#706 Sd. Kfz 233
During the initial stages of WWII (1939 – 1941) heavy eight-wheeled armored cars of the Sd.Kfz. 231 (8-Rad), Sd.Kfz. 232 (8-Rad) and Sd.Kfz.263 (8-Rad) types were widely used in all the major theaters of war with considerable success. Reconnaissance and support of the front line were still their primary missions, however quite often when fulfilling these missions (especially on the Eastern Front), reconnaissance units met with strong opposition from the enemy, often including artillery. This problem could be resolved only by the introduction of a special support vehicle with a higher caliber armament, teamed up with the reconnaissance units, already equipped with standard Sd.Kfz. 231 (8-Rad), Sd.Kfz.232 (8-Rad), and Sd.Kfz.263 (8-Rad) cars. As part of the experimentation, in 1942 at the Bussing-NAG plant, the 75mm KwK L/24 gun was mounted on one of the regular Sd.Kfz. 231 (8-Rad). Due to the short length of the barrel, this gun was nicknamed ‘Stumpy’. Though the dimensions of this gun were insignificant, it was still too big for the armored body of the Sd.Kfz. 231 (8-Rad), therefore its design had to be modified. The turret was completely demounted, and most of the equipment unrelated to artillery support was removed. In spite of all these measures, the crew decreased from four to three persons due to the lack of free space inside the armored body. The vehicle turned out to be very successful, but it was never put into serial production. Relatively small numbers of these vehicles were needed for artillery support; also after continuous military action more and more Sd.Kfz.231 (8-Rad), Sd.Kfz.232 (8-Rad), Sd.Kfz.263 (8-Rad) were being returned to plants in Germany. As a result, the heavy armored artillery support vehicle Sd.Kfz.233 (the name of the new development) was built at the Bussing-NAG plant. Construction was undertaken using parts from its predecessors. However, unlike them, the Sd.Kfz. 233 did not have ‘8-Rad’ in its type name, since the analogous six-wheeled vehicle did not exist. The Sd.Kfz. 233 proved to be a serious weapon. The major threat for these vehicles came from ground attack aircraft – the big opening on the top of their armored bodies was very vulnerable to bombs or strafing. Despite the small quantity of Sd.Kfz.233 built, they were actively used in every theater of conflict, from 1942 until the final days of the war.