Heavy Armored
Scout Vehicles

    The army ended up with two prototypes for a "Heavy" armored, wheeled vehicle. The first, an eight-wheeled model was developed jointly by Magirus of Ulm and Daimler-Benz of Stuttgart. The other was a ten-wheeled monstrosity created by Bussing-NAG of Braunschweig. The bodies of both vehicles were developed by Martini-Huneke of Salzkotten. Tests were performed at the tank testing grounds of  Kuzan, in the Soviet Union and also at the command center of the armored reconnaissance, in Munster. These tests made the rejection of the ten-wheeled version possible as it was not only very expensive to build, but it could not stand up to the course. The eight-wheeled model would survive.



    In 1929, the Army would have the makers develop a six-wheeled model based on the companies own truck chassis'. The companies were given limited budgets and new specifications for a six-wheeled model.  The new contract  asked for: no amphibious capability, no personnel transport, four driven rear wheels with front and rear steering and it was to be strictly for reconnaissance purposes. The developed prototypes were designated as
   M-206 for Magirus
   G 31 for Bussing-NAG
   G 3 for Daimler-Benz
This time the body was to be created by Deutsche Werke in Kiel. The gun mounted turret and weapon were developed by Rheinmetall-Dusseldorf. After testing and further improvements to the design, the three prototypes merged into two vehicles. The first official designations were placed on them as  Kfz. 67 and Kfz. 67a. These were not to stay very long as they were revised when the Germans changed their numbering system. The end result being:

Click the picture to learn more details
about these six-wheeled vehicles.

   Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) Heavy Armored Scout Vehicle -
by Daimler-Benz.
   Sd.Kfz. 232 (6-rad) Heavy Armored Scout Vehicle (Fu) -
by Bussing-NAG.
   Sd.Kfz. 263 (6-rad) Heavy Armored Radio Vehicle -
by Magirus.


GS - series

    The eight-wheeled version that survived the 1927 testing, was further developed by Bussing-NAG under the designation of ARW ("Achtradwagen" or eight-wheeler). The "GS" model chassis was created, allowing all eight wheels to turn. The body was designed by Duetsche-Werke in Kiel. Like the six-wheelers, three versions were manufactured, reaching the troops in 1937. These ARW's were to replace the slowly fazed out six-wheelers, so they were designated with the same numbers. Because this took longer then intended, all of the vehicles carried the additional designation of either 6-rad or 8-rad.

Click the picture to learn more details
about the "GS" - series vehicles.

   Sd.Kfz. 231 (8-rad) Heavy Armored Scout Car.
   Sd.Kfz. 232 (8-rad) Heavy Armored Scout Car. (Fu)
   Sd.Kfz. 263 (8-rad) Heavy Armored Radio Car.

   Sd.Kfz. 233 Heavy Armored Scout Car. (1942)

    The weaknesses of these vehicles soon became apparent. It's body silhouette was far to high and it suffered from constant breakdowns. Do to it's complex nature it was too difficult to maintain in the field. These factors led to a new contract being issued in 1940 for an upgrade model. The newer model was designated as a "GS" series, but didn't reach the lines until 1943.
Since there was no previous six-wheeled model of the same number, the "8-rad" was not used. In total, 1235 "GS" series eight-wheelers were produced.
    The "GS" series was an obvious step in the wrong direction for the Germans. The vehicle itself was called "Heavy", contradicting the role of reconnaissance, that being fast and light. The series did not have any stronger armament then the Light vehicles, and the radios were the same. They in fact could not accomplish any more in the field then could the light armored recon. vehicle. The upgrades in armor and weapon made the vehicles even slower and the need for a different antenna did not increase the distance by which the radio could receive. The vehicles did in fact help to lead the reconnaissance units into being ordered into more combat situations on the field of battle.


ARK - series

    The problems of the "GS" series vehicles was evident very early on. They were a problem to maintain in the field, and the silhouettes remained far to high for the likes of the Army. This forced the Army to hand out a new contract in 1940. This time the Tatra firm, with the help of Bussing, was going to try and create a heavy armored vehicle that the Army might be satisfied with. They started work on an eight-wheeler that was lower and more durable.
   By the end of 1941, Tatra had turned over the first two test model prototypes. Their creation had differed from the previous "GS" series in many ways. First, they had chosen to make a self supporting hull. Other features included, a diesel engine with fuel injection, better armor, a new ventilation system, bigger tires, and a higher wading clearance. The new eight-wheeler was designated as "ARK". The vehicle went into testing and modifications were slowly made. This held back the release date of the new eight-wheelers until 1943. The Germans by now, had been fighting a defensive battle on all fronts. The first of the ARK - series was sent out to the troops, designated as 234, in mid-1943. The arrival saw 4 new types and surviving data shows aprox. 1,000 of these ARK - series vehicles being manufactured. All four types were considered Heavy Armored Reconnaissance Vehicles.

Click on any picture to learn more about each type.

   Sd.Kfz. 234/1 with a 2 cm
   Sd.Kfz. 234/2 with a 5 cm
   Sd.Kfz. 234/3 with a 7.5 cm
   Sd.Kfz. 234/4 with a 7.4 cm

    Like the "GS" series the Army had lost it's focus on the role of the reconnaissance vehicle. The light and fast reconnaissance mentality had been replaced with a slower, but more powerful concept. The ARK series was upgraded with heavier armor and weapons as time went on. The larger guns had a recoil that wreaked havoc on the suspension, but allowed the vehicle to act more as a support weapon. This and  further improvements to the vehicle contradicted the basic function of reconnaissance.

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