Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251)

By Christian Ankerstjerne

Combat Use

The mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/1) was designed to transport Panzer-Grenadiere (armored infantry) into battle alongside tanks. Using a half-tracked vehicle, it was possible to drive in terrain where trucks could not go, while its armor offered some protection against small arms fire and scrapnel.

It was allowed for the mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen to attack with the Panzer-Grenadiere mounted, but did so at great risk. Anti-tank guns, mortars, artillery, hand grenades, fighter-bombers, etc. were all a serious risk for the lightly-armored, open-topped vehicles.

When the Panzer-Grenadiere dismounted, they were to stay in the vicinity of the vehicle. The mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen advance with the Panzergrenadiere, providing close fire support by making 15-30 second stop to fire its two machine guns. When stopped, the machine guns could be fired at ranges up to 600 meters. When firing on the move, the range was limited to 400 meters. Shots were fired in bursts of six to eight shots for the MG 42, and three to eight shots for the MG 34.

Variants

The mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251) chassis was used for a number of different specialized vehicles, in addition to the basic armored personnel carrier version. These variants included:

Designation Purpose
Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/1) Armored personnel carrier.
Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Gr W) (Sd Kfz 251/2) Self-propelled 8 cm Gr W 34.
Mittlere Funkpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/3) Radio vehicle.
Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (J G) (Sd Kfz 251/4) Artillery tractor for the 7,5 cm le I G 18.
Mittlere Pionierpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/5) Combat engineer vehicle.
Mittlere Kommandopanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/6) Armored command vehicle.
Mittlere Pionierpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/7) Combat engineer vehicle with Panzerbüchse 39.
Mittlere Krankenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/8) Armored ambulance.
Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (7,5 cm K 51 L/24) (Sd Kfz 251/9) Self-propelled 7,5 cm Kw K (L/24).
Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (3,7 cm Pak) (Sd Kfz 251/10) Self-propelled 3,7 cm Pak 36 (L/45).
Mittlere Fernsprechpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/11) Mobile switchboard and cable laying vehicle.
Mittlere Flammpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/16) Self-propelled flamethrower.
Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (2 cm) (Sd Kfz 251/17) Self-propelled 2 cm Flak 38.

Production Costs

Production costs of the Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251) basic vehicle. The numbers does not include armament, optics, or radio.
Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251)
Price 22 560 Reichmark
Production time 12 months

Technical Information

Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/1)
Crew
Crew
  • Driver
  • Co-driver
  • Panzergrenadiere (10)
Physical Characteristics
Weight
  • Factory weight: 6.8 t
  • Combat ready: 7.0 t
  • Fully loaded: 8.5 t
Length 5.80 m
Width 2.10 m
Height 1.75 m
Armor
Hull, front 14.5 mm
Hull, sides and rear 5.5-8 mm
Hull, bottom 5.5 mm
Performance
Maximum speed 52.5 km/h
Road speed
  • Forward: 52.5 km/h
  • Reverse: 9 km/h
Cross-country speed
  • Forward: 21.2 km/h
  • Reverse: 3.62 km/h
Maximum grade 24°
Trench crossing 2 m
Vertical obstacle 32 cm
Fording depth 050 cm
Fuel capacity 160 l
Mileage (road) 0.53 l/km
Mileage (cross-country) 1.07 l/km
Cruising range 300 km
Cross-country range 150 km
Turning radius 11 m
Payload 1.5 t
Towing capacity 2.7 t
Engine
Make and model Maybach HL 42 TUKRM
Type Water cooled
Cylinders 6
Displacement 4170 cc
Fuel Gasoline
Max. governed speed 2800 rpm
Net h.p. 100
Track
Track model
  • Zgw 5001/280/140 or
  • Zpw 5001/280/140
Track pads W 302
Track links
  • Left: 55
  • Right: 56
Track length
  • Left: 7.7 m
  • Right: 7.84 m
Armament
Main weapon MG 42 or MG 34 (3)
Ammunition Storage
Main weapon 2010

Additional Reading

Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen photographs (external link)
Photographs of the Mittlere Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd Kfz 251/1) at Panzerphotos.

Sources

  1. Der Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppe. Merkblatt für Ausbildung im Schießen mit le. MG vom Schützenpanzerwagen. Berlin : Oberkommando des Heeres, 1943. p. Merkblatt 75/4.
  2. Heereswaffenamt. Panzer hilfen Dir : Was der Grenadier vom gepanzerten Kampffahrzeuge wissen muß. Berlin : Oberkommando des Heeres, 1944. 40 p. Merkblatt 18b/38.
  3. Heereswaffenamt. Mittlerer gepanzerter Kraftwagen (Sd. Kfz 251) auf Fahrgestell des Zgkw 3 t Typ Hkl 6 p (Grundfahrzeug der mittleren Schützenpanzerwagen und Abarten), Heft I : Gerätbeschreibung und Bedienungsanweisung zum Fahrgestell. Berlin : Oberkommando des Heeres, 1943. 56 p. D 660/4.
  4. PAWLAS, Karl R. Waffen-Revue W 127 - Datenblätter für Heeres-Waffen, -Fahrzeuge und Gerät. Nurnberg : Publizistisches Archiv für Militär- und Waffenwessen, 1976. 248 p. ISBN 3-88088-213-4.