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SdKfz 251 Variants

There were 23 official variants, and sundry unofficial variants. Each variant is identified by a suffix to the model number; however, there was some overlap in the variant numbers.

  • Sd.Kfz. 251/1 – Schützenpanzerwagen. Standard personnel carrier.
    • Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. A Ungepanzerte. Made with plain steel 5mm plates instead of armour, to make up numbers due to slow initial 251 production. Around 350 made up to mid 1940.
    • 251/1 I – with intercom facilities
    • 251/1 II – Rocket launcher (called “Stuka zu Fuß” (Walking Stuka) or Wurfrahmen 40) equipped with six side mounted frames for launching 280 mm or 320 mm Wurfkoerper rockets.
    • Sd.Kfz. 251/1 – Falke Infrared imaging equipment for driver and mg42, to be used in combination with Sd.Kfz. 251/20 Uhu. Mostly Ausf. D variants.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/2 – Schützenpanzerwagen (Granatwerfer). 81 mm Mortar carrier. Carried 66 rounds for the GrW34. A base plate was also stored so that the mortar could be offloaded and used.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/3 – mittlere Kommandopanzerwagen (Funkpanzerwagen). Communications vehicle, fitted with extra radio equipment for command use in Ausf. C and Ausf. D versions.
    • 251/3 I – FuG8 and FuG5 Radios
    • 251/3 II – FuG8 and FuG5 Radios
    • 251/3 III – FuG7 and FuG1 Radios
    • 251/3 IV – FuG11 and FuG12 Radios (with 9 m telescopic mast); Command vehicle variant (Kommandowagen)
    • 251/3 V – FuG11 Radio
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/4 – Schützenpanzerwagen für Munition und Zubehör des leIG18. Gun-towing tractor, initially for use with the 7.5 cm leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18. Later used to tow the 50 mm Pak 38, 75 mm PaK 40 and 10.5 cm leFH 18 Light Field Howitzer.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/5 – Schützenpanzerwagen für Pionierzug. Assault Engineer vehicle with inflatable boats stored in the side storage lockers, and light dismantleable assault bridges stored inside through loss of a seat for more storage space. Early command vehicles for Pioneer platoons (Pionierzug) were equipped with a 37 mm Pak 36 anti-tank gun mount.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/6 – mittlere Funkpanzerwagen (Kommandopanzerwagen). Command version equipped with map boards, cipher and encoding machines, and Enigma equipment. Probably only made in versions Ausf. A and Ausf. B. Replaced by the 251/3 IV command SPW.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/7 I – Pionierpanzerwagen. Another assault engineer vehicle; this had fittings to carry assault bridge ramps on the sides.
    • 251/7 II – As above but with different radio.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/8 I – Krankenpanzerwagen. Armored ambulance capable of carrying up to 8 seated casualties or 4 seated casualties and 2 stretcher cases.
    • 251/8 II – As above but fitted with FuG5 radio and 2m rod antenna. Assigned to HQ and Panzer units.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/9 – Schützenpanzerwagen (7.5 cm KwK37). Equipped with a 75 mm L/24 low velocity gun, using the same pedestal gun mount employed on the StuG III. Nicknamed “Stummel” (“stump”). In 1944, a revised modular gun mount was introduced to facilitate production that also incorporated a coaxial MG42. This universal gun mount was also used to create the Sd.Kfz. 250/8 variant and the Sd.Kfz.234/3.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/10 – Schützenpanzerwagen (3.7 cm PaK). Equipped with a 37 mm Pak 36 anti-tank gun mount. Issued to platoon leaders as a fire support vehicle. Early versions used the whole top half of a pak36 with full gunshield, but later ausf. C & D used a much smaller half-size gunshield so that the vehicle didn’t advertise it’s firepower, so it looked more like a regular 251/1
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/11 – Fernsprechpanzerwagen. Telephone line layer.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/12 – Messtrupp und Gerätpanzerwagen. Survey and instrument carrier for artillery units. Never built.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/13 – Schallaufnahmepanzerwagen. Sound recording carrier for artillery units. Never built.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/14 – Schallaufnahmepanzerwagen. Sound recording carrier for artillery units. Never built.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/15 – Lichtauswertepanzerwagen. Flash spotting carrier for artillery units. Never built.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/16 – Flammpanzerwagen. Fitted with two flame projectors and initially a rear-mounted flamethrower, detachable but still connected to the vehicle, to be operated by dismounted infantry. This was in addition to the standard forward machine gun mount. Six Sd.Kfz. 251/16 Flammpanzerwagens were authorised for issue to each Panzergrenadier regiment or in the Pioneer battalion. Though vulnerable, they were used very successfully at night to quickly attack enemy infantry who had just captured German trenches, hitting the enemy before they could consolidate and bring up the heavy weapons that would make them much costlier to defeat later. Late ausf. D versions had larger gunshields.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/17 – Schützenpanzerwagen (2 cm). Anti-aircraft vehicle armed with a 2 cm KwK38 on a pedestal mounting with a small armored turret to protect the gunner. Late war, it was issued as a platoon commander’s vehicle to replace the Sd.Kfz. 251/10.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/18 I – Beobachtungspanzerwagen. Artillery observation vehicle.
    • 251/18 Ia – Differences unknown, likely different radio fit.
    • 251/18 II – Armored observation vehicle.
    • 251/18 IIa – Different radio.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/19 – Fernsprechbetriebspanzerwagen. Telephone exchange vehicle.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/20 – Schützenpanzerwagen (Infrarotscheinwerfer) Introduced in late 1944, it mounted a 60 cm infrared searchlight with a range of 1.5 km for illuminating targets at night. Known as “Uhu” (Eagle Owl), they guided IR sight-equipped Panther tanks to targets that were out of range of their own smaller infrared searchlights.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/21 – Schützenpanzerwagen (Drilling MG151s). Anti-aircraft and ground support variant equipped with a triple-mount (“Drilling” in German means “triple”) of MG151 autocannon; early version being MG151/15 mm cannon, later being MG151/20 mm Luftwaffe cannon, on a Kriegsmarine triple mount. Awesome firepower, especially when organised into platoons of 6 SPW. But with each gun capable of firing 600+ rounds/minute, 3guns = 2000rpm, it could fire off its full load of 3000 rounds in just 90 seconds.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/22 – 7.5 cm PaK40 L/46 auf Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen. Fitted with a 75 mm PaK 40 anti-tank gun. Probably too big a gun for the carriage, overloaded but effective, and the Yugoslav military was still using captured examples into the 1950s.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/23 – 2 cm Hängelafette 38 auf Mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen. Reconnaissance variant intended to replace the Sd.Kfz. 250/9 and fitted with the same turret mounting as the Sd.Kfz. 234/1 armoured car. Probably never built.
  • OT-810 – Czechoslovakian produced version, made by Praga and Tatra. This version had an air cooled diesel engine, and an armored roof over the troop compartment. The vehicle was not liked by those who used it and was nicknamed “Hitler’s revenge”.
  • Field modified variants – Various field modified variants also existed during World War II. There was a kit for installing an armoured map table in place of the forward MG34 mount in use in 1941. One interesting variant was made at the closing stages of the war, when German forces removed the armored bodies of damaged Sd.Kfz. 251s and installed them on light truck chassis, resulting in a wheeled variant of the Sd.Kfz. 251. At least two were made in this way judging by their number plates.
  • Sd.Kfz. 251/T-34 Turret

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