Military Review

Heavy armored cars of the Sd.Kfz family. 231 8-Rad

In the first half of the thirties, already Nazi Germany began to openly violate all international treaties to restrict the production of weapons and military equipment. The Nazis were preparing for war and tried as quickly as possible to equip the army with the latest technology. Thus, in the mid-thirties, the German automobile industry introduced the Schwerer Panzerspähwagen 6-Rad armored car, also known as Sd.Kfz. 231. The main requirement on the part of the customer was to ensure maximum use of parts, components and assemblies of existing trucks. A characteristic feature of the project was a unified armored hull and its internal equipment. Chassis specific Sd.Kfz. 231 6-Rad, in turn, depended on the manufacturing plant. The firms Bussing-NAG, Daimler-Benz and Magirus have modified the chassis of their production trucks, on which a single armored hull was installed.

Schwerer Panzerspähwagen 6-Rad

Thanks to the original approach to creating the undercarriage, the mass production of the new armored car was managed relatively quickly. However, the total number of six-wheeled vehicles was limited to a little more than 120 units. The reason for this was simple: the modified civilian truck chassis could not withstand the heavy weight of the armor and lost acceptable driving characteristics, including throughput. Due to a number of fundamentally inherent flaws in the Sd.Kfz construction. 231 6-Rad in 1934, the Wehrmacht demanded to design a new heavy armored car from scratch, albeit using serial components. The new technical task provided for equipping the armored car with four-wheel drive and an engine, the power of which would be enough to move over rough terrain.

In accordance with the competition task, Bussing-NAG developed a special four-axle chassis with the wheel formula 8х8. The project received the firm designation Schwerer Panzerspähwagen 8-Rad and Army Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad. In order to avoid confusion with the previous armored car, which, according to the original plans, should have become a prototype of a new one, we had to add an additional index to the name of both cars with the number of wheels (8-Rad and 6-Rad). The eight-wheeled chassis turned out to be interesting and promising in technical terms, but still quite complex, which further affected the pace of production.

Heavy armored cars of the Sd.Kfz family. 231 8-Rad

Armored car body Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad was based on a T-shaped welded frame. Sheets of armor were attached to it on bolts. The thickness of the body reservation varied from 5 millimeters on the bottom to 15 mm upper front sheet. The design of the tower was similar to the structure of the main body - the frame and the armor plates attached to it. The tower was mounted on the hull using a ball bearing of the appropriate size. In the tower Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad was used the original solution, hitherto not used on armored vehicles: under the tower was placed a special design with a polycom fighting compartment. Thanks to this innovation, it was possible to significantly ease the combat work of the crew members who were in the turret, in particular, now they could not change their position during horizontal targeting of weapons.

The internal volume of the housing Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad was divided into two parts: combat and engine compartment. The first was located in front of the armored car, it housed the workplaces of four crew members. MTO, in turn, placed in the aft hull. The basis of the power plant was a petrol carburetor engine Bussing-NAG L8V-GS, which developed power to 150 horsepower. The engine torque was transmitted through a dry clutch to a gearbox that had three forward and reverse speeds. Especially for driving over rough terrain transmission Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad was equipped with a special gear. In the future, new modifications of the armored car received new engines and an updated transmission. At the same time, the suspension of cars from version to version remained practically unchanged. All eight wheels were suspended with the help of two pendulums for each, between which the semi-axis passed. The problem of depreciation was solved in a rather original way. The upper pendulum wheels of the same axis were connected to each other through a spring. This allowed us to save space and torsion two wheels at once. Actually wheels Sd.Kfz armored car. The 231 8-Rad was molded from steel sheets and fitted with Continental 210x18 low-pressure tires. The surface of the wheel chambers was covered with a rubber sheet, which compensated for punctures and damage. In practice, the wheel could be operated with six holes.

The basis of weapons Sd.Kfz. 231 The 8-Rad was a 20 mm 2 cannon KwK 30 L / 55, or a later KwK 38 L / 55. The automatic rifled gun had ammunition in 200 shells and could fight with lightly armored targets and poorly protected shelters. The 7,92-mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun with an ammunition in 1300 cartridges was paired with a gun. The gun and machine gun could be induced in the range from -10 ° to + 26 ° in the vertical plane and in a circle in the horizontal. Interestingly, if necessary, the crew could fire from a machine gun and with a high elevation. After manipulating the lock of the machine gun, the angle of its vertical guidance increased to + 37 °, but the possibility of simultaneous targeting of paired weapons was lost. Aiming was carried out through an optical device TZF6.

In the original equipment heavy armored car Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad had a combat weight of 8300 kg. It was quite a lot for such a technique, but a 150-horsepower engine and a good chassis ensured good driving performance. So, on the highway, the armored car accelerated to 90-100 kilometers per hour and could drive about three hundred kilometers at one gas station. Patency Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad was as follows: the machine climbed a slope up to 30 °, overcame half-meter walls, crossed water obstacles up to a meter in depth and crossed through ditches up to 1,2-1,3 meters wide. As noted in the test report of the armored car, its cross was no worse than some tanks that time. Having received a lot of positive reviews, the new armored car in 1937 was adopted. In the shortest possible time, a good Sd.Kfz armored car. 231 8-Rad displaced from the army units of its "ancestor" Sd.Kfz. 231 6-Rad. Three-axle vehicles were gradually decommissioned from the Wehrmacht and handed over to police units, where they served until the resource was depleted.

Already during the first months of operation, the new armored car, nicknamed in the army Achtrad ("Eight-wheeled"), became clear to its good potential not only as an armored car, but also a light wheeled tank. For this reason, over the course of a couple of years, several modifications have been made that differed from the original vehicle in terms of equipment, weapons, etc. The list of versions of the "Eight-wheel" looked as follows:

Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad. The main modification, on the basis of which all the others were assembled. It was manufactured from 1937 to 42-th year, when it was considered obsolete and discontinued in favor of the new modifications.

Sd.Kfz. Xnumx. It differs from the original armored vehicle by the presence of the FuG11 SE30 radio station and the frame antenna. From 1941, the armored cars of this modification were completed with a FuG12 SE80 radio. The antenna remains the same.

Sd.Kfz. Xnumx. The armored cars of this model went to the troops in the 1942 year. The turret was removed from the base machine, and a short-barreled 7.5 cm Sturmkanone 37 L / 24 gun with small pickup angles was installed on the vacant space. The rest of the weapons and equipment of the armored car did not change significantly.

Sd.Kfz. Xnumx. Further development of Sd.Kfz. 231 in the direction of creating a full-fledged communication machine. Instead of a swinging tower, this modification received a stationary armored felling of a relatively large size. On the roof of the case and the cabin there were racks for several antennas connected to radio stations inside the case. Defensive armament consisted of a single machine gun.

Sd.Kfz. 234 / 1. In 1944, a major modernization of the armored car was carried out with the replacement of the engine, increasing the thickness of the hull plates, etc. So, the front sheet now had a thickness of 30 millimeters. The basis of the power plant was a 12-cylinder Tatra-103 engine with a maximum power 210 hp. In view of the operating experience, the chassis was slightly strengthened and tires replaced. Inheritance from Sd.Kfz. The 231 new armored vehicle received a turret with an 20-mm cannon and a twin machine gun, but with a new armored mask.

Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (5cm) Sd.Kfz. 234 / 2 "Puma" in France, on the eve of the Allied landings

Sd.Kfz. 234 / 2 Puma. Thoroughly revised armored vehicle "234 / 1" became the basis for several new armored vehicles for various purposes. His first revision was Sd.Kfz. 234 / 2 Puma. In fact, it was a heavy armored car of the previous model, but with a new turret and weaponry. The Puma Tower was larger and was armed with an 50-mm 5 cm KwK 39 L / 60 cannon. It was paired MG42 machine gun with multiple tapes for 1050 ammunition. Vertical guidance weapons could be carried out between -10 ° and + 20 °. On the tower Puma installed two triple-barreled smoke grenade caliber 90 mm.

Sd.Kfz. 234 / 3. Further development at the same time Sd.Kfz. 233 and Sd.Kfz. 234 / 1. Instead of a tower on the hull of the latter, relatively low sheets of armor were mounted that formed the wheelhouse. An 75-mm 7.5 cm KwK K51 cannon was mounted on the front logs, and its ammunition was 50 shells. The fastening system made it possible to point the weapon within 12 ° to the sides in the horizontal plane and in the range from -10 ° to + 12 ° vertically. The relatively large volume of the combat compartment of the self-propelled armored vehicle allowed us to simultaneously carry up to 1950 ammunition for the MG42 machine gun. Instead of smoke grenade launchers, smoke bombs with a remote igniter were placed on the body.

Sd.Kfz. 234 / 4. Anti-tank armored car. Based on the tower of previous armored cars, a new fixed wheelhouse was designed. It put the 75-mm anti-tank gun PaK 40 L / 46. The firing sector in the horizontal plane was similar to the same parameter in Sd.Kfz. 234 / 3, and vertical guidance was conducted in the sector 3-22 degrees from the horizontal. Equipment, additional weapons, etc. remained the same.

ADGZ. The last representative of the family of armored cars based on Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad has become the machine ADGZ. It was quite different from other armored vehicles and, therefore, despite its direct origin from Sd.Kfz. 231 is often considered an independent development. In the engine room ADZG installed Austro Daimler M612 engine with horsepower 150. For some reason, only four wheels from the second and third pair were leading on this modification. At the same time to ensure proper adhesion to the surface on the second and third axles was installed on two wheels instead of one. The main armament of the ADGZ was the 20-mm automatic gun 2 cm KwK35 L / 45 in a rotating turret. It is worth noting that the gun was mounted in a rotating installation, which was not typical for such weapons. The gun was installed in the right half of the tower. The left was given to the MG34 machine gun in a similar ball installation. In addition to turning the turret, ball mounts provided additional guidance within a sector of width 20 ° in the horizontal plane. Vertical guidance angles range from -12 ° to + 18 °. Unlike all previous armored vehicles of the family, the ADGZ could fire two targets simultaneously.

All armored cars of the Sd.Kfz family. 231 8-Rad had a chassis of a similar design, because of what they had equally good throughput, which almost did not deteriorate with an increase in combat mass. At the same time, the suspension was quite difficult to manufacture. As a result, no more than two thousand armored cars of all models were assembled. The most successful in quantitative terms turned out to be the original Achtrad, which was released in "circulation" in 1200 with more than one unit. Other machines in various proportions divided the remaining production volumes. One of the main reasons for this was the very complexity of the suspension: in peacetime, the production of Sd.Kfz was established. 231 8-Rad, but the war could not deploy a massive assembly of new models.

Combat use of all armored vehicles was reduced to the support of infantry in the offensive and cover it with their fire. Modifications armed with 75-mm guns were repeatedly used in the fight against tanks, but due to the relatively weak booking, attempts to use armored cars as tank destroyers quickly ceased. The greatest success Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad and its "followers" reached in North Africa, where the permeability of the eight-wheeled chassis made it possible to effectively conduct combat operations with tracked armored vehicles. Despite all the successes and the totality of combat characteristics, by the middle of World War II Achtrad armored cars became an insufficient means of combat. Because of this, their use was gradually reduced and their main task was to escort convoys, escort troops on the march and other actions not related to a direct clash with the enemy. Several copies of German heavy armored vehicles survived to our time, most of them belong to the Sd.Kfz family. 234.

Throughout the Second World War Sd.Kfz armored cars. 231 8-Rad fell into the hands of the Allies. Some of these trophies were in fairly good condition and used for testing. Testers of the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States recognized the positive aspects of the original chassis design. However, the views of the military of that time were directed towards tanks and self-propelled artillery installations. Armored cars, including heavy ones, began to be considered a kind of anachronism. For this reason, the following armored wheeled vehicles were representatives of the class "armored personnel carrier". Nevertheless, an interesting layout of the chassis with two levers interested designers of the anti-Hitler coalition. It is noteworthy that such ideas, for example, existed in our country before, but simply did not find mass application. German experience has shown that the two levers and the half shaft between them is a promising and interesting system. Perhaps it was thanks to the trophies that the Soviet armored personnel carrier BTR-60 received a similar suspension. At the same time, it only looks like a Sd.Kfz undercarriage. 231 8-Rad. The fact is that these armored vehicles have a different suspension system. The German armored car used leaf springs, one per axle, and the Soviet armored personnel carrier was equipped with an interesting system of torsions and hydraulic shock absorbers.

Heavy reconnaissance armored car Sd. Kfz. 232 schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Fu) (8-rad)

American soldier near the damaged German armored Sd.Kfz.233 in Belgium. 1944 year

In the foreground is the Sd.Kfz armored car. 233. In the background the captured French light tank Hotchkiss H39

Heavy armored car Sd.Kfz. The 231 (8-Rad) reconnaissance battalion of one of the Wehrmacht’s tank divisions destroyed by Polish artillery

German heavy fire support BA Sd Kfz 234 / 3 and Sd Kfz 234 / 4

The last representative of the family of armored cars based on Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad has become a machine ADGZ

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  1. Kars
    Kars 6 September 2012 09: 58
    April 1945.4 Panzer Army (remnants)
  2. AlexMH
    AlexMH 6 September 2012 10: 13
    The idea of ​​putting a gun in the wheelhouse on a wheeled vehicle is extremely strange. In place, it does not unfold, how to direct? Slightly the enemy left the shelling sector, and turn the whole car back and forth? And so an interesting car, perhaps the most interesting armored car of World War II.
    1. DIMS
      DIMS 6 September 2012 10: 31
      Sector of 22 degrees is not so small. It is even more difficult to change the sector of the firing and at the same time buried towed guns.
  3. Brother Sarych
    Brother Sarych 6 September 2012 10: 19
    It seems that the armored car is quite resistant to mine explosions - it looks almost modern in this regard!
    With a 50 mm cannon in the tower, it looks like a beast! If he also managed to put 75 mm, then it would be better for him not to come across ...
    1. Stas57
      Stas57 6 September 2012 10: 35
      With the 50 mm gun in the tower, the beast generally looks
      in documents sometimes such devices pass like tanks)
    2. valiant
      valiant 6 September 2012 18: 28
      75 mm were also placed, inattentively read the article ...
      1. Brother Sarych
        Brother Sarych 6 September 2012 21: 43
        I wrote about the opportunity to put in the tower, and not in the wheelhouse ...
  4. borisst64
    borisst64 6 September 2012 11: 46
    What only in the German army was not! But I still didn’t understand whether the car was all-wheel drive or not.
    1. bazilio
      bazilio 6 September 2012 13: 22
      all-wheel drive except the last modification
  5. bazilio
    bazilio 6 September 2012 13: 27
    Blitzkrieg machine. In fact, this armored car, a compromise between cost, power, firepower and cross. To support the infantry, against the infantry of the enemy without serious anti-tank weapons is the thing. In tactical terms, such a technique is optimal for capturing territories after breaking through the defense line, cutting communications.
  6. wei
    wei 6 September 2012 14: 02
    to the author super (bold) plus
    knew very little about this direction
    thank you good
    interesting armor
  7. biglow
    biglow 6 September 2012 14: 18
    judging by the movie chronicle, they were rare on the eastern front
    1. matvey.z
      matvey.z 6 September 2012 14: 20
      Quote: biglow
      in the east ... met rarely

      They’re probably stupid in the mud
  8. matvey.z
    matvey.z 6 September 2012 14: 21
    It is good that Lenin did not have such an armored car in 1917.
  9. kotdavin4i
    kotdavin4i 6 September 2012 14: 50
    Something I misunderstood with what figs to the first commentators so many minuses that ??? normal opinions of everyone - well, what for such a Westerner do that ???
    1. ICT
      ICT 6 September 2012 14: 58
      reverse side of innovation with a rating
    2. Ruslan67
      Ruslan67 12 September 2012 16: 15
      did not try to score on all these pros and cons, but just express your opinion and discuss what you are interested in? I began to relate to all this for some time so, if the rating is positive, then I’m not a stranger on this site but I don’t care about idiots!
  10. GHG
    GHG 6 September 2012 15: 29
    For me, from some angles it looks like a "coffin" ... on wheels.)))
    It smiled at me.
  11. Protey
    Protey 6 September 2012 19: 11
    An interesting body shape in the lower part, obviously thinking about the consequences of a mine explosion. The modern South African Gila is almost like that.
  12. loft79
    loft79 6 September 2012 23: 01
    "The last representative of the family of armored cars based on Sd.Kfz. 231 8-Rad was the ADGZ vehicle"

    The article is nothing, but, about ADGZ in general is nonsense. It was a trophy armor. I don’t remember the country. Drivers were both front and rear (respectively, and control). Used for police purposes. The amount produced is scanty.
    1. DIMS
      DIMS 6 September 2012 23: 13
      Not quite trophy-Austrian. In the year 42, its production was resumed and as many as 25 were collected from existing stocks.
      1. loft79
        loft79 6 September 2012 23: 20
        Well, I say scanty. I probably bent trophy. Find the definition. Can annexed). Just to Sd.Kfz. 231 has nothing to do.
        1. Speedy
          Speedy 15 October 2012 22: 17
          loft79Can Annexed
          Unlocked ..... hi
  13. DIMS
    DIMS 7 September 2012 09: 36
    Anslussed. In general, in theory, this was already one state. Regarding meagerness, before the Anschluss, the pre-production batch of 12 units, 27 in the series, and 25 in 1942. That's it.
    As for "not relevant" you are not quite right, it looks like German designers were inspired by them. Initially, the founders of the Sd.Kfz family. 231 were triaxial. Yes, and two driver's posts - in front and behind, also copy-paste from an Austrian armored car.
    1. loft79
      loft79 12 September 2012 22: 42
      At Sd.Kfz. 231 were two posts? Give me a link please. I work in the repair and warranty department in the comp. store). Therefore, at home sick from the active use of the computer and the Internet. Bookmark only.
  14. Alex
    Alex 8 January 2014 21: 49
    EMNIP, two control posts and almost complete symmetry of both the hull and the internal structure, in general, the distinguishing side of the Austrian armor. The Germans did not seem to bother with such lotions. I don’t remember where infa came from, but I read it in some book in Nete.
    To the author "+", I join. Thanks.