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German Halftracks at War, 1939–1945

German Halftracks at War, 1939–1945

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German Halftracks at War, 1939–1945

217 pagine
42 minuti
Mar 15, 2012


The author of the bestselling Panzer IV at War delivers a highly illustrated look at “a key element in the German Blitzkrieg” during the Second World War (

In the aftermath of the Great War, which saw the introduction of the tank, the more far sighted military leaders realized that the future of warfare hinged on a balance of mobility, firepower and protection. Tanks would need to be accompanied into battle by supporting arms, specifically infantry, artillery and engineers. An all fully-tracked field army was thought to be too expensive, so the semi-tracked support vehicle (commonly called a halftrack) was born. The halftrack concept was embraced by France, the US and most notably Germany. The Germans commissioned numerous types of half-tracked tractors, which were classified by the weight of their towed load. These vehicles were designated Sonderkraffarzeug (special motorized vehicle), abbreviated as Sd.Kfz.

These front-wheel steering vehicles with tracked drive transformed the fighting quality of the armored divisions. They carried the infantry alongside the advancing panzers and brought guns and pontoon-bridge sections. The halftrack also became the preferred reconnaissance vehicle.

This latest addition to the highly successful and collectable Images of War series has a superb collection of rare images, supported by detailed captions and text, of the many Sd.Kfz variants in diverse theatres of war. It is worth reflecting that, without half-tracks, there could have been no Blitzkrieg.
Mar 15, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Paul Thomas earned his master’s degree at the University of Chicago in social science, with his work emphasizing ethnography and fandom studies. He currently works at the University of Kansas as a library specialist and is enrolled in the Library and Information Management Ph.D. programme at Emporia State University.

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German Halftracks at War, 1939–1945 - Paul Thomas

First published in Great Britain in 2012 by


An imprint of

Pen & Sword Books Ltd

47 Church Street


South Yorkshire

S70 2AS

Copyright © Paul Thomas, 2012

ISBN 978-1-84884-482-7

ISBN 978-1-78303-852-7

The right of Paul Thomas to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the Publisher in writing.

Typeset by Concept, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Printed and bound in England by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

Pen & Sword Books Ltd incorporates the imprints of Pen & Sword Aviation,

Pen & Sword Family History, Pen & Sword Maritime, Pen & Sword Military,

Pen & Sword Discovery, Wharncliffe Local History, Wharncliffe True Crime,

Wharncliffe Transport, Pen & Sword Select, Pen & Sword Military Classics,

Leo Cooper, The Praetorian Press, Remember When, Seaforth Publishing and

Frontline Publishing.

For a complete list of Pen & Sword titles please contact


47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2AS, England





Chapter One

Early Years of Victory

Chapter Two


Chapter Three


Chapter Four


Chapter Five


Chapter Six



Artillery Prime Movers


The performance of the German Army on the battlefield was attributed mainly to one vehicle that transported troops, ordnance and supplies to the front. It was called the half-track. These front-wheel steering vehicles with tracked drive transformed the fighting ability of both the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS during the Second World War. This book reveals the complete illustrated history of the half-track and shows just how versatile these vehicles were in combat. Various half-tracks were built during the war, and production of the Sd.Kfz.251 variant, for instance, saw over 16,000 of them pour off the production line between 1940 and late 1944.

The book analyzes the development of the half-track and shows its increased role in combat, where newer variants were given main armaments in order to increase the overall firepower on the battlefield and support the advancing troops and Panzers to the front lines.

The full range of Hitler’s half-tracks is covered in this book, ranging from the Sd.Kfz.10, Sdk.Kfz.7/1 self-propelled flak gun, Sd.Kfz6 and Sd.Kfz.8 prime mover, to the most popular half-track of them all, the Sd.Kfz.251 medium infantry armoured vehicle. Despite being lightly armoured, the Sd.Kfz.251 could maintain a relatively modest speed and manoeuvre across country and keep up with the fast moving armoured spearheads.

German Half-tracks at War is a captivating glimpse of these formidable machines, and will undoubtedly be of great interest to military historians as well as modellers and war-gamers.

Chapter One

Early Years of Victory

The invasion of Poland was the first time that the half-track was used extensively on the battlefield. Whilst the bulk of the Wehrmacht was still animal draught in 1939, there were only a few hundred vehicles that were half-track to tow ordnance, carry troops and supplies to the battlefront.

Spearheading one of the first promising attacks into Poland on 1 September 1939 was Army Group North, under the command of General Günther Hans von Kluge’s Fourth Army. Kluge controlled five infantry divisions, plus two motorized divisions and the Third Panzer Division under General Heinz Guderian. The main thrust of the Fourth Army was east and south, sealing off and then destroying General Bortnowski’s Pomorze Army, which was situated in what was known as the Polish corridor. All main efforts were carried out by the army’s XIX Corps, under the faithful command of the Panzer ace, General Heinz Guderian. Bearing the brunt of this German armoured stampede stood the Pomorze Army, which consisted of five infantry divisions and one cavalry brigade. Throughout the first day of intensive fighting, Kluge’s army caused such severe losses to the Pomorze Army that it was forced to reluctantly withdraw in total confusion.

Further east, separated by the Polish corridor in East Prussia, General Georg von Kuechler’s Third Army made a number of thrusting all-out attacks south from the Prussian border in the direction of Warsaw against the Polish Narew Group and Modlin Army. Under Kuechler’s command were seven advanced infantry divisions, an ad hoc panzer division consisting of SS-Panzer Division ‘Kempf ’, which incorporated SS-Panzer Regiment Deutschland, and four brigade-size commands, all of which were divided under three corps.

To the south, German forces were inflicting almost equal misery upon the enemy. Army Group South’s main task was to try and engage the enemy as far forward of the Vistula and eliminate any attempt he might make to retreat east behind the line of the Vistula and San. It

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