Wednesday 5 April 2023

Broken down Opel Blitz Omnibus

I've always liked the idea of having burnt out tanks or abandoned vehicles as part of the scatter terrain for a Second World War table. Later in the war as the Germans retreated on all fronts contemporary pictures often show roadsides cluttered with the wreckage of a defeated army. 

As I was planning for the Ruckzug campaign for Chain of Command my research turned up a constant stream of pictures like these and I have always liked the idea of a destroyed or abandoned bus. 

Last year I added a number of German Opel Blitz transport vehicles to the collection using the Plastic Soldier Company set. These are intended to be functioning vehicles although I do have one of the old Airfix Opel Blitz trucks put aside to make a burnt out version.

I've been aware of the Roden versions of the Opel Blitz Omnibus for some time and always had in the back of my mind it would make for a good piece of scatter terrain. I ended up acquiring one by pure serendipity. I was on a road trip and called in at a well known hobby store in a town I was passing. As I was browsing the shelves there was one of the Roden buses. It was meant to be.

My initial thoughts were that it was a finely detailed model but probably a little too detailed for gaming purposes. However the more I thought about the inclusion of an engine and the option to have the hood open the more inclined I became to add all that detail and have it as a broken down version. While that may limit its uses I'm inclined to think it will have far more use as scatter terrain than anything else. 

The kit is a bit fiddly and certainly has delicate parts - the rack on the roof is made from brass photo etch. It certainly adds a lovely bit of fine detail but it is fairly fragile. Given the bus will be used as scatter terrain and won't be subject to much handling I don't think that's a major concern.

The kit comes with clear plastic sheet for the windows and I think they work particularly well.

Earlier I had made a Dragon Panzer IV and that kit had included a bonus sprue with a kubelwagen and a motorcycle. As I was in a transport building mode I took the opportunity to make the kubelwagen at the same time.

I was really pleased with the end result. I posted pictures on a thread I have in the Second World War folder on the Lead Adventure Forum and someone commented that all it needed to finish it off was a mechanic wearing oil stained overalls with his head buried in the engine. That gave me an idea.

Several years ago I bought the Orion set of plastic figures German WW2 Panzer Soldiers.

I was attracted to the very relaxed poses and while I did have a use for one or two figures the rest have been sitting in my spare figure box for some time.  It was time to dig them out again and see what I could do.

I liked the idea of a group of mechanics who have given up any hope that they can get the bus back on the road. I gave some thought as to how I would arrange them around the model and considered basing them separately or not at all. In the end I settled on a single base for them all as a small vignette. Two of the poses worked perfectly with the bus, with one figure leaning on the radiator and another smoking a cigarette while resting his foot on the front fender. 

With all the figures on a separate base it means the bus can be used as a standalone piece or one with the mechanics around it. The separate base also means those mechanics can make a hasty exit from the game once the enemy make an appearance!

This worked as a perfect piece of scatter terrain in the third game in our Ruckzug campaign.

The German withdrawal at the end of that game saw even more of their transport abandoned. 

There are not many uses for soft skin transport in a platoon level skirmish game where combat is taking place at the sort of short ranges that would be far too lethal for these sorts of vehicles. That doesn't mean there can't be a use for them on the table and I suspect the bus will make an appearance in many more games.


  1. Nicely done. You could use it as a reverse jump off point. A retreat point, perhaps.

  2. Fantastic work there! A really nice piece.

  3. Excellent modelling and painting! Can’t have enough of this sort of atmospheric, scene setting clutter terrain.

  4. A wonderfully imagined little vignette there, I am sorely tempted to get a bus to transport my Volksturm now.

  5. Fantastisch... sehr gut.

  6. I agree, wrecked vehicles are a must for scatter terrain if you want to portray Normandy - I'll share some of mine with you if I can find them (lots still in boxes from the move).

  7. Resting his foot on the front fender......or giving the annoying bar steward a bloody good kick? You decide.....

  8. Mark What happened to your article on how you write your AAR's? I can't find it and wanted to show a friend>