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"German Eight-Wheeled Armored Vehicles" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on WWII German 8-wheeled armored cars, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 32, August 26, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The three main types of German eight-wheeled armored vehicles are shown in the accompanying sketches. These are all of pre-war design. The principal differences between the three types are outlined in the following report from British sources:

a. Eight-Wheeled Heavy-Armored Car Sd. Kfz. 231 (8 Rad)

This armored car called in German Schwerer Panzerspähwagen Sd. Kfz. 231 (8 Rad) has a 20-mm gun Kw.K 30* or Kw.K 38 and a 7.92-mm MG 34 mounted coaxially in the turret. The latter is capable of a 360° traverse. It is equipped with a radio, the aerial being of the rod type. The crew consists of four men - a commander, a gunner and two drivers.

There has been no confirmation recently of reports that the 37-mm Kw.K was to be mounted in this armored car instead of the 20-mm gun. Details of this car follow. (Except where otherwise stated, the particulars given below on the three models are based on the results of examination of a captured vehicle).

(1) Weight

Unloaded  16,588 lbs (German document)
In action17,920 lbs (approx)
Axle loading 
   1st axle 4,340 lbs
   2nd axle 4,396 lbs
   3rd axle 4,536 lbs
   4th axle 4,368 lbs 
 17,640 lbs

NOTE: A report on a captured vehicle estimates the weight loaded of this vehicle as 17,640 pounds, whereas a German document gives the weight in action as 18,256 pounds. It will be noted that the figures given here for axle loading, power/weight ratio, etc., are based on the estimate in the report.

(2) Armor

Welded construction. Brinell** hardness of plates 450 to 500. An extra V-shield .39 inch thick is mounted about two feet in front of the nose of the vehicle.

(a) Turret

Plate    Thickness    Angle to Vertical
Front (except gun mantlet) 8 mm (.31 in)25°
Front (gun mantlet)15 mm (.59 in)25°
Sides 8 mm (.31 in)28°
Rear 8 mm (.31 in)30°
Top (front) 5 mm (.19 in)78°
Top (rear) 5 mm (.19 in)88°

(b) Hull

Plate    Thickness    Angle to Vertical
Front (upper) 8 mm + 10 mm (2 feet space) = 18 mm (.709 in) 45° (on front shield)
Front (lower) 8 mm + 10 mm (2 feet space) = 18 mm 30° (on front shield)
Sides (except engine compartment--upper) 8 mm (.31 in) 40°
Sides (except engine compartment--lower) 8 mm (.31 in) 37°
Sides (engine compartment) 10 mm (.39 in) (see sides above)
Rear 10 mm (.39 in) 20°
Drivers plates (front and rear) 8 mm (.31 in) 28°
Top (glacis plate) 5 mm (.19 in) 71°
Top (rear deck and engine cover) 5 mm (.19 in) 83°

(3) Armament

One 20-mm Kw.K 30 or Kw.K 38; one 7.92-mm MG 34. Both are mounted coaxially in flat mantlet and both fired by pedals on gunner's foot rest.

Maximum elevation  11° 35'
Maximum arc of elevation33°

One 9-mm sub-machine gun M.P (Maschinenpistole-machine pistol) 38 or M.P 40 is also carried as part of the equipment.

(4) Ammunition

20 mm  180 rounds (10 round magazines)
7.92 mm2,100 rounds (150 round belts)
9 mm192 rounds (32 round magazines)

(5) Sighting

Coaxial sighting telescope T.Z.F. 6 (Turmzielfernrohr)

(6) Turret Traverse

Manually operated 360°

(7) Dimensions

Length  19 ft 1/2 in (21 feet including spaced shield in front)
Width7 ft 3 in
Height7 ft 10 in
Wheel track5 ft 4 1/2 in (axle shafts horizontal)
Wheelbase (overall)13 ft 5 1/2 in
Wheelbase (bogie)4 ft 5 1/8 in
Bogie centers9 ft 1/4 in
Belly clearance12 in (to front differential casing)
Ground clearance9 in (to front axle shield)

(8) Performance

   Maximum  50 mph
   Cruising33 mph
   Cross-country19 mph
Acceleration (standing to 1/4 mile)26.4 mph
Braking (dry, level concrete) at above speed 11.70 fss*** (hand)
18.90 fss (foot)
Trench crossing5 ft (estimated) at least
Step1 ft 7 in (German document)
Fording2 ft (limited by starter solenoid box)
Gradient (restarted successfully)23°
Radius of action:
   Roads165 miles
   Cross-country110 miles
Angle of overturn30°
Tilting11° 30

(9) Engine

Maker  Bussing-NAG
Type8-cylinder, 900 V-type, OHV, gasoline
Bore107 mm
Stroke110 mm
Capacity2 gals
BHP****155 at 3,000 rpm (makers rating)
Maximum torque361 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm (estimated)
Firing order1, 2, 7, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
Compression ratio5.5:1
Weight (dry)1,344 lb
Weight per BHP8.67 lb

(10) Power/Weight Ratio

BHP per ton     19.7 (see Note at 1, above)

(11) Fuel Capacity

Main tank       24 gals
Auxiliary   6.5 gals

(12) Consumption

Roads   5.43 mpg
Cross-country   3.80 mpg

(13) Clutch

Type   2 plate, dry
Outside diameter   10.945 in

(14) Brakes

Type   Wedge-operated, two-shoe
Control   Rods and cables, no booster

(15) Steering

Type   Worm and nut
Maximum lock angle (wheel)   26 degrees
Turning circle diameter   37 ft 5 in
Number of turns of wheel, lock to lock   4 (front) 3 1/2 (rear)

(16) Gearbox

Type   Constant mesh, helical gear
Ratios   6 forward, 6 reverse
Control    2 levers and 1 pedal at each end
Weight   390 lb (dry)

(17) Final Drives

Primary reduction   Helical spur gears, ratio 1.632:1
Secondary reduction   Spiral bevel gears, ratio 3.2:1
Overall ratio   5.222:1
Differentials (inter-axle)   De Lavaud roller free-wheel type
              (inter-wheel)   Z. F. cam type

(18) Overall Ratios and Speeds

Speed   Gear Ratios   Road speed (approx)
mph at 3,000 rpm
of engine
 6th  6.06:150
 5th  8.93:133
 4th 15.97:119
 3rd 21.05:114
 2nd 31.02:1 9
 1st 55.46:1 5

(19) Suspension

Type   Semiindependent
Springs   Leaf, inverted, semielliptic
Ratio (sprung to unsprung weight)   5.743:1

(20) Tires

Type   Low-pressure, cord-reinforced
Size   8.26 x 18 in

(21) Intercommunication

Radio telephone, rod-type, aerial

(22) Vision

Commander's periscope  
Vision openings with laminated glasses and armor flaps.

[WWII German 8-Wheeled Armored Cars]

b. Eight-Wheeled Heavy-Armored Car (radio) Sd. Kfz. 232 (8 Rad)

This is the same as the Sd. Kfz. 231 as regards armament and traversing turret. The German name for it is Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (fu) Sd. Kfz. 232. The radio set, however, is provided with a large, horizontal, overhead aerial frame, which extends approximately the whole length of the vehicle and is curved down at each end. The aerial is mounted on a pivot above the turret at the front, and on two supports at the rear of the vehicle. The pivot mounting at the front permits the turret to traverse, but when the turret is traversed to the rear, there would appear to be a danger of shooting away the supports at low elevation, and the rear of the aerial at high elevation. The crew is four as in the Sd. Kfz. 231.

Specifications are the same as for the Sd. Kfz. 231, except in the following particulars:

(1) Weight

Unloaded   16,912 lbs
In action   18,704 lbs

(2) Ammunition Carried

20 mm and 9 mm   As for Sd. Kfz. 231 (8 Rad)
7.92 mm   1,500 rounds (150 round belts)

(3) Height

9 ft 6 in

c. Eight-Wheeled Armored Command Vehicle Sd. Kfz. 263 (8 Rad)

This vehicle, called in German Panzerfunkwagen Sd. Kfz. 263 (8 Rad), has a fixed turret slightly larger than the turrets of the armored cars, and carries a large overhead aerial frame of the same general type as that of the Sd. Kfz. 232.

However, the aerial in this case is supported by stays at the front and on top of the turret, and two at the rear of the vehicle. Two additional supports are sometimes fitted in the center. One MG 34 may be fitted, though no armament was fitted in one of these vehicles examined in the Middle East. The crew is five including two drivers.

Specifications are the same as for Sd. Kfz. 231 (8 Rad), except in the following particulars:

(1) Weight

Unloaded   16,576 lbs
In action   17,808 lbs

(2) Crew


(3) Armament

One 7.92-mm MG 34 may be fitted
One 9-mm sub-machine gun, M.P 38 or M.P 40

(4) Ammunition

7.92 mm   1,000 rounds (100 round belts)
9 mm   192 rounds (32 round magazines)

(5) Height

9 ft 6 in

(6) Turret Traverse


(7) Radio aerial

Horizontal, overhead frame type.

d. Conclusion

In all three vehicles, the chassis is basically the same. The engines and chassis are usually, if not always, made by Büssing-NAG and the hulls and turrets by Deutsche-Werke of Kiel.

An extra V-shield .39 in thick is fitted about two feet in front of the hull to increase protection. The sides and bottom of the space between the shield and the front of the hull are closed by perforated plates so it can be used for stowage.

In addition to the above three main types, there has recently been introduced a new turretless type carrying a 75-mm (2.95 in) gun.

These vehicles are designed to travel in either direction at approximately the same speed. An interesting characteristic is that all eight wheels are used in steering.

Comment: Because of lack of axle rigidity, due to the semiindependent suspension system, the mobility of this vehicle is adversely affected when applying the power in mud, sand, snow or dust. Under these conditions the vehicle has a tendency to deflect.

*Kraftwagenkanone - tank gun or vehicle gun.
**See Tactical and Technical Trends No. 18, p. 34.
***Feet per second per second.
****Brake Horse-Power.


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