Concept

Schwerer Panzerspähwagen

Summary
The term Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (German for 'heavy armoured reconnaissance vehicle'), covers the six- and eight-wheeled armoured cars Germany used during the Second World War. In the German Army, armoured cars were intended for the traditional cavalry missions of reconnaissance and screening. They scouted ahead and to the flank of advancing mechanized units to assess enemy location, strength and intention. Their primary role was reconnaissance, but they would engage similar or light units and at times attempt to capture enemy patrols. The heavy Panzerspähwagen was a large but very fast and highly versatile addition to the German Army. The original 6-Rad (six wheel) versions were based on a 6x4 truck with an armoured body, but by 1937 they were being replaced by 8-Rad versions. During the replacement phase, the Sd.Kfz. (Sonderkraftfahrzeug, 'special vehicle') numbers were carried directly over; differentiation was made by the inclusion of 6-Rad or 8-Rad in the vehicle's name. These vehicles were used throughout the war in various guises and first saw combat in the campaign against Poland and in the Battle of France. Later, they saw use in both the USSR and North Africa campaigns. Extreme climatic conditions in both these areas proved too severe for the vehicle. In the USSR, adverse ground conditions immobilized 150 Sd.Kfz 232s during the first wet season of the campaign. The speed of the eight-wheeled cars made them the best scouting vehicles that Rommel had for long-range reconnaissance across the wide desert territory. The Sd.Kfz. 232 had 15 mm of slightly sloped homogeneous steel armour on the front, 8 mm on the sides, and 10 mm on the back, with 6 mm and 5 mm of armour on the top and bottom respectively. This armour was designed to provide protection from small arms fire and HE fragments; it was ineffective against heavier weapons. After the French campaign, additional spaced frontal armour plate was added to provide better protection. Armour was increased up to 30 mm in the later Sd.Kfz. 234 series.
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