Schutzenpanzer SPz 11-2 Kurz
Tracked Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV)
The Schutzenpanzer SPz 11-2 Kurz armored reconnaissance vehicle served across some 2,370 examples with the West German Army.
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Hotchkiss of France teamed with the West German Army to develop a new Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) based on the Hotchkiss SP1A development. The end-product was adopted as the Schutzenpanzer SPz 11-2 "Kurz" and was modestly armed and armored for the fast reconnaissance role. Some 2,374 of the type were ultimately delivered from 1958 until 1962 and several other battlefield variants were eventually developed to fulfill other ongoing Army requirements. The line was eventually succeeded by the modern Spahpanzer Luchs eight-wheeled vehicle detailed elsewhere on this site.
The finalized form became a vehicle weighing 8,200 kilograms and measuring 4.5 meters long with a width of 2.28 meters and a height of 2 meters. Armor protection involved a chrome-nickel-molybdenum combination up to 15mm thick offering good protection from small arms fire and artillery spray. The hull showcased a well-sloped glacis plate and side walls that were slightly sloped inward. The driver managed a position at front-left in the hull while the total crew complement of this small vehicle reached five and included a vehicle commander and dedicated gunner.
The running gear involved five double-tired road wheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at front and the track idler at rear. Three track return rollers were used for the upper track spans. Suspension was of the torsion bar variety which yielded sound cross-country performance. Drive power was from a Hotchkiss et Cie 6-cylinder gasoline-fueled installation developing 164 horsepower. Operational ranges reached 390 kilometers with a road speed maximum of 58 kmh.
The SPz 11-2 carried a sole cannon in its traversing turret, this being a 20mm Hispano-Suiza 820/L85 series autocannon. 500 x 20mm projectiles were carried on board. The cannon was aimed through a conventional periscope sighting device. Beyond that there was no secondary armament fitted. Three smoke grenade dischargers were added for screening the vehicle when maneuvering in the field.
The vehicle led a quiet service life, featured as part of West German infantry battalions and armored reconnaissance units for its career and never seen in export. As West Germany would have become Ground Zero for a Soviet invasion, it made sense for the West German military to stock local hardware without solely relying on contributions from America or elsewhere. In time, several other related variants were added to the West German Army stable beyond the base ARV form. These included an armored ambulance, 81mm mortar carrier, supply vehicle (four road wheels replacing the track arrangement), radar carrier (AN/TPS-33 series radar), and observation vehicle. To help contend with the appearance of heavily-armored enemy tanks, the Spahpanzer SC I.C. Light Tank was developed from the SPz 11-2 series armed with a 90mm anti-tank gun.