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.
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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.