Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole's TreadHead Tuesday - Sd. Kfz. 2 Kettenkraftrad Oct. 18, 2005
Posted on 10/17/2005 7:51:59 PM PDT by alfa6
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
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The Kettenkraftrad, type HK 101 is one of the most unique vehicles developed during the Second World War. The "tracked motorcycle" concept was conceived and patented by a German inventor, Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp, in June of 1939. This was in response to a request for a fast, tracked vehicle capable of moving small loads in mountainous terrain.
The 'HK 101' Sd. Kfz. 2 Kettenkrad was originally conceived as a light prime mover for mountain troops to be used for towing ight mountain guns, mortars, the MG36 and telephone wire drums. It found favor with all Wehrmacht troops, especially those in the Eastern Front where it's excellent cross-country ability allowed it to manuever in the mud-bogged roads and the mountainous Caucasus region. It was also engaged by paratroopers units and by the Luftwaffe for aircraft moving duty.
It was however, the NSU Werke of Neckarsulm, Germany that developed the Kettenkrad as we know it. Interestingly, many of the prototypes used spoked motorcycle wheels, not only for the front and road wheels, but also on its attendant trailer. Trailers for the Kettenkrad were a concurrent development and are discussed later in this article. Although the concept was embraced immediately, the vehicle was not introduced is troop service until early June of 1941. The official designation was "kleines Kettenkraftrad SdKfz. 2". "Kettenkrad" became the common abbreviation soon after.
Powered by a 4 cylinder 1.5 ltr. Opel-Olympia water-cooled engine, its top speed was 80 kph. It carried a crew of 3. Built by NSU Werke AG Neckarsulm and Stower Werke Stettin, a total of 8345 vehicles were produced between 1940 and 1944.
Production was expanded to the Stoewer Werke in 1943 and by war's end 8,345 vehicles had been produced (although some higher serial numbers have been reported). The French firm of SIMCA manufactured parts for the Kettenkrad but they did not produce or assemble the entire vehicle.
Assembly of the Kettenkrad at the NSU Werkes is said to have continued until 1948. Approximately 550 post war Kettenkrads are reported to have been assembled using existing parts as well as portions of wartime units that were in Neckarsulm for major service. Some vehicles are said to have been imported into the U.S. to see use with the Forest Service but I have not been able to find any records to verify this.
At least one French company, Babiolle, offered rebuilt versions of discarded Kettenkrads after the war. These had the front wheel and steering gear removed to create a small farm tractor. The mostinteresting thing about this vehicle was that it operated "backwards". The redesign included changes to the gearbox and reversed the chassis so the drive (sprocket) wheel was in the rear instead of the front.
There were two sub-variants of the Kettenkrad, SdKfz. 2/1 "kleines Kettenkraftrad fur Feldfernkabel" and SdKfz. 2/2 "kleines Kettenkraftrad fur schwere Feldfernkabel." Both vehicles were used in conjunction with a trailer and had field communication wire spools mounted behind the driver. The 2/1 vehicle mounted a small wire spool and frame similar to the backpack piece used by the infantry. The 2/2 utilized much larger spools, two of which were mounted on a frame behind the driver. Additional spools were mounted in a specialized trailer (Sd.Anh. 1). Late in the war, portions of the stretched version HK 102 Kettenkraftrad suspension were used to create the "Springer" demolition vehicle. This was designed as a replacement to the Borgward series and NSU (only) produced about 50 of these vehicles by war's end.
There were several different trailers designed during the war for the Kettenkrad. The first was designed with the prototype and never reached production status. The second, was the most numerous and was a derivation of the earlier prototype with a longer hitch pole and solid disk wheels. This trailer had the designation of Sd.Anh. 1 (sonderanhanger: "special trailer") This was the only one designed exclusively for the Kettenkrad. Two variations of this trailer, the Sd.Anh. 1.1 and the Sd.Anh. 1/2 . Both of these were modified to be used in conjunction with the SdKfz. 2/1 and SdKfz. 2/2 respectively. These trailers were fitted with cable drum mounting devices.
The other trailers used by the Kettenkrads could be used for other lightweight vehicles such as the Kubelwagon and the Schwimmwagon. One of these was designed specially for use with Gebirgsjager units and was a modification of the standard infantry cart (Infanteriekarren). The infantry cart had exchangeable tow bars. One with handles for human power towing, one with a "lunette eye" for the towing pintle as on the Kettenkrad, and one for dog towing
The Kettenkrad has enjoyed, from what I can tell, a bit of a reputation as a poorman's war vehicle. There are for the, relativly few numbers manufactured, quite a few of them still around and running. Check out the Educational sources for more info on the civie versions of the Sd.Kfz 2 Kettenkrad.
Programming note from alfa6 for the Foxholer's
With a bit of luck I will be able to post a two part Foxhole on Wednesday and Thursday evenings this week. I have rotated back to nights as of Friday Night this week so I will not be able to post any Foxholes for about a week or so.
Y'all have a great day and I'll be around he he
Bitty girl is looking good there P.E.
Now PE, this is just too, darned cute.
Any Excuse to get the armor out, eh there bentfeather
Might this interest you and you merry band of Motorcycle Holligans :-)
Right you are alfa, I have been trying out a couple new tanks, may show them off in the next few weeks.
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It takes a secure man to ride a pink Vespa.
Just the thing for getting through the rush hour traffic :-)
I will have to see about doing on Foxhole on the German cycles of WW-II.
1942 Harley XA (750 cc) -- peep that boxer engine!