SdKfz 222 (Leichter Panzerspahwagen)
Armored Reconnassance Scout Car
Similar to the SdKfz 221 series of armored cars, the SdKfz 222 variant utilized the same powerpack with a heavier overall design, degrading performance some.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Adoption of the SdKfz 221 series of armored cars in 1935 by the German Army eventually led to a broadened line of similar cars all based on the same powerpack, design form, and running gear of the original in the SdKfz 222 and SdKfz 223. The SdKfz 222 was an up-gunned form mounting a combination 20mm cannon with 7.92mm machine gun in its gun emplacement while the SdKfz 223 became a Command and Communications (CC2) vehicle fielding a collapsible antenna frame over its hull superstructure. The 222- and 223-models also increased the crew by one to three so a dedicated gunner could manage the armament. All of the vehicles in the family were of the same 4-ton, light-class design though the 22-models proved slightly heavier in practice thanks to the additional armament and its applicable ammunition stores required. The 222-model retained the original's open-air gun emplacement as well as its folding mesh protector which was designed to keep enemy grenades from entering the fighting cabin in action.
Production of the SdKfz 222 variant spanned from 1937 into 1943 to which some 990 of the type were eventually delivered. Early forms lacked radio sets up until early 1942 and the original MG13 machine guns were upgraded to the MG34 machine gun in 1938. Finally, during 1942, the original KwK30 cannon was upgraded to the KwK 38 series and a different chassis was used which led to the Ausf. B ("Model B") designation.
The SdKfz 221, 222, and 223 cars succeeded over earlier German Army armored cars because they were built atop a dedicated armored car chassis designed with the rigors of military service in mind. This also improved cross-country travel which was an important quality of a modern mechanized force. All three variants held inherent 4x4 wheel drive and four-wheel steering capability and used the same Horch V8 gasoline engine which simplified in-the-field repair work and general logistics. The engines were installed in a rear compartment on all marks, leaving the central and frontal hull sections for the crew and armament. A spare road wheel was carried along the external right hull side in case of emergency.
The addition of heavier armament added slightly more weight to the SdKfz 222 design which already was forced to manage the armored superstructure. Sloped armor was seen at all of the facings of the hull superstructure which offered protection from small arms fire up to 7.92mm in caliber. With its armament going beyond that of the 221-model's sole machine gun, the 222-model could engage other light-armored vehicles through Armor-Piercing (AP) projectiles and enemy infantry concentrations through use of a High-Explosive (HE) 20mm shell. 180 x 20mm projectiles were carried aboard along with 1,050 x 7.92mm rounds of machine gun ammunition. However, it still remained a reconnaissance-minded and scouting vehicle first and not intended a direct-combat vehicle - its armament intended for local defense. Their compact dimensions did make them hard targets to train in on at range but protection for the crew was, on the whole, lacking against larger caliber weaponry.
Nevertheless, the SdKfz 222 series enjoyed a long and healthy wartime existence alongside its German armored car brethren until the end of the fighting in 1945.