The Schwerer Panzerspahwagen Sd.Kfz 234/2 (5 cm) was an eight wheeled heavy armoured car armed with a 5cm gun in a turret, and that served with the German Army and Waffen SS from late in 1943 until the end of the war, providing extra firepower to reconnaissance units. It was used to counter the increased use of light tanks in Soviet reconnaissance units.
In August 1940 the Heereswaffenanamt began work on a heavy armoured car for use in hot climates. It was to have an air cooled diesel engine, a monocoque structure and thicker armour than the Sd.Kfz 231. By July 1941 more details had emerged. It was to have 30mm frontal armour, and be armed with a 20mm cannon and 7.92mm machine gun. Two prototypes had been ordered and were to be delivered after December 1941. By July 1942 the plans had changed again. By this point Schichau was developing a turret armed with a 2cm Kw.K.38 while Daimler-Benz was developing a turret for the 5cm KwK 39/1. The first prototype had been used for short driving trials, the second was expected during the month. The first five vehicles were to be completed in July 1943 and production was to speed up to 30 vehicles per month.
Work on this vehicle was split between several concerns. The Czech Tatra firm was to produce an air-cooled 220hp V-12 diesel. Bussing was to produce the monocoque hull. Daimler-Benz and Schichau were to produce the different turrets, the first armed with a 50mm gun and the second with a 20mm cannon. The monocoque hull was similar in appearance to that used on the earlier Sd.Kfz 231 (8-rad), but with the armour plates also forming the structure of the vehicle (on the earlier vehicle the armour was attached to a frame built onto the chassis, adding extra weight. The most obvious visual difference was that the 234 family had a single mud guard covering all four wheels on each side, while the earlier 231 family had two mud guards on each side, each covering two wheels.
It carried more fuel than the Sd.Kfz 231 (8-rad), giving it double the operational radius on roads. It had larger diameter tyres, which improved the already good cross country performance of the previous eight wheelers.
Daimler-Benz produced an enclosed but somewhat cramped turret which carried the 50cm KwK 39/1 (as used on the Panzer III ausf J and ausf L but with a muzzle break) and a coaxial 7.92mm MG 42. The gun and turret had also been designed for use on the Leopard light tank, which was eventually cancelled. The turret was of welded construction, with 30mm frontal armour, 14.5mm on the sides and rear and 10mm on the roof. It had sloped sides, with a flat front and rear and curved sides. The turret was mounted towards the front of the vehicle, over the second axle. The gunner was to the left and the loader/ commander on the right. The turret was manually traversed and could make a full 360 turn on one minute. It carried fifty five rounds of 5cm ammo, normally split between 27 rounds of Pzgr.39 and 28 of Spgr.38, and 2,850 rounds of 7.92mm ammo. All vehicles carried an intercom and the short range FuSpr.F radio, which was used to communicate with nearby units (and in particular artillery). Only thirteen of the twenty five vehicles in the two companies that were fully equipped with the type were given the longer range Fu 12 radio.
Production plans for the Sd.Kfz 234 kept changing. In November 1943 it was decided to produce 100 Sd.Kfz 234/2s first. Production would then be split equally between the Sd.Kfz 234/1 and the Sd.Kfz 234/3.
On 1 October 1943 an organisation chart was issued for a company equipped with twenty-five Sd.Kfz 234/3s. However only two units used this chart, one company each in Panzer Lehr and 2.Panzer Division.
On 1 April 1944 a chart was issued for staff and staff companies equipped with a mix of Sd.Kfz 234/1s and the Sd.Kfz 234/3s. However the first two units to use this charge, the Aufklaergun-Abteilung of 1.SS Panzer Division and 20.Panzer Division each got sixteen Sd.Kfz 234/3s instead.
Another seven were issued to a company in 7. Panzer Division. This left eleven vehicles, which went to training units or to test units.
Hull Length: 6800mm (with barrel)
Hull Width: 2330mm
Engine: 220hp Tatra 103 V-12 diesel engine
Max Speed: 90 km/ hr
Max Range: 900km (road), 600km (terrain)
Armament: One 5cm KwK 39/1, one 7.92mm MG 42
Armour: 5-30mm, 100mm turret screen