In 2012 National Military History Center reached its goal to remain open thanks to an auction run by Auctions of America. Were sold more than $2.96 million worth of military vehicles, as Daniel Strohl reported on Hemmings Daily. The collection of German half-tracks of this Museum provided a good-sized chunk of that sum. Eight of the top 10 sales at the auction went to German trucks of the Second World War. In total the sale of these vehicles provided $997,500. 

The development of half-tracks for the German Army began in 1933. The limited off-road and towing ability of wheeled vehicles prompted development of several different weight class half-track vehicles. Initially, 5, 8 and 12-ton capacity vehicles were developed, supplemented shortly thereafter by 1 and 3-ton designs. Finally, a massive 18-ton model was developed in 1939. The development of half-tracks for the German Army began in 1933. The limited off-road and towing ability of wheeled vehicles prompted development of several different weight class half-track vehicles. Initially, 5, 8 and 12-ton capacity vehicles were developed, supplemented shortly thereafter by 1 and 3-ton designs. Finally, a massive 18-ton model was developed in 1939. The 1 through 12-ton class vehicles were intended to perform as prime movers for the large variety of light, medium and heavy artillery pieces in service with the German Army. The 18-ton model was intended to either tow heavy artillery or act as a heavy recovery vehicle (All information is taken from auction description).

A 12-ton Daimler-Benz DB10 half-track lead the charge at $200,000. According to the auction description, the the 12-ton half-tracks started production in 1935 with the DBs 7 model, which featured a more angular body design. The improved DB10 model, displayed, entered production just prior to the start of World War II. The 12-ton, DB10 was intended to tow the 17-cm field gun and 21-cm heavy howitzer. The total weight of approximately 18 to 19-tons per piece necessitated the separation of the gun tubes and carriages into two separate loads. The compartments behind the seating area were for equipment and ammunition.

  • Manufacturers: Daimler-Benz 
  • Production Years: 1935-1945 (entire 12-ton class) 
  • Engine: No Engine – specifications call for: Maybach V-12 HL 85 TUKRM, 185-hp, 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled, gasoline 
  • Length: 24-feet 
  • Width: 8-feet, 2-1/2-inches 
  • Height: 9-feet, 2-inches (with top raised) 
  • Weight: 13-tons 
  • Armor: None 
  • Armament: NONE on this example – Could be fitted with a 7.92-mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun 
  • Maximum Speed: Approximately 30-mph 
  • Fording Depth: Up to 25-inches 
  • Crew: Up to 13 
  • Markings: German Army (Heer), Towed Artillery Regiment, early war Panzer Grey paint scheme 

Other German military vehicles in the top 10 include a 1940-1941 Hanomag S.P.W., which was sold for $160,000. According to the auction description, the SdKfz 251 Ausf. C was the third model progression in the Hanomag S.P.W. production series. Experience gained from combat operations with the Ausf. A and B models prompted designers to implement improvements on the C model. The machine gunner’s shield and exterior stowage arrangements from the B model were retained (which were themselves improvements over the A model). The most significant changes were to the engine compartment armor and the interior stowage arrangements. Unlike the A and B models that had two piece nose armor plates, the C model incorporated a simplified one piece armor plate for the nose. Instead of using an open top grill to draw cooling air in, like the A and B models, the C model drew its cooling air from behind the front armor plate. Additionally, the C model was given flared armored cowls on the sides of the compartment so that engine ventilation flaps could remain open during combat. Improvements were also made to the mudguards to address problems of mud and debris accumulation. The C models had over twenty sub-variants, from mortar carriers to ambulances and self-propelled anti-tank gun mounts. 

  • Manufacturer: Hanomag-Hannoversche Maschinenbau AG 
  • Production Years: 1940-1943 
  • Engine: Maybach HL 42 TUKRM six-cylinder, 100-hp 
  • Length: 19-feet 
  • Width: 7-feet 
  • Height: 7-feet (including machine gun shield) 
  • Weight: Approximately 9-tons (loaded) 
  • Armor: Hull: 14.5-mm at 14-degrees - Sides and rear: 8-mm at 35-degrees - Floor: 6-mm, horizontal 
  • Armament: Demilitarized 
  • Maximum Road Speed: 33-mph 
  • Crew: Up to 12 
  • Markings: German Army, 9th Panzer Division, typical 1941-1942 paint scheme of Panzer grey and sand 

1940 Horch Type EFM personnel car, which was sold for $150,000. According to the auction description, in 1937 the German Army took into service the Horch Type EFm universal medium cross-country car (mittlere gelandegangige Einheits-Personenkraftwagen). This was the first medium weight class car with an exclusively military pattern chassis and body design. The chassis was designated “uniform chassis for medium personnel vehicle.” Auto Union built the same vehicle in both their Horch and Opel factories, each having a different engine (the Horch V-8 and the Opel six-cylinder), creating problems with interchangeability for the front-line maintenance units. The Horch V-8 and the Opel six-cylinder models each had different fuel and electric lines, engine protection panels, radiator braces, clutch, exhaust, driveshaft and switching gears. The spare tires, mounted on each side, were built with support axles to help prevent the vehicle from bottoming out while traveling cross-country. This feature helped address the low ten-inch ground clearance. The frame and suspension was prone to damage prompting field upgrades of additional springs and axle strengthening. Several different body types were built on the same chassis bringing production totals to 14,900.

  • Manufacturer: Auto Union AG Werk Horch, Zschpau & Zwickau 
  • Production Year: 1940 
  • Engine: Auto Union/ Horch side-valve, 3.5-liter, 80-hp, liquid-cooled, eight-cylinder, gasoline 
  • Transmission: Four-speed: four forward, one reverse 
  • Brakes: Hydraulic 
  • Length: 15-feet, 8-inches 
  • Width: 6-feet, 3-inches 
  • Height: 6-feet, 10-inches 
  • Weight: Approximately 2.5-tons 
  • Armor: None 
  • Armament: NONE on this example - Could be fitted with a 7.92-mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun 
  • Maximum Road Speed: Approximately 60-mph 
  • Markings: German 9th SS Panzer Division “Hohenstaufen” 

1942 Borgward half-track, which sold for $145,000. According to the auction description, the Borgward 3-ton half-track entered production in 1937. In 1934, several German manufacturers began developing prototypes of half-track military vehicles. Experiences in World War I and war games conducted thereafter, demonstrated the shortcomings of utilizing wheeled trucks as artillery tractors. Conventional trucks lacked the off-road and towing ability necessary to tow most of the medium to heavy artillery pieces entering service with the German Army in the 1930s. Initially, 5, 8 and 12-ton capacity half-tracks were developed, supplemented shortly thereafter by the 1 and 3-ton designs. The 3-ton half-track was produced by three other firms in addition to Borgward during World War II. Borgward manufactured 2,067 of the 8,800 3-ton half-tracks produced. The 3-ton half-track was designed specifically to tow the 10.5-cm gun-howitzer initially and later, the 7.5-cm Pak 40 anti-tank gun. The 3-ton could accommodate a crew of nine, including the driver and eight gun crewmen. Provision for the artillery ammunition was also provided. The versatile 3-ton chassis was also used as the basis of the SdKfz 251 armored half-track series, of which nearly 15,000 were produced during WW II. 

  • Manufacturer: Carl F.W. Borgward GmbH, Bremen, Germany 
  • Production Year: 1942 
  • Engine: No Engine - specifications call for: Maybach HL 42 TUKRM, 4.2-liter, 100-hp, six-cylinder, liquid-cooled, gasoline 
  • Transmission: Four forward, one reverse coupled with a transfer case 
  • Brakes: Air brakes plus hydraulic steering brakes 
  • Length: 18-feet, 3-inches 
  • Width: 6-feet, 7-inches 
  • Height: 7-feet, 2-inches (to top of cargo area bonnet) 
  • Weight: Approximately 5-3/4-tons 
  • Armor: None 
  • Armament: NONE on this example – Could be fitted with a 7.92-mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun 
  • Maximum speed: Approximately 30-mph 
  • Maximum Payload: 3-tons 
  • Markings: German Werfer-Lehr Regiment (Rocket Artillery) 

1944 Steyr 1500A/01 command car, which was sold for $130,000. According to the auction description, the Steyr 1500A/01 command car entered service in 1941. The Steyrs were intended to replace the Einheits (Standard) heavy class cars that were produced from 1938 to 1942. The Einheits heavy cars were built on what was classified as the uniform chassis. This standardized chassis was developed as a result of the Schell Program. In 1938, General Schell, director of motorization for the Wehrmacht (German military) introduced standardized car chassis in weight classes of light, medium and heavy. The Einheits heavy cars were the least successful of the Schell Program cars. They were generally too heavy and difficult to maintain. The Steyr 1500 chassis design was originally intended for 1-1/2-ton trucks but proved to be an excellent choice for the heavy car design. German troops praised the reliability and minimal maintenance required. Rommel’s Afrika Korps especially appreciated the air-cooled engine. The command car version, as displayed, featured spacious seating for four. One of the more noteworthy users of the Steyr command car was General von Armin, who took over command of the Afrika Korps from General Erwin Rommel. The displayed Steyr features command pennants for the division commander. 

  • Manufacturer: Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, Steyr, Austria 
  • Production Year: 1944 
  • Engine: Steyr, 3.5-liter, 85-hp, air-cooled, eight-cylinder, gasoline 
  • Transmission: Four-speed: four forward, one reverse 
  • Length: 16-feet, 11-inches 
  • Width: 6-feet, 4-inches 
  • Height: 7-feet 
  • Weight: Approximately 3-tons 
  • Armor: None 
  • Armament: NONE on this example - Could be fitted with a 7.92-mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun 
  • Maximum Road Speed: Approximately 60-mph 
  • Crew: Up to four 
  • Markings: German 116th Panzer Division, Command Car 

1944 Auto Union half-track, which was sold for $75,000. According to the auction description, the Auto-Union HL kl 6p was the last production model of the successful and versatile 3-ton half-track series. The standard 3-ton half-track artillery tractor, on which the Einheits model was based, entered production in 1937. It is believed that only a small number of the Einheits, Auto Union 3-ton half-tracks were produced for a short period in 1944. The personnel / cargo area was replaced by a simple wooden cargo bed. The all-steel body of the early production models was replaced by a simplified Einheits cab of wooden frames and pressed cardboard. Einheits (Standardized) vehicles were first introduced in 1936. German military vehicle production had previously included an unacceptably large variety of models and weight classes with little to no commonality between types. Einheits vehicles adhered to guidelines that simplified production and restricted variations between the various manufacturers. Later in the war, Einheits vehicles were further restricted due to critical material shortages (especially steel) caused by Allied bombing and heavy combat losses. Nearly all of the German military transport vehicles produced between 1944 and 1945 featured the simplified wood and cardboard cabs as on the half-track displayed.

  • Manufacturer: Auto-Union AG, Chemnitz & Siegmar-Schonau Germany 
  • Production Year: 1944 
  • Engine: Maybach HL 42 TUKRM, 4.2-liter, 100-hp, six-cylinder, liquid-cooled, gasoline 
  • Transmission: Four forward, one reverse coupled with a transfer case 
  • Brakes: Air brakes plus hydraulic steering brakes 
  • Length: 18-feet, 3-inches 
  • Width: 6-feet, 7-inches 
  • Height: 7-feet, 2-inches (to top of cargo area bonnet) 
  • Weight: Approximately 5.1-tons 
  • Armor: None 
  • Armament: NONE on this example - Could be fitted with a 7.92-mm MG42 machine gun 
  • Maximum Speed: Approximately 30-mph 
  • Maximum Payload: 2-1/2-tons 
  • Markings: German 2nd Panzer Division, Engineer Unit 

1944 Phanomen Granit personnel car, which was sold for $72,500. According to the auction description, the Phanomen-Werke Gustav Hiller AG in Zittau was well-known for their robust light commercial vehicles with air-cooled, in-line engines. In 1940 they introduced a modernized range of models, in both 4x2 and 4x4 (1500S and 1500A) versions. The majority of these were acquired by the German Army, primarily with cargo and box-van (Koffer) configurations. The latter were used primarily as ambulances. The personnel model, as seen in photos, was produced in limited numbers, and it is believed this example may be the only surviving vehicle. The vast majority of the 1500A class heavy personnel carriers were built by the Austrian Steyr company while Phanomen-Granit built a larger percentage of 1-1/2-ton trucks on the 1500A chassis. The Phanomen-Granit 1500A series vehicles featured a four-speed gearbox, dry-plate clutch, two-speed transfer box with front axle disconnect, hydraulic brakes and rigid axles with semi-elliptical leaf springs. Most of the Phanomen-Granit 1500A personnel carriers went to the German Afrika Korps where the air-cooled engine was well-received by the maintenance troops. Many of these vehicles were modified with wider 270-16 special desert tires and an additional hood-mounted air cleaner.  

  • Manufacturer: Phanomen-Werke Gustav Hiller AG, Zittau 
  • Production Year: 1944 
  • Engine: Phanomen-Granit 27, 2.7-liter, 50-hp, air-cooled four-cylinder, gasoline 
  • Transmission: Four-speed: four forward, one reverse 
  • Length: 18-feet, 3-inches 
  • Width: 6-feet, 7-inches 
  • Height: 7-feet, 2-inches 
  • Weight: Approximately 2.5-tons 
  • Armor: None 
  • Armament: NONE on this example - Could be fitted with a 7.92-mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun 
  • Maximum Road Speed: Approximately 60-mph 
  • Crew: Up to five 
  • Markings: German 12th Infantry Division, Artillery Unit 

And a 1943-1944 Opel half-track, which was sold for $65,000. According to the auction description, in 1942, Opel began production of 2-ton Maultier (Mule) half-tracks at their Brandenburg / Havel plant. The Maultier reportedly originated from a field modification carried out by the 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich” during the winter of 1941-1942. Conditions on the Eastern Front, where already poor roads turned to seas of mud during rainy seasons and slush in the spring thaw, created almost impossible transportation situations for the wheeled truck units of the German Army. A standard Ford 3-ton V3000S 4x2 truck was used as the basis of the conversion along with sets of Carden-Loyd tracks and bogey wheel assemblies from captured British Universal type carriers. The conversion comprised of moving the rear axle forward and shortening the driveshaft, reinforcing the chassis and mounting double sets of the Carden-Loyd two-wheel bogie assemblies, along with tracks, to each side of the chassis. The conversion reduced the payload capacity from 3-tons to 2-tons. An additional field conversion was carried out on some Maultiers consisting of mounting a 2-cm Flak 30 or Flak 38 anti-aircraft cannon on the cargo bed. This example is not fitted with armament. Approximately 4,000 Opel Maultiers were built. 

  • Manufacturer: Opel Division of General Motors, Germany 
  • Production Years: 1942-1944 
  • Engine: Opel OHV, 3.6-liter, 75-hp, eight-cylinder, liquid-cooled, gasoline 
  • Transmission: Five-speed: four forward, one reverse 
  • Brakes: Hydraulic 
  • Length: 20-feet 
  • Width: 7-feet, 7-inches 
  • Height: 6-feet, 9-1/2-inches 
  • Weight: Approximately 4-tons 
  • Armor: None 
  • Armament: NONE on this example – Could be fitted with a 7.92-mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun 
  • Maximum Speed: Approximately 25-mph 
  • Maximum Payload: 2-tons 
  • Markings: German Afrika Korps 

Source: 

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