SdKfz 250/8 leichter Schutzenpanzerwagen Fire Support Vehicle / 75mm Gun Carrier
Surplus KwK 37 tank guns were fitted to SdKfz 250 halftrack hulls to create the SdKfz 250/8 series fire support vehicles for the German Army in World War 2.
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One of the many variants developed out of the SdKfz 250 halftrack for the German Army during World War 2 (1939-1945) was the SdKfz 250/8. These vehicles were constructed as fire support platforms and properly armed while retaining the inherent capabilities of the SdKfz 250. They saw service until the end of the war in 1945.
The SdKfz 250 was one of the more numerous of the German halftracks in the conflict, accounting for 6,628 units built by Demag, Adlerwerke, Bussing-NAG and MWC from 1941 to 1945. While lightly armored (up to 14.5mm of protection), the vehicles were relatively lightweight and multipurpose by nature and thus good candidates to be used as gun carriers. As the German Panzer IV series moved to the newer, longer KwK 40 series 75mm (7.5cm) main guns, its original short KwK 37 L/24 75mm weapon became available in large quantities. This made the SdKfz 250 the perfect conversion platform for the weapon which brought along the proven gun-mounting hardware fitted to the Sturmgeschutz series vehicles. The end result became the SdKfz 250/8 fire support halftrack.
Some modifications were required to fit the gun and mounting hardware over the rear of the SdKfz 250 chassis and this included deletion of several of the passenger seats and the forward MG34 machine gun mounting to clear working space for the gunnery crew of three. A single 7.92mm MG34 machine gun was retained and this installed over the howitzer weapon for training the main gun as well as for self-defense. The driver's position also remained and the engine was still fitted to a forward compartment. Truck-like road wheels controlled steering at the front of the vehicle while the rear was driven by tank-like tracks with overlapping roadwheels. The main gun was allotted twenty rounds of 75mm projectiles. A radio kit was also carried.
The formal designation of the new vehicle was "Sd.Kfz 250/8 leichter Schutzenpanzerwagen (7.5cm)".
At the end of the conversion process, the weight of the SdKfz 250/8 reached 6.3 tons and this worked to reduce the vehicles speed on roads and when going cross-country. The addition of the turret and its associated structure also increased the vehicle's profile to over two meters which made it a tempting target for enemy tank-killers and tanks alike.
SdKfz 250/8 vehicles were in service from 1944 onward and fought as part of German light armored reconnaissance formations. Their guns were suitable as anti-infantry and suppression weapons when firing High-Explosive (HE) shells and could threaten light-armored vehicles at range. Their halftrack bodies also allowed for good cross-country performance.