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The Schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper was a half-track that was used by Germany during World War II.

Description

The first production model of the sWS half-track series was a completely unarmored flatbed model that was designed to carry supplies and ammunition to troops on the frontlines.  This first version of the sWS had a crew that consisted of only two men and had no armament.[1] Being designed with the Soviet Rasputitsa conditions commonly found on the Eastern Front, the sWS was created from its origins to be a cheap alternative to the mechanically complicated and expensive SdKfz series half-tracks. As such, much of its construction was simplistic, utilizing a truck-like cab and flatbed.

The total weight of the sWS was about 13,500 kilograms while the vehicle's total length was 6.6 meters. For propulsion, the sWS had a Maybach HL 42 engine that was capable of moving the vehicle at speeds of up to 27 km/h. Operational range was limited to about 300 kilometers.

Variants

The first major variant in the sWS series was a combat conversion which added 8 to 15 mm of armor to the frame which gave the sWS the appearance of a completely armored SdKfz 251 half-track. Similarly, some versions of the sWS were only given an armored cab, keeping the open flat bed at the rear of the vehicle. The next two variants of the sWS were the FlaK 43 and Panzerwerfer 42 conversions. As their names would suggest, the FlaK 43 conversion was fitted with a 37 mm FlaK 43 anti-aircraft gun mounted on the flatbed of the vehicle. The Panzerwerfer 42 conversion meanwhile was based upon the fully armored model of the sWS and mounted a Nebelwerfer 42 rocket launcher on top of the vehicle at the rear.[2] The final variant of the series was the leWS lighter version that was never taken into production.

History

The sWS half-track was first developed in late 1943 as a response to the increasing need of the Wehrmacht for a half-track that could operate effectively in the oftentimes disastrous Rasputitsa conditions. However, production of the sWS was extremely slow as the model had never been given the production priority it needed to be seen in large numbers. Adding to the problems, Allied air raids took a severe toll on the production lines of the sWS. Entering service in 1944, the sWS was able to see service in such areas as the Normandy campaign and the Battle of the Bulge. In total, only some 825 examples of sWS half-track had been produced during the war. Production was resumed by Czechoslovakia after the war for their own purposes.

References

  1. http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/half-tracks/sws.asp
  2. http://www.pietvanhees.nl/sws/nebel.htm


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