June 07, 2019
By David Fortier
In part one of this three part series we take a look at the classic World War II German Sd.Kfz. 251 halftrack. An early armored personal carrier, the Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 (Special Purpose Vehicle or Special Ordnance Vehicle) was a highly mobile armored troop carrier designed to carry panzergrenadiers across the battlefield. Designed by Hanomag and adopted in 1939, the Sd.Kfz 251 was the most numerous of all the wartime era German halftracks with over 15,000 being produced. A highly flexible design, it was produced in four basic models with numerous variants seeing service.
Rather than just being a “battle taxi”, the Sd.Kfz. 251 was both armed and armored. Two MG34 or MG42 machine guns could be mounted. For protection it featured well-sloped armor plating ranging in thickness from 14.5 to 6mm. This provided protection from standard rifle caliber ball and AP ammunition. Powered by a 99 hp 6-cylinder Maybech HL 42 gasoline engine the Sd.Kfz. 251 could reach speeds up to 32 mph. An open top design, this allowed troops to fire and throw grenades from inside the vehicle and to rapidly disembark by simply dropping over the sides. While the open top was an advantage in some, it was also a weakness making the occupants vulnerable to overhead fire, tossed grenades and Molotov cocktails and strafing from aircraft.
In part one of our series we take a look at a post-war Czech OT 810 copy of the Sd.Kfz. 251 at DriveTanks.com in in Uvalde, Texas. This living history museum will be featured in the 2018 season of Guns&AmmoTV, in the pages of Firearms News and online here. The Sd.Kfz. 251 will be the first vehicle from their collection covered online by FirearmsNews.com with others following shortly. FirearmsNews.com has a variety of interesting videos coming up which include hitting the range with a M4A2E8 Sherman and Soviet T-34/85, along with a host of small arms and an anti-tank gun or two. So make sure to check back here, and tune into Guns&AmmoTV, available on The Sportsman Channel, for separate coverage.
If you’ve cut the cord to cable TV you can stream it through our MOTV.com streaming service. If you’d like the opportunity to drive an Sd.Kfz.251, and other classic armored vehicles, take a look at DriveTanks.com.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.