German vehicle Sd.Kfz 234
Armored Cars (continuation)
The German army also fielded a fire-support vehicle armed with a limited-traverse 75-mm howitzer designated Sd.Kfz 233 (8-Rad). Due to the size of the howitzer, it was fitted in an open mount on the top of the vehicle's superstructure. Total production was 976 vehicles, starting in 1936 and ending in 1943.
Combat experience gained during the invasions of Poland and France identified several important performance deficiencies in German eight-wheeled armored cars. In response, an eight-wheel improvement program based on a new set of requirements began in August of 1940. The outcome was the slightly larger and heavier eight-wheeled armored car series designated Sd.Kfz 234 (8-Rad). The new versions were 19 feet 9 inches long, 7 feet 9 inches wide, and 6 feet 10 inches high.
Major features of the Sd.Kfz 234 (8-Rad) series included Czech-built diesel engines, one-piece hulls, better armor protection, and large low-pressure tires. These huge tires gave the German vehicle superior cross-country mobility compared to the earlier generation of German eight-wheeled armored cars.
Each of the four different versions of the redesigned eight-wheeled armored car featured a different armament: The Sd.Kfz 234/1, of which 200 were built, had an open-topped turret fitted with a 20-mm gun and a coaxial 7.92-mm machine gun. The Sd.Kfz 234/2, officially nicknamed the Puma (Cougar), featured a fully enclosed turret armed with a 50-mm gun and a coaxial 7.92-mm machine gun. (Only 101 examples of the Puma were built between September of 1943 and September of 1944.)
The Sd.Kfz 234/3 had a 75-mm howitzer mounted in an open-topped, limited-traverse mount. In late 1944 Hitler ordered the 234/3 vehicle up-gunned to a 75-mm gun. In its new configuration the German vehicle was designated Sd.Kfz 234/4, of which only 89 were built, between December 1944 and March 1945.
The German army also fielded a light four-wheeled armored cars. This vehicle, designated Kfz 13, was a makeshift vehicle based on the chassis of a four-wheel-drive passenger car. This simple open-topped 2.1-ton vehicle with a two-man crew and front engine first appeared in 1932. Production would end in 1934 with a total production run of 147 vehicles. It was 13 feet 9 inches long, 5 feet 7 inches wide, and 4 feet 11 inches high.
The command variant was a three-man German vehicle designated Kfz 14. Both versions saw service during the invasion of Poland in September 1939. A mere handful would serve in the invasion of France in May 1940 before being pulled from service.
The replacement for the Kfz 13 and 14 was the four-wheeled armored car designated the Sd.Kfz 221, which was based on the chassis of an existing rear-engine, German four-wheel-drive passenger car. The Sd.Kfz weighed 4 tons and had a crew of two men. It was 15 feet 9 inches long, 6 feet 5 inches wide, and 5 feet 7 inches high.
Armament consisted of a single 7.92-mm machine gun in an open-topped turret. Another version, designated Sd.Kfz 222, carried a turret-mounted 20-mm gun and a coaxial 7.92-mm machine gun. The Sd.Kfz 222 turret was also open-topped.
A two-part wire mesh screen over the open top prevented hand grenades from entering the German Army. Three different unarmed radio vehicles, designated Sd.Kfz 260, 261, and 223, completed the series. Total production of these light armored cars was 2,370 units between 1935 and early 1944.
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