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Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-559-1085-07, Italien, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant, Opel "Maultier".jpg
Opel Maultier exiting a Me-323.
Type Half-track
Place of origin Germany Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1941 - 1945
Wars World War II
Production history
Designed 1941
Weight 3,930 kg (8,660 lb) to 5,500 kg (12,100 lb)[1]
Length 5.95 -7.9 m
Width 2.25 -2.36 m
Height 2.1 - 3.2 m
Crew 2

Armor none
Engine 3.6-litre 6-cyl petrol engine(Opel Blitz)
Speed 36-38 km/h

Maultier or Sd.Kfz. 3 (en: "Mule") is the name given to series of half-track trucks used by Germans during World War II. They were based on Opel, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa-Romeo or Ford trucks.


During the beginning of 1941 German troops discovered that their wheeled transport vehicles were unsuitable for the muddy rasputitsa conditions at the beginning of the invasion of Russia.

Only half tracks were able to operate in these conditions, but removing them from their combat role for supply duties was not feasible, so it was decided to produce half-tracked versions of standard Opel, Daimler-Benz, Alfa-Romeo and Ford trucks (lorries) by removing their rear axles, truncating the prop shafts and connecting them to redundant Panzer I track assemblies. Heavier trucks (4 tons payload) were fitted with Panzer II track assemblies.

(The Carden Lloyd type Horstmann suspension components employed by the Panzer I was practically identical to the light tank track system used on the Universal Carrier, with the Maultier's use of them closely resembling the roadwheel/suspension system used by the T16 American-produced version in its roadwheel design. Following the fall of Singapore rubber was scarce and so a Bedford QL was similarly adapted using a Carden Lloyd suspension. While the Bedford Bren gave impressive traction and excellent cross-country performance the higher cost and the effect of detail improvements in automotive design and materials such as artificial rubber meant this parallel British conversion never progressed beyond a single prototype, later converted back into an all-wheel vehicle.[2])

Most Maultier conversions were based on Opel Blitz model S trucks, which proved successful in service.

While lacking the overall mobility of purpose-built half tracks they were cheaper and sufficiently effective. From 1943 some Maultier trucks were fitted with armored bodies, designated SdKfz 4.[3] Some of these were armed with 10 tubed rocket launcher Panzerwerfer 42, and were designated SdKfz. 4/1.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage, "German Military Vehicles of World War II: An Illustrated Guide to Cars", p. 112
  2. ^ Coates, Robert (1994). Bedford to Berlin and Beyond QL: the Forces Favourite 4 x 4. Motorbooks International. ISBN 9780948358050. 
  3. ^ "Germany's Maultier ("mule")". Retrieved 19 June 2013.