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"German Portable Power Saws" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. report on German military power saws was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 47, June 1, 1944.

[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.]


There appear to be several makes of portable internal combustion engine power saws in use in the German Army.* The use of a power saw results in from 4 to 8 times the output from hand-cutting. One hundred trees 8 to 12 inches in diameter can be cut by a power saw in forty-five minutes.

A description, from a British source, of a light and heavy German power saw follows. The heavy type cuts approximately ten percent faster than the light type.

*          *          *

a. Data

        Light Saw      Heavy Saw
Weight (including fuel) 111 lb 172 lb
Capacity of fuel tank 3 1/2 pints 3 1/2 pints
Effective length cutting edge 3 ft 3 in 3 ft 3 in
BHP 5.1 7
RPM 2,600 2,300
Speed of cutting chain 21 f/s 23 f/s
Fuel consumption 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 pts/hr 2 1/2 to 3 pts/hr

b. Light Power Saw

The German designation for the light power saw is leichte Kraftsäge.

The principal parts are the gasoline engine, the clutch, saw blade and saw chain. The engine is a single cylinder two stroke engine and burns a mixture of gasoline and oil.

[WWII German Portable Power Saw (Light)]

Throttle control is by a Bowden cable actuated by a lever in front of the left hand-carrying grip. This grip also swivels to operate the clutch, engaging the clutch when turned outwards and disengaging when turned inwards. The grip is locked in either of these positions by one of two apertures in a spring leaf engaging a stud. A disengaging lever is provided under the grip. Two projections on the grip engage the throttle lever and close the throttle automatically on disengaging the clutch.

There is a reduction gear of 2.2 : 1 between the motor and the clutch.

The saw blade can be turned through 90 for horizontal or vertical cutting and is locked in position by a lever.

The blade acts as guide for the cutting chain, the links of which carry alternate right or left offset teeth which may also be alternated with non-offset teeth. The far end of the blade carries a tensioning screw and an oil reservoir for lubricating the chain.

A button for switching off the ignition is on the right-hand (fixed) carrying handle.

c. Heavy Power Saw

The German designation for the heavy power saw is schwere Kraftsäge. It is generally similar to the light power saw, but being too heavy for hand use, is provided with three adjustable legs, and a large bogie for wheeling into position. The saw blade can be swivelled about the axis of the chain drive wheel, as well as turned horizontal or vertical.

[WWII German Portable Power Saw (Heavy)]

(1) Lubrication

Lubricating oil is mixed with the fuel. If the machine is new, a mixture of 10 parts of gasoline with 1 part of motor oil is used for the first 50 hours, then a 12 : 1 mixture, and finally, after 200 hours running, a 15 : 1 mixture.

(2) Saw Sharpening

A sharpening device for the saw-chain, consisting of a small grinding wheel, driven by a flexible coupling to the fly wheel of the saw motor, and a positioning roller for the chain, is provided. The positioning roller is provided with three grooves, which have studs to engage between the links of the chain, and are cut at such angles as to present the front surfaces of the teeth to the grinding surface. The motor is run at about 1,500 rpm with the throttle about 1/4 open. The teeth usually require sharpening after cutting about 250 trees 10 to 14 inches diameter.

(3) Operation

Before starting, set the saw blade in the required horizontal or vertical position by releasing the securing lever, turning the blade until it clicks, and re-engaging the lever.

To start:

1. Close cylinder head priming cock
2. Disengage clutch
3. Open fuel tap
4. Flood carburetor
5. Open throttle one quarter
6. Remove cover from starting disk
7. Wind the leather starting strap around the starting disk
8. Pull the leather starting strap smartly, holding the machine with the left hand and foot

To stop:

1. Close the throttle
2. Open the cylinder head priming cock
3. After the machine has stopped, close the fuel tap.

* This equipment is generally found in German engineer units.


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