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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper, sWS, Gerät 71 half track

Design

Several months after the start of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans began to realize that some of their half tracks were too expensive or too complex to produce and a cheaper one was needed.

Büssing-NAG came up with the design for the sWS.

On May 7, 1942, Hitler ordered a simple low-speed semi-track vehicle be produced for use in Russia. Up until mid-1944 they had a truck like cab, and then was replaced with an armored cab.

It was intended for infantry units which would act as a general purpose and supply vehicle.

Crew

There was no cab for the crew so as to reduce costs.

Hull

There was almost no armor.

Tracks

Used all-steel tracks which reduced costs.

Prototype

The 1st prototype appeared in the spring of 1943.

Production

The sWS was never produced in large quantities as it never got priority for production. Production of the sWS was also interrupted by Royal Air Force raids.

  • schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper, sWS, Gerät 71: 381
    • Production: December 1943 - September 1944
  • Total: 825
    • Manufacturer: Büssing-NAG in Berlin, Ringhoffer-Tatra in Czechoslovakia
    • Production: December 1943 - March 1945

Variants

  • schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper, sWS, Gerät 71:
  • leWS: Lighter design that wasn't manufactured.
  • 37 mm Flak 43 auf sWS, 3.7cm Flak 43 auf Schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper: 37 mm Flak43 L/89 mounted.
  • 150 mm Panzerwerfer 42 (Zehuling) auf sWS; 15cm Panzerwerfer 42 (Zehnling) auf Schwerer Wehrmacht-Schlepper: Mounted 10 barrel 150 mm Nebelwerfer 42 rocket launcher.

Usage

Post World War II

Some of the sWSs were used by the Czech Army after World War II.

Specifications

  schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper
Crew 2
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 29,700 lb, 29,762 lb
13,500 kg
13.5 tons
Length 21' 11"
6.68 m, 6.92 m
Height 9' 3.4"
2.07 m, 2.83 m
Width 8' 2.4"
2.5 m
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 8 - 15
Hull Front, Upper 15@30°
Hull Front, Lower 15@15°
Hull Sides, Upper 12@8° + 12@15°
Hull Sides, Lower 12@15°
Hull Rear 8@30° & 8@0°
Hull Top 6@87°
Hull Bottom 6@90°
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 42, Maybach HL42TRKMS
Cylinders 6
Net HP 100
Transmission (type) 2x4 forward, 2x1 reverse.
Fuel (type) Gasoline
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 16.8 mph
27 kph, 28 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 187 miles
300 km
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth 2'
0.6 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle 6' 6.7"
2 m
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  
  3.7cm Flak 43 auf Schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper
Crew 2
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 13.5 tons
Length 6.92 m
Height 2.07 m
Width 2.5 m
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main 1: 37 mm FlaK43 L/89
1: 3.7 cm
Secondary  
MG 1: 7.92 mm MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms 2,000
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 15@30°
Hull Front, Lower 15@15°
Hull Sides, Upper 12@8° + 12@15°
Hull Sides, Lower 12@15°
Hull Rear 8@30° & 8@0°
Hull Top 6@87°
Hull Bottom 6@90°
Turret Front shield: 10@30°
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL42TRKMS
Cylinders  
Net HP  
Transmission (type) 2x4 forward, 2x1 reverse.
Fuel (type)  
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road 28 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 300 km
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits -6° to +90°
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  
  15cm Panzerwerfer 42 (Zehnling) auf Schwerer Wehrmacht-Schlepper
Crew 2, 5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 13.5 tons
Length 6.92 m
Height 2.07 m
Width 2.5 m
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main 1: 150 mm Nebelwerfer 42
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 50 Wurfgranate
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms 2,000
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 15@30°
Hull Front, Lower 15@15°
Hull Sides, Upper 12@8° + 12@15°
Hull Sides, Lower 12@15°
Hull Rear 8@30° & 8@0°
Hull Top 6@87°
Hull Bottom 6@90°
Turret Front 10@45°
Turret Sides 10@40°
Turret Rear 10@40°
Turret Top 10@90°
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL42TRKMS
Cylinders  
Net HP  
Transmission (type) 2x4 forward, 2x1 reverse.
Fuel (type)  
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse 270°
Speed - Road 28 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 300 km
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits -5° to +45°
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  2. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  3. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  4. Profile, AFV Weapons #55, German Self-Propelled Weapons, Peter Chamberlain, H.L. Doyle, 1973
  5. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site