Sd.Kfz.222 in the Desert

The SdKfz 222 that served with the Afrika Korps reconnaissance units and was armed with a 2cm cannon and a coaxial machine-gun. Carrying a 3 man crew, it had performed well enough, but was handicapped in the desert by its relatively short cross-country range of 100 miles.

Leichter Panzerspähwagen (Le.Pz.Sp.Wg.) (2cm) Sd.Kfz.222 mit Elnheitsfahrgestell I für Schwerer Personenkraftwagen Ausführung A oder B: light armoured reconnaissance vehicle (20mm cannon) Sd.Kfz.222 with the Standard Chassis I for Heavy Passenger Car Model A or B.

This was the standard armoured car introduced during 1938 as a weapons vehicle (Waffenwagen) for divisional reconnaissance units. It was built initially on the Model A chassis, but after 1938 the Model B chassis was employed. Remaining in service until the end of the war, the Sd.Kfz.222 proved very useful in North Africa and Western Europe. But it was found to be greatly restricted in Russia and was gradually replaced there by the Sd.Kfz.250/ 9 Leichter Panzerspähwagen (semitracked), which mounted the same turret. The Sd.Kfz.222 was built in much larger numbers than the Sd.Kfz.221 and was deployed mainly in the reconnaissance companies of tank battalions. The three-man crew consisted of a driver, a commander/gunner and a radio-operator. The radio equipment had a range of about 4 1/2 miles.

The turret, which was extremely cramped despite being larger than that of the Sd.Kfz.221, was in the form of a shallow truncated ten-sided pyramid. A hinged wire-mesh anti-grenade screen was fitted over the open top. This divided along the centerline of the vehicle and could be folded outwards from the turret to facilitate firing of the armament, which had proved extremely difficult with the screen closed. The screen was also used as a framework for camouflage.

The main armament comprised a 20mm Kwk 30 or Kwk 38 (the latter being an armoured-car version of the standard 20mm aircraft cannon). Both were fully-automatic weapons firing from a 10-shot magazine at a rate of 280rpm in the case of the Kwk 30 and 480rpm in the case of the Kwk 38. The guns could fire both armour-piercing and high-explosive ammunition. A coaxial 7.92mm MG-34 was fitted. With the MG-34 on the left, the armament was mounted on a central pillar incorporating the traverse and elevation gear and attached to the floor of the fighting compartment. Sighting was by telescope, and a pedal-operated firing mechanism was employed. Traverse and elevation were controlled by a single hand-wheel, and the elevation was such that the weapon could be used against aircraft. Concentric with the gun mounting, the turret was traversed from the mounting by means of a linking arm incorporating a spring shock-absorber. Two mechanically- fired smoke projectors were also fitted on each side of the turret.

The hull of this and later vehicles had the rear part of the fighting compartment stepped down and the engine deck more sharply sloped to give the driver greater field of view when reversing. This was impossible with the Sd.Kfz.221. Another deviation from the design of the Sd.Kfz.221 was that the upper nose-plate now widened instead of narrowed towards the front. On later models of the Sd.Kfz.222 and companion vehicles the thickness of the nose-plate was increased from 14.Smm to 30mm and double hinged flaps were provided for the driver. Vehicles based on the Model B chassis had more powerful engines.

On 20th April 1940 the Heereswaffenamt issued orders to Appel in Berlin-Spandau and Schichau in Elbing for the construction of a 2cm elevating mounting (Model 38) for the Sd.Kfz.222 to enable the vehicle be used as an air-defence weapon. In this version, the overall weight was 5000kg (5 tons).

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