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Weapons of World War Two

Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251

Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251

The military element which was decisive for the effectiveness of the revolutionary German tactic of the "Blitzkrieg" was not an aircraft nor a tank, but the Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Special Automobile), half-track troop transporter whose characteristic silhouette would be soon very known in the battlefields of all Europe and North Africa. In the intention of its projectists, the SdKfz (as it was its abbreviated denomination) would be able not only to protect its passengers, but also to allow them to advance fast without reaching the unavoidable separation that expectedly would be formed between the shock wave and the arrival of the infantry, much slower.

It should not be believed, as many times it had been said, that the vehicle was conceived from the beginning with the purpose of combat. This error of judgement comes from the fact that, considering the excellent operative trials of the vehicle, the Wehrmacht started to use it for the most diverse purposes providing it with the most disparate armaments, from machine guns to cannons and rockets, using it in every front, always with excellent results, until the last days of the conflict.

The origin of this vehicle dates back to a study made circa 1933 by a company of Bremen, to design a troop transporter. The definitive prototype, which would soon enter into production, was presented by the company Hansa Lloyd in 1936, and accepted with the initial denomination of Hansa Lloyd KL 5. This series was later replaced by the 6, which had already taken the characteristic and definitive configuration of this vehicle. It would remain in production until 1944.

Once stablished the optimal formula for the construction of the SdKfz, the order was made simultaneously to several companies due to reasons of productive effectiveness. Among these figured Wumag, Weserhuette and Schichau. Spare parts were produced by Ferrum, Scholler und Blackman and Steinmuller, regarding the bodywork, while many chassis were built by Adler, Auto Union and Skoda. The vehicle was formed by a chassis on which it was bolted an armored bodywork, able to effectively protect the transported troops from both the fire of light weapons and the small grenade shrapnel. The profile of the bodywork, of plates welded to each other, had been specially designed in such a way that it presented the larger number possible of sloped surfaces, to easily divert the impacts.

A version that was very used in every front presented an original modification of armament. In the sides of the vehicle were welded additional plates on which were applied launching ramps for rockets of 280, 300 or 320 millimeters, denominated sWG (schweres Wurfgerat, heavy launching devices). This version, illustrated in the picture, would be also used in the destruction of the insurgent Warsaw. It was denominated "Stuka zum Fuss", this is, "Stuka on foot", because of the precision and deadly devastating effect achieved by the salvos of large caliber rockets, which fell upon the target with a notably reduced dispersion at a maximum distance of about 2000 meters.

Year: 1939

Weight: 7 tonnes

Length: 5.80 meters

Width: 2.00 meters

Height: 1.82 meters

Ground clearance: 32 centimeters

Maximum armor: 14.5 millimeters

Engine: Maybach HL 42 TKRM of 100 horsepower

Maximum speed on road: 50 kilometers/hour

Operational range on road: 320 kilometers

Operational range on countryside: 150 kilometers

Crew: 2 plus 12 passengers

Armament: Two 7.92-millimeter machine guns

Ammunitions: 2010 of 7.92 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.00 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.30 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 24 degrees

Fording: 0.50 meters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

M3 Lee medium tankSU-100 tank destroyerFairey Swordfish

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