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Volume I Issue 92

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Ubrld Wbrll
The need for the supporting arms to keep pace with the tanlcs
was obuious to seious students of atmoured warfare in the
A H alf-Track C ar M2, one of thb
of themanyUS Army halftracks, is
seen here looking warlike off an
first

r's/andrn tfi eSouth Pacific and armed


1930s, but wheeled vehicles were roadbound and tracked with a 0.50-in ( I 2.7 -mm) Browning
support vehicles seemed a n extravagance, Ealftncks he avy machine -qrun. The anti-
ditching roller can be clearly seen,
appeared to be the answer, and Gennany ud the USA built and all the driver's armoured
thembythethousand. hatches are open for extravision.

Between 1939 and I945 the mobility of the halftrack imparted to all arms French developed many models of halftracks but had little chance to use
the ability to move at a pace that had not been even contemplated in the type in combat in 1940, mainly as a result of the rapid acceptance of
1918. Halftracks of all kinds moved the infantry, combat engineers, armdured warfare principles by their German opponents, It was the
signailers and artillery around the battlefields of World War II at speeds Germans who made the best use of the halftrack's capabrlities, and not
-not even the prophets of armoured warfare had envisaged. Instead of even the massive output of the American arsenals can overshadcw the
the long lines of marching infantry that advanced across the battlefields impact that the German halftracks made at the time: even a-iler a period
of 1918, the front{ine soldier of 1945 moved in formations of halftracks of more than 40 years that impact still remains rn the popuiar maeinaton.
carrying not only the vangnrard of the infantry but also all the supporting Thus although the Americans produced more olther halfoacks than can
arms. be easily appreciated, the main emphasis in this study s cn lhe German
The impact of the internal combtistion engine on the battlefield is halftracks, from the tiny Kettenrad to the mighty SdKfz 9.
frequentiy quoted with the example of the tank, but it was soon learned But one factor must be borne in mind when reading this sudy: in cost
that the tank by itself could not operate without support, of which the terms, weight for weight the halftrack was, and still is, more expensive
most important was that furnlshed by the infantry, followed by those of than the tank. The high degree of technology reguued ic nake the
the engineers and artillery. With the latter two went all the other supply, halftrack reiiable rs such that each example was an engneenng
command and communication functions, which had to have the mobility achievement purchased at higrh cost rn time and facilitles. lf only a sma1l
and speed of the tank, The haiftrack was the best way of satisfying this sector of that effort had been diverted to other weapons or eguipment
operational requirement, and of all the nations involved in World War II things mrqht have been different for the German armed forces.
the Soviet Union was alone in not producing such vehicles, Even the
The bulk of the SdKfz I schwerer Zugkraftwagen I 2t can be readily
British, with their penchant for the tracked Bren Gun and Universal appteciated when seen a/ongside a Ktbelwagen. This photogaph was taken
Carriers, were pleased to receive American halfiracks, and the Sovlet inNorth Africa during 1942 where the SdKfz 8s were used to tow 2l-czn
Umon also used many when it suited them to accept such machines. The (8.26-in) heavy artillery.

:t ;rt
:t *:

r&
GERMANY

SdKfz 2 kleines Kettenrad


he SdKfz 2 kleines Ketteruad (SdKfz
sanding for Son derl<raftwagen o'r spe-
cral vehicle, and .kiernes Kettenrad
lmeaningr small wheel-track or half-
:ack) was developed initrally for use
by the new German army and Luftwaf-
fe airborne and paratroop units, and
was supposed to be a very light type of
artillery tractor, It was ongrnally rn-
iended as a towing vehicle for the spe-
cialued 3,7-cm Pak 35/36 anti-tank gun
developed for the airborne role, and
also for the ranqe of light recoilless
gmns that had also been developed for
use by these speciahzed troops,
The flrst of these small tractors en-
tered service in l94L The initial ser-
vrce model was the NSU-IOI, a small
but complex vehicle that could carry
three men, including the driver who
sat behind his steerinq bar close to the
centre of the vehicle. The relatively Above:The little SdKfz 2 kleines
long tracks took up much of the leneth Kettenrad was originally intended
of the vehicle on each side, and the for use as a light artillery tractor by
engine was located under and behrnd airborne units, but atter Crete these
the driver. T\vo men could sit at the vehicleswere more often used as
rear, facing backwards, and the equp- light forward area supplyvehicles
ment to be towed was connected by a tor use over difficult terrain. Three
hitch at the rear Apart from light artil- men could be canied.
lery pieces the vehicle could also tow
a specially-desiqned light trailer that point it was proposed that a larger ver-
could carry ammunition or fuel. and sion to be known as the HKl02 would
very often the seating for the tlvo extra be produced. This would have a larger
men was removed to make more rocn'r Z-IiIre (I22-cu in) engrne (the origrnal
for cargo and supplies. version had a l.5litre/91,55-cu in en-
By the time the Kettenrad entered qme) that could power a larger vehicle
sewice its main intended use had pas- capable of carryrng five men or a cor-
sed with the mauling of the Luft\t-aie respondinqrly larger payload of sup-
airborne forces on Crete. Thereaiter plies. It reached the design stage but
the German airborne formaiLc:is got no further, since by 1944 it was
fought as ground troops, and the neeci finally appreciated that the Kettenrads
for their light artillery tractors was :o were an expensive luxury that the Ger-
lonqer pressing, Accordiagly the Ket- man armed forces could no longer
tenrad was used mainly as a supply afiord and the type went out ofproduc-
vehicle for troops operahng m areas tron,
where other supply vehucles could not Those Kettenrads in use in 1944 frarnework and a signaller guided the British soldiers try out acaptured
move without difficulty. \&tile the litile sewed up to the end, and there was cable off the drums and onto the SdKfz 2 kleines Kettenrad. The driver
Kettenrads could carry out supply mjs- even a specialized type for high speed grrourd rsing a cable quide. sat in awell between the two tracks,
sions over seemingly rmpassable cableJaying to link up command posts with the engine j ust behind him.
lracts of mud or sand they could not and forward positions, There were Specification
carry very much. and therr tov,'ing actually two variants of this cable- SdKfz 2
capacity was limited to 450 kg (992 ]b) laying version, one for laying normal Crew: 3
Thrs was often a drawback compould- telephone cable (SdKfz ?1) and the Welshts: 1200 kq (2,646 lb) mdth LO m(3 ft3.4 in); heisht LOl m
other for iaying heaw-duty cable for Powerplant: one Opel Olympia 38 /c+coi-\
ed by the fact that relatrveiy few Ket-
tenrads were built, so the few that large switchboards (SdKfz 2/2). Both petrol engrne developrng 26.8 kW Performalce: maximum road speed
were available were usually resewed mounted the cable drums above the (36 hp) B0 ko/h (49,7 mph)
for really difficult missions. At one centre of the vehicle on a steel Dimensions:length ? 74 m (B ft 11,9 rn); Armament: none

GEBIvIANY

SdKfz l0 leichter Zugkraftwagen It


From the mass and weight of the 1B- and later in the war the 5-cm (1.97-in)
ionne SdKfz numerical sequence
9 the Pak 38 and 7.5-cm Pak 40 anti-tank
changed back to the lightest of the Qnrns. The basic vehicle was also used
anl]]ery tractors, the SdIGz I0 leichter as the basis for the armoured SdKfz 250
Zugkraftwagen lt. Thrs light tractor 1O was a very
series, All in all the SdKfz
:ad ils ongins in a 1932 army require- popular little vehicle that remained in
ment, and the development work was demand by all arms throuqhout the
:a:led out by Demag of Wetter-Ruhr war, Production was carled out at two
Jne first prototype was completed man centres, one of which was the
:urhg 1934 and in 1937 the productron Sauerwerke in Vtenna, but by 1943
:::cdel (the D 7) emerged, Ths re- production concentrated at the other
::arned in productron until 1944 vr.tth tts main centre (the Mechanische Werke
i:asic form virtually unchangted, and at Cottbus) when the Vienna plant
.ater aitempts to replace thrs model switched to other things, By German
:-ever did get very far since the origdn- terms the production totals were large,
:.1 vas deemed more than adequate for more than 17,000 being completed,
-= role. By far the most numerous of this pro-
lhe task was to tow liqrht infantry and duction total was the basic tractor but
::.-er weapons, and to carry the as usual this vehicle was used for other
'r,=apon detachment of up to eight things. The first variants were pro-
::-e: These weapons included the 3.7- duced as a reflection on the expected
:::: .1.456-in) Pak 35/36 anti{ank gun, nature of the coming war for three
-:-: 1.3-cm (2,95-in) lelG 1B infantry variants, the SdKfz l0/I, SdKfz l0/2 and SdKfz 10 leichter Zugkraftwagen lt have their canvas covers stowed,
-.!:'f,r:t gun, and the larqer 15-cm (5.9- SdKfz I0/3 were all produced as che- tractors are being used here in their and the gun crews' kit and
:, slc 33 infantry gnrn, Other weapons mical warfare vehicles: the first was a intended role to tow |-cm (1.97-in) equipment is stowed at the vehicle
::r,-:i rncluded hgtht antr-aircraft gnrns specially-equipped chemical recon- Pak 38 anti-tank guns. Thevehicles rear-

_: __
SdKfz l0 leichter Zugkraftwagen lt (continued) Halftracks of World War II

This S dKfZ I 0 / 4, a variant of the basic tered, It was different with SdKfz I0/4 series to carry local 'fleld fit'weapons, The ligtht SdKfz.l0 couldmount ercher
l-tonne tractor, is fitted with a 2-cm and SdKfz l0/5, for these two vehtcles A not uncommon weapon so fitted was the 2-cm(0.79-in) Flak 30 or theFkk
(0.79-in) FIak 30 complete with its were produced to mount single-barrel the 3.7-cm Pak 35/36 antr-tank gun, 38. These gunscouldbe used aEra:ns:
cuwe d s hie ld and with tft e srdes 2-cm light anti-aircraft gn-rns: the SdKfz which was usually mounted to fire for- gn ound targets if re quired, as s€l
folded downfor action. Some of l0/4 carried the Flak 30 and the SdKfz ward while still fitted with its gun here. This is an S dKfz I 0/ 4 with a Fc.k
these vehicles were fitted with 10/5 the faster-firinq Flak 38 from 1939 shield, A less common weapon was the 30 andwith the sides foldd down lc
armoured cabs to protect the driver. onwards, These two vehicles were so later S-cm Pak 38 carried in a similar provide a firing platform.
Extra ammunition was usually arranged that their sides and rear manner, but these were less frequent-
carried in a towed trailer. could fold down to form a workinq plat- ly encountered,
form for the gun crew, and many exam-
naissance vehicle, while the second ples that operated in direct support of Specification
and thtrd wete decontamination vehi- Qround formations (as opposed to the SdKfz I0
cles carrying equipment-cleansing vehicles used by the LuJhvaffe) were Crew: B
solutions in drums or a tank. Very few fitted \ rith extra armour over the driv- weight: 4900 ks ( 10,803 lb)
of these special vehicles appear to er's position, Powerplant: one Maybach HL 38 or 42
have been produced, and no records As was usual at the trme, there were o-cylinder petrol engrne developing
survive of any ever being encoun- unofficial modifications to the SdKfz 10 74.6 kW(100 hp)

Maultier
The first winter of the war in the USSR
(1941-2) demonstrated to the Geman
army that most of its wheeled transport
was completely unable to deal with the
dreadful muddy conditions produced
during the freeze{haw weather that
marked the beginning and end of the
Russian winter, Durinq these condi-
tions rt was only the halftracks that
could make any headway, but to divert
the precious halftracks from their
operational puposes to carry out the
mundane day-to-day supply functions
was obviously uneconomic, so it was
decided to produce low-cost halftrack
trucks. This was done quite srmply by
taking Opel and Daimler-Benz trucks
from the production lines and remov-
rng their rear axles, In their place went
new drleshafts connected to tracked
assemblies made from PzKpfw II run-
ning wheels and tracks, In ltself thrs
was a considerable economic advan-
tage since the PzKpfw II was then
going out of production and existrng by late 1942, and it was decided that latter allowed, which they never did The Maultier was a ma.kegt f,
capacity could be retained, makingr the Panzer formations should have (apart from a small batch of pro- conversion of an Opel u-.tck -t:o a
the truck conversion an even more their own dedicated rocket units. At totypes), The first of these Maultiers half-tracked truckfor use as a su-oo-7
cost-effective venture, that time most Nebelwerfer units used was used during 1943, and had a crew vehicle in forward area.s.
The new halftrack trucks were pro- towed launchers, so rn order to keep of three, The rockets were carried in =e irEs
schwerer Wehrmach tsafubpper
vided with the name Maultier (mule). up with the Panzers a self-propelled the launcher, with reloads in compart- meantlor this role, but cou:linolbe
In the end the conversions used mainly version was required, The halftrack ments along each side of the lower produced in suffrcren t,n l;,v-be.ls so
Opel TVp VSSM trucks, and in servrce was the obvious cholce as a starting hull, A machine-gmn was usually car- the M au ltier w as producrec-.
they were qenerally a success point, but as none could be allocated ried, Some of these armoured Maul-
although they tended to lack the over- the Maultier was pressed into use. tiers were produced without the laun-
all mobility of the 'proper' halftracks. The basic truck was provided with a cher and were used to carry extra
Not surprisinqly, their use was con- fully armoured cab, enqine cover and rockets for the launcher vehicles, and
fined to the Eastern Front, and the hull, On the hull roof a lO-barrel laun- some of these were used by units other
vehicles were used mainly for routine cher known as the 15-cm Panzerwer- than the Nebelwerfer batteries as
supply purposes, fer 42 was placed, This launcher had front-line ammunition supply vehicles,
Not content with a good thing, the 270" of traverse and B0' of elevation, although therr armout was proof only
Germans as ever were forced to em- and it fired the l0 rockets in a ripple. against small arms projectiles and
ploy the Maultiers for yet another pur- The army ordered 3,000 of these con- shell splinters,
pose, The German Nebelwerfer (rock- versions with the understanding that
et) batteries had become an estab- productlon would eventually switch to Specification
lished part ofthe army artillery system the sWS when production totals of the Maultier (rocket lauacher)
The Role oI the Halftrack
Half-tracked vehicles were used to enhance the mobility of
almostevery service arm, from infantry and artilleryto
engineers and medical staff . Their use as armoured personnel
carriers (APCs) heralded the development of modern
mech an i z e d inf antry tac tic s.

During World War ll the main weapon of every mechanized army was the tank,
and ithas maintained this ascendency to thls day. lts combination of f irepower,
protection and mobility made the tank the main cuttlng edge of massed attacks,
bnd the main support for defence. However, the fact remained that it could not
operate in isolation. Anyone who travels instde a tank under even moderate
c6mbat conditions wrll soon learn that his view is strictly limited. All that can be
seen of the world outside the armoured carapace has to be observed through
the narrow confines of periscopes, weapon sights and other limited viewing
devices.
Thus tank commanders had to be provided with some form of observation
outside the vehrcle, and it was not too long before this role was undertaken by
specialized infantry units travellrng with the tanks. These infantrymen acted as
the eyes and ears 6f the tank corrn'ander, relay ng information and combat data
to the crews, originally by manr:al signals such as f lags and later by radio or even
telephones mou"nted bn'the orts dd of the tank. The infantry could look out for
targets ahead, warn of obstacles n dead ground, keep an eye out for minefields
and= hidden anti-tank weapons arrc generally keep enemy tank-killing infantry
squads away.
The problem for the infantry rvas :hat to fulfil these tasks adequately they had
to keef up with the fast-moving la",<s. Early experiments in carrying infantry in
trucks sobn demonstrated tha: v,'n le the trucks theoretically had the requlred
speed they did not have the n"oc : :y to cross rough terraln that the tanks often
tiaversed, and the trucks also lac<ed the protection that even thin armour could
provide against small-arms frre arc shell splinters. When tanks co-operated with Acaptured2-cm(0.79-in)Flakvierling3SSdKfzT/l antiaircraftvehicleliesby
truckborn-e infantry they usua:l\' ,e:i the infantry far behind in a very short time. a hedgerow in Normandy. When in action the sides of this vehicle were folded
What was wanied *3s s r.'sr sis that could keep up with the tanks, provide down to act as a'working platform' around the gntn. This vehicle has an
some form of protection +oi':ne cccupants, and hopelully also act as a weapon armoured cab to protect the driver; the crew had no such protection.
platform. The ldeal solution',tioJ;d have been to have the in{antry carried in a
iully-tracked vehicle, but ir s s:i,ttion was initially discarded when it was real-
ized that the infantry ven cles',^"ould spend a great deal of their time travelling
along paved roads and thai c.1:emporary track development was still at a point
wheie speeds were low an. i,ac< life relatively llmited. Another factor against
the fully-tracked vehicle \r,'as :rat up till World War lltracked steering systems
were siill cumbersome anc could not provide the degree of manoeuvrability
demanded. The infantry nac io wait until well after World War ll before the
fully-tracked armoured perscnnel carrier became a viable service equipment.
ihus an interim betvr'een ine truck and the fully-tracked vehicle was sought,
and indeed found in the halftrack. The halftrack. or semitrack, as it is sometimes
known, could combine the rnobility provided by the fully tracked drive system
with the steering system of the wheeled vehicle. As thetype was relatively light,
it was not always necessary to make use of heavy steel tracks, so the rubber or
rubber-based tiacks of the type developed by Alexandre K6gresse could be
used. During the 1 920s and 1 930s many nations developed the halftrack con-
cept, most of them to the point where they could be plaied into production for
the armed forces, and many of these types are included in this study.
ln the main the halftrackd were issed to formations known as mechanized
infantry, although the name varied from nation to nation: for instance, in Ger-
many ihey weie known as Panzertruppen and later Panzergrenadiere. .The
proportion of mechanized infantry to tanks varied somewhat, for some nations
decided to go'tank heavy'and used two tank battalions with one battalion of
mechanized-inlantry while others had balanced 'one for one' proportions; some
armies even had more mechanized infantry than 1anks, and the proportions
varled not only nationally but accordtng to terrain. ln large open areas such as the
North German plains more tanks than infantry could be used, but once tanks
approached
' built-up areas the numbers of infantry increased.
Once mechanized infantry were on the scene it was not long before they
were joined by combat engineers who built bridges, demolished obstacles,
clearetl mines bnd generally kept up the momentum of armoured moves. They
too often used halftracks to move forward and to carry or tow their heavy AGerman conversion of a French Somua MCG halftrackwas made to
equipment, and if the engineers were mobile so were the artillery. During World accommodate an armoured hull and mount a 7.1-cm (2.95-in) Pak 40 anti-tank
War'll self-propelled artil-lery was not common, most guns and howitzers being grun. These conversions were carried out in France ready for the I 944
towed. Heie the halftrack dould be used to advantage to keep pace with the Normandy campaign, where this example was knocked out. Probably 16 such
tanks, but since the artillery was a supporting arm that rarely had to move moditications were carrie d out.
directly in the f ront Iine there was less need for armour. Thus many halftracks
used ab artillery tractors and ammunition carriers were little more than halftrack- large-scale move towards protected mobility came an unforeseen shift in com-
ed trucks with.no armour at all. Armoured artillery tractors were usually used to bat tactlcs and capabilities. Many of the halftracks sprouted armament of all
tow anti-tank guns, for anti-tank units obviously had to operate directly in the kinds, ranging from machine-guns to heavy guns and howitzers. Halftracks
face of the en-emy. However, some artillery halftracks that also used armour became not just weapon carriers but mobile platforms f rom which the weapons
vrrere the mobile forward observation posts. These usually travelled with the could be used directly. This was particularly true with infantry: the troops no
tanks to call down supporting fire when needed, and they too required armour longer had to use their carriers only as 'battle taxis' from which they dismounted
for protection. to fight, but instead used their halftracks as mobile platforms from which they
With the main combat arms of mechanized infantry, artillery and combat could direct their fire, in both attack and defence. Thus tactics were introduced
engineers mounted in highly mobile halftracks, it was not long before the rest of that allowed the halftracks to move forward firing as they went to deliver their
the supporting arms trav-elled in them too. Commanders obviously had to keep infantry loads directly onto enemy positions or else move through them to
pace with their forces and halftracked command and communication posts wreak havoc in the rear areas. They did not do this in isolation, for they still
becamestandard.Recoveryunitsusedthemobilityof thehalftracktocarrytheir travelled with the tanks, but at times it was not the mechanized infantry who
:ranes and other recovery equipment, and halftrack ambulances become com- supported the tank but the tank that supported the lnfantry. By 1945 the
-onplace. halftrack had thus made possible radical alterations in tactics, and this presaged
Thus by the end of World War ll whole formations moved on halftracks, the the balanced battle groups and combat teams of today, where one arm cannot
-S Army probably being the best example of this tendency. But with this operate in isolation but only as part of a balanced and co-ordinated team.
Halftracks of World War II

This halftrack tractor was known as the Krauss-Maffei KM8, and was the
forerunner of the mittlerer Zugkraftwagen Bt (SdKfz 7) series. This early
mode/rsseen lere towing a I5-cm (5.9-in) sFH 18 medium field howitzer and
full crew. Taken around 1935, lfi.rs li a typical propaganda picture of the
period.

This standard SdKfz 7 9-tonne artillery tractor has a full guncrew on board. A
canvas tilt could be used to provide overhead weather protection iar the
personnel, but this was usually stowed at the rear to improve all-round vision
to guard against air attack. Stores and. ammunition coujd be carrted at the
fear,

The Soviet Union supplemented its own range of halftracks with vast numbers This SdKfz 251/9 was knocked out atStaveloton 21 December I 944 during the
ofAmerican vehicles shipped under the Lend-lease scieme. Here a Red Ardennes fighting.lt is armedwith a short7.1-cm(2.95-in) assault gun, aid a
Army M3 drives into Sofia during the Soviet invasion of Bulgaria in September 7.92-mm (0.312-in) MG 42 is also carried.The unfortunate ganner ls still on
1944. board next to his gun, killed by a rifle grenade.

1825
M $Hi[t 250 leichter Schtitzenpanzer\ffagen
The vehicle that was to become the
SdKfz 250 leichter Schiitzenpanzer-
wagen series had its origins in the
same operational requlrement pro-
duced during the mid-1930s that led to
the SdKz 25I serles, It was intended
that there would be both l{onne and
3-tonne halftracks to provide mobilt$
for the infantry and other units operat-
ing with the Panzer divisions, and the
Iti:nne model became the SdKfz 250.
The SdKfz 250 was first produced bY
Demag AG of Wetter rn the Ruhr,
although later other concerns were
also involved in manufacture. The
vehicle was based on the chassrs ofthe
SdKfz 10 leichter Zugkraftwagen l-
tonne vehicle, but featured an
armoured hull with an open top to
accommodate the crew of five men
plus the driver. The first examples
were produced durtng 1939, and the
SdKfz 250 first went into action durng
the May 1940 campaign ir Fralce.
Compared wtth its larger counterpart,
manner of weapons from an B.I-cm other special version was the SdKfz The S dKf z 250 / I 0 was armed with a
the SdKfz 251, the SdKfz 250 halfirack (1 .456-in) Pak 35/36 anti-tank
was built and used on a much smaller (3.189-in) mortar (SdKfz 250/7) ro a 2- 253 which acted obsenation post
as an 3.7-cm
cm anti-aircraft cannon (SdKfz 250/9). for the Sturmgeschrilz batteiles and gan, and was j us t one of a long string
scale but the type's producrion total
was impressive enough (5.93C -'n'ere Perhaps the oddest of these weapon was glven a special radio 'flt', of variants of this light armoured
made between 1942 and 1944) and bY carriers was the SdKfz 250/8, which Other SdKfu 250 variants included carrier. Other versions carried
the time the war ended no less &an 14 appeared to be rather overloaded the SdKfz 250/9, a special turreted ver- machine-guns and even 7 .5-cm
wrth a short 7,5-cm (2,95-in) tank gnrn sion for the reconnaissance role; the ( 2.9 5 - in) assault howitzer s
offlcial vartants had been proiuced (the SdKtz 250/8).
(plus the usual crop of u:roilctal (fuom the early versions of the PzKpfw SdKfz 250/12 range-findinq and anil-
variants), and from 1943 on'"''-=r:.- pro- IV tank) allied with a co-axlaVranging lery suwey model; light anti-tank mod-
ductron modifications were r:ociuced 7,92-mm (0,3l2-in) MG34 or MG42 els armed with either a 37-mm (1,456- Specification
to the hull shape to assist rar-::acture machine-gmn, There were hvo variants in) anti-tank gun (SdKfz 250/10) or a SdKfz250
while at the same time c'u::gr down that were allocated therr own special special'taper-bore' 2.8-cm (i, l-in) Crew:6
designation numbers. One was the heavy antl-tank rifle (SdKfz 250/lI); Weisht 5380 kq (1 I,861 Ib)
the amount of raw matenals :eci.rired
Armour thickness rangec tam 6 to SdKfz 252 which was supPosed to be a and vanous types of command ald Powerplant:one Maybach HL 42 6-
14,5 mm (0,24 to 0.57 tn). special ammunition carrier towing a communication models. Unofficial ver- cyhnder petrol engine developing
The main run of SdKft 251 veilcles traiier; the reshaped and fullY- sions mounted a 2-cm anti-aircraft cal- 74 6 kw(100 hp)
commenced with the SdKfz 250/I, enclosed interior was meant to carry non, and there was at least one attempt Dimensions: lengrth 4.56 m ( 14 ft
which had a crew of sx rcer arrd car- ammunition for Sturmgeschfitz (assault to mount a S-cm (1.97-in) anti-tank gut, I I.5 in); width 1,945 m (6 ft 4.6 in);
ried two machine-gnrns. Trere fol- gnrri) batteries, but only a few were The SdKfz 250 series were popular heisht l.9B m (6 ft 6 in)
lowed a number of models equtPPed made before it was realized that the little halftracks, and they remained in Performance: maximum road sPeed
ordinary SdKfz 250 could carry out the production right up till the end of the 59.5 km/h (37 mph); roadrange 299 kn
for erther radio (SdKfz 250i3) cr tele- (186 miles); grradient 24'; fording
phone (SdKfz 250/2) cornr:r'r-r-rcations, role just as well and the SdKz 252 was war, They were expensive to produce,
thus replaced by the SdKfz 250/6 which but they were used on every front and 0.75 m (29.5 in)
and a vartety of weapcr.-:arrying
vaiants. These were armed v'rth all could carry 70 7,5-cm rounds. The in service proved reliable and sturdy, Armament: see text

K $Hitft I I leichter Zuskraftwasen 3t


The SdKfz ll leichter Zuqkraftwagen firing their missiles to bolster artillery
3t series had a somewhat dificu1t early barrages. The SdKfz ]ls used with
development life, for the irsi versions these batteries not only towed various
that appeared in early 1934 vrere pro- multi-barrel launchers but also carrted
duced by two firms, Harsa-LloYd and spare rockets, launcher frames for the
Gohath who later combtned to form siatically-emplaced launchers and the
Borgrward AG. For various reasons de- crews to cafiy out the fue missions
velopment ofthese early vehicles pas- Since the Nebelwerfer units were sup-
sed to Hanomag of Hanover. which be- posed to retain their smoke-producinqt
came responsible for the senes from skrlls for laying down smoke screens at
then onwards, and by 1939 the SdKfz I I times, some SdKfz 1ls (the SdKfz 11/I
leichter Zughafiwagen 3t was Ln firll and SdKfz l1/4 models) were fitted
production. with smoke-generating equrpment but
The basic SdKfz l1 was intended for this could usually be removed for the
use pnmarily as an artrllery tractor, more usual rocket-firinq dutres. These
and once in service it became a stan- smoke-qenerating models had a crew
dard tractor with 10.5-cm (4.13-in) of only tvrro, compared with the nine
leFH lB field howitzer batteries, and that could be carried when the vehicle tres were busy churning out SdKfz I ls An SdKfz I 1 leichter Zugfu aftwagen
was later used to tow 7,S-cm (2,95-in) was used as a tractor, and it was one halftrack that remained 3tof theAfrikaKorps towsa 10.5-cm
Two variants, the SdKfz ll/2 and in production untll the end although by (4.13-in) leFH 18 field howitzer soon
Pak 40 anti-tank gmns. In fact the SdKfz
11 was so successfirl with the leFH 18 SdKfz tl/3, were produced speclflcal- then only one factory, Auto-Unlon at atter the arrival of the Korps inNorth
batteries that the larger SdKiz 6 which Iy for the chemical warfare decon- Chemnitz, was in full spate, The Borg- Africa in I 94 1 - hence the Pith
tamination role, These two vehicles ward plant at Bremen was supposed to helmets (soon discarded). This
was also meant to tow these howitzers
was phased out ofproduction in favour could carry more equipment and de- remain in productton, but was dam- tractor was developed bY Hanomag
contaminants than the smaller SdkKfz aged by bomber raids and could turn and remained in Production until
ofthe lighter (and less expensive) trac-
tor, The SdKlz ii tractors were also 10 equivalents, and were intended for out components only, BY then some
changes had been made to simPlifY
1944.
used by the Lufhvaffe to tow light flak use with larger equipments such as
weapons such as the 3,7-cm (1.456-in) tanks; but as with the smaller vehicles manufacture. The mqtal superstruc- tractor vehicles by 1945 was such that
Flak 36 and 37, and it was by the arm/s few appear to have been Produced tures of the early models was replaced many were in use towing far heavier
Nebelwerfer (literally smoke{hrower) and no records have suwived of anY by wooden units, and to increase the artill-ery pieces (and other loads) than
batteries that the SdKfz 11 was mainly being encountered. No doubt theY operational radius of the new vehicles those fbi which theY were intended,
used. were- converted to become normal increased fuel capacity was intro- one example of which was the large
tractors, duced (the normal tankagTe beinq 110 B.B-cm (3.46-in) Pak 43 and Pak 43/41
Despite their name the Nebelwerfer
units were primarily rocket troops At one point several production cen- Iiftes/Z{,Zlmp qal), The need for these antl-tank Quns.

'.424
SdKfz I I leichter Zugkraftwagen 3t (continued) Halftracks of World War II
Specification
SdKfz ll
Crew:9
Weight:7100 ks (15,653 lb)
Powerplant: one Maybach NL 38 6-
cyhnder petrol developing 74,6 kW
(100 hp)
Dimensions: length 5 48 m ( 17 ft
I1 7 in); width I 82 m(5 ft II 7 in);
heiqht 1.62 m(5 ft3.B in)
Performance: maximum road speed
53 km/h (33 mph); range l22km(76
miles)
Armament: see text

The SdKfz I 1 leichter Zugkraftwagen


I 3t was primarily used as a tractor for
medium field artillery such as the
I I 0.S-cm (4. 1 3-in) howitzer and 7.5-
t cm (2.95 -in) P ak 40 anti-tank gun.
The SdKfz I I was so successfu/
that it largely superseded
the bigser SdKfz 6.

$Hiti, 25 I mittlerer Schiitzenpanzerwasen


The SdKfz 25I mittlerer Schiitzenpan-
zerwagen series of halftracks had its
origlns in the same staff requirement
as the SdKfz 250, but whereas the
SdKfz 250 was a light l-tonne vehicle The SdKfz 251/20 was known as'Uhu'
the SdKfz 251 was classed as a medium (owl) and carried an infra-red
(mtttlerer) 3{onne vehicle. The SdKfz searchlight to illuminate targets for
25 I was a product ofthe Hanomag con- small groups of Panther tanks at
cern, based at Hanover, but the hull night. These variants were produced
and superstructure were produced by late in thewar andwereused mainly
Btissinq-NAG, The basis of the SdKfz on the Eastern Front.
251 was the SdKfz I I leichter Zugkraft-
wagen 3-tonne artillery tractor half-
track, and the flrst productron exam- /
ples were issued to the lst Panzer Divi-
in 1939,
sion early
The SdKfz 251 was primarily an
armouied personnel carrier capable
of carrying up to 12 men (a complete
infantry section), and it was this SdKfz
25li I version that was produced in the
qreatest numbers. Armed with at least
two machine-guns plus the carded
crew weapons, the SdKfz 251/1 was a
very useful fiqhting platform capable
of keeping up with the fast-moving
Panzer formations. No fewer than four
differing hull versrons were rntro- mounted on these side frames while
duced, mainly as a result of the need to still in their carrying crates and fired at
churn out more and more vehicles to short ranqres against frxed or area
meet the ever-expandinq demand of targets They were powerful weapons,
front-hne troops, but that was nothingt especially for street fiqhtrng, but other
compared to the number of variants SdKfz 251 versions, such as the SdKfz
produced for other roles. Armour 25Ii9 armed with a short 7,S-cm tank
varied in thickness from 6 to 14,5 mm gun, were far more accurate. There
(0,24 to 0.57 in). was even a flamethrower version (the
There were no fewer than 22 of SdKfz 25lil6) and one model was a
these speclal-purpose variants, plr.rs late-war low-level anti-aircraft de-
the usual local and unofficral modifica- fence expedient, the SdKfz 25I/21
tions, They ranged from weapon car- mounting three 1,S-cm or 2-cm aircraft
riers of all kinds to ambulances, and in Qnrns (the MGlSl) on a single mount-
between came observation vehicles mg.
for various forms of artillery, command The SdKfz 251 in all its forms was
and communrcatrons versions (both produced in thousands and became a
radio and telephone). versions cal- virtual 'trademark'of the Panzer forma-
tying infra-red searchlights or anti- tions. It was used on all fronts, Lrsually in
aircraft weapons and eve:r tank-killers close co-operation with tanks, and
mounting longr 7,S-cm (2.95-in) antr- although the early versions displayed
tank guns. The full listinq is gnven else- some unfortunate reliabrlity problems
where in this study but perhaps the the type settled down to become a
mosl powerful of the weapon carners rugged and dependabie vehicle in 74 6 kW ( 100 hp) The badge on the front of this SdKfz
was a version of the basic SdKfz 251/l whatever role rt was used, Dimensions:lenqth5.B0 m(19 ft0 3 in); 25I /9 denotes that it is part of the
known as the lSfuka zum Fuss' (di- width 2, 10 m (6 ft 10 7 in); heisht 1.75 m schwere Kanonenzug ol the
vebomber on foot, or infantry Stuka). Specification (5ftB9rn) reconnaissance battalion of the Znd
This was the personnel carrrer with a SdKfz 25I Performance: maxrmum road speed Panzer Division. This k an early
tubular steel frame over the hu]] that Crew: 12 52.5 km/h(32.5 mph); roadrangre example of the mounting for the 7.5-
carried three rocket-launcher frames Weight:7810 kg (17,2lB ]b) 300 km (186 miles)t gradient 24' cm (2.9 5 - in) short ass ault Wn used to
on each srde of the vehicle; 28-cm (1 1- Powerplant:one Maybach HL 42 6- fording0.6 m (24 in); 2.0 m (6 ft 6.7 in) provide local fire support; this
in) or 32-cm (12.6-in) rockets were cyiinder petrol engine developing Armament: see text vehicle is one of six in the company.

LB27
Psnzergrenadier
Halftracks in Aefion
Popularly viewed as the archetypal German halftrack, the SdKfz 25 I served in many
differentrclesin widevarietyof unitsineverycampaignof theWehrmacht.Over
a
20 discrete versions were manufactured, but it is best remembered as an armoured.
personnel carrier, the chosen vehicle of the mounted infantry at the spearhead of the
Panzer divisions.
Contrary to what Holl1'wood and the rn orld of machine-guns, two 81'mm (3 19-rn) mortars The SdKfz 25 I was used in several versions as a
fiction would have us belie-'re the SdKlz 251 (usuaily carried 1n SdKfz 251/2s), and two short communications or command vehicle carrying
was not used by everv unri cf the German arn.iy. 7 S-cm (2.95-in) guns, The latter could be car- various radio 'fits'. Most of these vehicles were the
ried on SdKfz 251/9s but were mole often SdKfz 25I13, seen here with a large frame radio
Despite ihe ellorts oi Gernal tncus.r-tr ihere aerial, although not all SdKfz 25 I l3s used this type
were never enough ScKi: 2:-s :. eqjtp anl/ tcrn'ed lelG l8s towed behind SdKfz 250s or of frame.This example is in use inNorth Africa.
thinqtother than a propcr.ta: :, :re :::ec:,anized perhaps trucks, On paper the Panzergrenadier
infantry units attacheC :: :t: ir::r j;,--stcns company had a strength of four officers, 32 towards him to save space, Just behind the
and even there not €',:€i. -.r... .-.-s :q:tpped NCOs and 147 men driver was the for-ward machine-gun whrch
with halftracks. Of course all of these figures were for plan- could oe erlher a 7.92 mm (0.312 -n; MC34 r
The primary opera-c:: - :.: -..:. -: . I oer ning purposes only, In practice the number of later a 7.92'mm MG42. Origrnally this machine-
sonnel carrier versions ,: :-= l:1.-- :: - .r e the men and vehicles varied considerably. In gun wds mounlod on an open pjnl.e. out con
SdKfz 251/1) were the Fa:.:::,:=:-=::els. The some elite formations and in many ol the Waf- bat experience dictated that later versions
basic unit of these trooFs -.'.':: :-= ---:::t:'ung or fen-SS lormations these totals were frequently used a sloping shre d Io prolecl the gunnet
battalion, There were',','.-: ,- .:,::: : a Panzer- exceeded, but in most of the arrny Panzergre- Another machine-gun was mounted over the
qrenadier regimer.. : .'. " ... ... .:. :ne ol nadier units they were not even approached, hull rear on a swrnging gantry. On some section
these battahons 1/as :,. =-;,..,: ::i -.,,'tlh half- Throughout the war the German army sulfered leaders' vehicles the forward Qrun was re-
tracks and had instea: : -.:- .r-^:<s, though from so chromc a shortage of equipment and placed by a 3,7 cm (1,456-in) Pak 35/36 antt-
there were usua11;v a -=''.' S::-.- ::,s even in trained soldiers that many SdKfz 251s went into rank gun (as on the SdKfz 251 10r br' after 194:
these non-armoure:. :-:.: Ius Tre iul1y- action wrlh therr log'stic req-rremen s mel not this no longer had much utility as an anti
equipped Panze:;. .-.: - -. 1-:.. --t.J Wds
:. by modern German trucks but by captured armour weapon and was used instead againsl
known as gepanzs:a: l:- -' .:::-:Lrred) and French or Soviet vehicles of ihe most diverse strongpolnts or against soft-skinned targets.
had a headquarters ::r:'-:.::-.' .::ee Panzet- krnos, and although the SoKIz 251 was sup- In theory ihe soldiers carried on the SdKfz
grenadier compa:--:: -:.:: .. ''.'=ap':n support posed to caruy 12 men many carned far less 251 were supposed to be equlpped wtth sub
conl,pany. There .'. ,. . .. . --. .- - j cJmpany Lhan Lhat aL times. machine guns such as the 9 mm (0.354-rn.
for rhe supply c f - -= -.. : --r unirion, Al'nough the SdKiz 2c r coulo carry I2 men. -t MP38 or MP40, especialiy as the latter hac
Each compan-v -:ar ,.: - .'-:- ::::..1, headquar- could do so only at a squeeze and wrth a fu1l been desiqned and produced with Panzerqre
ters, three SdKlz 2:, :: - -,:,: qiatoon from load there was little room for anyone to do nadrers in mrnd. In lact lhe supply srlualc..
'
the weapon suppcr. : r:,-i::." .:i an rntegral anvthing bu siL dowl In combar on,y dbout usually meant that these short lveapons were
anti-aircraft platocr- 1:...=:.':. - :, .:';ed 20-mm eight men could be comfortabiy carried in issued to NCOs only at the rate of one per
anti-aircraft can::,-. addLnon to the dr-ver who sat forward behrnd vehicle, and the rest of the troops used stan'
had a strength cl'3,1 :---:=:- --: j:.-:n travelling his steering wheel that was angled wlth the top dard rifles or carbines, To increase therr shock
on four SdKfz 25 I s ;. :..',-=' :.= :.:: i :uarters and
-
effect, many of the soldiers carried extra gre
Support units use: ::. . --, ;-- 'r-. li Each An SdKfz 25I fords a river, apparently during an
nades and the vehicle machine-guns were fre-
pia:oon could tr--:- -.-.:-. .:-. -.1.e ex'ra exercise, for the armament is stowed and the rear
cuen ly djsmounted rvhen lhe Lroops lef r rh-
personnel such as c::-::: :r--.r-:,::rs cr signal doors apen. Thevehicle is anearly modelwith the vehicle for operations on foot, though at leas.
lers working with :: ---:. .:-: '',':3.pon support side vision ports thatwere later eliminated to ease one machine-gun was generaily left on the
strength could . r--. . I. .:.-.r .- mtssron, production. Note the useful side boxes offen used vehrcle for fire support or to defend the vehrcle
Usually each conp::--.' :--: ::- :a'i icur heavy to staw the crew's personal kit. agarnst surprrse atLack.

Above: An SdKfz 25 I I I personnel carrier moves


past an old NorthAfrican fort soon after the Afrika
Korps arrived in Libya. The flag across the bonnet
is for recognition purposes by aircraft, and a
typicalAfrika Korps touch is the recovery cable
coiled at the front ready far immediate use if
required.
Halftracks of World Wa: i.

1;r2l;1;!*i{?.'t12

i.:'4.t,.rs

The SdKfz companies usually operated in switched rapidly to a new set of tactics rn v,'hich The SdKfz 251/ 1 personnel carrier couli :e :::= :
:lose co-operation with tanks. As the tanks the roles of th€ tank and the mechanrzed infan- with rocket launcher frames known as
:r.ioved forward it was the job of the Panzergre- try were reversed: instead ol Panzergrena- Wurfrahmen fo launch Z9-cm or 32-cm - . .::. : :
'-

iadiers to scout ahead, keep away enemy dlers supporting the ianks, the tanks tended to :
I 2.6-in) rockets. These vehicles were k:. : .,. :. : -:
Sluka eum Fuss'. andwere used to de::.:.":.^
:ank-killer squads, watch out for obstacjes or support the attacking infantry and the SdKfz strongpaints and large structures. Ti.e : : : ,':::
ninefields and qenerallv make thincrs easler 251's armour was used to protecl the vehicle's carried HE or incendiary warheads.
'r he near-y bl-nd Lank crews An'ilank gun occupdnls as rhey moved across d baLtteneld
oositions were always a Panzergrenadrer towards therr obiectlve. Once on the objective
ibjectrve, and any such weapons were either the Panzergrenadrers debussed ro frqhL .vr h qround and neutralized the ai:.- -,., - r
artacked directly or had f,re drrected at them local support provided by the SdKfz 251 s coutd the tanks move lorwaro . -
irom the heavy vehrcle or support weapons. machine-guns and any other weapons carried required 'o make an armour:1. .

Bu: not all Panzergrenadiers moved in direct by other vehicles. After 1942 i1 was these to the rear areas. The Panzer::- ,
contact wrth the tanks. Verv often the SdKfz 251 dashrnq rnlanlry' Lactrcs rather Lhon rhe use o[ ly moved forward under artille:'. :.
;:.i's had o move on the flonks olan armolred tanks thal usua .y gained ground lor aJrer l042 ptred by he tor,t ed and ser''p : ::=.
advance, especrally in the period from 1939 to the rapid growrh in power and numbers oi pjeces thal moved wrth the S ::
1942 when the Panzer 'Blrtzkrieg' tactics were A.l-red antr -ank weapons mean' rhat the ank all too often it was discovereci ::-: . -.
at their most effective, Dunng the Blitzkneg the was not always as powerful as had earlier been heavier support weapons w€ii -: . .. : '
tanks usually moved raprdiy through the tne case Only wher 'he rn an'ry had g.rned gd\e -r-se to the growlh rn :.-.: '
enemy positions and then advanced far to lhe
r^ar -hrougn rhe enemv rear dleas usually
ieaving therr supporting arms far behind them
ond leavtng therr flanks wide opon 'o enemy
ccuntermoves, It was the role of the Panzergre-
nadrers to move forward lo guard these open
flanks aoalnst counterattack. At trmes this
meant the Panzersrenadiers abrandoninq their
h;ghly mobrle role Lo drg delended poiitrons
until reinlorcements could be brought up to
take over their task Then it was back into the
vehicles and forward once more to shreld the &=-
ever-open flanks teft by the advancing tanks.
Newtactics lffi
Once the Blitzkneg was stymied by heavily
defended localities as it was from about 1942
onrn'ards, the Panzergrenadiers lost this flank
suppor lole 'o a large e'tert rnd jnslead

The SdKf z 25 1 version armed utith the Z-cm (0.79-


in) FIak 38 never did get its own designation, for
only a few were produced from ]942 onwards.
This version had sides that folded down to provide
more room for the gun and crew in action. The
crewwas four to six, and mostwere used anlyon
the Eastern Front.
F enzergrenadier Halftracks in Action

;tit ig
t-,jtil lE *
F':i€ il3r?':t

:i-.::i::

,..1.]1
: l

r@
;]
J@
aj:@
'gF*a*i
ibi!*:@"
-:j
ii*#l
:!:i:B*€4
.i a:tc'@3
lWl
i.1 iffi*,
!jlrii&**,*a
iw
' '"1!j

*# ffi**
F}G @
*[
:i:'t'; -r

Sdlffz 251
,ft
4
,1- TheSdKfz 25l serjes was deve.ioped as an offshoot
't of the German half-tracked artillery tractor series
,a
f to provide an armoured. personnei carrier for
!t infantry accompanying the newly-fotmed Panzer
'g.t drvisions. This is one of themore numerous
variants, the SdK{z 251/ l, thatcould carry up to l2
soldiers and was armed with two MG34 machine'
gruns. Various production changes were made to

=€%
t:
3..
this vehicle thioughout its life, which lasted from
early 1939 untii the end of the war in 1945. Itwas
the main equipment of the motorized in{antry
regiments throughout thewar and was used on all
#:I
s fronts.
,k
w* iW
€ ,

I t3!
Halftracks of World Vf ar Il

W
Fa-"'&r&

. :,1:.. -.*I.l
*I"fr
r
! I d't

rry
..r

a-"<frm
Panzergrenadier Halftracks in Action

lery could be thrown together to car'ry out lvhai


were frequdntly defenslve missions, and were
just as quickly disbanded and re-formed to
carry out Some other operational task. This re-
quired what was for the time a radical chanse
in hierarchrcal thought allhouqn the Cernan
Sturmtruppen had used simllar tactrcs dunng
the latter stages ol World War L In these rapid-
ly-changmg situations the SdKfz 251 and its
.oad of Panzergr enad iers were a lways aL a pre-
mium, and lf there had been more ol them the
course of the closing staqes of the war in East-
ern Europe mrght have changed, if only lor a
while.
But by 1945 the SdKfz 251s were beinq used
in a long series of defer:srve moves and the
nature of ihe SdKk rtseif had changed; The
need to produce more and more SdKfz 25ls led
to production changes to speed up the manu-
factuJing process, and the later SdKlz 251s
looked very different from their 1939 counler-
parts. The last rofficial' SdKfz 251 vanant, the
SdKfz 251/22. showed how delensive its role
had becomer this version was overloaded with
the werght ola 7,5-cm Pak 40 anti-iank sun, its
heavrT ammunition and a crew olfour men, and
was supposed to act not as a support weapon
A typicalSoviet scene in the summer o! I941 , with to location either to counter-attack or dt best to but as a mobile tank-kii1er. It was late 1944
German infantry storming a smal| v-illage under stem the iorward-movrng Red Army hordes, when the fust of lhese Partzerjiiger vehicles
the fire cover of an SdKfz 2 5 I I I / rear). carrying a These teams established themselves as a for- appeared,'and the lew that were produced
3.7-cm ( 1.456-in) Pak 35 36 anti- tank gun. The mal melhod of waging war that rs now in use acquitted themselves weil enough despite lhe
nearestSdKfz 25I /1 is armed with a 7.92-mm
(0.31Z-in) MG 34 and the troaps have dismounted everyrivhere, but whlch was at the time novei. fact that the bulk and weight of their armament
from these vehicles. Instead of operatinq along the battahon/com- severely limited their mobility,
pany/platoon basrs wrthrn established ba-
weapons carrled c!i:i3 :tj-_-.-arranis Scme
.
lances of supporting arrns, ihe lanks and Pdn-
umts did not wari icr :.: :''-:r:. iesrgns to zergrenadiers instead established the coneept There were twa versions of the SdKfz 251
produced tor use by combat engineers: the SdKfz
reachthem. Insteai:;-.,- --,,:-:s+-- rack olthe battle group and the combat team, These 25115(smallnumbers only) and theSdK{z 251/7,
to fleld workshops :c ia,': .'.=:!r:s such as iormations were of no flxed establishmenl or seen iere. They carried short assault bridges on
Z-cm flak 39 ant - r:r, :.-.::- -- .i .c :he size and were formed accordlng to the dictates sidd racks, one either side, and the interiot was
forward machine-o;:- c-:--. . - " 1:':'-. j+:cre of the tactlcal situation, Various grouprngs of used to carry other specialist combat engineer
flreoower in the n::a, sic..::r :tases cf an Panzergrenadiers, tanks anci supportinq arti]- equipment such as exp,losjyes.
at'ack. Caplured S . . -. :.:- --.,. r r.::+: '.'iere
frequently mounted t:::.'---:3- -.- :cr :he same
purpose and by :l-e -.:= :.: . -.t :-ied trrpJe
mountings oi l5-r:'i,::r Zl-i:n-i arrcraft
machine-guns inien,jej ::r al:, atrcraft use
(the SdK'z 251 21r " ' i-:_-::.-_. lsed tn'
stead rn rhe grour-i-: -r l r '- 1. .:
Thus by 1945 iile P::,::r':tenadiers were
fighting with a set c: :ac::cs , e ry cirllerent lrom
those they had bee: isr:,:l rn i939, and lhey
were dorno so lnc:r : --r:i :''.varf;re where
-he arr o[ deience ..:.: :-:r: rn use than the
auack As the A,: +: :-:,-:s noved closer to
'he heartlard oi .. : --,-r :he Panzerqrena-
diers frequently fculc ,remselves in the role of
mobrlc s'opgocs l,*. : rlr'loLS lo slem the ever-
advancing forces c: tie Ailies, ihrs was espe-
cralJy rrue on lhe Las.er:r Front. I here the open
terrarn and the sheer size ol the battlefreids
meant that in-l1ne defence was lmpossrble and
smail mobiie teams lrrere moved from location

SdKfz 251 variants


Model Role
SdKfz 251/l personnel carrier (could be fitted with rocket lrarnes) SdKfz 25Il12 artillery ranging and survey vehrcle
---^,,!^-.
SdKlz 251/2 lJlII tdl I^^--.-l^-
dltler SdKfz 251/13 artillery sound-ranging vehicle
SdKfz 25 i/3 radio vehicle SdKfz 251/14 artillery sound ranging vehicle
SdKfz 25ll4 ar-r.lory rraclor amr unition carrtor SdKfz 251/15 artillery flash-spotting vehicle
SdKfz 251/5 engineer vehicle SdKfz 251/16 flamethrower vehicle
SdKfz 251/6 commander s vehicle SdKfz 251/17 20-mm anL--a-rcralL qun cdn'rer
SCKfz 25117 engineer vehicle SdKfz 251/18 artillery observatron vehrcle
SCKfz 251/8 ambulance SdKfz 251/19 armoured telephone exchange
SdKfz 251/9 75 mm qun carrier SdKfz 251/20 rnlra red searchl.ght carnar
SCKfz 251/10 n7-mm anrj tank gun earrier SdKfz 251/2l hoavy machin^-gln cdrr-er
SlKfz 251/l L telephone vehicle SdKfz 251122 75 mm anr. 'ank gun carrier
ffi gHitfr 6 mittle rer Zuskraftwasen 5t
lhe SdKfz numbers allotted to the artrl- duction and replace rt wrth the far less captured Soviet 76.2-mm (3-in) gn_rns in
.:ry halftracks used by the new Ger- expensrve sWS. Even so, it was iate a high armoured superstructure built
aran army durinq the early 1930s did 1942 before production finally finished onto the rear of an SdKfz 6, This super-
:ot follow a logdcal sequence, and the and the vehicles already produced structure was open and rather high
SdKfz 6 mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 5t continued in use right until the war and the gun was placed on the vehtcle
-,.ias a medium tractor. Development of ended, sometimes pullingi artillery complete with its wheels and attenu-
.nts vehicle commenced during 1934, pieces far heavier than those for which ated trails, The qun was the Sovret
-ne early work being carried out by the type had been designed Model 1936 which was used as a dual
tsiissing-NAG in Berlin. There were Ttvo versions of engrne were pro- anti-tank/field gun. OnJy nlne were
:r/o marn purposesr one was for the duced for the SdKfz 6, the first de- produced and again one was captured
SdKfz 6 to act as the main tractor vehi veloping 67, l kW (90 hp) and the later in North Africa by the Atlies. The third
:le for the 10.5-cm (4,13 in) leFH 18 version 74 6 kW (100 hp). Surprisingly SdKfz 6 weapon carrier was the SdKfz
rattedes, and the other was for the enougrh the SdKfz 6 was modified oniy 6/2, which mounted a 3,7-cm (1.456-in)
engineer unrts, where the tractor slightly during its servrce career, Most Flak 36 anti-aircraft gmn on an open
.vould be able to tow the healy combat were produced as standard tractors platform behind the drrver's posuion
engineer equipment on trailers. In with seating for the artillery detach- the sides folded down to act as a work- First produced in I 937, the SdK tz 6
both cases the vehicle could carry up ment that could be covered by a can- ing platform for the qnrn crew. The first AA variant mounted a 3.7 -ctn ( I .4 5 € -
o 11 men, and more at a squeeze, vas tiit, but there were also three ofthese variants was produced dunngr in) FIak36 on an open platform. The
Production of the SdKfz 6 vehicles weapon-carrrer varlants The flrst was 1937 and most of them went to the Luft- presence of a crew member with
.-,-as carried out by Biissinq-NAG and the 7.5-cm Slf V40.8 and never really waffe, They had a crew of seven and rangefinder dates the picture as
Daimler-Benz, but the numbers in gol pasl lhe protolype slage -t was an were widely used. early in the war; later theywere
-,-olved came to no more than about attempt to produce a mobile 7,5-cm withdrawn to save manpower.
37. The mam reason for this was that (2.95-rn) gn-rn for use with cavalry unrts, Specification
.le SdKfz 6 was rather an interim vehi- and at least three prototypes were pro- SdKfz 6 Dimensions: lenqrth 6 01 m (19 ii. : ---
:le that fell between two stools: liqhter duced between 1934 and 1935, The Crew: I l wrdth 2,20 m (7 ft 2 6 in); heighi 2 1: :,
','ehicles could be used to tow the artrl- type was never placed in production, Weights:8700 kq (19, 1BO Ib) (B ft 1.6 rn)
-:ry pieces, and it was really too light but at least one was captured dunng Powerplant: one Maybach NL 38 6 Performance: maximum road sp == :
--r some of the heav,er engrneer the fiqhting in North Afrrca. Then there cvlinder petrol engLne developing 50 krn/h (31 mph)
=qulpment. It was also rather costly to was the model known as the'Diana'or 67. I kW (90 hp) Armament: see text
::oduce. so by J94 la decision was 7.62-cm Pak 36(r) auf ParuerjAger Slf
:ade to phase the vehicle from pro- Zugkraftwagen 5t, an attempt to mount

The Czech-built Praga SdKfz 6s by aMaybach HLS4TUKRM six- The SdKfz 6 was originally planned to Iike the sWS were equaL- ::-:.a:-s
ieatured longer track bogies than the cylinder engine developing I 6 kW tow the l0-5-cm(4.13-in) leFh IB and the SdKfz 6 was too ;:.E:::::
Bussing-NAG models, and had ( I 1 5 hp), giving a maximum road howitzer, butwas phased outof heavier loads. Three weapo:s-
rent w ing s. T hey were p ower e d
C ilfe speedof 50 km/h(31 mph). production in 1942 as lighter tractors carrier versions were aiso ::a,--'i:9:

SdKfz 7 mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8t


-:le SdKfz 7 mittlerer Zugkraftwagen
Et had its origrns in a series of Kraus-
I.lalfer desrgn projects that dated back
- iar as l92B but it was not until an
.-rry staff requrrement for an B-tonne
:-alftrack tractor was made in 1934 that
ievelopment really got under way,
letween 1934 and l93B a number of
:ral versrons were produced untrl the
:,na1 version appeared in 1938 as the
SCKfz 7 mittlerer Zugrkraftwaqen, This
',-ehicle earned its primary fame as the
:rain tractor for the well-known B,B-cm
.3 46-in) Flak 18, 36 and 37 gmns, but it
-;,as also used as a tractor for many
:iher artillery weapons including the
,3-cm (5,9-in) sFH lB and the 10.5'cm
.4 13-in) K 18.
In its tractor form the SdKfz 7 could
larry up to 12 men and therr kit and
:rere was strll space left lor ammunr-
.-on and/or other supplies, The qun de-
:achment sat on open bench seats be-
:rnd the driver, and could be covered
by a canvas tilt to keep out some of the Famous as the main tractor for the BB-mm FIak l,8,36 and 37 guns, theSdKfzZ also towed awide variety of field artillery.
,-, eather. The vehicle could tow Over3,000ofthesehalftrackswereinservicebytheendof 1942,anditwasstillinwidespreaduseattfte endof thewar.

oc l
SdKfz 7 mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8t (continued)

;velghts up to 8000 kg (17,637 lb), and neither the gun nor the conversron was
most vehicles were fitted with a winch very successful no further work was
that could pull up to 3450 kg (7,606 Ib), carried out once trials had been com-
The SdKfz 7 proved to be a most useful pleted, Some SdKfz 7s were also con-
vehicle and was widely admired, A verted to mount single-barrel 2-cm
captured example was copred in the cannon for anti-arrcraft use,
United Kingdom by Bedford Motors Perhaps the oddest use for the SdKfz
wrth a view to manufacture for Allied 7 was when existing vehicles were
use, and the ltalian produced a near- converted to accommodate armoured
copy known as the Breda 61, But the superstructures lor use as observation
Germans carried on churning out as and command posts for V-2 rocket bat-
many as they could, By the end of 1942 teries duringr 1944. The V-2 rockets
there were 3,262 in service, Not all of were prone to explode on ther launch
these were tractors, for the load- stands as they were being flred so the
carrying capacity of the SdKfz 7 was armour protected the launch crews.
such that it also made an ideal weapon How many of these Fuerleitpanzer auf
platform. Zugkraftwagen 8t conversions were
The flrst oi ihese weapon carriers made is uncertain,
was the SdKfz 7/1, which mounted a Productlon of the SdKfz 7 series
2-cm Flakvierling 38 four-gun anti- ceased during 1944, but by then num-
aircraft mountinq on the open rear, On bers had been burlt by Krauss-Maffet
many of these vehicles the driver's rn Munich, the Sauserwerke in Vienna
position and the enqine covet were and the Borgward works at Bremen. In
provided with armoured protection. the post-war years many were
The SdKfz 7/1 was used extensively for appropriated for Allied use, and the
the protection of columns in the field Czech army used numbers for some cylinder petrol engine developing An S dK fz 7 m ittlerer Zug kr aftw age n
and the four cannon proved deadly to years, 104,4 kW (140 hp) Stwas captured in North Africa and
many Allied lowlevel fliers. This was Dimensions: length 6,85 m (20 ft 3 in); was extensively tested back in the
not the only anti-aircraft version, for the Specification width 2,40 m (7 ft 10.5 in); heisht 2 62 m U nited Kingdom. I t made such an
SdKfz 7/2 mounted a single 3,7-cm SKfzz (B ft 7. I in) impression that Bedford Motors built
(1,456-in) Flak 36 anti-aircraft gmn. An Crew: 12 Performance: maxrmum road speed a direct copy, but this was not taken
attempt was made to mount a S-cm Weishts: I 1550 ks (25,463 lb) 50 km,/tr (31 mph) into British service. The ltalians also
(1,97-rn) Flak 41 on a SdKfz 7, but shce Powerplant:one Maybach HL 62 6- Armaments:see text built a copy known as the Breda 61.

re! r'"t**"t"r Wehrmachtsschlepper


By the end of 1941 experience in the
field had demonstrated that the Ger-
man halftrack fleet was in some need
of revrsion, At the bottom end of the
range the l{onne and 3-tonne cargo
and supply/artillery tractors were well
capable of carryinq on as they were,
but the medium to heavy range was
proving more complex, It was decided
that the S{onne ranqe would be dis-
continued since the B-tonne range
would be requrred for heavy artillery
and other purposes, Thus an intenm
between the 3-tonne and B-tonne vetn-
cles was sought, but it had to be a
relatively low-cost solution for by I941
the German war machine was being
stretched, no1 in capacity alone but in
the range of types of equipment re-
quired: a low cost halirack was thus ber 1944 only 3Bl had been delivered. to have had a crew of five, but it is T he schwe re r W ehrm ach ts s chlepper
needed, These sertous shortcomings in produc- doubtful rf many actually reached the was intended to be a low-cost
The design accepted was a Biissing- tion led to the hasty 'Maultier' impro- sewice stage. general-purpose tractor to fulfil a
NAG offering, and eventually became visation, but sWS productron limped Although few were actually pro- number of roles. Production started
known as the schwerer Wehrmachts- on almost untrl the end of the war and duced when compared to the totals of during 1943 but always lagged
schlepper (sWS, or army heavy trac- some survived to serve the new Czech other German halftracks, the sWS behind demand,leading to the
tor). It was intended not so much for the army for a number of years after the war, proved efficient enough Ln service, d evelopment of the M aultier. T his
Parzer ot artillery formations but for The small numbers produced dtd and was proportionately far more cost- version was fitted with an armoured
infantry units, for which it would act as not prevent the sWS from being sub- effective than some other models, cab as a forward supplyvehicle.
a gteneral personnel carrier and supp- jected to the usual special-purpose
ly vehicle, Accordinqly it was virtually variants, The basic truck model could Specification Performance: maximum road speed
a half-tracked truck with virtually no be converted to act as a rudimentary sWS 27 lcn/h (16,8 mph)
armour in its cargo-carryinq form and front-line ambulance carrying stretch- Crew:2 Armament:none
an open cab with a soft top for the ers under a canvas awninq mounted on Weights: about 13500 kg (29,762 lb)
dnver and one passenqer. In order to a frame. A special front-line supply Powerplant:one Maybach HL 42 6-
keep costs as low as possible the version was fitled with an armoured cylinder petrol engine developrng
tracks did not use the tme-consuming cab and engine cover, and a simrlar 74,6 kw(100 hp)
and expensive rubber capped tracks arranQlement was used for a projected Dimensions: Iength 6.68 m (21 ft 1 1 in);
of ftont-line vehicles, but lnstead used version that would have carried a 3,7- width 2,5O m (B ft 2,4 in); heiqht 2, 83 m
single dry-pin all-steel tracks, cm Flak 43 anti-aircraft gun on a flat- (9 ft 3,4 rn)
The sWS went into production at the bed area at the rear; only a few ofthese
Biissing-NAG plant in Berlin and also at 3.7-cm Flak 43 auf sWS versions were During I 944 a number of Maultier
fie Ringhofer-Tatra plant in Czecho- produced, Another varlant proposed trucks were fittedwith armoured
slcvakia, but production was very but built in small numbers only was an bodies onto which the I 0- barrelled
slcw. The sWS did not have a very high armoured version wlth a hull over the Panzerwerfer 42 was placed. Some
prcduction priority and fiom time to rear, On the roof of thrs hull was placed 300 of these conversionswere made,
:re Bomber Command weiqhed in to a lO-barrel launcher for 15-cm (5,9-in) andwere used to provide rocket
d-srupt things to an extent that in place artillery rockets; l0 rockets were car- artillery support for armoured
:: lhe expected 150 vehicles per ried in the launcher tubes and more formations. They had a crew of three
::::th, from December 1943 (when inside the hull, This lS-cm Panzerwer- and most of the conversions were
!::Cuction commenced) to Septem- fer 42 (Zehuling) auf sWS version was madebyOpel.

-::=
g! $Hitit 8 schwe rer Zugkraftwasen I2t Halftracks of World War II
-ls has already been mentioned, the mention of thrs offshoot can be found,
SdKfz desrgnatron followed no logical The SdKfz B remained in production
:equence and the SdKfz 8 schwerer until 1944 as an artillery tractor. Origi-
Zugkraftwagen I2t was actually the nally it was produced to tow tlvo mod-
1st of the German halftracks to be de- ernized ex-World War I arttllery
'.':loped and ploduced, It consequent- pieces, the 1S-cm (5.9-in) K 16 and the
--; established many of the features and 2l-cm (8,27-in) lange Morser, a stubby
:esrgn detarls that were later to be howitzer, As more modern equtpment
:sed on other German halftrack de- came into use the SdKfz B switched to
.,;ms, The line of development that led towing weapons such as the heavy B,B-
: the SdKfz B can be traced back ro
-,',-orld
cm Flak 4l and the even larger 17-cm
War I, when Daimler-Benz was (6,7-in) K 18 long-range gnrn. The SdKfz
:.volved in some early halftrack de- B was also used by the Luftwaffe to tow
.-gin work, one result of which was an the ponderous 10.5-cm (4,13-in) Flak
:Cvanced vehrcle known as the 38 and 39 anti-aircraft gmns. At ttmes
Marienwagen, After 1919 Daimler- these tractors were called upon to tow
::nz continued its development work, tank-carryinq semt-trailers or other
::Lngnng out a serres ofvehicles, one of forms of heavy trailer, but usually the
r;ruch attracted the attention of the artillery batteries retained their vehi-
?,:d Army (in there was even talk
1931 cles jealously,
:: a Soviet productron order). This By late 1942 there were 1,615 SdKfz
:ppears never to have come about, for Bs in service, Production was concen-
-:siead the German army ordered a trated at two main centres, the Dalm- appeared in late 1941 and after three Agroup of assorted British soldiers
:-cdel known as the Daimler-Beru DB Ier-Benz works at Berlin-Marienfelde more had been built it was decided to take advantage of a ride on a
S 7 Later versions followed the gener- and the Kruppwerke at Miilhausen, At produce a batch of another 30. These captured SdKfz I schwerer
-- layout of this 1931 vehicle, but gra- one time some production work was were apparently built and used on the Zugkraftwagen I 2 t, s ome;+' :.e : e -:.
::ally more powerful engflnes were also carried out the Skodawerke at Eastern Front They had a cargo-t1.pe North Africa. The normai capz-:,; ::
::.ed until the series reached the Pilsen, and in the years after the war body to carry the crew of 13. Produc- this vehicle was J 3 men. b: : ::.::s
)aimler-Benz DB 10. the new Czech army used a larqe num- tion ofthe SdKfz 8 ceased durino 1944. been exceeded fi ere. fi::s :s :-:e
fhe SdKfz B was designed as an ber of SdKfz 8s, some of them lasting basic artillery tractor vers:cr. a:':1e
--::)1ery tractor, and an artillery tractor untrl well into the 1960s. Specification SdKfz 8.
: :emained throughout its servtce life, One variatron of the SdKfz B was a SdKfz I
,:-ere was only one variation, a i94O vehicle known as the HK I60L Thts Crew: 13 Dimensions:lenqrth 7.3- r- Z- l: ,
,-: rversion of what was probably only drffered from the normal Sdkfz B tn Weisht: l3CCC ks i33 069 ]b) wtdth 2,50 m (B ft 2.4 ,,nt. :.=.;:.- - : . :.
---.e vehicle to mount an B.B-cm (3,46- many ways and was an attempt to com- Powerplant: o::e Maybach HL B5 12- (9 ft 2.6 in)
--, Flak lB. This was Lrsed in action in bine the features of the largte t8t half- cyltnder petrci e :qrLne developinqr Performance: maximum rc -= i -.: = = :
:::nce rn May 1940, and thereafter no tracks and the SdKfz B. The prototype i38.0 klv (lEa :p) 5l kn/h(31.7 mph)

GERMANY

SdKfz 9 schwerer Zugkraftwagen I8t


:-::ar the largtest of all the World War
-- :alftracks was the mighty SdKfz 9
:chwerer Zugkraftwagen 181, a vehi-
:-: l-rat had its origins in a requirement
:-rCe during 1936 for a healry recovery
=::cle to support the Panzer forma-
--- and tow disabled tanks, The de-
'=-ipment contract was awarded to
:-: Famo Fahrzeugwerke und Motor-
..':rke AG at Breslau, which became
:: sole producer, The first example
=:peared in 1936: this was the FM gr I,
--.i later came two other models, the
: M qrr 2 and FM grr 3 which used larger
-.-. j more powerful engines.
r the end both tractor and recovery
::sions ofthe SdKfz 9 were produced,
-:e tractor version was the basic
:.i<fz 9, which was used to tow the
leman armys really heavy artillery
'.:apons and some healry engineer
=quipment including brldging (for
','.-:rch there was a tractor unit towing
:::dge units on special trailers and The sdKfz 9/1 had a crane (Drehltan) rear,but even so two vehicies still had The SdKfz 9 schwere Zugic -:*'z;e:
:::rying 15 men). Amonq the heavy wrth a 6000-kg (13,228-lb) Iifting capac- to be used to Craq a Tiger out ofa ditch, lStwasthe largest of the Ge:;ta::
-::Jlery towed by the SdKfz 9 was the ity, but this was insuificient for some and sometrmes rhree to tow one rn a halftracks and was used :c ::*' i.ea"-.;
:l-cm (9,45-in) K 3 (so large it hadto be lifting tasks and the SdKfz 9/2 was pro- disabled state. The only answer to that guns and similar equipr.e:: =.a-:--.'
-'led in five loads), the Krupp 21-cm duced with a 10000-kq (22,046-Ib) was to develop a heavy tracked recov- as a recoveryvehicle, so:.e te::f
:27-in) K 38, and the various Skoda crane, Outrigger legs were fitted on ery vehicle, which duly appeared as fitted with crcnes ard jibs .':: :-:-"
---:alry howitzers and gnrns, The lruft- the latter, and an extra jib was pro- the Bergepanther, role. This example ls a 'ree-,; ar''-'er1'
-:;affe used a small number of tractors vrded to suspend a counter-weight Production of the SdKfz 9 ceased tractot and could carry r:.::-e =e:-.
: row the mobile versions of the super- when really heaw loads were to be during 1944, by which tlme the last
,.:avy 12,8-cm (5.04-in) Flak 40, An Iifted. These vehicles were massive versions were powered by the same
qun was used on the only equipments, and although they were Maybach engines as those fltted to
=tr-aircraft
.';eapon-carrrer version of the SdKfz 9 capable of dealing with tanks up to the PzKpfw IV tanks. They were massive
'.';rich appeared in 1943, This variant size of the PzKpfw iV they could not vehicles rhat were certarnly impress-
--arried a 8,8-cm (3.46-in) Flak 37, and handle the heavier Panthers and Tr we to look at, but one has to bear in
-:-e vehicle had an armoured cab, The grers, Since the SdKfz 9 was the only mind that the basrc tractor version cost
.-ies of the rear firing platform could recovery vehicle in use when these 60,000 Reichsmarks: a Panther cost
:: folded down to act as a working 'heavies' entered sewice, a way had to I 17,100.
;latform for the gnrn crew, and there be found and the type was used in
;,-ere small outrigger arms to stabilize sections of three vehrcles, at least tvvo
--,e vehicle in action, Only one conver-
being needed to recover Tigers from Specification
.-:n was made. some situaiions. In order to provide SdKfz 9
The recovery versions appeared in them with more traction some were Crew:9
.,';o forms, the SdKfz 9/1 and SdKfz 9/2, fitted with a large earth spade at the Weisht: 18000 ks(39,683 lb)

'42;
Operation Cobra
Allied euphoria at the success of D-Day had largely worn off, with the
By July 1944
tenacious German defence s eerhingly imperuious to all attempts to break out.
Operation'Cobra' was designed tosmash the front open and release Patton's tanks
inhotpursuit.

At the end of June 1944 there were many cause Major-General Leland Hobbs, comman-
seriously worried men in Whitehall and drng the US 30th Division, to deliver himsell of
Washington, men whose whoie attention had the excrted comment 'This thing has busted
been concentrated for months (in some cases wide open, We may be the spearhead that
years) upon the successfirl liberation of Europe broke the camei's backl'
from Hitler's domination, and who now sus- Patton was equally excited, especially as on
pected that therr plans were going arnrry. On 6 the morning of I Augmst his 3rd Army became
June the Alhed armres had stormed ashore in officially operational, though his own presence
Normandy as part of the greatest amphiblous in Europe, for reasons which now seem
operatron in the history of warfare, and dunng curiousiy unreal, was not yet officially acknow-
those first, heady days had secwed such appa- ledged except by the Germans, who had
rent success as to raise the hopes and bantsh all known about it for days,
doubts. Now the hopes were lower, the doubts Patton's position before I August had been
back and growing, somewhat equivocal, for the US VIII Corps A rare sight indeed: bitter rivals George Patton
(Ieft) and Sir Bernard Montgomery (right) smile at
At the eastern end of the beach-head the under Major-General Troy Middleton was each other in front of Omar Bradley (centre) -
Bntish Znd Army under Lieutenaat-General Sir really a part of Patton's 3rd Army but had been Despite their differences the breakoutfrom
Miies Dempsey was still edgtnq its way for- ioaned to Bradley's lst Army for the invasion, Normandy was well co'ordinated, Montgomery
ward towards Caen, one of its earhest objec- This was the corps on the western flank of drawing the enemy to him before Bradley
tives, while at the westem end the US lst Army, 'Cobra' which had swept down the Cotentin launched his assault.
under Irieutenant-General Omar Bradley, had coast to take Avranches and cross the Selune,
captured the vital port of Cherbowg on 29 Ju1y, and on 28 Ju1y, Bradiey had asked Patton to
but was still caught in a nightmare olfoustration assume responsibility for VIII Corps area as and was officrally commander of the 3rd Army,
by thebocage country of sma-Il fields bordered 'Deputy Army Commander', despite the fact But at noon on I Augnrst, all this changed,
by high banks and hedgero-ws hberally sewn that Patton was not supposed to be in Europe, Patton was now in undisputed command of four
with hidden German machrne-gn.:rs. moriars
and anti{ank weapons. Patton's 3rd Army surged forward as Operation
The invasion proqramrne rn'as irus well be- 'Cobra' smashed a yawning gap in the German
defences. Bypassing enemy strongpoints, Patton's
hrnd schedule, for by thls hme the planners had units were insttucted to advance at top speed
hoped that the Alhed armres'worild be in pos- withoutworrying about protecting their flanks. It
session of the whole of Normandy, and io have was this boldness that led Feldmarschalvon
estabhshed 62 squadrons of frghters ard bom- Rundstedt to rate Patton as the most dangerous of
bers on 27 airfields, A11 they had taken, rn fact, the AIIied commanders.
were 17 airfields supporting only 3 I squadrors,
contained in iess than a quarter of the area ihat
it had been hoped the AJlies wonld hold by thrs
time.
Montgomery's plans
But there was an exceptlon among these
doumcast Aliied leaders, the man in command
of the formations actually engaged in the
fightingr, General Sir Bernard Montgomery,
whose rocklike confidence provrded bdm to
those who believed in him and was a source of
deep annoyance to the many who did not. The
beiievers were right. As early as 1l June Mont-
gomery had stated that his objective was to
draw the greatest possible weight of enemy
forces on io the eastern end of the bridgehead,
i.e, towards Dempsey's forces aimed at Caen,
tl:tus weakening the oppositron in front of Brad-
ley's lorces untrl the time came when they
could break out, first to occupy the whole of the
Cotentin peninsula, then to cross the Seiune
nver just south of Avranches and release the
US 3rd Army under the flamboyant Lieutenant-
General George Patton, to flood out to the west
and take the whole of Brittany and the vital
ports of Bresi, Lorient and St Nazaire.
And to the delight of Montgomery's friends,
:he grudging approbation of his enemies, and
ie relief of all, by the end of July all this
seerned possible, On 24 july Bradley had laun-
:hed Operation 'Cobra', and four days later the
i':rerican tank crews were out of the bocaEre,
-:-eu rnfantry holding a line from the Cotentin
r:3st eastwards through Coutances, Roncey
St L6; and on 30/31 luly they swept rnto
=j
.';anches to cross the Selune rrver wrth Brrt-
:-,- (and
---- /^-A
as
^^ it happened !L^
:r L^-^*^-^l
the ---L^r^
whole of ^t north
-^.-lL

=s: France) open to them, lt was enough to


. -.rcs (VIII, XIII, XV and XX) containlng eight
!( ".-,,antry and four arrnoured divisrons, under op-
-:aiion orders issued belore D-Day, and con
-:ned by Montgomery on27lu)y and by Brad
-,,. that morning; hrs first and prime task wouid
-: to liberate Brittany and tts vttal ports as
:,rckly as possible, It was typrcal of Patton that
:rd1y had he swaliowed the drrnk celebrating
s assumption of cornmand than he had seen
,:rances of far wider objec:r;es ior hrs divisions
.::d requested permisston io e:rplc:: thern, but
,:gan putting them inic opera.i n ,"vithout
. .-'aiting reply,
.,ooking eastrffards
By general agreement the Free French under An M1 Sherman of 7th Armaured Division. :.-.=
-nslructing the armourej .- -s,:ns oi Mtd General Lecierc taak the lea.d in liberating Faris, Deserf Ra ls', /ea ds a Cromwel! tank towarc
:-ons VII1 Corps to ra.: :.r:..:r: icl Brest
--rnes and this M3 was ane o{ the iirst vehicles into the German posttions nearPless-is-Grimoult, 8 i. .:;: -
and Lortent 1.4ir:::.- ',-:r:-.-ngr about
.

city. lJowever, some callaboratars decided ta I9,tr4. In the eariy days of AuEust, the Alliea a::-.::
:Lr flanks or anything e-.-1,:a :: . soeed he appase the entry, and here a group of welcoming despera rly saught to close lfteFaJarse gap a:.':
--red away from the I-:-::,:-: =: -: :,r:cled his Pa.rjs.rans use an It/13 far cever agains! snipers" irap it,-o Germ,an forces in Normandy.
, .:ntion eastward tc :h: -:-,: :,=--.':=n Char-
=- and Orleans c .,er ,: , ..: ., ii miles) .. r----:: ::r \4ralker moved on 7 Aug;:
. beyondwhrch ia:' .:-.: .,-: :: ::r .re Setne
1.1.
-.:: -:: ::rs :n 1l August and raced icr,' .-,
. ' Paris, and Patton -:- ::r.::-. :rancophtle, ::-.:- -
''=r ,{aislip
,-''-, -i.irli^ s- {l--1.
flank inrxrrvzlo
towards i]^^ C:: - -
the a--
, .rposed to be the frs- -:---:,: ::::rriander to .- -.- .---::ns gap moving at 25-32km :, -
.::h the French cap-.a, '-= . '- :, =.l per day. It was all very excr:-:',:
l-r now XV Corps ,.,:-, .',:...r-General .. --. ::-.s: be remembered that compar::r
. . slip was formrng i ..s. :: '. -. - - .:: i, .-ranches . . ' : a ..les farther north, the 3rd Army . .
-:: tn ord-er to hcid :.:.. i:r=:s.-re off the - : . -'. -' -1q rlio a partial vacuum; what little'.'..-- : ,

:- of Middlor r-.: . : .-eor/ io - .,= .re Americans lound they bypass: .


=ctilsleltflan< -- , . . 'r.:col-I1F Patton split his command into c':- - , .
either by accider. :: ,:=..-::- -rey faced . small co-nodl unrls. reconna-sr:t
::. awayfromBrtital . -:i-'.' -:rjsiheheart : iheir jeeps and fast halltracks :
::dnce. Tho ga: -- tinually ahead, tanks close behrr-
T a m ain tain the pace af t -r'
t s - ..: 3
ie e c..-: _:' : :.:,
3rdArmyneededvastqu:,: ..:: ':.:.. .. .-.j
was obtainee! by allmanr.e- :':'.:+- ::..- i- :'..3
fuelass:Erned aotherun::::' :i .-:.- -. -:. : - .:.
f

Eame.'Thefuelwasthent'-'::.: : ..- . ! -.-.' .: :.-.'


availablevetLicle;M3s.w ::. :: =.: -.' - ---. --- -
capability, wereinpart,ci'-:- -:.*. j.- .

ar -4.

::. .:- a..


' .:.' .Er. -,
t:: i::1:--- ''S.. ?
.:
< .: :.1..
'-.-,'j;""'
.

;i -&*,{ -'' ' ---:,

r+! G€

fr
Operation'Cobra'
infantry carriers ln support, It soon became Paris almost simultaneously) and Eddy's XII
more a matter of logistics than of battie, for the Corps drove into Sens from Orl6ans on the
rate at which the 3rd Army was advancing afternoon of 21 Augnrst.
needed about 950 000 litres (250 000 US sal) of In 2l days, therefore, Patton's 3rd Army had
petrol per day, all rushed forward in anything advanced eastward from Avranches 322 km
which could move, partlcularly anything fast (200 miles) to the Seine, and westward 241ktn
and capable of moving across country without (150 miles) to Brest. Thg Americans had liber-
choking the already packed roads. M3s were ated some 116550km' (45000 sq miles) of
in constant demand for the task. France, and piayed a significant part in the
But there now occurred a slight check on the destruction of the rmmense German forces
onward rush. Other eyes than Montgomery's trapped in the Falalse pocket.
and Patton's were watching strategic develop- This was a considerable military achieve-
ments, and whatever the Wehrmacht generals ment by any standards and, in terms of logis-
might prescibe, Hitler was still in command, tics, a classic,
Generalfeldmarschall Giinther von Kluge
might recommend a rapid wrthdrawal of all Above: A British 94-mm (3.7-in) AA grun k towed
German forces to behind the Seine and the through the streets of Caen. Carpet-bombing of
water-barriers of the Somme and the Meuse, the German-held city created almost as many
problems as it solved, choking the streetswith
but Hitier's eyes were on that narrow gap be- rubble.
tween Mortain andAvranches thoughwhich all
Patton's supplies must be fed. On 4 Augn:st four Left: A US 1 05-mm howitzer is seen in action
Panzer divisions of General Par:I Hausser's 7th against German positions in Normandy. The
Army struck eastwards through Mortain and German lines were punctured only after sustained
was Il.3km (7 miles) on towards Awanches bombardment by artillery ot all calibres and
before it was stopped as Bradley, now com- massive air strikes had prepared the way.
mandingthe l2thArmy Group, sensedthe dan-
ger and threw ln two corps from the US Ist
Army.
There was bitter flgthtinq, but Awanches re-
mained inviolate. But now two German armies
and a Panzergruppe (nearly I00,000 men)
were concentrated west of a hne running south
from Falarse to AJenqon, while Dempsey's Brit-
ish and Canadians were a few miles north of
Falaise and Haslip's tanks were at Le Mars. It
needed no greatimagirnatron toseewhat would
happen if they were to meet, and Montgomery
was playing it cool when he satd 'lf we can
close the gap completeiy, we sha-llhave put the
enemy in the most awkward predicament.'
The Falaise Gap was not closed wtth total
effectiveness, though the destruchon of Ger-
man equipment and their loss ol some 60,000
men was a severe blow; but Harslip's XV Corps
did not reach Argentan on 13 Augnrst and could
probably have gone on to Faiaise had not de- An M 1 0 tank destroyet advances confidently down once the mechanized Allied armies broke into
marcation lines and poor lialson prevented it, the Caen road during the build up to Operation open country Hitler's rigid defensive strategy spelt
XV Corps was ordered instead to form the 'Cobra'. Caen proved a difficultobjective, but doom for the Wehrmacht in France.
southern shoulder of the gap. But Patton was
not pleased to hear that one ol his corps had
been allotted a purely statrc role. Moreover, he
did not feel that the whole corps was needed at
Argentan, so on the followrng day he sent two
XV Corps divrsions off to joLn the race east-
wards again, aimed first for Dreux which they
reached on 16 Augn:st.
To the south of them, Walker's XX Corps had
the same day reached Chartres while by
another feat of organization Patton had fed in
his fourth corps (XII Corps under Major-
General Manton S. Eddy) even farther out on
the right flank to take Orl6ars. Some 483 km
(300 miles) now separated the farthest-flung
divisions of Patton's 3rd Army (Middleton's
men at Brest and Eddy's at Orl6ans) and the
gap was to widen even farther. Haislip's men
left Dreux on 16 Augmst and reached Mantes-
Gassicourt on 19 Augnrst, Waike/s XX Corps
left Chartres on 16 Augn-rst to reach Melun and
Fontainebleu on 20 Augnrst (thus XV and XX
Corps cut the Seine both above and below

AnSdKfzZ tractor tows, of allthings, aBiber


miniature submarine. I t was caught in an Allied air
strike during the retreat from Normandy in August
] 944 when the cciver and the trailer were both
burned out, leaving the combination to be
captured by the advancing Allies.

_a38

L
ffi H*erican halftracks
-s drfficult to condense the entire
:::ry of the American halftrack into a
::w hundred words, for to even list the
':mber of types would probabiy flll
::-s study, The American halftrack de-
',':lopment history started dunng the
- 120s, when some Citroen-K6eresse
:-lftracks were purchased, and subse-
;rent tdals led to a lonq series of de-
;:lopment models before the hull of
:-e White Scout Car M2 was alhed with
= K6giresse halftrack suspension and
:---e'classic' American halftrack
:nerged as the Half-Track Car M2
:at went into production in early 1941,
:,e first examples reachrng the troops
:- May of that year
Thereafter the halftracks rolled off
:e assembly lines in their thousands, It
'r: rld be
easy to say that most of them
;.:re personnel carriers, but also in- Above : The Am er ican M 3 half tr ac k
:,:Ced in the totals were mofiar car- was such awidely used vehicle that it
: =ls multiple gun motor carrlages. became a virtual tradem ark of the US
;-r motor carriaqes, trucks and a vast Army and other Allied forces,
.::ay of experimental types of all including the Red Army. This M3 is
,::Cs, All manner of weapons were completewith thecanvas tilt, a
:,-:g upon the basic halftrack chassis forward-mounted winch and the
:le time or another but amonq those 'pulpit' machine-Wn mounting, here
'r= :: were used in action were 57-mm wilh a A.50 -in ( 1 2.7 -mm) Browning.
- 244-in) anti-tank gnrns, 75-mm (2.95-
,-- leld qnrns and even i05-mm (4,13-
- lowitzers Anti-arrcrafl veISIons After the war the halftrack story did
:.:red varying multiples of 12.7-mm not end, and even now is still not over
, :-Ln) machine-guns, 2O-mm cannon for the halftrack rn several forms is sttll
--,: 40-mm Bofors gmns. Combat en- a front-line vehicle for the Israel De-
;--,eer equipment was another widely fence Forces. Re-engined and refur-
:.::,ed load (each model had racks bished for the umpteenth time, half-
=---:g the sides to carry anti-tank tracks continue to be used by the
:-:es). mechanized formatrons of the Israeli
-. was the personnel carriers that army althougrh most have now been
-
=:e the most wldely used, and rn relegated to the Reserve forces, Other
.=-.-=ral versions. The early M2 was armed forces stil] use halftracks, but
:,:llemented by the later Half-Track now the most common use is as a re-
?e:sonnel Carrier M3 which could also covery vehicle, a role that commenced
:= ':sed as a communications vehrcle, during World War II with the Allied
--- artillery tow vehicle, and as an forces. It should not be forgotten that
=:::-:'.ued ambulance. The even later during Worid War II one of the half-
--J-Track Personnel Carrier MS dif- track user nations was the Soviet Un-
=::i in production methods and there ion, for large numbers were shtpped
'-- aLso a Half-Track Car M9, Seating there from 1942 onwards, Rumour has
=:-:C between models from 10 to 13, rt that some still survive with some of
-,: -here were various drspositions of
:,:-lrlne-gun mountings, The usual
the smaller Warsaw Pact nations,

=j:-r:lgement was a 12.7-mm Browning Specification


.- -:e front on a large ring mountingr M3
=-: a 7 62-mm (0 3-in) Brownrng on a Crew: l3
::,-e at the rear. To this could be Weight:9299 kq r20,500 lbt
.::ed the weapons of the carried Powerplant: one White t60AX 6-
:-:ps, and the picture of halftracks cylinder petrol engine developingt
j away as they went inlo acrron is
-: -::plete.
--.
109.6 kW(147 hp)
It now seems impossible to Dimensions: Iength 6.18 m (20 ft 3,5 in);
' ----3lze troops operating in Europe in wtdIh2.22 m(7 ft3,5 in); height2.26 m
,l=1 and 1945 without halftracks some- (7 ft 5 in)
:: -=re in the picture for the Amer- Performance: maximum road speed
:,-- ssued halftracks of all kinds to 64,4 km/h (40 mph): ranseZB2 k-m(175
ri.t;-:j:
--.=: Allies, including the British who miles)' gradLenl 3 l', fording 0.8 I m An early shot of the M2 halftrack, gun mount{or a 0.31-inch
.-=::ed to use American halftracks (32 in) taken when the US Army was still Browningmachine-gtn. a-:: j=
-'=
-:: before the fighting in North Afri- Armament: one 12,7-mm (0 S-in) using theWorldWar I helmets and the side racks Ior antr-la-n-k-'--'::er-
=
:= =rded. Production ofhalftracks was machine-gn-rn and one 7 62-mm (0.3-in) equipment. T his vehicle still has the thatwereoften fitted to ope:=='::=
.::,e 41,170 units, machine-qun original ce ntr e - mounte d m ac hine - vehicles.

Unic K6gresse P I07


: as to the
-:-e conftrsion still remains string of half{rack designs using the men, and lockers at the rear for devoted to ther- :.+..:='-= :-.---: -:.
. ;:al manufacturer of the French half- K6gresse rubber-based track under ammunition and other supphes, The tn name.
:=:k known as the P I07. Some refer- the Citroen-K6gresse label. The P 107 second versron, produced in smaller The events ;- l'1=; -'.. -:::: :
numbers, was an engineer tractor. change of owte:-::-: .:: -.- = I -. -.
= l3s state it was produced by the was but one ofthese desrgns, and the
first of this type appeared during the This had an open carEro body behrnd Large numbers :: :--- : -.-: - : . - "=.--:.:
- ._: concern while others refer to this
late 1930s, The P 107 went on to be the cab and was used to tow trailers fell into Germa:, :--,:.- -.: 'i=:: :-:-
=:-cle as the Citr6en-K6gresse P 107. another chanq= :::.-:: -:--i .-
--.: !.uth is that both companies pro- among the more numerous of the many carrying combat engineer equipment
:-:ed the P 107, Citroen havrng what French halftracks, such as bridgrng pontoons, By i939 leichter Zuqlcaftw'ag::. J .:r:4 i ,r--
The P 107 was produced in two both types were in French army ser- rr,:r,c chnr
::,.- now be described as the design
: --rantage, Citroen employed K6grres- forms, One was an arttllery tractor for vice in some numbers. Both were army tcck :: :-;i -t-- ir--::- : = :il-
.= ,:r some years after the enqlnee/s liqht fle]d pieces and antrtank gnrns. sound and reliable vehicles and the l'rce ano'ae : :=:-::,,- ::-l: :,': : 1-, :,11
:= -:n from Russia to France, and This version had a soft top covering the demand for them was such that both cne to-,.;ed f:::-:: t -,- :ir' r-i T:::
Umc and Citroen had production lLnes rrc:i -- .-.,- -=-. -
.:::rdingly Citroen produced a long space for the crew offrom five to seven
Unic K6gresse P 107 (continued)

the 3.7-cm (1.456-in) Pak 35/36 anti-


tank gn-rn and later the hybrid 7.5-cm
(2,95-in) Pak 97138. But not content with
thrs use the Germans decided to go
one better. Deciding that the P 107 fell
into the same category as the SdKfz 250
series, the Germans converted the
French vehicles to become substrtute
leichter Schiitzenparuerwagen. The
French vehicles were stripped of theLr
superstructures and f,tted wlth
armou.red hulls almost exactly ltke
those of the SdKfz 250 series and when
completed they were r:sed n exacd-v
the same way as their German coun-
terparts (apart from the fact that some
were used as armoured ambulances).
The one 'French' feature the Germa-
did not change was the forwarj-
mounted roller under the nose oi --::
vehicle. This was used to asss. -:.:
vehicle in and out of ditches ani :::-
lar obstacles and proved so -:-* -. :-e a:rnoured conversion. engdne developing4l.0 kW (55 hp) Above : this litUe Citrodn-K6g:resse
was not removed. Most of th:s= :::.- Dimensions: lenqth 4.BS m (15 ft five-seater was one of many French
versions were retained fc: -: :-
based':e::
Specification
P t07
10.9 in); width LB0 m (5 ft 10.9 in);
heiqht 1.95 m (6 ft 4.8 in)
light halftracks thatwere used
during the 1 9 20 s to develop the
France by the umts --l
many were used during the :;:.-; --. Crew:5-7 Performance: max road speed 45 kn/h K6gresse rubber-based track. Many
Normandy in June 1944. S:;---= :: -:-: Weigrhts: empty 2350 kq (5, 181 1b); (28 mph); range 400 km (248.5 miles) otthese light halltracks were still in
original tractors were als: -::red4050 ks(B 929 ]b) Armament:none usein J939, rnainly as statfcars.
=-=,:-'-:-- Powerplant: one 4-cylinder petrol
tered. so not all the P I07s -:.:=-.';-.-

il Sovret halftractcs
Left: The Souiefs made exfensire use
of US M 3 halftr acks supplied under
Lend-Lease, moditying them for their
own use. H ere two M 3s of the Red
Army are seen fi tted with 7 6. 2 -mm
(3-in) gruns as improvised tank
destroyers, an arrangementthe US
army also experimented with.

Below: One of themoslsuccessfuJ


Soviet pre-war halftracks, the Zis-33
was built on a truck chassis. This
vehicle is seenwith apropaganda
unit broadcasting news of Red Army
uictories in the south to Gennan
positions in the north.

B,,- the trme l94l came around the


S: net armed forces had few halftracks
i:: service compared with the number
:i v'zheeled or fully{racked vehicles,
Many of what they did have were soon
lost duringr the German advances of
i941, and all captured German half-
tracks were pressed tnto Soviet use.
The Red Army soldiers soon learned
how useful these were, and from 1942
onwards there was a deliberate prog-
ramme to make use of even damaged
German halftracks. Hulks were sal-
vaged from battlefields and stripped of
useflrl items, espectally the running
"ll
-,';heel, tracks and drive components.
llese were taken to the GAZ plant in
::e Urals where they were allied with
3.V-63 rrucks to form GAZ-60 troop
:arlers The GAZ-60 used all manner
c: German components, the most
;avcured berng those from the SdKfz
251 senes of vehicles. Few of these
wartrme expedient vehicles survived
the war ye'ars.
One other known Soviet halftrack
produced during 1942 was known as
the Zis-42. Ir was a zt/z-lon sem|
tracked weapons carrier, but no other
details have suwived so it does not
appear to have been produced in
quantity.
The Soviets made great use of captured German halttrack components to
construct hybrids like this GAZ truck.

1840