Sd.Kfz. 251 on the battlefields

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RB
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Sd.Kfz. 251 on the battlefields

Post by RB » 22 Mar 2005 17:44

Hi,

I'm looking for information about the use of the Sd.Kfz. 251 halftracks!
- What type of units used this vehicle?
- Organization of these units (eg. pzgr.div.)
- Tactics of these vehicles
- How many soldiers were they carring practicly?
Anything is wellcomed!
Thx!

RB

Nebfer
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Post by Nebfer » 22 Mar 2005 18:36

As you know the 251 was issued to the Panzergrenadier Regiments of Panzer and Panzergrenadier Divisions.
Unfortunly thy never made enough of them to completely out fit ever Regiment/battalion with them, in fact most panzer divisions only had 1 Panzer Grenadier Battalion entierly equipped with them. And IIRC Panzergrenadier divisions where lucky to receive enough to have 1 or 2 companies worth.

I do have a PDF of a "armord" PanzerGrenadier Regiment, dated to April 1944.
also you can look around, this sight has meny links to verious places where you can get your info.

this link might help you (you can find this link from this sight). http://chrito.users1.50megs.com/kstn/kstnpanzermain.htm (the ones you would be intersted in are numberd 1111 to 1115)

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Christoph Awender
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Post by Christoph Awender » 22 Mar 2005 19:58

Hello!

As addition to Nebfrs post.

- The tactic was to transport the infantry NOT to fight in it like many people thinkl. Before the battle the soldiers were unloaded and marched into battle.
That the vehicle was used in combat was a rare exception and was forbidden.
- The vehicle carried a Gruppe and the driver which means usually Gruppenführer, stellv.Gruppenführer, 6x Schütze, Driver and co-driver.

\Christoph

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RB
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Post by RB » 22 Mar 2005 20:30

Christoph Awender wrote:Hello!
- The tactic was to transport the infantry NOT to fight in it like many people thinkl. Before the battle the soldiers were unloaded and marched into battle.
That the vehicle was used in combat was a rare exception and was forbidden. (...)
\Christoph


These vehicles were armed usually with MGs but some versions had real heavy weapons - espacially the Sd.Kfz. 251/2, Sd.Kfz. 251/9, Sd.Kfz. 251/22.
They had the task to support the infantry (granadiers), not jus standing behind the lines, waiting for their surviving "transport" - if left any. For such a task no need for armourd vehicles - usual army-trucks could do that!

RB


ps.: for everybody: thanx for the help, but I still need info!

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Christoph Awender
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Post by Christoph Awender » 22 Mar 2005 20:50

RB wrote:
Christoph Awender wrote:Hello!
- The tactic was to transport the infantry NOT to fight in it like many people thinkl. Before the battle the soldiers were unloaded and marched into battle.
That the vehicle was used in combat was a rare exception and was forbidden. (...)
\Christoph


These vehicles were armed usually with MGs but some versions had real heavy weapons - espacially the Sd.Kfz. 251/2, Sd.Kfz. 251/9, Sd.Kfz. 251/22.
They had the task to support the infantry (granadiers), not jus standing behind the lines, waiting for their surviving "transport" - if left any. For such a task no need for armourd vehicles - usual army-trucks could do that!

RB


ps.: for everybody: thanx for the help, but I still need info!


Weren´t we talking about Sd.Kfz.251/1 as you asked for transport capacity?? You seem to be much more knowledgable than me so you must be right.

\Christoph

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Panzer37
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Post by Panzer37 » 22 Mar 2005 21:18

RB

I understand that the drivers of the 251s were trained to ignore infantry firing at them and to either drive thru until safe or drive off to avoid them. They were of course allowed to fire in the move, but not ordered to defeat the enemy infantry while mounted. if the enemy was expected to have heavy weaps that could easily defeat the halftrack they completely avoided the danger. That is for the 251/1 at least. That is more or less what Dr. Matthew Hughes describes in his book Fighting techniques of a Panzergrenadier 1941-1945

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Post by Christoph Awender » 22 Mar 2005 21:48

Panzer37 wrote:RB

I understand that the drivers of the 251s were trained to ignore infantry firing at them and to either drive thru until safe or drive off to avoid them. They were of course allowed to fire in the move, but not ordered to defeat the enemy infantry while mounted. if the enemy was expected to have heavy weaps that could easily defeat the halftrack they completely avoided the danger. That is for the 251/1 at least. That is more or less what Dr. Matthew Hughes describes in his book Fighting techniques of a Panzergrenadier 1941-1945


Correct. Additionally in late 1943 regulations were give out (source training documents Feldunteroffizierschule der Panzertruppen Rembertow) that the Sd.Kfz.251/1 were more than before spared from possible fighting because of the bad supply situation and high losses already by "normal" use.
But I guess RB I am talking bullshit again.

\Christoph

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cbo
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Post by cbo » 23 Mar 2005 09:20

Christoph Awender wrote:Hello!

As addition to Nebfrs post.

- The tactic was to transport the infantry NOT to fight in it like many people thinkl. Before the battle the soldiers were unloaded and marched into battle.
That the vehicle was used in combat was a rare exception and was forbidden.


You have a source for this?

It seems to be contrary to the German field manuals where the SPW started out as a mere transport but developed into a fighting vehicle were the infantry would fight mounted or dismounted as the situation dictated. There is even a 1944 training film showing mounted infantry overrunning a Soviet infantry position.
And AFAIK this practice was carried over into the post-war Bundeswehr which emphasized the advantages of using mounted and dismounted combat as the situation dictated, using their SPWs like a fighting vehicle, whereas the US Army saw their infantry carrying AFVs as mere transport.

So clearly, the intended use of the SPW was for mounted as well as dismounted fighting, even if the supply situation occasionally dictated to err on the side of caution when deciding what method to employ.

Claus B

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Christoph Awender
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Post by Christoph Awender » 23 Mar 2005 11:12

No I have no sources for this. What I said was wrong and please ignore everything I wrote and go on.

\Christoph
Last edited by Christoph Awender on 24 Mar 2005 04:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Nebfer » 24 Mar 2005 04:08

I thought Ide add this.
An Armord Panzer Grenadier Battalion Dated to April 1944. (its veary detailed.)

Panzer Grenadier Battalion Armoured
Headquarters
Officers Battalion commander (P), battalion adjutant (MP), liaison (MP), doctor (P)
NCOs Medical (P), war diary (R), radio operator (R), motorcycle messenger leader (MP), driver
(MP)
Enlisted Radio operator (P), 2 messengers (R), stretcher bearers (P), 4 motorcycle messengers (R), 2
drivers (R), driver (MP)
Vehicles 2 kubelwagens, SdKfz 251/3, SdKfz 251/8

Signals Platoon
Platoon Headquarters

Officers Platoon commander battalion signals officer (MP)
2 Medium Field Cable Troops (each)
NCOs Telephone operator troop leader (R)
Enlisted Telephone operator driver (MP), telephone operator machine gunner (P, MG42), 3
telephone operators (R)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/11
4 Portable Radio Troops (each)
NCOs Radio operator troop leader (R), radio operator (R)
Enlisted Radio operator driver (MP), radio operator machine gunner (P, MG42), radio operator
(R)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/3
3 Panzer Grenadier Companies (each)
Company Headquarters

Officers Company commander (MP)
NCOs Company sergeant major (P), armourer (P), troop leader war diary (MP), equipment (R),
vehicle driver commander (MP), radio operator (R), driver (MP), medical (P)
Enlisted Messenger (R), 2 radio operators (R), 3 drivers (R), 3 motorcycle messengers (R)
Vehicles 3 kettenkrad, 2 kubelwagen, 2 SdKfz 251/3
Platoon
Platoon Headquarters

Officers Platoon commander (MP)
NCOs Troop leader (R), driver (MP)
Enlisted 2 messengers (R), stretcher bearer (P), gunner (R)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/17
3 Groups (each)
NCOs Group leader (MP)
Enlisted Assistant group leader (R), 4 riflemen (R), 2 machine gunners (P, MG42), assistant
driver (R), driver (MP)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/1
2 Platoons (each)
Platoon Headquarters

NCOs Platoon commander (MP), troop leader (R), driver (MP)
Enlisted 2 messengers (R), stretcher bearer (P), gunner (R)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/17
3 Groups (each)
NCOs Group leader (MP)
Enlisted Assistant group leader (R), 4 riflemen (R), 2 machine gunners (P, MG42), assistant
driver (R), driver (MP)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/1
Heavy Platoon
Platoon Headquarters

Officers Platoon commander (MP)
NCOs Troop leader (MP), driver (MP)
Enlisted Assistant armourer (R), messenger (R), 2 munitions helpers (R), motorcycle messenger
(P), gunner (P)
Vehicles Kettenkrad, SdKfz 251/17
2 Heavy Machine Gun Groups (each)
NCOs Group leader gun commander (MP), gun commander (MP)
Enlisted 2 machine gunners (P, HMG), 2 machine gunners (P), 4 machine gunners (R), driver
(MP)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/17
Mortar Group
NCOs Group leader range finder (MP), 2 troop leaders (P)
Enlisted 4 mortar men (P), 2 mortar men (P, 2 8cm mortar), 4 mortar men (R), driver (MP)
Vehicles 2 SdKfz 251/2
Cannon Group
NCOs Group leader gun commander (MP), gun commander (MP)
Enlisted 2 gunners (P), 2 loaders (P), 2 drivers (MP)
Vehicles 2 SdKfz 251/9
Heavy Company
Company Headquarters

Officers Company commander (MP)
NCOs Company sergeant major (MP), armourer (P), company troop leader (MP), Radio
operator (R), driver (MP), equipment (R), medical (P)
Enlisted 2 radio operators (R), 3 motor cycle messengers (R), 2 drivers (R)
Vehicles 3 kettenkrad, 2 kubelwagen, SdKfz 251/3
Light Field Cable Troop
NCOs Telephone operator group leader (R)
Enlisted 2 telephone operators (R), telephone operator driver (MP)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/11
Heavy Cannon Platoon
Platoon Headquarters

Officers Platoon commander (P)
NCOs Driver (MP)
Enlisted Radio operator (R), messenger machine gunner (P, MG42)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/3
Gun Section
3 Gun Groups (each)

NCOs Group leader gun commander (MP), gun commander (P)
Enlisted 2 gunners (P), 2 loaders (P), 2 drivers (MP)
Vehicles 2 SdKfz 251/9
Munitions Section
Enlisted Section leader munitions handler (R), munitions handler (R), assistant armourer (R),
driver (MP)
Vehicles SdKfz 251/1
Mortar Platoon
Platoon Headquarters

Officers Platoon commander (MP)
NCOs Troop leader gun direction (P), telephone operator (R)
Enlisted Range finder (P), messenger scissors telescope operator (P), telephone operator (R),
telephone operator machine gunner (P, MG42), 2 motor cycle messengers (R), driver
(MP)
Vehicles 2 kettenkrad, SdKfz 251/1
2 Mortar Groups (each)
NCOs Group leader mortar commander (MP), mortar commander (MP)
Enlisted 2 mortar men (P), 2 mortar men (P, 12cm mortar), 6 mortar men (R), 2 drivers (MP)
Vehicles 2 SdKfz 251/1
Munitions Section
NCOs Section leader (MP), gun position (MP)
Enlisted Munitions helper (P), munitions helper (R), aiming circle operator (P), driver (R),
driver (MP)
Vehicles 2 SdKfz 251/1, truck 3ton
Supply Company
Company Headquarters

Officers Company commander (MP), liaison (P)
NCOs Company sergeant major (P), battalion clerk (P), armament & equipment (P)
Enlisted 3 Clerks (R), 3 motorcycle messengers (R), 2 drivers (R)
Vehicles 3 kettenkrad, kubelwagen, truck 3ton
Medical Section
Officers Doctor (P)
NCOs Medical (P)
Enlisted Stretcher bearer (P), 2 drivers (R)
Vehicles Kubelwagen, truck 2ton ambulance
Maintenance Services
Vehicle Maintenance Section

Officers Battalion motor officer (P)
Beamte Foreman (P)
NCOs 5 foremen (P), leading hand armoured motor mechanic (R), leading hand armoured
machinery mechanic (R), spare parts (R)
Enlisted Clerk (R), 3 tank fitters (R), tank motor fitter (R), 2 tank equipment fitter (R), 2
motor mechanics (R), 3 armoured vehicle mechanic drivers (R), 3 armoured vehicle
mechanics (R), 2 vehicle mechanics (R), electro welder (R), blacksmith (R), metal
worker (R), carpenter (R), leather worker (R), 4 drivers (R)
Vehicles Kettenkrad, 2 kubelwagens, 3 trucks 3ton, truck workshop, truck equipment, SdKfz 7
Weapons & Equipment Maintenance Section
Beamte Weapons foreman (P)
NCOs Armourer (P), radio foreman (P)
Enlisted Assistant armourer driver (R), 2 assistant armourers (R), signals mechanic driver (R),
signals mechanic (R), 2 radio operators (R), driver (R)
Vehicles 3 trucks 3ton
5 Vehicle Maintenance Troops (each)
NCOs Armoured vehicle mechanic troop leader (R), armoured vehicle radio mechanic (R)
Enlisted Armoured vehicle radio mechanic (R), 3 armoured vehicle mechanics (R), armoured
vehicle mechanic driver (R)
Vehicles Truck 2ton
Fuel Services
NCOs Fuel handler troop leader (P)
Enlisted Fuel handler machine gunner (P, MG42), 4 fuel handlers (R), 6 drivers (R)
Vehicles 4 trucks 3ton, 2 trucks half track 2ton SdKfz 3
Ammunition Services
NCOs Ammunition handler troop leader (P)
Enlisted Ammunition handler machine gunner (P, MG42), 5 ammunition handlers (R), 7 drivers
(R)
Vehicles 4 trucks 3ton, 3 trucks half track 2ton SdKfz 3
Administration Services
Administration Group

Beamte Paymaster troop leader (P)
NCOs Book keeper (R)
Enlisted Clerk driver (R)
Vehicles Kubelwagen
Quartermaster Group
NCOs Quartermaster group leader (MP), canteen operator machine gunner (P, MG42)
Enlisted Storeman (R), 3 drivers (R)
Vehicles 3 trucks 3ton
Field Kitchen Group
NCOs Field cook group leader (R), 4 field cooks (R)
Enlisted 5 field cooks (R), 5 drivers (R)
Vehicles 5 trucks 3ton
Company Trains
NCOs Book keeper group leader (R), book keeper (R), clothing (R)
Enlisted 2 tailor drivers (R), 2 tailors (R), 4 shoemakers (R), 2 drivers (R)
Vehicles 4 3ton trucks

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 24 Mar 2005 17:08

In Merkblatt 18b/38, it is stated that the infantry should dismount, and then advance along with the Schützenpanzerwagen, but that it was forbidden to actually advance in them. The crew of the Schützenpanzerwagen were trained to fire the machine guns from the vehicle, both when moving and when standing still (see Merkblatt 75/4). The trainning manual also seems to suggest that the Schützenpanzerwagen would be send into combat with the Gruppe mouonted Die Hauptwaffe der Gruppe beim Kampf vom Fahrzeug ist das Bord-MG, so it would seem that the crews were to train for the event, but that the method was not favoured.

Christian

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Post by cbo » 24 Mar 2005 19:29

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:In Merkblatt 18b/38, it is stated that the infantry should dismount, and then advance along with the Schützenpanzerwagen, but that it was forbidden to actually advance in them. The crew of the Schützenpanzerwagen were trained to fire the machine guns from the vehicle, both when moving and when standing still (see Merkblatt 75/4). The trainning manual also seems to suggest that the Schützenpanzerwagen would be send into combat with the Gruppe mouonted Die Hauptwaffe der Gruppe beim Kampf vom Fahrzeug ist das Bord-MG, so it would seem that the crews were to train for the event, but that the method was not favoured.


What are the dates and title of those documents?

H.Dv 299/ "Ausbildungsvorschrift für Schnelle Truppen" from March 1941 as well as May 1942 speaks of alternating mounted and dismounted combat as the situation dictates.

Claus B

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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 24 Mar 2005 19:32

Merkblatt 75/4 is from 1943-10-15, and Merkblatt 18b/38 is from 1944-09-15, so maybe the Germans learned some valuable lessons about hand grenades trown into the Schützenpanzerwagen?

Christian

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Post by cbo » 24 Mar 2005 19:57

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:Merkblatt 75/4 is from 1943-10-15, and Merkblatt 18b/38 is from 1944-09-15, so maybe the Germans learned some valuable lessons about hand grenades trown into the Schützenpanzerwagen?


I dont think handgrenades was the problem, rather the increasing amount of anti-tank weapons among the enemy. Soviet AT-rifles, for example, were everywhere from 1942 onwards and could easily puncture the armour of the SdKfz 251. On a similar note, there is a report from 17. Panzer-Division(?) from early 1943 stating something similar for tanks; It basically says the days of charging madly into the enemy line and overwhelming him are over - it had become to costly due the increased number of anti-tank weapons and anti-tank mines.

But I doubt the practice of mounted combat was stopped; The training film I referred to is from 1944 and there are several accounts of SPWs attacking the enemy in 1944/45 - including some costly failures when the enemy artillery was able to catch the attack in the open or when the SPWs ran into undiscovered anti-tank defenses.

Also, H.Dv 298 from August 1944 still speaks of the Panzergrenadier fighting from his vehicle and the change between mounted and dismounted combat as the norm. (see http://www.freundeskreis-panzergrenadiere.de/44.0.html )

Claus B

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Post by Christoph Awender » 25 Mar 2005 01:38

A question for the experts RB&Co. And you are sure speaking of going into battle with the vehicles and not the
* Einbruch (-sphase)
* Erweiterungsphase
* Verfolgungsphase
- of not digged in and prepared enemy forces?

\Christoph

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