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The SdKfz 8 was a heavy half-track used by Germany during World War II.

Description

The SdKfz 8 was powered by a 185 hp, 12-cylinder water-cooled Maybach HL85 TUKRM 8.5 liter petrol engine, propelling it at speeds of up to 51 km/h on roadways and 21 km/h when travelling cross country. The SdKfz 8 required a crew of two, a driver and assistant, and could carry up to eleven passengers. The total length of the SdKfz 8 was 7.35 meters, the width 2.5 meters and the height 2.77 meters, and empty weight was 14,700 kilograms. The SdKfz 8 had a four speed forward, one speed reverse ZF transmission gearbox, and a ladder frame chassis. The tracks comprised of six interleaved roadwheels in the Schachtellaufwerk system used for German half-tracks, and mounted on swing arms sprung by torsion bars. An ider wheel at the rear of the vehicle controlled the track tension, while the front wheels were mounted on a leaf spring suspension with shock absorbers. Both tracks and wheels were used for steering. The standard steering system engaged the front wheel in a shallow turn, but in sharper turns, brakes were engaged on the tracks for assistance. The SdKfz 8 had two fuel tanks, one holding 40 liters and the other holding 210 liters. The maximum operational range of the SdKfz 8 was 250 kilometers on roadways, and 125 kilometers when travelling cross country.

The crew compartment of the SdKfz 8 comprised of three bench seats, the frontmost for the driver and his assistant, and the rear two for the passengers. The main load bed was divided into storage compartments, one on each side and two in the rear. The total carrying capacity of the SdKfz 8 was 2,550 kilograms. The windshield could be folded down or removed, and a removable canvas roof was fitted to the upper section of the storage compartments, and could be attached to the top of the windshield when erect. The SdKfz 8 was designed to serve as an artillery tractor for towing heavy artillery pieces such as the 210 mm Mörser 18, the 150 mm Kanone 18, and the 105 mm FlaK 38. It was designed to have a towing capacity of twelve tons, but the wartime model, designated the DB 10 could tow up to fourteen tons.

Variants

The only variant of the SdKfz 8 was the 8.8 cm Flak 18 (Sfl.) auf. Zugkraftwagen 12t (SdKfz 8). This vehicle was created by mounting an 88 mm FlaK 18 gun on a pedestal mount and fitting it to the open load bed of an SdKfz 8, mainly the DB s8 and DB 9 chassis designations, and assigned for anti-tank duties. A gun shield was fitted to the FlaK 18 and the driver's cab removed and replced with a smaller armored cupola. The engine compartment was also fitted with 14.5 mm of armor plate. The vehicle measured 7.35 meters long, 2.65 meters wide and 2.8 meters high, and weighed approximately 20,000 kilograms. The gun could fire directly ahead with ease, but traverse was limited to 151° on each side. Elevation was limited to 15° and depressing to 3°. Only ten of these vehicles were created, and all of which were assigned to 1 Company of anti-tank battalion Panzerjäger-Abteilung 8, which participated in the Invasion of Poland, the Battle of France and Operation Barbarossa, in the years 1939, 1940 and 1941 respectively. The company was then redasignated Panzerjäger Kompanie 601 in January 1942 and then as 3 Company of Panzerjäger-Abteilung 559 in the following April. The unit reported that the last three vehicles had been lost by March 1943.

History

Daimler-Benz began designing its own half-track, the ZD.5 during 1931 to 1932. The ZD.5 had 150 hp, 12-cylinder Maybach DSO 8 petrol engine and weighed 9.3 tons. The upper body featured three bench seats and the suspension was based on that of the Marienwagen II of World War I. Daimler-Benz soon began to adopt the more modern system and combined the engine of ZD.5 with the newer interleaved roadwheels and torsion bar suspension in a design which was designated the DB s7. The DB s7 prototype appeared in 1934, and from then on various improvements were made to the design. The DB s8 was designed in 1936, but added only a few minor improvements. In 1938 the DB 9 model was introduced, which increased the weight of the vehicle and replaced the older engine with the newer Maybach HL85 TUKRM engine. Daimler-Benz repeatedly attempted to add their own OM 48/1 engine, but this was continuously rejected by the Army Weapons Office. The final wartime design which was settled on was the DB 10 model, a refined version of the DB 9 which was introduced in 1939 and used throughout the war.

Daimler-Benz and Krupp were the main producers of the SdKfz 8 for the duration of World War II. Kraus-Maffei produced some 315 in 1940 to 1941, and Škoda joined in the last few years of the war. In total, approximately 4,000 SdKfz 8s were manufactured between 1937 and 1945. They saw service in every theater of war the Germans were involved in, including the Balkans, Western and Central Europe, North Africa and the Eastern Front. Unlike other German half-tracks, the SdKfz 8 was used souly as an artillery tractor, and was not modified for any other roles.


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