Armored personnel carrier Sd.Kfz. 251

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Armored personnel carrier Sd.Kfz. 251
Sd.Kfz.  251, Ausf. C in Russia 1942

Sd.Kfz. 251, Ausf. C in Russia 1942

General properties
crew 2 + 10 men
length 5.8 m
width 2.1 m
height 1.75 m
Dimensions 7.4 t
Armor and armament
Armor 8 to 12 mm
Main armament 2 MG
Secondary armament no
drive Maybach HL42 TRKM
100 PS
Top speed 52.5 km / h
Power / weight 13.5 hp / t
Range Road 320 km,
terrain 180 km

The medium armored personnel carrier Sd.Kfz. 251 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251) was a German half-track vehicle that was used by the Wehrmacht in World War II . As a medium armored personnel carriers (APC) he belonged to the equipment of the armored mechanized infantry battalions and Armored Engineer -Kompanien.


The medium armored personnel carrier (Sd.Kfz. 251) was based on the chassis of the 3 t light towing vehicle ( Sd.Kfz. 11 ). Development began in 1937 and resulted in series production in 1938 (see also arming the Wehrmacht ).

Serial production

By 1945 four different versions (A to D) were produced by the following plants.

The chassis remained largely unchanged during development. In the case of type B, the side viewing slits on the rear structure were omitted. The Ausf. C was redesigned in mid-1940 based on operational experience. The front bumper was removed, the front panels were reshaped and the engine compartment ventilation was redesigned. With the Ausf. D in 1943, both the simplification of production and combat experience were taken into account again. In particular, the stern was made simpler and more spacious, the storage boxes enlarged and the shape of the armor improved. Most of the Ausf. D were produced with 10,602.

Annual production started sluggishly and remained below 1000 SPW manufactured per year until 1941. In 1942, 1190 SPW could be produced, while in 1943 4250 and in 1944 7800 pieces were produced. A total of 15,252 vehicles of all versions and variants were built.


The middle SPW was based on the box drive chassis of the 3t towing vehicle. As with all tracked vehicles of the German Wehrmacht, the driving wheels were arranged in the front of the - comparatively long - track running gear to allow it a certain self-cleaning. The vehicle was not only steered with the non-driven and unbraked front wheels. If these were turned very hard - i.e. more than two thirds of the full steering angle - a steering gear of the crawler unit operated by the steering gear of the front axle via a linkage initiated unilateral braking, which supported cornering. Compared to the classic Allied armored personnel carrier M3 , with its short chain support and the powered front axle, this principle led to superior off-road capabilities, but it was more complicated and therefore more maintenance-intensive.

The vehicle was armored all round, but open at the top or could only be covered by a tarpaulin to protect the crew from the weather. In the stern - a major difference to the M3 - there was a double-leaf door that made it easier for the crew to get on and off.

The middle SPW was able to transport a group of ten soldiers. The chassis offered better off-road mobility than a truck and at the same time better protection thanks to its armor. The standard armament consisted of two machine guns MG 34 or MG 42 for the defense or support of the dismounted troops. A disadvantage was the limited space for the required equipment, which is why it was often carried on the outside.

In addition, based on the Sd.Kfz. 251/1 manufactured various special vehicles that integrated equipment for certain special tasks into the construction. In particular, there were different variants with extensive radio equipment for coordination with the air force or other tank units. Furthermore, the vehicles were used as carriers for anti-tank guns and for throwing frames .


Sd.Kfz. 251/1, medium armored personnel carrier with a throwing frame
Sd.Kfz. 251/3, medium radio armored car
Sd.Kfz. 251/7, medium armored personnel carrier
Sd.Kfz. 251/9, medium cannon armored car

with the most important equipment features

  • 251/1 - armored personnel carrier with two machine guns; Versions A to D
  • 251/2 - with 8 cm grenade launcher
  • 251/3 - Medium radio armored car (four different radio equipment configurations , with loop antenna) on versions A to C
    • 251/3 I FuG 8 and FuG5
    • 251/3 II FuG8 and FuG5
    • 251/3 III FuG7 and FuG1 Use for ground-air coordination
    • 251/3 IV FuG11 and FuG12 with additional 9 m telescopic antenna mast special antenna II
    • 251/3 V FuG11
  • 251/4 originally for ammunition and accessories of the light IG 18 , later for other infantry guns
  • 251/5 Medium armored personnel carrier for engineer train ; No bench for more storage space
  • 251/6 medium command armored car with FuG11 and frame antenna
  • 251/7 Medium Armored Engineer Car ; like / 5, but with an additional temporary bridge (5.5 m, 14 t)
  • 251/8 medium ambulance ; Ambulance vehicle with stretchers on versions C and D
  • 251/9 Medium Kanonenpanzerwagen with 7.5 cm KwK 37 L / 24 “Stummel” (short barrel cannon) on version C and 7.5 cm IG 18 on version D
  • 251/10 with 3.7 cm PaK 36 on versions A to C
  • 251/11 Medium armored telephone vehicle for laying telephone lines
  • 251/12 Medium measuring team and armored personnel carrier
  • 251/13 Medium sound absorption armor
  • 251/14 Medium sound evaluation tank
  • 251/15 Medium light evaluation tank
    • / 12 to / 15 were artillery support vehicles that were manufactured in smaller numbers
  • 251/16 Medium flame armored car with two 1.4 cm flame throwers 42, series production on Ausf. D
  • 251/17 Medium armored personnel carrier , mostly on Ausf. C, armed with a 2 cm flak . The side walls of the rear structure had to be folded down for 360-degree pans for the air defense. As a result, the crew was on duty without armor protection.
  • 251/18 Medium observation armored car with FuG12
  • 251/19 Medium Armored Telephone Car
  • 251/20 "UHU", with 60 cm infrared spotlight "UHU" (range up to 3000 meters, effectively 1200 meters) for the battlefield detection and IR night vision devices for the driver. The "UHU" was intended to support the V Panther armored vehicles, which had been upgraded for night combat under the strictest secrecy since autumn 1944 , because their 30 cm IR headlights (range up to 400 meters, effectively 150 meters) corresponded to the combat range of 7.5 cm -Cannon (up to 2500 meters) did not do justice. The “Panther” commanders were briefed by the “UHU” vehicles by radio and according to the directional circle principle; The commanders then used a knock signal to instruct their gunner, who for reasons of economy did not have their own IR devices - as did the "Panther" drivers, who also had to be instructed by the commanders at night (a so-called image converter / Biwa cost 35,000 RM).

In addition, from October / November 1944 the so-called “escort vehicle Falke” was developed as a further variant of the Sd.Kfz 251 and tested from February / March 1945. The "FALKE" was designed as escort protection suitable for night combat against enemy infantry, the "UHU" and night combat panthers. In addition to the IR device for the driver, the crew had assault rifles 44 with small IR headlights ( target device 1229 "Vampire" , range up to 150 meters, effectively 70 meters), and the front MG 42 was equipped with IR equipment based on the corresponding Panther night vision devices provided.

A total of around 60 "UHU" vehicles were produced, the number of "FALKE" vehicles being completed was probably lower. Against the background of the near end of the war, the planned reorganization of the night combat units (each with 5 "Panthers", 1 "UHU", 1 "FALKE") could hardly have been implemented.

  • 251/21 Medium armored personnel carrier with triple MG 151/20 for air defense (caliber 20 mm). The guns were originally intended for aircraft armament. The construction offered full armor protection on the sides, although the armor thickness of the armored personnel carrier was low.
  • 251/22 with 7.5 cm PaK 40 L / 48 on version D.
  • 251/23 with 2 cm KwK on version D

The 2.8 cm anti-tank rifle sometimes replaced the Sd.Kfz. 251/7 the front MG; A 3.7 cm PaK 36 , with or without a protective shield, was rarely installed. The Enigma encryption machine was sold in small numbers in the Sd.Kfz. 251/3 used.


Working with the tanks was the main task of the medium SPW

At the beginning of the attack on Poland , three of the 400 motorized companies of the Wehrmacht were equipped with medium-sized vehicles. At first it was assumed that the shooters would only be transported to the battlefield and then dismounted to fight. Therefore, the first names for this vehicle were armored personnel carriers or armored personnel carriers . It was only later, when the fight was increasingly carried out from stationary or moving vehicles, that the designation armored personnel carriers or armored infantry vehicles prevailed. The structure provided for two light and 17 medium SPW per company.

Due to the slowly increasing production figures, however, it was not possible to assign a company of medium SPW to every tank division in the western campaign or during the attack on the Soviet Union . In the meantime the importance of this vehicle for mobile warfare had been recognized - after all, it allowed the shooters to keep up with the tanks and support them. Because of this, each tank division should have at least one battalion of three rifle companies and one heavy company with medium SPW. This goal was not nearly achieved until the autumn of 1943, when 21 of 92 motorized battalions were equipped with it. In the meantime, on July 5, 1942, the rifle regiments had been renamed to Panzergrenadierregiments. At the end of 1943, an armored infantry grenadier battalion had 91 medium SPWs on its staff, the three armored infantry companies, the heavy company and the supply company. The Panzergrenadierkompanie with its three platoons and the heavy platoon had 23 medium SPW in its inventory. In the tank pioneer battalions of the tank divisions, one company was equipped with medium SPW.

After the Second World War , in Czechoslovakia based on the Sd.Kfz. 251 of the OT-810 infantry fighting vehicle was manufactured by Škoda and Tatra . The Czech model differed from the original in particular in the engine and the fighting compartment closed at the top.

Technical specifications

Interior of a Sd.Kfz. 251 Ausf. D
Maybach engine HL 42 TRKM
medium armored personnel carrier Sd.Kfz. 251/1
0 General characteristics
Weight 7.4 t
payload 1.1 t
length 5.8 m
width 2.1 m
height 1.75 m
Chain width 28 cm
0 armament
Main armament 2 × MG 34
0 mileage
Engine type Maybach HL 42 TRKM (petrol engine)
Engine type Six cylinder in - line engine
cooling water
Displacement 4.2 l
rated capacity 100 hp at 3000 min -1
Weight related performance 13.5 hp / t
drive wheel first sprocket
Speed ​​limit road 52.5 km / h
Fuel supply 160 l
Range road 320 km
Range terrain 180 km
Rollers 6 ( box drive )
Ground clearance 320 mm
Fording depth 500 mm
Max. traversable trench width 200 cm
Turning circle 13.5 m
0 armor
front 12 mm
page 8 mm
Rear 8 mm

See also


  • Wolfgang Fleischer, Richard Eiermann: The motorized riflemen and tank grenadiers of the German army 1935-1945. Podzun-Pallas Verlag, ISBN 3-7909-0687-5 .
  • Peter Chamberlain, Hilary L. Doyle: Encyclopedia of German Tanks-World War Two , Arms & Armor Press, 1978, ISBN 978-0853682028
  • Karsten Jahn: eagle owl and falcon. The development of night vision devices for the armored troops by the weapons office (army) of the German Wehrmacht . In: Klaus Christian Richter: (Ed.): Panzergrenadiers. A branch of service in the mirror of its history . Freundeskreis der Panzergrenadierruppe, Munster / Örtze 2004, ISBN 3-00-014858-2 , pp. 197-211.
  • Horst Scheibert: Armored personnel carrier . Volume 64, Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, ISBN 3-7909-0137-7 .
  • Walter J. Spielberger: The half-track vehicles of the German army, 1909-1945. Volume 6, Motorbuch Verlag Stuttgart, ISBN 3-87943-403-4 .
  • Regulation D 660/4, medium armored motor vehicle, (Sd.Kfz.251), on the chassis of the Zgkw 3t, type Hkl 6p, (basic vehicle of the medium armored personnel carrier and variants), device description and operating instructions for the chassis, 1943

Web links

Commons : Sd.Kfz. 251  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Karsten Jahn: Eagle owl and falcon. The development of night vision devices for the armored troops by the weapons office (army) of the German Wehrmacht . In: Klaus Christian Richter: (Ed.): Panzergrenadiers. A branch of service in the mirror of its history . Freundeskreis der Panzergrenadierruppe, Munster / Örtze 2004, ISBN 3-00-014858-2 , pp. 197-211.