Saturday, October 22, 2011

DAK GUNS - Schwerer Panzerspähwagen Sd.Kfz 231/2 "8Rad"

The crew of a reconnaissance Sd.Kfz 231 resting near a well
German was an early exponent of armoured cars, partly because, unlike tanks, they were not restrited by the Versailes Treaty, and they were a cheap and quick way of mechanising the Army and giving industry experience of building vehicles to military specifications. The multy-wheeled German armoured cars resulted from studies using trucks with drive on four rear wheels to achieve a good cross-country performance.
Sd.Kfz 232
Many of these trials took place at Kazan in the USSR under secret agreements. As early 1929, three firms provided suitable 6x4 trucks that could be converted with new armoured bodies and a second steering position on the rear. Movement in either direction (as opposed to reversing) was specified for armoured cars in 1927, and this was adhered to the next 15 years.

Other requirments were for unaided trench crossing up to a 1.5m (5ft) width and ability to ford 1m (3ft) depths. Six-wheeled cars entered service in 1932 and throughout the war, but had poor performance over uneven ground and so eight-wheelers (Acht Rad) were soon developed for the same purposes, but without the recourse to commercial chassis.

The most important of these, at least in the early years, was the Panzerspähwagen (armoured reconnaissance vehicle) Sd.Kfz 232 (8 Rad). For some reason the ordenance number (Sd.Kfz meaning Sonderkraftfahrzeug or special purpose vehicle) to both six and eight-wheeled armoured cars, so the vehicle here was sufixed "8 Rad" to distinguish it from the "other" 232, a similar car with a front-mounted engine and 6x6 configuration. For a vehicle expected to make first contacte with the enemy, the "Achtrads" were inadequately armed and armoured.

The ability to change direction (the requirement was to do so in under 10 seconds) can be understod in this light. They were excellent off-road vehicles however, partly because of their complicated but efficient all wheel steering and differencial system that prevented the inner wheels dragging in turns.

In order to report their discoveries to Panzer and other units, the 232 "Achtrads" were fitted with a large frame aerial for a powerful medium-range radio set, and this distinguished it from the otherwise identical Sd.Kfz 231 (8 Rad). Issued to the heavy platoons of the armoured car reconnaissance squadrons, the 231s and 232s were operated in conjunction with other vehicles, providing fire support when needed.

The 607 produced saw service in all fronts where German forces were engaged during the war.

The German 8 wheel armoured car Sd.Kfz 231/2 was used by the German Army until the end of the W.W.II. Was the most advanced armoured vehicle of is time and was special adapted to the desert.

Main Armament:One 20mm (0.7in) KwK 30 cannon
Secondary armament:One co-axial 7.92mm (0.3in) MG 34 machine gun
Combat weight:8.3 tons
Lenght:8.86m (29ft)
Width:2.2m (7ft 3.5in)
Road speed:85Km/h (53mph)
Road range:300Km (186mls)

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