Sd.Kfz. 251 was one of the most widespread half-tracks produced and used by Germany.
The most widely produced German half-track, Sd. Kfz. 251 was introduced in 1939 and remained in production throughout the war, with at least 15,252 units produced. The popular Hanomag, as it was called by both Allied and Axis soldiers, was distinguished by its heavily angled armored hull and a very large track area with no return rollers, providing good traction and performance. The use of Schachtellaufwerk, overlapping and interleaved road wheels, contributed to it, at the cost of increased maintenance and severe vulnerability to Soviet winters and mud seasons, where they could be frozen solid.
Model 251/1 was the standard personnel carrier, intended to transport an entire panzergrenadier squad (10 men) and provide fire support with its two machine guns (MG-34 or MG-42 7.92mm models).
- Sd.Kfz. 251/1 (SD2): The standard German variant.
- Ganomag 251: Trophy transporter used by the Soviets.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/1 (Pol): Two transporters were captured by the Armia Krajowa during the Warsaw Uprising, named Starówka (Old Market) and Szary Wilk (Grey Wolf) respectively. Captured in August, both were totaled by early September.
Model 251/2 was designed as a mortar carrier and fitted with a strengthened floor to accommodate the standard 81mm Granatenwerfer 34. The mortar could be removed from the vehicle and used on foot, as it carried the base plate on board.
Model 251/3 was the mittlere Kommandopanzerwagen (medium command armored vehicle), fitted with additional radios and masts to allow an officer to stay in touch with subordinated units. It mounted the standard MG-34 for self-defense.
251/7 was an assault engineer vehicle, with fittings for bridge ramps and other equipment on the sides. This variant additionally carries an anti-tank gun on the front weapon mount.
Model 251/9 mounted the 75 mm KwK 37 L/24 low velocity gun previously found on Panzer IV and StuG III armored vehicles, later replaced by long-barreled 75mm KwK 40 tank guns. Late models used a revised mount also capable of mounting a coaxial MG-42 machinegun.
Model 251/10 mounted the Czech 37 mm Pak 36 anti-tank gun mount and was issued to platoon leaders as a fire support vehicles. Although the vehicle was of limited use later in the war, it could still be an effective weapon against softer and lighter targets, especially the later variants with smaller gun shields, allowing it to pass for regular 251/1 models.
Model 251/16 was equipped with flame projectors and issued to each Panzergrenadier regiment or Pioneer battalion. Though unarmored, the 251/16 was very effective in operations against isolated infantry without proper anti-armour weapons.
Model 251/17 was armed with a 2 cm KwK38 on a pedestal mounting with a small armored turret to protect the gunner.
Model 251/21 was a version designed for use against aircraft and soft ground targets, fitted with triple-mounted MG151 20mm autocannons, proving that there's no kill like overkill. The caveat was that it had an insatiable appetite for ammunition, capable of burning through its ammunition supply in 90 seconds.