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Armoured vehicles

 

 

 

 

 

The suitability of armoured vehicles for reconnaissance and operations in enemy back-up area were proven already in WW 1. Based on these experiences, tactical bases for the creation of an independent reconnaissance force were created after the war. But a procurement of armoured cars was impossible at that time due to the harsh restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles. In mid 1920s, several companies developed armoured cars with 8 and 10 wheels by order of the Reichswehr. Promising developments were made but those vehicles could not be procured due to desperate financial situation of that time. For the possibility to gain experiences, armoured cars based on commercial passenger cars and 6-wheeled lorry chassis were procured in modest numbers. These vehicles were the Kfz. 13, Kfz. 14 and Sd. Kfz. 231/232/263 6-wheeled armoured cars. These vehicles were useful for the development of tactical bases and training. The main part of these vehicles was even used in combat during the first campaigns in WW 2.
Quickly it was realised that these vehicles did not match the demands on armoured cars for reconnaissance. Beginning in mid 1930s, the Einheitsfahrgestelle – standard chassis – were developed to replace the older Kübelwagens. Based on the Einheitsfahrgestell II for s. Pkw – a standard chassis for heavy passenger cars – the Einheitsfahrgestell I for s. Pkw was derivated, which was scheduled for the production of 4-wheeled armoured cars. Besides new 4-wheeled armoured cars, a new 8-wheeled armoured car was developed by Büssing-NAG. This typ GS was produced in the same variants like the 6-wheeled armoured cars, Sd. Kfz. 231, Sd. Kfz. 232 and Sd. Kfz. 263. During war, the stronger armed Sd. Kfz. 233 was added.
Both type series matched the demands to a large extent. This changed during war. The developed vehicles did not satisfy on the east front. So both series were dropped in 1943. The 8-wheeled armoured car Büssing-NAG type GS was replaced by the improved and simplified Büssing-NAG type ARK. A successor model was also developed for the 4-wheeled armoured car, but this type did not enter serial production.
Toward the end of the 1930s, armoured half-track vehicles based on the le. Zgkw. 1t and le. Zgkw. 3t were developed. The m. SPW (Sd. Kfz. 251) – the middle armoured personnel carrier - was manufactured beginning in 1939 at first only in small numbers. Production was increased noticeably during war. So the m. SPW could be used for many special purposes. It was the most important fighting vehicle of the motorized infantry.
At first, two special variants of the le. SPW (Sd. Kfz. 250) – the light armoured personnel carrier – were manufactured for the assault gun units – the Sd. Kfz. 252 and Sd. Kfz. 253. Serial production of the le. SPW started in mid 1941. These vehicles were used by Kradschützen and reconnaissance units which were equipped with heavy sidecar motorcycles before. The le. SPW became the most important fighting vehicle of the reconnaissance units. Some special variants were made to replace the 4-wheeled armoured cars.
Hundreds of armoured cars were captured during the different campaigns. Most of them were outdated. The only useful armoured car which was captured in considerable quantities was the French Panhard 178. For example, the reconnaissance battalion of 20. Panzer Division was equipped with this model. The main part of the captured armoured cars was used by regular police units. Some units kept their captured vehicles to improve firepower. This is proven for some Infantry Divisions which served on the east front.

 

 

 

 

 

Table of the armoured vehicles

 

 

 

 

 

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