Armoured Half Track - Nazi Germany.
About 15 252 built 1939-45.
SdKfz 251/1 Ausf A, 1st Panzerdivision, Poland, september 1939. This is the regular armament most Panzergrenadier's Hanomags would bear during the conflict : A frontal Mg.34 protected by a mask for infantry support, and a rear AA mount with greater traverse and angle.
SdKfz 251/1 Ausf A, 1st Panzerdivision, Campaign of France, may 1940, armed with two AA pintle mounts.
SdKfz 251/1 Ausf A, 1st Panzerdivision, Russia, july 1941. Notice that the rear pintle mount is dimounted to make place to a tarpaulin.
Ausf B with two Mgs shields in Greece, april 1941.
SdKfz 251/1 Ausf B - Deutsche Africa Korps, 21th Panzerdivision, Libya march 1941.
SdKfz 251/1 Ausf C - 12th Panzerdivision, Russia, Moskow sector, winter 1941/42.
Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf D in Russia, summer 1942.
Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf D in Tunisia, february 1943.
Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf D III Gepanzert Battalion, SS Panzergrenadier Regiment 9 "Germania", part of the 5th SS Panzerdivision "Wiking", Modlin sector, Poland, august 1944.
Sd Kfz 251/1 II Ausf B Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen mit Wurfrahmen, the famous "Stuka zum Fuss" or "Stuka on foot", 7th panzerdivision, Russia, november 1941.
SdKfz 251/2 Schützenpanzerwagen (Granatwerfer), mortar carrier Ausf B Russia, early 1942.
A SdKfz 251/3 II Mittlere Kommandopanzerwagen Ausf D for liaison with tanks formations, Normandy, France, summer 1944.
Sd.Kfz. 251/6 Ausf B mittlere Funkpanzerwagen (Kommandopanzerwagen), personal vehicle of General Guderian, France, june 1940.
SdKfz 251/7 II Pionerpanzerwagen Ausf C, Russia, 1942. This engineers vehicle was equipped with a PAK-36, but the shield was dismounted to make room to the half bridges. Additional plankings were also usually carried.
SdKfz 251/7 I Pionerpanzerwagen Ausf D, Tunisia, january 1943.
SdKfz 251/8 Krankenpanzerwagen Ausf D, Stalingrad december 1942.
SdKfz 251/9 Ausf C - 12th Panzerdivision, Russia, summer 1942.
SdKfz 251/9 Stummel Ausf D, battle of Rimini, Gothic line, northern Italy, december 1944.
SdKfz 251/10 Ausf C - 5th Panzerdivision, Gustav line, Italy 1944.
SdKfz 251/16 Flammpanzerwagen Ausf C, support vehicle, Russia 1943.
SdKfz 251/16 Flammpanzerwagen Ausf D, Normandy summer 1944.
SdKfz 251/17 Schützenpanzerwagen (2cm) (Flakpanzerwagen 38) Ausf C, Russia 1943. This main AA vehicle was armed with the FLAK KwK-38 20mm autocannon, on a pedestal mount, protected by a large curved shield, and the hull accomotated folding panels to allow more traverse.
SdKfz 251/18 Beobachtungspanzerwagen Ausf B up-armoured, Russia, 1942.
SdKfz 251/20 251/20 mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen zur Gefechtsfeld-beleuchtung (Falke) Ausf D, Western Germany january 1945. This vehicle worked in close coordination with the "UHU" version.
SdKfz 251/20 251/20 mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen zur Gefechtsfeld-beleuchtung (UHU), long-range infrared illumination version operating in par with the Panzer V Panthers during night attacks, western front 1944-45. It consists of a 60cm beobachtungstelescope(telescopic sight) 1221 and a beobachtungsgerat (viewing machine) 1251, and around 60 UHU were built to assist "Sperber" formations of six Panthers each. Some were also deployed in Hungary by 1945.
SdKfz 251/21 Fliegerabwehr Schutzenpanzerwagen (Drilling) West Germany, march 1945.
SdKfz 251/22 7.5 cm PaK-40 L/46 auf Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen Ausf D, Caen sector, Normandy, France, june 1944.
Sd Kfz 251/23 mittlerer gepanzerter Schützenpanzerwagen mit 2-cm Hängelafette, Western Germany, january 1945.
Genesis fo the Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 :
This familiar sight associated with the German Infantry all along world war two began simply as an armoured version of the artillery tractor Sd. Kfz.11, already one of several solutions given to the problem of off-road capabilities of trucks and associated "special purpose vehicles" (Sonderkraftfahrzeug) long before the war. The Sd.Kfz.11 was in effect an half-track designed in 1938 by Hanomag, and the prime mover for the 105mm Howitzer and 37mm FLAK 43 which was produced to 9000 units until 1945. This company was found a natural choice to fulfill the next specification for an armoured vehicle capable of carrying a platoon of panzergrenadiers and their equipment, accompanying the panzerdivisions. Each German mechanized infantry corps was to be equipped by hundred of these. The Protection given was to be sufficient against small arms fire and artillery shrapnells, and armament was to comprise two Mg.34 machine-guns for defence and direct support. In german nomenclature, it was classed as a Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen ("Medium Assault Armoured Vehicle").
Design of the Hanomag Half-Track:
Since the Sd.Kfz-251 was produced by the same manufacturer, Hanomag natural choice was to use the HL kl.5 (SdKfz 11) chassis as a base for buiding a stronger framework supporting armoured panels. After a few sketches, the sloped armour of the previous prototype 7.5 cm Selbsfahrlafette L40 made by Hansa-Lloyd (1937), that characterised the type, originally designed by Büssing-NAG, was chosen. This was a risky choice in terms of efficient storage and production facility, but the idea behind was straithforward : The slopes could either procure a greater thickness in direct fire than a flat plate, as deflecting low velocity projectiles and bullets, hence giving more protection for the same weight. The armour protected the entire lenght of the engine and radiator, driver and the open top rear compartment. It was 14,5mm, with a 14° slope at the nose, 10 mm/80° for the glacis (engine cover), 8 mm/35° for the side panels and 8mm/35° for the rear panels with only 6mm for the flat bottom.
The hull was entirely welded, with prefabricated sections. The open-top configuration allowed a greater awareness of the situation and allowed a better angle and arc of fire for the defence machine-guns. The body was composed of two main sections, including the front cowling and the rear open-top "passenger compartment". These two sections were made of steel plates welded shielded and riveted to the base chassis. They were joined together by riveting, of the reinforcements located behind the driver's compartment. This provision associated with the initial strength of the chassis of the vehicle provided exceptional rigidity.
The engine was the same Maybach TUKRM HL 42 (4.17L) petrol engine, a 6 cylinder four-act watercooled with magnetic ignition (100hp @2800 rmp.), which procured 12.8 hp/tonne, giving an average 52.2 kph on roads or very flat terrains, and 21 kph off-road. This was still relatively fast for an armoured half-track. The front wheel train procured a turning radius of 11m. The tracks, of the Zgw 5001/280/140 or Zpw 5001/280/140 types were relatively large and procured an excellent grip, especially with the W 302 rubber tread pads. Each comprised 55 and 56 (left /right) links and were 7.7 and 7.84 m long. The Sd. Kfz. 251 was one of the first armoured vehicles to be equipped with interleaved wheels, just like the Kettenkrad.
. This "slack track" lowered the ground pressure, but they proved problematic on highly muddy terrain, like during the Russian "Raspoutista".
The weight stripped was 6.8 tons, 7 tons in battle order and 8.5 tons and more fully loaded. It has a payload capacity of 1.5 tons and a towing capacity of 2.7 tons which allow the PAK-36 and 20mm AA autocannon to be carried. Normal crew was 12, incuding the driver, platoon commander, and ten panzergrenadiers and their equipment.
Production & Evolution: The Ausf A and B.
The Ausf A (Ausfürhung-A or "A-version") was the first of the Mittlerer Gepanzerter Mannschaftskraftwagen
. It appeared in mid-1939 and was first allocated to the Panzergrenadier attached to the 1st panzer Division (Stationed at Weimar, the spring 1939), the best equipped German unit at the outbreak of the Polish campaign. Production figures estimates for 1939 are only 232, and was assumed by Hanomag in Hanover, Büssing-NAG of Berlin Oberschoeneweide, Weserhuette of Bad Oeynhause, Wumag of Goerlitz, and F. Schichau of Elbing.
The Ausf B appeared in 1940, and was similar in all aspects but the relocated radio antenna (from the step to the rear fighting compartment), and the removal of the rear vision sights, for production facility. By the end of 1940, only 337 more would be delivered. An estimated 500 took part in the French Campaign.
The Ausf C.
The Ausf C (late 1941) was also very similar, but introduced a new flat engine nose plate, 14,5mm thick, without access trap, replaced by a simple hole for the manifold. Other minor mass-production simplifications, included the rear access doors. Attention was also paid to the engine, with the removal of the front hood cooling grid, and the lateral access traps, replaced by large open ventilation boxes, and the lower part of the hull was modified to increase the compartment draw. The rear muffler storage boxes were relocated to the rear, and the mufflers themselves were completely modified. The rearview mirror was relocated from the driver side vision slit to a lower position. The Headlights were now fixed directly to the chassis and the bumpers removed and replaced by towing hooks. Production for 1941 was assumed to be 389 vehicles. However an icrease in production was urgently needed, but by 1942 these figures rose only to 424 and around 1200 for 1942. Unit cost was 22,560 DM.
The Ausf D.
It was introduced by the spring of 1943 as a set of small changes in design for mass-production. The "Alte" (around 4650 from june 1939 to september 1943) performed by Hanomag, MNH, Schichau Wumag, Weserhtte, Borgward included the A, B and C; and the "Neue" Ausf D (10 602 in 1943-45) by Hanomag, MNH, Schichau Wumag, Weserhätte, Borgward, Evans+Pistor, Deutsche Werke, Büssing-NAG, which included many changes in production design : The armoured panels were reduced from 19 to 9, permanent stowage boxes with padlocked access traps, replacing the former rear mufflers. Simple vision slits, simple flat engine hood panels with relocated air intakes under the hull, simplified reverse sloping rear end with flat door panels, and many other minor modifications which allowed the construction to use 50% less armour while offering the same protection, and to be far less labor-intensive. A feet of engineering required in times of increasing allied bombings and exhausting metal supplies. However the internal configuration was unchanged since the Ausf C, and the FuG Spr Ger f radio was still in use. By that time, the Ausf D was more and more required for hadoc modifications and conversions due to a dramatic increase in the need of fire support platforms of all kind.
The "little brother", Sd Kfz 250.
The Sd.Kfz 250 was first issued in specifications by the Inspectorate for Motorized Troops (AHA/In 6) in 1939, as a light armoured half-track for other purposed than tranport or towing vehicles, to accompany the tanks in attack. Future tasks included reconnaissance, radio liaison, supply, mobile headquarter, or artillery observation. It was produced by Demag, Adlerwerke, Büssing-NAG, MWC from 1941 to 1945 at an extent of 6630 vehicles, and was externally a shortened SdK/Fz 251, which led also to many fire support and special purpose variants. (Büssing-NAG and Adler for the Chassis, Saurer Werke of Vienna for the engine and transmission, DEW Hannover and Steinmueller of Gummersbach for the superstructure, Bismarckhuette of Upper Silesia for the armour plating, hull assembly by Evens & Pistor of Helsa, equipment, supervision and delivery by Demag AG of Wetter.)
The Sd.Kfz.251 Hanomag in action.
The Sd.Kfz.251 was seen as a real improvement for infantry mobility, and added weight to the doctrine of using motorized infantry to accompany the tanks as well as a propaganda tool in the newsreel, which led most of the German into thinking that the bulk of the German infantry was carried by these armoured vehicles. But the reality could not be farther from the truth : Due to its cost and slow production, these vehicles were only allocated to some Panzergrenadier platoons, almost specialized elites within the infantry, and only attached to the best-equipped Panzerdivision. By September 1939, only the 1st Pzd was partially equipped with these vehicles. By the start of the western campaign in may 1940, perhaps five Pzds were also partially equipped. By then, the two types involved were the SdKfz 251/1 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen, Gerät 901 for the Panzergrenadiers, and the SdKfz 251/1 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen with no radio. Well used, this vehicle never encountered bad situations which could have been fatal due to its lack of armor. This was found also a limitation later in the use of some close-support versions like the Sd.Kfz 251/10 equipped with the short-range PAK 36, 37mm AT gun. However most of the version developed has been seen as rearguard support vehicles, like the mortar versions, SdKfz 251/2 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (Granatwerfer), Gerät 892, or the famous SdKfz 251/1 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (Wurfrahmen 40) used by 1944 with great effect, and radio relay, coordination, armoured ambulances, and artillery observation.
The SdK.fz 251 seen action also in North Africa in limited numbers due to the only two Panzerdivisions involved. There was no real tropicalized version -only late modifications in the field, the rear "bathtub" compartment could turn red hot with the blistering sun of this region, and the engine hatches were all open to increase air cooling while on the move. The bulk of the A,B,C seen action also in the Balkans, in Greece, and in Russia by the summer of 1941. By then, most Panzerdivisions were equipped with this vehicle, at least partially. Less than a thousands were available at the same time for Operation Barbarossa. Production later increased but at the same time more and more were converted for support and special purpose vehicles. In Russia, the local situation dictated also many conversions for the engineers attached to the panzerdivisions, with modified vehicles. In fact, if 23 main versions were officially known by the waffenamt, there has been countless modifications in the field, testified on photos showing vehicles using captured foreign guns, using non conventionnal antennaes, or makeshift conversion as command and observation vehicles.
In Russia, the winter conditions meant that the engine could not always perform well or even start at all, and all the rubber parts has tendencies to crack and fall apart by extreme cold. The mobility was generally excellent, but the thick, sticky mud of the spring and summer rains clog into the interleaved wheels and then has tendencies to solidify. By the introduction of the simplied Ausf D, the production rose again, but this vehicle was found still in short supply for the panzergrenadier, as more and more were diverted for fire support and AA defence. The most successful in this way were the Schüztnpanzerwagen (7.5 cm KwK37) or "Stummel" for artillery support, and the antitank 7.5 cm PaK40 L/46 auf Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen which replaced the ill-fated Sd.Kfz 251/10. The famous rocket-launcher version or 251/1 II (also dubbed "ground stuka"), used massive 280 mm or 320 mm Wurfkoerper rockets which had the same devastating effect than 500 kgs bombs, although certainly not as accurate.
The SdKfz 251 variants :
The SdKfz 251/1 (II/III):
Although strangely classed as 251/1, these two late versions has nothing in common.
The Sd.Kfz. 251/1 II mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen mit Wurfrahmen
, was a heavy rocket launcher platform (also dubbed "Stuka zum Fuss"), equipped with six massive 28cm Sprengranate (HE rounds) and 32cm Flammgranate (incendiary rounds), the latter using Napalm. They were called Wurfrahmen 40, and had a respective range of 1.9 and 2.2km. First ordered in late 1940, these Wurfkoerper rockets launcher vehicles only appeared by 1943-44 in limited numbers.
The Sd.Kfz. 251/1 III mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (IR) "Falke"
, were standard Ausf D (mostly) vehicles specially equipped with infrared equipment for night operation in conjunctions of the Sd.Kfz. 251/20 Uhu, accompanying IR Panthers detachments. This version is also called 251/20 "Falke".
The SdKfz 251/2 Schützenpanzerwagen (Granatwerfer):
This was the standard motorized mortar version, used by the infantry. It used GrW34 81 mm Mortar carrier with 66 rounds. The solidary recoil bottom plate could be removed for an offloaded use.
Sd.Kfz. 251/3 - mittlere Kommandopanzerwagen (Funkpanzerwagen):
Main radio version, which was subdivided into five versions, each using upgraded radio combinations, like the FuG8 + FuG5 (I, II), FuG1 + FuG7 (III), FuG11 + FuG12 (IV - long range, with a telecopic 9m mast, and a command subvariant), and the FuG11 for the V subversion.
Sd.Kfz. 251/4 - Schützenpanzerwagen für Munition und Zubehör des leIG18:
This version was strenghtened for towing heavier guns, as the 7.5 cm leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18, 50mm Pak 38, 75mm PaK 40, and 10.5cm leFH18 light field howitzer.
Sd.Kfz. 251/5 - Schützenpanzerwagen für Pionierzug.
The main assault engineer vehicle (Pionierzug), modify to carry a pair of light dismantleable assault bridges and inflatables boats carried into the side stowage boxes.
Sd.Kfz. 251/6 - mittlere Funkpanzerwagen (Kommandopanzerwagen)
This early command and radio vehicle housed map boards, cipher and encoding machines into a rearranged compartment, based on Ausf A/B versions.
Sd.Kfz. 251/7 I - Pionierpanzerwagen.
Another Engineers assault vehicle fitted with bridge ramps and special fitting on the upper hull. The I and II sub-versions used different radios.
Sd.Kfz. 251/8 I - Krankenpanzerwagen.
The armoured ambulance version. Could carry four injured personel in stetcher cases, with 2 folding stretchers for 2 lying and 4 seated or 10 lightly wounded sitting soldiers. To help access, a folding step beneath the doors was also added. Most were converted from early A-B and C versions during the war. There was no armament and a large canvas or auvent was used to cover the top. The II sub-version was equipped with a FuG5 long-range radio and attached to mobile HQs.
Sd.Kfz. 251/9 - Schützenpanzerwagen (7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24) "Stummel".
The standard SPG variant, also called "kanonenwagen", was equipped with a short-barrel 75mm howitzer, which used the same mounting from the STUG-III. It was nicknamed "Stummel" (Stump), and found committed in great numbers on the eastern front. First ordered in a march 1942 specification, Büssing-Nag delivered two prototypes in june, tested in Russia. A first batch of 150 vehicles were delivered during the following monthes, based on the Ausf C. By late 1944 a major modification included a revised modular higher gun-mount with a coaxial Mg.42 for close defence. The latter gave also better protection, a lower degree angle and higher traverse (20° on each side). Normal traverse was 10 to 12° on each side, and a -5 +20° elevation. The gun provision was 52 rounds, many were carried wherever it was possible, notably on the rifle racks and crammed in extra soft bags. The hull counted also scissors binoculars and relocated a Fuspr.f 2 meter rod-antenna. The Stummel was first introduced into the SS-Panzerregiment 4 "Der Führer", 2nd SS armored division, and later (with the Ausf D and late version by 1944) in most armored reconnaissance units, and the paratrooper division "Hermann Göring". Such vehicles could be carried inside the Me 323 "Gigant".
Sd.Kfz. 251/10 - Schützenpanzerwagen (3.7 cm PaK).
The standard early AT support version for the panzergrenadiers, equipped with the PAK-36, 37mm which had an effective range of about only 1200m. Many photos shows that the removable upper panels of the shield were removed, as the crew was well protected inside the hull, and to fool observers while resembling the usual Mg shield of the standard transport version.
Sd.Kfz. 251/11 - Fernsprechpanzerwagen.
A telephone cable-layer version, based on the Ausf C. A large box-like laying apparatus with cable reels was housed in the rear compartment, with little room to spare for the operators. They were used to create a network in the occupied territories of Russia.
Artillery auxiliary vehicles :
Sd.Kfz. 251/12 - Messtrupp und Gerätpanzerwagen
: A visual survey vehicle, the main artillery observation version.
Sd.Kfz. 251/13/14 - Schallaufnahmepanzerwagen
: Sound recording carrier variant.
Sd.Kfz. 251/15 - Lichtauswertepanzerwagen
: Flash spotting carrier variant.
Sd.Kfz. 251/18 - Beobachtungspanzerwagen
: Artillery independant observation variant, which comprised three radio sub-versions.
Sd.Kfz. 251/16 - Flammpanzerwagen.
Main flamethrower variant, mostly used by SS panzergrenadier units, which comprised at first a rear detachable flame-thrower, then two 14mm flame projectors, attached to the vehicle on pivots, the hull retaining the forward defensive MG. The flamethrowers were protected by small masks and range was approximatively 35 meters depending on the wind and climate conditions. They were fed by two 700-liters internal tanks placed on the rear, however yellied petrol turned to be in short supply. The crew was protected by fireproof overalls and the compressor which had a two hour autonomy gave the ability to perform around 2700 short burst (2 sec.). As specified, each Panzergrenadier regiment was to be supplied by a single platoon of 6 Flammpanzerwagen, comprising two support vehicles carrying 1850 extra gallons. They were converted from Ausf C and D, and seemingly introduced in january 1943. They fought in Russia, in Italy, in Holland (Arnhem 1944) and Northern France.
Sd.Kfz. 251/19 - Fernsprechbetriebspanzerwagen.
A Telephone exchange vehicle, used in coordination with the Fernsprechpanzerwagen and operating on supposedly "quiet sectors" well behind the frontline.
Sd.Kfz. 251/20 - Schützenpanzerwagen (Infrarotscheinwerfer).
Appearing by late 1944 this version was attached to the special night attack Panzerregiments equipped with IR Panthers (with infrared searchlights). This version carried a 60cm, 1500m range infrared searchlight for illuminating targets well beyond the range of the Panther IR equipments. They also deployed Vampire night assault troops, equipped with portable infrared equipments.
Sd.Kfz. 251/22 - 7.5 cm PaK40 L/46 auf Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen.
The "Pakwagen" was german best AT support vehicle, fitted with a high velocity PaK-40 L46 or L48. These were heavily used as the operations turned into defensive actions, from Italy to Normandy and the eastern front. The range of the gun allowed the vehicle to be relatively safe from well camouflaged, pre-arranged positions. However, the chassis was never designed to cope with the extra weight nor the blast shock and recoil, which triggered many mechanical breakdowns and excessive structural fatigue. Nevertheless by december 1944, Hitler gave this version top priority. The mount comprised two H shaped beams welded to the floor, on the middle of the rear compartment. The shield was modified with trimmed angles, and the platform was made of flat triangular plates holding in place the original gun cradle. The driver sat on the left, aiming with the standard PAK-40 opticals. Traverse was 18 and 19° and elevation ranged from -3 to +22°. 22 rounds (HE and AP) were stored. Usually the crews carried extra rounds in loose containers, stored where possible. Production figures are ellusive, perhaps 1200 vehicles using Ausf D bodies.
Sd.Kfz. 251/23 - 2 cm Hängelafette 38 auf Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen.
The main reconnaissance variant, fitted with a turret mounting similar to the one carried by the Sd.Kfz. 234/1 armoured car, housing a QF 20mm autonannon.
Anti-aircraft variants :
This type, and all the test prototypes, covered around 500 vehicles, including 486 -according to some sources /17 and /21. Normal provision for each Panzerdivision was around twenty-one in the armored infantry battalion, one in the regimental engineer company and seven in the armored reconnaissance company.
Sd.Kfz. 251/17 - Schützenpanzerwagen (2 cm)
: (244 built). Early machines had unmodified 251 Ausf C and D bodies, and the 20mm gun ahd only a 80° traverse. They were pioneered by the SS panzerdivision Grossdeutschland. But the main production type was the Luftwaffe-Flakausführung, with extended side made of folding panels. Even folded, the gun still had a 360° traverse. The 20mm KwK38 comprised a small turret and pedestal mounting. They were built on the Ausf C only and usually 4 FLAK vehicles were led by a command version, similar but without the gun but with a FU-10 radio and frame antenna, and two Mg.34 or 42 for close defence.
Later on the version evolved. Auto-Union A.G. of Chemnitz built a prototype (Ausf C) followed by perhaps a dozen or so hybrid vehicles (D type), with a completely open rear and reconstructed driver compartment. The type was also called Sd.Kfz.30 or 261. In late 1944, a late model with a standard D body was equipped with a Schwebelafette or "gliding cradle" in a boxlike construction. Production figures remains unknown, perhaps 15 in all which served on the eastern front by nobvember 1944. The 20mm existed in two types, the Army KwK 38 and the Luftwaffe FLAK-38 which had similar performances, although they were found unable to deal with the heavily protected Russian Ll-2 Sturmoviks.
Sd.Kfz. 251/21 - Schützenpanzerwagen (Drilling)
: (242 built) A triple Mauser MG 151/15mm, later replaced by 20mm MG151 lighweight luftwaffe guns. The "Drilling" (triplets) prototypes were tested in early 1944 on the Ausf C but production only occured on the type D. The triple mount was belt-fed, the inner gun receiving 400 rounds, the outer 250. The mount itself was a derived naval type, bolted on the floor just after the transmission housing. The guns were surplus of the Luftwaffe, now using heavier models, complete with their standard aircraft cradles, and joined together to the top bracket of the pedestal, pivoting on trunnions for maximal elevation and traverse. They were aimed thanks to and optical (reflector) sight, and later a simpler design with speedring. They were single operated, from inside the hull, protected by a partial turret (opened to the rear). They were chiefly employed by the 45th Panzerdivision reconnaissance units (3 per Panzergrenadier battalion) on the western front, and in practice dealt very often against softskin ground targets on the spot, thanks to their excellent accuracy.
Links about the SdKfz-251
Lots of informations about the Hanomag.
Wikipedia page about the Hanomag.
The Hanomag on wwiivehicles.com
The Ausf D on achtung panzers
|Specs. Sd Kfz 251/1
||5,80 (19t) x 2,10 (6.10ft) x 1,75m (5.9ft)
|Total weight, battle ready :
||2 (Platoon Cdr, Driver, +10 Panzegrenadiers)
||Maybach HL42 6-cyl. 100PS (99hp) P/w ratio 12hp/t
||Half Track torsion arms, interleaved wheels
|Max speed :
||52,5 kp/h (32,5 mph)
||300 km (186 miles)
||2 Rheinmetall MG34/MG42 Machine guns.
||From 6 to 14mm