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schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper (s.W.S.)

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the time consuming and expensive production of the half-track vehicles introduced in the Wehrmacht, one searched possibilities for simplification and unification. The schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper (s.W.S.) – literally translated: heavy Wehrmacht tractor – was developed to replace the m. Zgkw. 5t beginning in 1943. Efficient production, a pulling force of six tons and a payload of three tons were requested. Büssing-NAG received the order for the development of the s.W.S. in May 1942 but the beginning of serial production delayed. So the first five serial vehicles were delivered in December 1943. 832 vehicles were made until the end of March 1945. Sadly, no broken down production figures are available beginning in March 1945, so the exact umber of produced s.W.S. can not be estimated. Besides Büssing-NAG, Ringhofer-Tatra was also involved in serial production.
Contrary to the conventional half-track vehicles, the s.W.S. had unsmeared tracks. In addition, the used Maybach HL 42 TRKMS engine with a power of 100 HP was a bit too week for the s. W.S. Therefore, the top speed was reduced to a maximum of 27.4 km/h. Due to the high traction, the s.W.S. had a pulling capacity of eight tons. The platform was able to carry a payload of four tons. It was a simple construction made mainly of wood. The complicated steering-gear of the half-track vehicles could not be omitted. In the end, the s.W.S. was only an additional series of half-track vehicles.
Until end of February 1945, 726 exemplars of the schwere Wehrmachtsschlepper mit Pritschenaufbaus.W.S. with platform – were made. Two benches – arranged transversely to the direction of travel – and a corresponding number of rifle holders were fitted to the rear area of the simple constructed wooden platform. A spare wheel in erected position was stored at the right front of the platform. The remaining part of the platform was used to store ammunition and equipment. This version of the s.W.S. should be used as towing vehicle for guns. During the rearguard actions in the year 1944, many s.W.S. with their trailed guns were lost due to its slow maximum speed. Therefore, many units used the remaining vehicles as supply vehicles.
81 exemplars of the 3.7cm Flak 43/1 auf Selbstfahrlafette schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper mit Behelfspanzerung – self propelled 3.7cm A.A. gun 43/1 on s.W.S. with makeshift armour – were made until end of February 1945. The armour – which protected the engine compartment and the driver’s cabin – was made of carbon steel. It had a thickness of 16 mm in the front, 12 mm to the sides and 8 mm on the roof. There was a large ammunition and equipment box fitted to the rear of the platform. The platform sides could be folded down to extend the platform. There is photo evidence that sometimes the 3.7cm Flak 43 was replaced by the 2cm Flakvierling 38. Especially in the case of the self propelled anti aircraft gun, the low speed of the s.W.S. was a disadvantage which was never accepted by the troop. Therefore, some units removed the anti aircraft guns and used the vehicles as towing vehicles for guns or as armoured supply vehicles.
In August 1944, Martini-Hütte in Salzkotten received an order to examine if the s.W.S. would be suitable as chassis for the Panzerwerfer 42. At least one vehicle of the 15cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Selbstafhrlafette schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper mit Behelfspanzerung – a self propelled armoured 15cm rocket launcher – was finished until the end of war. The vehicle was armed with a 15cm Panzerwerfer 42 known from the Sd. Kfz. 4/1 and had a fully armoured body.

 

 

 

 

 

Variants:

Quantity:

 

 

schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper mit Pritschenaufbau (s.W.S. with platform)

726 +

 

 

3.7cm Flak 43/1 auf Selbstfahrlafette schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper mit Behelfspanzerung (armoured self propelled 3.7cm A.A. gun)

81 +

 

 

15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Selbstfahrlafette schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper mit Behelfspanzerung (designation not proven)

1 (?)

 

 

 

 

 

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