Armored personnel carrier Sd.Kfz. 251 with flak
The armored personnel carrier 251 with FlaK (SdKfz 251/17 or SdKfz 251/21) was a half-track vehicle based on the Sd.Kfz. 251 , on which a light anti-aircraft gun (FlaK) was installed. It was built and used by the German Wehrmacht during World War II .
In parallel to other drafts, the first plan for an anti-aircraft gun on a half-track undercarriage was made in 1942. The aim was to provide a vehicle that could protect the front lines against low-flying aircraft and follow tanks and infantrymen alike in any terrain. Only tracked and half-track vehicles were available for this. The early plans of Vollrad- FlaK -Panzern were not suitable for it. Attempts to convert the easily off-road Krupp-Protze into flak tanks failed with all test vehicles. After a short time the rear independent wheel suspensions broke due to overload. In spite of this, 39 units were delivered in the same year, but they failed until mid-1943.
The SdKfz 251/17 was the medium armored personnel carrier with a 2 cm Flak 38 , Device 917. There were three different versions of this vehicle, produced in significant numbers, as well as many different troop conversions. The best-known version was the version based on the SdKfz 251 version C with hinged side walls. The side walls could be folded down in order to allow all-round fire with a low barrel elevation and the operating crew to work around the gun. In the second version, the entire fighting compartment was removed and replaced by a platform with normal, low side walls. Here the flak was without armor protection at all times. The third version is the medium armored personnel carrier with the 2 cm flak in a floating armature. This very small carriage found its place on a plinth behind the seats of the driver and the radio operator in the fighting area. For this design only the middle bench seats had to be removed. During the various troop conversions, the flak was usually installed on a platform embedded in the combat area in order to maintain the necessary fire height in the combat area. Sometimes the sloping walls of the fighting compartment were slightly changed.
In 1943 it became apparent that the air defense capabilities of the troops no longer met the requirements. The production capacity was insufficient for modern anti-aircraft tanks. As a quickly available solution, the anti-aircraft drill was developed from redundant air force weapons. Three 1.5 cm MG 151/15 or 2 cm MG 151/20 were combined in a body-facing triplet mount on a base. The MG 151 (caliber 15 or 20 mm) had previously only been used in aircraft of the German Air Force. The decisive factor was the excellent ballistic properties of the MG 151/20 and the high successes in shooting down against enemy aircraft. For the flak, in the middle of the fighting compartment floor of the Sd.Kfz. 251 welded a round mount and fastened the triplet on it. The ammunition was hooked in belt form in large boxes on the side of the mount , which rotated with the cannon. The boxes of the two outer cannons each contained 250 rounds of ammunition, the inner 400 rounds. The interior of the vehicle was so cramped by the gun that only one additional box of ammunition and a spare barrel for each cannon could be carried. Therefore, this FlaK tank, whose name was now SdKfz 251/21, was often accompanied by ammunition vehicles - mostly armored half-track vehicles or converted Panzerkampfwagen III . The ammunition supply for a vehicle was 3000 rounds.
The weapon was pointed; both elevation and lateral direction were influenced by the directional gunner by shifting his body. The shooter stood behind the weapon and put his shoulders into appropriate straightening brackets so that he could aim at the target. To raise the weapon, he went down on his knees, to the side he moved accordingly to the side. The crew also consisted of a driver, radio operator, two loaders and an observer with a range finder, which was discontinued towards the end of the war.
From 1943 to 1945 about 320 pieces of the armored personnel carrier 251/21 with FlaK-Drilling were produced based on the SdKfz 251 C or D. The Flak Drilling itself was also used in other vehicles, e.g. B. on captured M8 Greyhound reconnaissance vehicles or on "concrete flak wagons" as railway flak wagons.