MANUFACTURER(S): Steyr-Daimler-Puch - Austria
Detailing the development and operational history of the Steyr Panzerjager-Treibwagen (Tank Destroyer Car) Armored Rail-Cruiser Car.
Entry last updated on 3/3/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Since the days of the American Civil War (1861-1865) the armored train concept has been a part of the modern battlefield - perhaps not as much today as it had been in decades past. Regardless the vehicles offered a mixed bag of results, providing useful armor protection to its operating crew and bringing to bear considerable firepower - the major drawback being the vehicle's limited to an existing railway network of a given country.
World War 2 (1939-1945) continued in the use of such weapon systems and, in late-1943, Steyr-Daimler-Puch was commissioned to design, develop and construct a collection of these steel-clad beasts brimming with armament for the purpose of policing, reconnoitering and defending strategic positions across Europe (along the established railway system of course). One of the entries into the family of these armored trains became the "Panzerjager-Treibwagen".
The Panzerjager-Treibwagen was described as a "tank destroyer car" and its configuration did not disappoint. The long, rigid single-piece metal body sat atop a wheeled railcar chassis and featured angled sides for basic ballistics protection. Various areas were fitted with vision ports and machine gun slots for local awareness as well as hatches for crew entry/exit. At midships was a raised cupola structure bookended by turreted platforms. The complete turrets of the PzKpfW IV Ausf. H series medium tank were installed at either end of the car providing considerable on-call firepower against line-of-sight targets (High-Explosive or Armor-Piercing shells could be used, depending on the target in the crosshairs). Machine guns were fixed about the design to provide protection against infantry and soft-skinned vehicles. In many ways this railcar mimicked the capabilities of a battleship offering a full broadside of two potent guns if the vehicle could be angled "just right" along its track set.
Construction of what was to become a fleet of five such armored train cars began in December of 1944 by which point the situation for Germany had deteriorated to the point that it now fought an exclusively defensive-minded war. However, only three of the series were ever completed and these arrived much too late in the war to be put to use.