The Sd.Kfz. 7 was a half-track military vehicle used by the German Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS during the Second World War.
About this creation
Development of the Sd.Kfz. 7 can be traced back to a 1934 Wehrmacht requirement for an eight-tonne half-track. Various trial vehicles were built by Krauss-Maffei from 1934 to 1938. The production vehicle first appeared in 1938 and was intended to be used mainly as the tractor for the 8.8 cm FlaK gun and the 15 cm sFH 18 150 mm howitzer. Production was stopped in 1944. Because of its heavy power, it often found use as a recovery vehicle.
The vehicle could carry gun crews of up to 12 men in theatre-type seats. Under the seats was storage room for various tools, and the whole vehicle was spacious enough to carry their kit. The rear of the vehicle housed an enclosed compartment for storage of ammunition, though a second ammunition carrier was desirable. The tractor could tow loads up to 8,000 kg in weight. Most were fitted with a winch that could pull up to 3450 kg. The windscreen was able to fold down and a canvas roof could be erected. A number were also constructed with a hard top, but this was less common in service. A later simplified type appeared with a timber frame truck-type layout, the ammunition being stored behind the driver's station and the gun crew having space on wooden benches behind.
The use of half-tracked prime movers for artillery was common in the German forces but not elsewhere. Compared to wheeled vehicles, half-tracks are more difficult to maintain, they often suffer track breakages, and are slower on roads. However, they have better off-road mobility compared to wheeled vehicles.
Despite German In fact, while produced in large numbers, there were never enough to fully equip the German forces. Typically like many other types, the artillery elements of Panzer and mechanized infantry units (Panzergrenadier) received them, while other units continued to rely on horses to draw their guns.
The SdKfz 7/1 was the regular SdKfz 7 with its seats removed and a 2cm Flakvierling 38 bolted to the bed. This proved to be a lethal combination, for both low-flying planes, infantry and soft-skinned vehicles. The 2cm rounds could easily rip a person apart.
In urban combat zones the Flakvierling was even more helpful, being able to elevate higher then most tank guns could to engage enemies above on roofs or other high-up positions.
The SdKfz 8 was essentially the same thing as the SdKfz 7, just more economical and with a bigger engine. Its main roles were as a prime mover for heavy towed guns such as the 21 cm Mörser 18, the 15 cm Kanone 18 and the 10.5 cm FlaK 38.
The fearsome FlaK 88 was often mounted on the bed, providing a highly mobile anti-tank platform. The Wehrmacht designated this combo 8.8 cm Flak 18 (Sfl.) auf Zugkraftwagen 12t (Sd.Kfz. 8). A gun shield was provided for the 88, but the gun crew had no other protection. The driver's cab was replaced by a lower, armored cupola and the engine compartment was lightly armored with some 14.5mm of armor plating.
In total the vehicle weighed 20 tonnes, was 7.35 metres long, 2.8 metres tall and 2.65 metres wide. The gun could fire directly ahead without any problem, but traverse was limited to 151° to each side by the gun shield. Elevation was between -3° and +15°. Only ten were made and all ten were assigned to the first company of the anti-tank battalion Panzerjäger-Abteilung 8 which participated in the Invasion of Poland in 1939, the Battle of France in 1940 and Operation Barbarossa in 1941. It reported that the last three vehicles had been lost by March 1943.
Specs (SdKfz 7):
Weight - 14,700 kg
Length - 7.35 m
Width - 2.5 m
Height - 2.77 m
Crew - 2 + 11
Engine - Maybach HL 85 TUKRM 8.5L 12-cylinder water-cooled petrol w/185 hp
Fuel capacity - 250 litres
Range - 250 km road, 125 km cross-country
Speed - 51 km/h road, 21 km/h cross-country