm trees that I had, but for the smaller one on the front I did use the two part emblem, just about managing to get the tiny swastika cross pieces into the correct position, just next to the divisional insignia.

Finally the shovel and pick were attached to the front wheel arches and the ladder to the rear. While the rest of the truck is currently unweathered I tried to give a bit of a worn paint look to the wooden ladder.

For the final photos the wheels were just slipped onto the axles; the holes in the wheels needed a little enlarging with a drill bit and with the metal axles, slipping the wheels on and off is very easy. There remains to be done the weathering, and, maybe, as mentioned earlier, a coating of dried mud.

Conclusion

As already noted this is a pretty simple kit in terms of numbers of parts, but at a fairly basic level the detailing may also be regarded as adequate; for example there is the cab interior and the underside of the engine and transmission. The wheels actually have cut-outs rather than just moulded impressions, and appear to have the correct hub detail for a 4x2, rather than a 4x4 version. The detail is sharply moulded, not at all vague or soft, the styrene being quite hard, taking the moulding well and being easy to file and sand cleanly. There was very little flash, present only on the wheel cut outs as mentioned earlier, elsewhere just minimal moulding lines. The usual parts such as the grab handles and width indicators are clearly over scale and could easily be replaced. The lack of any opening doors does mean that there are essentially no easy options for giving the model any kind of animated opened up appearance, say in a diorama with figures, without considerable extra work. The out of the box finishing options are limited by the decals to an Afrika Korps vehicle, though of course potentially many other schemes could be used. The inclusion of the metal axles and the simple construction, especially regarding all the windows, suggest that wargamers may be at least one of the targets for this kit, but I think that the finished kit is good enough to attract the more serious braille modellers among us who would no doubt be able to enhance the kit quite easily.

I couldn’t find a UK price for this kit, but it is available on Ebay for around $18 / £12, so it’s not particularly cheap.
SUMMARY
Highs: Crisp detail, clean moulding, precise fit and a fairly low parts count makes for a quick and attractive build.
Lows: Doors plus windows on body are moulded in. One piece glazing and metal axles may categorise this as a toy for some.
Verdict: A quick pleasure to build, and a good looking model can result, though some may think it too unsophisticated in its relative simplicity and lack of options.
Percentage Rating
80%
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 722313
  Suggested Retail: $18 / £12 approx
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jul 04, 2012
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.53%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 83.62%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Matthew Lenton (firstcircle)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM

Earliest model memory is a Super Sabre my grandmother bought for me around 1972. Have always dabbled in painting and making things, and rediscovered doing that with plastic in 2008. Vowed then to complete the 30 year old stash, and have made some progress. Hobby goes hand in hand with BBC Radio 3...

Copyright ©2019 text by Matthew Lenton [ FIRSTCIRCLE ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Great review, would love to see this in 1/35 with interior. Thanks
JUL 04, 2012 - 02:12 PM
An extremely thorough and informative review, Matthew. It however somewhat boggles the mind as to what direction Fujimi is going with this kit. In its own right it appears to have some very nice detail yet why ruin it with those metal axles! It seems far better than many of the "wargamers" kits that I have seen and I must agree with you that there was great potential to this kit. I'm sure some modellers would find the potential for enhancing this kit an interesting challenge. Then there is also the major issue of the price. From a bit of Web research it appears to be available at an average of US$20+. According to an associate of mine here in Ontario, Canada, one shop in Toronto had this kit available for CDN$33.95!!!! He is an avid builder of Braille 1/72 softskins and particularly loves military ambulances. Upon seeing your review he contacted me to tell me both about the price and then followed with a "colourful commentary" (irate rage) about what Fujimi could do with this kit and their pricing "logic." Cheers, Jan
JUL 05, 2012 - 04:27 AM
It's reviews like this that don't pull any punches that make this site GREAT! While it looks simple and interesting enough I have to agree that the price seems way too high. Especially since I saw the Italeri version on sale a week or so ago for $12. Anyone know how that version builds up? Regards, AJ
JUL 05, 2012 - 08:40 AM
Hi Matthew, Excellent review! What a beautiful model. Of course, $30+ is a bit pricey for many of us. I'd still like to add this to my collection.
JUL 07, 2012 - 02:26 PM
Thanks to all the above for the appreciation of the review. It was a good fun kit to build and paint, and I've now grown quite fond of the pristine look that it has (apart from the old ladder) and suspect I may never get around to weathering it. Kevin, you've unfortunately made the forbidden comment when discussing braille scale builds! 1/35th Jan, the metal axles... I should probably try to get a photo to show the model from a very low angle, but at the front at least there is some add on piece of detailing which I think may be there in an attempt to give the sort of profile that the front axles on a rear wheel drive truck should have - I think they should be a kind of double dog leg shape fabricated from a shallow H-section - and disguise the straight -through look of the metal axle. As with the glazing piece, it certainly adds to the easy buildability of the kit, as the wheels just slot straight on and stay nice and straight and all lined-up (mine aren't even glued on). I'm sure we've all experienced the difficulties of attaching and aligning wheels on some of these small kits before - so maybe they have simplicity in mind with an eye to attracting younger modellers, which is no bad thing. On the pricing, I hope I haven't been unfair on Fujimi, as this new line of kits don't actually seem to be being distributed in the UK at all. I see that the prices of kits can vary enormously; for example, Hannants in the UK are selling the Roden Blitz truck for £7.98 - but advertise it as being 1/3 off, and sell the Blitz bus at £12.99, so that's no different to this Fujimi kit. Prices on Roden kits are somewhat competitive here due to Ebay sellers from Poland, but even then it's common for them to £7.99+ £3P&P. Looking at Hannants again, they sell Dragon's Protz for £15.50, or how about £17.50 for their SdKfz 251? AJ, I haven't built the Italeri kit (RRP £9.99 ) but see from elsewhere that it has a similar approach in terms of those moulded in back windows. Comments elsewhere suggest that the detail is somewhat softer than on this kit, and that recently they have released an updated version that includes a glazing sheet for the cab, presumably the windows used to just be "empty". The breakdown of the kit looks very similar however. Must admit I'm almost tempted to go get it just to find out how it compares, but will fight that temptation and hope someone else can shed some light. (Where are those Italeri review items?? ) Fred, thanks! As I said above, I quite like the look of it like this as well.
JUL 12, 2012 - 12:29 AM
Matthew, After having built several wheeled vehicles in this scale I must admit that anything that assists in having all the wheels touch on the same plain is to be appreciated. If you like the vehicle in a pristine condition, I say leave it so. Who's to say the the Generalfeldmarschall wasn't coming to inspect the unit and the units commander ordered a tidying up. Besides, I think that some modellers have taken this weathering issue a bit far with chipping, rusting and the like. From what I've read the life span of many vehicles during the war so short that the paint hardly had time to fade let alone wear to any degree. The president of a local IPMS chapter in my area asked me to acknowledge your review and thank you for it. He is not a member of Kitmaker but does visit frequently and is a rabid Braille Scale builder of primarily wheeled vehicles. He is currently building the Italeri version of this truck and commented that the detailing on it is considerably softer than the Fujimi offering. He also said to mention that he will be using your review and it's images in an attempt to enhance his build. Cheers, Jan
JUL 12, 2012 - 04:00 AM
I'll refrain for now from any extensive musing on military modelling aesthetics, including my humble thoughts on verisimilitude vs. realism. Unless... That is truly appreciated; it's nice to know that someone that I've never met has taken some small pleasure from this review (and oddly in contrast to those that are so near and dear to me, and yet haven't even read it. ) It would be very nice to see at least one photo of his build when it is complete (if not many).
JUL 12, 2012 - 04:29 AM
It was a pleasure to pass along something that I hope helps make your effort appreciated. While I am at it, , I do recall that he was often mentioning your WW I tank build and how he followed it "religiously." As you mention, it is bordering on shameful those that never comment or acknowledge in any other way the efforts of contributors to this site. To be honest, he has lately become one of those that procrastinates with finishing a build. However, in his comments to me he mentioned that the review images had his mind churning away at how to add certain missing details to the Italeri kit. In particular I recall him talking about the nice details around the Fujimi kit's van body and how best to create a suitable method to achieve the same. Obviously the review was inspirational to him. I shall pass along your sentiments about him providing some images, if not even joining the site. Perhaps I'll express it in the form of a challenge; throwing down the gauntlet! Cheers, Jan
JUL 12, 2012 - 05:45 AM
An extremely thorough and informative review, Matthew. I think that the kit is too expensive for the level of the detail in the model..... I still use the Esci/Italeri kit wich cost only $ 10
JUL 20, 2012 - 08:54 AM
   

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