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  • SdKfz 234 (Puma) 8-Wheeled Armed Reconnaissance Vehicle

    At the height of World War 2, some 100 SdKfz 234s were being produced per month in German factories.

     Updated: 4/6/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The SdKfz 234 (generally known as the "Puma") was a key 8-wheeled, armed reconnaissance platform utilized by the German Army during World War 2. Utilizing revolutionary ideas, the SdKfz 234 fitted ever improving armament onto a highly-adaptable hull to create a fast-moving, hard-hitting weapon. However, the vehicle was lightly armored and produced in limited numbers, barely falling into the ever changing doctrine of German armored warfare - a doctrine now convinced of the validity of assault guns and heavy tanks. Regardless, the Puma went on to prove herself a groundbreaking design that would influence design of similar 8-wheeled military platforms for decades to come.

    The early German campaigns proved the validity of the SdKfz 231 series of eight-wheeled armored cars though the family of vehicles lacked much in the way of capable off-road qualities in keeping pace with the blitzkrieg actions. Additionally, their engines were highly temperamental, often resulting in overheating powerplants while armor protection for the crew was suspect at best. These early generation vehicles were also largely originated from commercial vehicles built around civilian-minded frames with their military components added to the chassis as needed. In August of 1940, German authorities unveiled an initiative to create a new generation of 8-wheeled fighting vehicles (known to them as "8 Rad") to replace the SdKfz 231, SdKfz 232 and SdKfz 233 series cars. Work soon began on a logical successor, this becoming the SdKfz 234.

    Unlike the previous German armored cars, the SdKfz 234 was designed as a military vehicle from the start - production to center more in line with that of a tank than an armored car. She was to be produced with a monocoque armored hull and no underlying frame meaning that the military components would be attached directly to the hull itself. The major portion of the hull was constructed from armor plate while the side storage boxed and fenders were of thin sheet metal. The Czechoslovakian firm of Tatra was tabbed with developing the required powerplant for the new machine and responded with its Tatra 12-cylinder, air cooled diesel engine of 220 horsepower. The air-cooled quality lent itself well to most types of rigorous weather conditions as no fragile radiator system was required. Large internal fuel tanks ensures excellent range - no doubt taking into account the vast open spaces of the African desert and the soon-to-be battlefields of Eastern Russia.

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    SdKfz 234 (Puma) Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1943
    Type: 8-Wheeled Armed Reconnaissance Vehicle
    National Origin: Nazi Germany
    Manufacturer(s): Bussing-NAG - Nazi Germany
    Production: 2,300

    Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

    Operating Crew: 4
    Length: 22.31 feet (6.80 meters)
    Width: 7.64 feet (2.33 meters)
    Height: 7.81 feet (2.38 meters)

    Operating Weight: 12 tons (10,614 kg; 23,400 lb)

    Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None
    Nightvision Equipment: None

    Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Tatra 103 series 12-cylinder, air-cooled diesel engine developing 220 horsepower at 2,250rpm.

    Maximum Road Speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)
    Maximum Road Range: 621 miles (1,000 km)

    Armament and Ammunition

    1 x 50mm (5cm) KwK 39/1 L/60 main gun
    1 x 7.92mm MG42 general purpose machine gun in coaxial mount.

    55 x 50mm projectiles
    2,850 x 7.92mm ammunition

    Global Operators / Customers

    Nazi Germany

    Model Variants

    SdKfz 234 - Base Series Designation

    SdKfz 234/1 - Base Version; fitting 1 x 20mm KwK 38 autocannon in open-topped turret.

    SdKfz 234/2 (Puma) - Definitive Production Model; fitting 1 x 50mm KwK 39/1 L/60 tank gun with armored mantlet.

    SdKfz 234/3 (Schwerer Panzerspahwagen) - Fire Support Vehicle; fitted with 1 x 75mm KwK 51 L/24 low-velocity gun in open-topped turret.

    SdKfz 234/4 - Tank Destroyer; final series production variant; fitting 1 x 75mm PaK 40 anti-tank gun.