SdKfz 251/D (left) & 251/C (right) of the Panzer Lehr Division in Budapest in 1944:
SdKfz 251 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen half track originally with the 2nd Panzer Division but captured and being used by the 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division in Normandy, 1944: National Archives
Forces of Valor
While Panzer Divisions were first being developed requirements were given for a personnel carrier that was armored and could carry the infantry into battle. Chassis were to be designed in the 1, 3, 5, 8, 12, and 18 ton range.6 The SdKfz 251 became the 3 ton design.3
Hanomag was to design and build the 3 ton chassis.3,6 It was initially designated the H.kl.6p / H kl 67.6
In 1935 it was suggested that an armored body could be placed on a medium half track tractor. The SdKfz 11 became the basis for the chassis.
There were four hull versions constructed, Ausf A, Ausf B, Ausf C, and Ausf D.3 The welded hull was open on top and had sloping sides.7 At the rear was a large double door for loading and unloading.7
The engine drove the tracks, while the front wheels received no power.6 The rigid frame was of welded construction with thirteen cross members and two side members.7
There were two seats in the crew compartment, one for the driver and the other for the commander.7 Each had a visor for seeing out the front.7
There were two benches along the hull for the passengers.7
There were two hatches on top of the engine compartment for easy access.7
In 1934 the first prototype, the HL kl 2, of the 3 ton half track of the HK 600 series was completed.7 Its engine was a Borgward.7
The second prototype, the HL kl 3, was completed in 1936.7 This lead to the HL kl 5 when 505 vehicles were ordered and constructed.7
During 1936 to 1938 development of prototypes having the engine located in the rear resulted in the HL kl 3 (H) and HL kl 4 (H).7 H stood for hinter (rear).7
The HL kl 6 prototype had the Maybach engine installed and was the basis for the main production of the SdKfz 251.7
Towards the end of 1938 the prototypes went to Kummersdorf for trials.7
SdKfz 251: 15,000
Production: 1939 - ?
Manufacturer: Hanomag in Hanover3,7, Büssing-NAG3 of Berlin Oberschoeneweide7, Weserhuette of Bad Oeynhause7, Wumag of Goerlitz7, F. Schichau of Elbing7
September 1943 - March 19452: Hanomag2, MNH2, Schichau Wumag2, Weserhütte2, Borgward2
1944 - ?2: Evans+Pistor2, Deutsche Werke2, Büssing-NAG2
Chassis: Hanomag7, Adler of Frankfurt7, Auto-Union of Chemnitz7, Skoda of Pilsen7
Superstructure: Ferrum of Laurahuette7, Schoeller & Bleckmann of Muerzzuschlag7, Boehmisch-Leipa of Bohemia7, Steinmueller of Gummersbach7
Production: 1942 - ?8
SdKfz 251/20: 609
The chassis was manufactured by Hanomag, and the hull and superstructure were made by Büssing-NAG.7 Final construction was done by Hanomag.7
Each SdKfz 251, without armament or radio, cost RM 22,560 to build.7
SdKfz 251 Ausf A: First production model and built until 1940. Had 3 vision slits on each side and the radio aerial was mounted on the right front mudguard. Some were retrofitted with MG mounting on Ausf B. Used the FuG Spr Ger f radio.2
SdKfz 251 Ausf B: Built until 1940. View ports in the rear body sides were eliminated, and the stowage was reorganized. New front mount with shield for MG. The FuSpG 'F' R/T antenna was moved from right front mudguard to the right back upper side over the radio. Used the FuG Spr Ger f radio.2
SdKfz 251 Ausf C: New single piece armor nose plate for the engine compartment. Air was drawn up behind the lower front plate. The top grille was eliminated. The side cooling flaps were replaced by side vent covers which allowed vents to be open all the time for better cooling. Changes to seating and stowage. The mudguards were raised to allow for more room between tire and guard. Tools were moved to front part of mudguards from the upper rear sides. The radio was moved under the front armor in front of the commander's seat. Used the FuG Spr Ger f radio.2
SdKfz 251 Ausf D: The armored body was simplified with a reverse sloping rear end. The air intakes were under the engine side armor and there were stowage boxes permanently fitted to the sides instead of mudguards. Used the FuG Spr Ger f radio.2
SdKfz 251/1 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen, Gerät 901: Had two MG34s or MG42s with 2,010 rounds. Standard personnel carrier for Panzergrenadier Gruppe.
SdKfz 251/1 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen: Crew of 12.7 Had two 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 and two sub-machine guns.7
SdKfz 251/1 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (Wurfrahmen 40), Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen mit Wurfrahmen, SdKfz 251/1: Stuka zum Fuss (divebomber on foot, walking stuka, bellowing cow).3 Crew of 7. Had 2 MG34s or MG42s. Had 5: 28cm Sprengranate (HE round) and 1: 32cm Flammgranate (incendiary round). After France in 1940 J. Gast KG, Berlin were ordered to create a projector for the Wurfgerät 40. The elevation was +5° to +40°. Firing took 10 seconds and the range of 1.9 km for Sprengranate and 2.2 km for Flammgranate. Had three tubular frames on each side that would have 28 cm or 32 cm rockets inserted while still being in their packing crates.3 The rockets could then be fired.3
SdKfz 251/1 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (IR) "Falke": Crew of 12. Was fitted with infrared equipment to be used with units attached to the infrared Panther detachments.
SdKfz 251/2 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (Granatwerfer), Gerät 892: Mortar carrier.6,7,8 Crew of eight.781 mm GrW34 mortar was installed in the floor with 66 rounds.8 Also a 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 with 2,010 rounds. Single machine gun and two sub-machine guns.7 A base plate was also stored so that mortar could be removed from vehicle and fired.8 Was issued to the heavy platoon of armored infantry companies.
SdKfz 251/3 mittlerer Funkpanzerwagen, Gerät 893: Radio.6 Crew of seven.7 Two 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 with 2,010 rounds. One machine gun and two sub-machine guns.7 Sometimes an Enigma decoding machine was installed. The different configurations depended on which unit assigned to:
FuG7 and FuG1 for ground to air link and transmission monitoring.
FuG12, FuG11, and Kdo FuG Tr was used for command post.
FuG Tr 100mw used for command post.
FuG Tr 80mw used for command post.
FuG Tr 30mw used for command post.
FuG Tr 15kzw used for command post.
SdKfz 251/3 V, Kommando Panzerwagen: Radio vehicle used by general staff officers.7
SdKfz 251/4 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (IG), Gerät 904: Ammunition carrier.6 Towed the 7.5 cm le IG.7 Had a 7.92 mm MG34 with 1,100 rounds installed. Intended to tow 105 mm le FH18 howitzer (Another source says for the 7.5 cm leIG18, 120 rounds also carried). Crew of seven.7 One machine gun and one sub-machine gun.7 Was replaced by the SdKfz 251/9.
SdKfz 251/5 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (PI), Gerät 905: Engineering troop carrier.6,7 Crew of eight.7 Had two 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 with 4,800 rounds installed and two sub-machine guns.7 Also had FuG8 and FuG4 installed. Built until 1943. Was used as the command vehicle for the engineer platoon.
SdKfz 251/5 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (PI): Engineering vehicle.6 Had FuG8 and FuG5 installed. Built until 1943. Was used as the command vehicle for the heavy platoon of the Panzerpionier Gruppe.
SdKfz 251/6 mittlerer Kommandopanzerwagen: Command for staff officers.6,7 Had a 7.92 mm MG34 with 1,100 rounds installed. Used by headquarters staff. Had FuG11 and FuG Tr 100mw installed, cipher equipment, and map tables. Produced until 1943. Used by headquarters staff.
SdKfz 251/7 mittlerer Pionierpanzerwagen, Gerät 907: Engineering equipment carrier.6 Had two 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 with 4,800 rounds and a 7.92 mm PzB39 with 40 rounds installed. Had two machine guns and two sub-machine guns.7 Had a FuG5 installed.
SdKfz 251/7 I: Engineering.7
SdKfz 251/7 II: Engineering.7
Pionier-Geräte-Schützenpanzerwagen (engineering assault vehicle): Had a small bridge that would be built over small ditches. The sections would be carried in the racks on top. Also had demolition equipment and inflatable assault boats.
SdKfz 251/8 mittlerer Krankenpanzerwagen, Gerät 908: Ambulance.6,2 Crew of two.7 Designed to carry four stretcher cases or ten seated wounded.7 Later models had redesigned doors to allow for easy entry and exit. Had a FuG5 when it was issued to HQ Company or Panzer detachment.
SdKfz 251/8 I: Ambulance.7
SdKfz 251/8 II: Ambulance.7
SdKfz 251/9 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (7.5cm), Gerät 909: Self-propelled gun.3,6,7 Crew of three.7,8 Weighed 8.53 tons.8 Had a 7.5cm KwK37 L/247,8 installed with 52 rounds and 2 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 with 2,010 rounds. Büssing-NAG was ordered to develop an armored superstructure on March 31, 1942. In June 1942, 2 prototypes were field tested in Russia and as a result 150 were ordered.7 In 1944 a new design of mounting the gun was introduced. Sometimes called Stummel (stump). Designed to provide support for Heavy Armor Infantry Companies.
SdKfz 251/10 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (3.7cm PaK), Gerät 910: Self-propelled gun.6,7 Crew of six.7 Had a 3.7cm PaK 35/36 with 168 rounds, a 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 with 1,100 rounds, and a 7.92 mm PzB39 with 40 rounds. There were different versions of the PaK shields.7 Issued as the Zugführerwagen to platoon leaders.7
SdKfz 251/11 mittlerer Fernsprechpanzerwagen, Gerät 911: Telephone equipment carrier.6,7 Crew of five.7 Had two 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 with 2,010 rounds. Ordered in January 1942 and first delivered on August 15, 1942. One version had the leichter Feldkabelträger 6 and the other had the mittlerer Feldkabelträger 10. Used for laying and maintaining telephone and telegraph lines.
SdKfz 251/12 mittlerer Messtrupp und Gerätpanzerwagen, Gerät 912: Survey instruments carrier.6,7 Carried artillery surveying squad and equipment.7 Carried the FuG8 radio with a frame antenna. Built until 1943.
SdKfz 251/13 mittlerer Schallaufnahmepanzerwagen, Gerät 913: Built until 1943. Sound recording vehicle for artillery spotting.6,7
SdKfz 251/14 mittlerer Schallauswertepanzerwagen, Gerät 914: Built until 1943. Used as sound ranging for artillery spotting.6,7
SdKfz 251/15 mittlerer Lichtauswertepanzerwagen, Gerät 915: Built until 1943. Used as flash spotting for artillery spotting.6,7
SdKfz 251/16 mittlerer Flammpanzerwagen, Gerät 916: Flamethrower carrier.6,7,8 Had two 1.4cm Flammenwerfer on each side with 700 liters/154 gallons of fuel and one7 / two 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 with 2,010 rounds.7,8 Two sub-machine guns carried.7 Delivery started in 1942.8 Had a range of about 40-50 yards / 60m (another source says 35m).8 Could fire about 80 bursts up to 2 seconds each.8 Earlier versions also had a 7 mm Flammwerfer 42, which was a portable projector attached to a 10 m hose.7,8 Crew of four.8 Weight of 8 tons.8
SdKfz 251/17 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (2cm), Gerät 917: Anti-aircraft vehicle.6,8 Crew of three/ four to six8.7 AA model with antiaircraft gun installed with sides that folded outwards. Had a 2 cm Flak 38.7 One MG42 for self defense.7 Developed in 9144.8 Few were built.8 The gun was placed in a turret.8
SdKfz 251/18 mittlerer Beobachtungspanzerwagen, Gerät 918: Had a FuG12 installed. Had a large map table built on top of the driver's roof plate. Observation vehicle for artillery spotting.6,7
SdKfz 251/19 mittlerer Fernsprechbetriebspanzerwagen, Gerät 919: Mobile telephone exchange vehicle.6,7
SdKfz 251/20 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (Infrarotscheinwerfer), Gerät 920; Uhu (eagle owl): Infra-red searchlight carrier.6,7,9 Had 60cm Beobachtungs Gerät 1251 and telescope Beobachtungs Gerät 1221 (infra red searchlight) installed to be used with Panther tanks at night. The searchlight had a range of about 1,500m. Only about 60 were built.9 This was used as the commanders vehicle of a Panther platoon that was equipped with infrared sighting equipment. Mainly used on Eastern front starting in 1944.
SdKfz 251/21 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (Drilling MG151S), Gerät 921: Anti-aircraft vehicle.6,7,8 Replaced the SdKfz 251/17.7 Had 3 1.5cm MG151/15 or 2cm MG151/20 AA guns with 2,000 rounds of ammunition installed.3,8 Rate of fire was approximately 700 rounds per minute. Construction started in late 1944.7,8 Had a crew of 4 to 6.8
SdKfz 251/22 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (7.5cm PaK40), Gerät 922, 7.5cm Pak 40 L/46 auf mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen, SdKfz 251/22: Anti-tank vehicle.6,7 Had a 7.5cm PaK 40 L/48 with 22 rounds installed.7,8 Production began in December 1944 based on an order from Hitler.8 The complete PaK40 was installed, except the wheels.8 Some vehicles didn't have sidewalls. 9 were issued to Panzerjäger detachments, 3 to Panzer Aufklärungs detachments, and 6 to gun platoons.Had a crew of 4.8
SdKfz 251/23 mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (2cm KwK), Gerät 923: Had a 2cm KwK38 with 100 rounds and a 7.92 mm MG42 with 2,010 rounds installed. A Hängelafette 38 turret (from SdKfz 234/1 armored cars) was installed. A FuG12 radio was carried.
SdKfz 251 Munitionspanzer: Transported ammunition for many different armored formations.
SdKfz 251 7.5cm PaK42 L/70 auf 3t Zgkw: On September 30, 1943, Hitler ordered the new 7.5cm PaK44 L/70 to be installed on a motorized carriage. On January 28, 1944, a prototype was ready but it was determined that this was an unsuitable carriage and the project was dropped.
8.8cm KwK 43 L/71 auf mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen:
Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (2cm):
Luftwaffe, mSchtzPzWg (2cm Flak 38): Prototype.8 Developed for Luftwaffe Flak troops to carry a 2cm Flak 38.8 The sides of the half track could be lowered.8