Sd.Kfz. 250

The Sd.Kfz. 250 (German: Sonderkraftfahrzeug 250; 'special motor vehicle') was a light armoured halftrack, very similar in appearance to the larger Hanomag-designed Sd.Kfz. 251, and built by the DEMAG firm, for use by Nazi Germany in World War II. Most variants were open-topped and had a single access door in the rear.

The Sd. Kfz 250 was adopted in 1939 to supplement the standard halftrack. Production delays meant that the first 250 did not appear until mid-1941.

Sd.Kfz. 250
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Büssing
Production Period 1941 - 1945
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1941
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Germany 1941 1945 View
Romania View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Demag 1941 1945 View
Büssing 1941 1945 6628 View

In 1939, the Inspectorate for Motorized Troops (AHA/In 6) decided that it would be useful for small armored half-tracks to accompany tanks in the attack. They could satisfy requirements for which a larger vehicle wouldn't be needed, such as headquarters, artillery forward observer, radio, and scout vehicles. Demag, the designer of the smallest half-track in service, the Sd.Kfz. 10, was selected to develop the "light armored troop carrier" (leichter gepanzerter Mannschafts-Transportwagen) or Sd.Kfz. 250. The D7 chassis of the Sd.Kfz. 10 was shortened by one roadwheel station, an armored hull (Panzerwanne) replaced the sheet steel bodywork and almost every component was specially designed for the D7p, as the armored chassis was designated.

Power for the Sd.Kfz. 250 was provided by a Maybach 6-cylinder, water-cooled, 4.17-litre (254 cu in) HL 42 TRKM gasoline engine of 100 horsepower (100 PS). It had a semi-automatic pre-selector transmission with seven forward and three reverse gears: Maybach SRG, type VG 102 128 H, (SRG=Schaltreglergetriebe, VG=Variorex-Getriebe, H=Hohlachse). Gears were first selected and then the clutch depressed to change the ratio, the next gear could then be selected in advance. In effect, the clutch acted as a gear change 'switch'. It could attain 76 km/h (47 mph), but the driver was cautioned not to exceed 65 km/h (40 mph).

Both tracks and wheels were used for steering. The steering system was set up so that shallow turns only used the wheels, but brakes would be applied to the tracks when the steering wheel was turned more. The drive sprocket had rollers, rather than the more common teeth. The rear suspension for its continuous track consisted of four double roadwheels, overlapping and interleaved in the so-called Schachtellaufwerk design used by nearly all German half-tracked vehicles, mounted on swing arms sprung by torsion bars. An idler wheel, mounted at the rear of the vehicle, was used to control track tension. The front wheels had transversely mounted leaf springs and shock absorbers, the only ones on the vehicle, to dampen impacts.

The Sd.Kfz. 250 was unique among German half-track designs as it, and its parent Sd.Kfz. 10, used a hull rather than a frame.

The vehicle was used in a wide variety of roles throughout World War II. The basic troop carrier version was used as an armored personnel carrier for reconnaissance units, carrying scout sections. This basic variant usually mounted one or two MG34 machineguns. Later variants carried 20 mm, 37 mm, and even 75 mm guns to support the more lightly armed versions (see table below).

Several special-purpose variants were seen early in the war. The 250/3 and 250/5 were command variants, with fewer seats but equipped with long-range radio equipment. These were used by battalion and higher commanders as personal command vehicles, most famously the 250/3 used by Erwin Rommel in the North African campaign. Early versions had large 'bedframe' antennas, which were easy to spot at long range, making them more vulnerable to artillery fire. Later variants dispensed with this and used a whip antenna instead.

The Sd.Kfz. 253 variant was fully enclosed, and was used by artillery forward observers to accompany tank and mechanized infantry units.

The initial design had an armoured body made of multi-faceted plates, which gave good protection against small arms fire, but which made the design both expensive to manufacture and quite cramped. Production of this early version stopped in October 1943 with some 4,200 built, and a second version (neue Art or "new version"), greatly simplified to speed up manufacture, began replacing it. In both variants, the armour was useful only for stopping small-arms fire and small artillery fragments. Heavy machinegun fire, anti-tank gun fire, or almost any tank gun could penetrate the Sd.Kfz. 250 at long range.

Type Half-track armored personnel carrier
Place of origin  Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1941–45
Used by  Nazi Germany
 Kingdom of Romania
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Demag
Designed 1939–40?
Manufacturer Demag, Adlerwerke, Büssing-NAG, MWC
Produced 1941–45
Number built Approx. 6,628
Variants see list below
Specifications (Sd.Kfz. 250/1 Ausf. A)
Weight Load: 5,800 kg (12,800 lb)
Length 4.56 m (15 ft 0 in)
Width 1.945 m (6 ft 5 in)
Height 1.66 m (5 ft 5 in)
Crew 2 + 4
Armor 5.5–14.5 mm (0.22–0.57 in)
1 or 2 x 7.92 mm (0.312 in)MG 34 machine guns
Engine Maybach 6-cylinder, water-cooled HL42 TRKM petrol
100 PS (99 hp, 74 kW)
Power/weight 17.2 hp/ton
Transmission 7 + 3 speed Maybach VG 102128 H
Suspension torsion bar
Ground clearance 28.5 cm (10 in)
Fuel capacity 140 l (37 US gal)
Road: 300–320 km (190–200 mi)
Cross Country: 180–200 km (110–120 mi)
Speed Road: 76 km/h (47 mph)

End notes