SdKfz 252 leiche Gepanzerte Munitionskraftwagen
Light Armored Ammunition Resupply Vehicle
The SdKfz 252 Light Armored Resupply Vehicles were produced early in World War 2 with production totaling just over 400.
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As the German Army began is massive expansion and rearmament in the 1930s, its requirements grew in turn. By the time of the invasion of Poland, mechanized warfare had evolved into the "Blitzkrieg" and evermore powerful, multi-faceted machines were in requirement. Work began on a self-propelled ammunition carrier based on the successful 1939 SdKfz 250 series half-track, the half-track workhorse of the German Army throughout World War 2 seeing 6,628 units delivered. Half-tracks were unique in their design qualities, combining the running gear of both a standard truck and that of a tracked vehicle - providing the best of both worlds in terms of on-road and off-road travel. Half-tracks saw their hey-day in World War 2, eventually succumbing to all-wheel or all-track carriers in the decades that followed.
The new ammunition carrier was handed the designation of SdKfz 252 "leiche Gepanzerte Munitionskraftwagen", translating to "Light Armored Vehicle Ammunition" which appropriately detailed its usage and classification. The system was given only modest light armor protection for its standard operating crew of two, reaching 18mm in thickness along the upper and lower front hull. Sides, top and bottom of the hull managed just 8mm in thickness. At its core, the SdKfz 252 was intended to operate in conjunction with mobile German assault batteries ("Sturmartillerie"), particularly the Sturmgeschutz self-propelled assault guns. Overall weight of the vehicle was 5.7 tons. Structurally, the SdKfz 252 was given a running length of 4.7 meters with a width of 1.95 meters and height of 1.8 meters. Though based on the SdKfz 250 series, its hull was shortened for the resupply role, losing one set of track wheels in the process. Its profile was dominated by a unique-looking hull superstructure that featured a long-running nose with mid-set crew compartment and a faceted hull with sloping sides and rear. The very sloped rear was of particular note and not meant as ballistics protection as it was in using less German steel during manufacturing and control operational weights. The SdKfz 252 was actually a German half-track anomaly of sorts in that it was one of the few to appear with a completely enclosed crew compartment - necessitated by its valuable (and highly explosive) cargo within. An optional defensive-minded machine gun (MG34) could be fitted and communications was through an Fu 15 series wireless. The Maybach concern supplied the Maybach HL 42 TRKM 6-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine of 100 horsepower fitted to a forward compartment. This provided the vehicle with a top road speed of 65 kilometers per hour and an operational range of 320 kilometers. Its half-truck, half-tank running gear allowed it strong cross-country capabilities in keeping up with a mobile and fluid front.
Demag and Bussing-NAG jointly delivered the D7p pilot vehicle. Serial production was through Demag and Wegmann and this began as early as 1936 though the project really gained traction by June of 1940, running into December of that year. Boehler produced the armored hull superstructures and these then saw completed assembly at the competing German firms. By this time, it was decided that manufacture be moved to the Deutsche Werke facilities to which production ceased in late 1941. Once in action, SdKfz 252s were utilized along both the Western and Eastern fronts, beginning with the German invasion of France in May-June of 1940. After a period of practical operational service, a towed trailer was added to the SdKfz 252 line to further increase its tactical usefulness. Production of SdKfz 252s eventually totaled 413 units by war's end and few are believed to have been in circulation by the end of 1944. SdKfz 252 vehicles were supplanted by the newer SdKfz 250/6 models, equally-minded ammunition carriers serving German assault gun groups.