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German Armored Cars of WW2

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by PzJgr, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    [​IMG]

    During the Second World War, the Germans made extensive use of military vehicles to master a new form of warfare, in which the combustion engine replaced horse power and armored formations dominated battlefields. To do this, they developed a wide range of military vehicles, including a series of armored cars.

    Kfz 13 Adler
    Though Hitler and his ministers did much of the work in turning Germany towards mobile, armored warfare, their predecessors were not ignorant of the power of fighting vehicles. In 1932, the year before the Nazis came to power, the German army commissioned its first widely used armored car.

    The Kfz 13 was meant to fulfill two roles. In the long term, it would act as a reconnaissance vehicle, giving German scouts the speed, range, and protection they needed to safely observe enemy positions. In the short term, it would provide a stopgap vehicle for armored units until more tanks and specially built combat vehicles were available.

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    Kfz 13 (left).Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-04719A CC-BY-SA

    To make production quick and cheap, the Kfz 13 was built by welding a steel hull onto the chassis of a commercially available car, the Adler Standard 6, and equipping it with a machine gun. Because of this design, it didn’t do well when traveling off road and it had a high center of gravity that led to accidents. Its armor wasn’t thick enough to properly protect the two-man crew even from small-arms fire.

    The Kfz 13 was still in use in 1941, when some were used in Operation Barbarossa. It also proved useful as a training vehicle.

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    Left: a Kfz 13; right: an armoured Sd.Kfz. 232 with large loop antenna (6-wheeled radio and command vehicle).Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2005-0138 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
    Sd Kfz 221 and 222

    Developed by Auto-Union/Horch and serving from 1935, the Sd Kfz 221 was the smallest of the specialist armored cars that superseded the Kfz 13. This time, the chassis was specially developed for military purposes, with a rear engine, four-wheel drive, low-range gears suited to cross-country travel, and sloped side armor. Its open-topped turret usually carried a 7.93mm machine gun, though some were equipped with an anti-tank rifle.

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    A Leichter Panzerspähwagen Sd. Kfz. 221 lies knocked out in Bredevad on April 9th, 1940

    In 1938, an improved version was produced – the Sd Kfz 222. As well as minor changes to the design of the hull, this saw the turret weapon replaced with a 20mm automatic cannon and the engine upgraded to improve its power.

    These vehicles saw service throughout the war.

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    British soldiers inspecting a captured German SdKfz 222 armoured car, 24 June 1941.
    Sd Kfz 231

    Though work on designs began in the late 1920s, it took until 1933 before the German army was equipped with its first six-wheeled armored car, the Sd Kfz 231.

    The Sd Kfz 231 appeared in different models from three different manufacturers – Daimler-Benz, Bussing-NAG, and Magirus. All three models were built to the same specification, so despite differences in detail, they were largely similar.

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    SdKfz 231 6-rad from an unknown unit – Poland 1939

    Each chassis was built around the commercial truck design of the relevant manufacturer, strengthened to make it suitable for a military role. The engine was at the front and could be operated either from there or from a secondary driving position at the rear, letting the vehicle travel at top speed in either direction. Bulletproof tires and armor 8-15mm in thickness gave the vehicle some durability.

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    Sd.Kfz. 231 Heavy armored scout car (8-wheel).Photo: Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0

    Sd Kfz 232 and 233
    Shortly after the development of the six-wheeled Sd Kfz 231, the military put out a requirement for an eight-wheeled armored car. Bussing-NAG had previously created a chassis for an aborted eight-wheeled cross-country truck, and this was adopted to form the basis of the new armored car, which became the Sd Kfz 232.

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    8 Rad Sd.Kfz. 232 radio vehicle of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking in Russia, 1941.Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Hummel-025-22 / Hummel / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    The Sd Kfz 232 had an armored body built over a relatively slender chassis. It was originally equipped with a 7.92mm machine gun and a 20mm automatic cannon, but this was later upgraded to a short 75mm gun, with this more heavily armed vehicle given the designation Sd Kfz 233. Despite its complex mechanical layout, this series of vehicles became very popular with the army and they were widely used.

    The most distinctive feature of these vehicles was the way their wheels were arranged. They were divided into two sets of four, each mounted on a separate bogie, one at the front and one at the rear. All eight wheels were both steerable and driven, given power by a series of transfer boxes and differentials from the engine at the rear.

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    In most circumstances, the rear bogie was locked and the front wheels used to steer, but this arrangement could be reversed in emergencies, allowing a rear driver to steer the vehicle backward.

    Sd Kfz 234
    By 1940, the eight-wheeled armored vehicles had already seen their engines improved, but now a more substantial redesign was ordered, resulting in the Sd Kfz 234.

    This time, the chassis and suspension were integral to the hull. Thicker armor was added, along with greater fuel capacity and air brakes.

    One of the big reasons for the redesign was so that the vehicle could be tailored to fighting in hotter conditions, as Axis troops were engaged in fighting against the British in North Africa, a theater were armored vehicles played a leading role. As a result, the Sd Kfz 234 was equipped with an air-cooled engine.

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    Problems with this engine slowed down the development of the vehicle and by the time it was ready the campaign in North Africa was over, thanks in part to the arrival of American forces. But the Sd Kfz 234 still found a useful place fighting against the Soviets.

    Germany’s eight-wheeled armored cars were among the country’s best vehicles of the war, used widely and effectively in campaigns across Europe.

    Source: Seven Strange Looking German Armored Cars of WW2
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I wonder what the part exchangeabilty was between the 3 231 models. Any idea?

    I've always found the early war armored vehicles interesting the armored cars included. Thanks for posting this.
     
  3. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    That is a good question. I would think that engine and chassis parts would be shared. I always thought the idea of steering wheels in front and rear was intriguing. Especially when you have to boogie on out at high speed, there is no need to turn around. The Soviets may have made an attempt to copy the Germans in vehicles and tactics as far as reconnaissance.
     
  4. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Here is some more info. Seems like the first 6 wheeled 231 was completely different than the following 8 wheeled version.

    Sd.Kfz.231 8-rad

    Sd.Kfz.231 6-rad
     
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    The 8 Rads are bizarrely complex underneath/inside.
    Certainly multi wheel steering on the 234.
    Next gen from the sixes really.

    I've a soft spot for the 8s in particular, but do always wonder 'why?'.
    They feel like another example of engineering attempting to build something that contemporary technology wasn't quite able to deliver. Greyhound, Staghound etc. Proving perfectly adequate for other nations. Off-road ability technically enhanced, but in a fragile form.
    I suppose the Czech & Straussler stuff was just too intriguing for a nation of Germany's bent.

    Precursors to the Piranha, Boxer etc. as in vogue today. Though maybe the French EBR was first to pick up that torch?
    There's a little pool of allied 8 wheel work.
    My favourite being the Baker 'Jumping Tank'.
    bakertank8x8gurzik2.jpg

    images.jpg

    Maybe the less said the better, but it makes me smile.



    Seem to be having a panzerspahwagen day today. Some chat on Twatter re leichters.
     
    Otto, PzJgr and lwd like this.
  6. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    For some reason the British and Americans were impressed by the performance of the 8 Rad Recce vehicles. Something we don't know? Complicated but kinda neat.
     
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I think that's it.
    The hope of one day getting wheeled larger-gun armoured vehicles with impressive off-road performance that could keep up with tracks in rough country, while also moving much faster on good ground, proved largely elusive (hence the German fixation with halftracks), but these things were a fascinating view of what might be possible.
    Clever stuff. Monocoque. Absolutely not an evolutionary cul-de-sac. Though I do still wonder how more basic machines might have benefited their overall aims.

    There's a nice 234/3 at Bov. (edit: first pic in Ike's post)
    The Tank Museum | E1974.78
    "Our exhibit was acquired at the end of the war in full working order. For many years it was used by an experimental establishment in Surrey which compared its performance with that of more modern designs. Generally, it has to be said, the older German vehicle out-performed its younger rivals, especially in soft and muddy conditions."

    I'd guess the Surrey establishment was Shrivenham. Must be a shot or two out there of it in use, along with reports somewhere.

    Chap at Bov let us look inside it years back. Like an idiot I was too distracted to take interior pics.
    Forgive weird detail shots. Was looking at stuff for a model.
    104941-baddc36a48ab223d2eb76325f90941ed.jpg 104942-ee0c6e4119c2d3bd8d3ceb1a6352d721.jpg 104943-40c4840516578c4450ff68935d7b4d44.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Looking in the 234 Panzer Tract.
    Appears that at least three 234 variants made it to the UK for study.
    Quite high level of interest perhaps implied.

    A 1 photographed at the STT:

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    GERMAN TANKS AND MILITARY VEHICLES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR. © IWM (STT 7890)
    IWM Non Commercial License

    And, I think, the 3 that's still at Bov:
    [​IMG] GERMAN TANKS AND MILITARY VEHICLES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR. © IWM (STT 7556) IWM Non Commercial License

    Also a 2 collected, but only so far got a picture in the Panzer Tract.
     
  9. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    This is very interesting and would love it if there was a recording of this
     
  10. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    I was trying to find photos of the interior of this intriguing piece of machinery but alas no luck. Only models but even though it may not be accurate it gives an idea of the two steering set up

    [​IMG]
     

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