German Armored Cars – The SdKfz 220s in Photos

 
 
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When Hitler was appointed the chancellor of Germany in 1933, the massive rebuilding of the then-Reichswehr into the modern Wehrmacht commenced. A major part of this rebuilding saw of the funding of various innovative designs that would be produced in great numbers in the years ahead.

As the development of tank warfare among all major world powers was taking hold, a need for a light, versatile, but suitably armored vehicle arose.

The Leichter Panzerspähwagen Sd. Kfz. 221 became the basis for all further development of lightly armored reconnaissance cars, starting its production as early as 1935. This light-weight vehicle was designed to run on different grades of fuel, to provide effective anti-infantry fire support and, most importantly, to perform well in off-road conditions.

A Leichter Panzerspähwagen Sd. Kfz. 221 lies knocked out in Bredevad on April 9th, 1940
A Leichter Panzerspähwagen Sd. Kfz. 221 lies knocked out in Bredevad on April 9th, 1940

Based on the Einheits-PKW chassis, which was the standard German military and civilian off-road automobile before the war, it was fitted with an angled armored body and turret. The maximum frontal armor was 14.5 mm, offering decent protection against small arms fire.

Its initial firepower relied on a single 7.92 mm machine gun, mounted on a turret, and operated by the commander, but already the second version, the Sd. Kfz. 222, received a huge increase of firepower.

It was armed with a 2 cm KwK 30 L/55 auto-canon, together with the existing machine gun. Since the first version was designed for only a two-man crew, the Sd. Kfz. 222 was given a gunner, thus relieving the commander of the vehicle of that position.

Leichter Panzerspähwagen Sd.Kfz 222 – Collings Foundation – Stow / Hudson, Massachusetts, USA.
Leichter Panzerspähwagen Sd.Kfz 222 – Collings Foundation – Stow / Hudson, Massachusetts, USA.

During the European campaign in the early stages of the war, this convenient recon vehicle was rather effective, as it could rely on a well-developed network of paved roads, especially in countries of the Benelux and France. In such conditions the Sd. Kfz. 221 could reach an optimal speed of 50 mph.

Off-road, its speed would be reduced to half as much.

However, despite its promising design and performance on the Western Front, the Sd. Kfz. 221 didn’t live up to the task in future engagements. Its 4-wheel drive proved to be no match for the general lack of paved roads found on the Eastern Front – especially during the rasputitsa, or mud season, typical of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine in late winter and early autumn.

SdKfz. 223 Panzerfunkwagen, SS 49738
SdKfz. 223 Panzerfunkwagen, SS 49738

This was also the case in North Africa, where it failed to successfully overcome the sandy terrain.

In 1937, a third version had been built and designated as the Sd. Kfz. 223m. It was fitted with a medium range radio and a frame antenna. There was also an unarmed version of this vehicle, with a large “bed-frame” antenna and a powerful radio set, capable of guiding aircraft strikes.

In the period between 1935 and 1944, production of all four types of Sd. Kfz. armored reconnaissance vehicles ran continuously, producing a total of 2,394 units.

SdKfz 221

SdKfz 221 in Russia, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-208-0027-04A / Nägele / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 221 in Russia, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-208-0027-04A / Nägele / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Rear view of the SdKfz 221. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 137-049270 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Rear view of the SdKfz 221. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 137-049270 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

SdKfz 221 Leichter Panzerspahwagen in conquered Poland.
SdKfz 221 Leichter Panzerspahwagen in conquered Poland.
SdKfz 221 in Vienna, 1938. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1987-0922-503 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 221 in Vienna, 1938. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1987-0922-503 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Sd Kfz. 260 and 221 in Poland 24 Panzer Division
Sd Kfz. 260 and 221 in Poland 24 Panzer Division
Destroyed SdKfz 221 Poland 1939
Destroyed SdKfz 221 Poland 1939

 

SdKfz 221 German armored car
SdKfz 221 German armored car
SdKfz 221 in Russia, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L19830 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 221 in Russia, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L19830 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Sd.Kfz. 221. By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Sd.Kfz. 221. By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

SdKfz 222

SdKfz 222 in Italy, 1943. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-304-0634-28A / Funke / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 222 in Italy, 1943. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-304-0634-28A / Funke / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Großdeutschland Division and multiple SdKfz vehicles, Russia 1942/43. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-748-0100A-16 / Kempe / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Großdeutschland Division and multiple SdKfz vehicles, Russia 1942/43. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-748-0100A-16 / Kempe / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

SdKfz 222 in 1938. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H13396 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 222 in 1938. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H13396 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 222 in Yugoslavia. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-049-1553-34 / Gruber, Dr. / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 222 in Yugoslavia. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-049-1553-34 / Gruber, Dr. / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

British soldiers inspecting a captured German SdKfz 222 armoured car, 24 June 1941.
British soldiers inspecting a captured German SdKfz 222 armoured car, 24 June 1941.
Sherman tanks pass a knocked-out German SdKfz 222 armored car, 25 January 1944.
Sherman tanks pass a knocked-out German SdKfz 222 armored car, 25 January 1944.

 

SdKfz. 222 Leichter Panzerspähwagen
SdKfz. 222 Leichter Panzerspähwagen
SdKfz. 222 Leichter Panzerspähwagen
SdKfz. 222 Leichter Panzerspähwagen

 

SdKfz. 222 SS-701104 Heider
SdKfz. 222 SS-701104 Heider
SdKfz 222. Photo: Richenza / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 222. Photo: Richenza / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

SdKfz 222. Photo: Richenza / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 222. Photo: Richenza / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Sd.Kfz. 222 Leichter Panzerspähwagen. Image: Spike Rendchen / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Sd.Kfz. 222 Leichter Panzerspähwagen. Image: Spike Rendchen / CC-BY-SA 3.0

SdKfz 223

An abandoned German SdKfz 223, Leichter Panzerspähwagen which has been captured by advancing allied troops in North Africa. The vehicle has been fitted with a folding frame antenna for use with a long-range wireless set which is fitted inside the vehicle. Three German 5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 38 (Pak 38 anti-tank guns) are visible in the background.
An abandoned German SdKfz 223, Leichter Panzerspähwagen which has been captured by advancing allied troops in North Africa. The vehicle has been fitted with a folding frame antenna for use with a long-range wireless set which is fitted inside the vehicle. Three German 5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 38 (Pak 38 anti-tank guns) are visible in the background.
A British soldier inspecting a German SdKfz 223 “Leichter Panzerspähwagen (Fu)” armoured car after the German surrender in Tunisia in May 1943.
A British soldier inspecting a German SdKfz 223 “Leichter Panzerspähwagen (Fu)” armoured car after the German surrender in Tunisia in May 1943.

 

SdKfz 223 in North Africa, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-424-0269-17 / Böcker / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 223 in North Africa, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-424-0269-17 / Böcker / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Front view of a SdKfz 223, somewhere in Russia. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-748-0100A-19 / Kempe / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Front view of a SdKfz 223, somewhere in Russia. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-748-0100A-19 / Kempe / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

SS-Totenkopf-Division in Russia. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Wiegand-117-01 / Wiegand / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SS-Totenkopf-Division in Russia. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Wiegand-117-01 / Wiegand / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 223 on the move, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1987-019-34 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
SdKfz 223 on the move, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1987-019-34 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

German women doing their washing at a cold water hydrant in a Berlin street, a knocked out German scout car stands beside them.
German women doing their washing at a cold water hydrant in a Berlin street, a knocked out German scout car stands beside them.

Read another story from us: 20 Specialist Armored Vehicles of World War Two

SdKfz. 223 Panzerfunkwagen SS 49738
SdKfz. 223 Panzerfunkwagen SS 49738
 
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