Sd.Kfz. 254

The Sd.Kfz. 254 was a German fully tracked armoured scout car employed by Wehrmacht during World War II.

Sd.Kfz. 254
TypeTracked/wheeled armoured scout car
Place of originAustria
Service history
Used byAustria, Nazi Germany
Production history
No. built140
Variantsartillery observation vehicle
Specifications
Mass6.4 tonnes[1]
Length4.56 m[1]
Width2.02 m, 2.20 m on wheels[1]
Height1.88 m[1]
Crew7

Armor6 - 15 mm [1]
Main
armament
1 x MG34 7.92 mm machine gun[1]
EngineSaurer CRDv 4cyl, diesel[1]
70 PS[1]
Operational
range
500 km on wheels[1]
Maximum speed 60 km/h[1]

From 1936, the vehicle was developed under the designation RR-7 by the Saurer company as an artillery tractor for the Austrian army. Testing was completed and in 1937, an order was placed for the tractors and they were manufactured in 1938. About 12 vehicles were made prior to Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938).

Manufacture of the vehicle continued after the Anschluss. Records indicate that a total of 140 units were built with the new designation RK-7 (Räder-Kettenfahrgestell), although they were named as Sd.Kfz. 254 by the Wehrmacht. The vehicle featured a wheel-cum-track layout and a diesel motor. The wheels were lowered when it was used on roads and retracted for tracked movement cross-country. A number saw service with the Afrika Korps, serving as artillery observation vehicles after being fitted with a radio and rail antenna.

The freedom tankEdit

In 1950 the former mechanic Václav Uhlík from Líně in the Czech Republic found the wreck of an RR-7 artillery tractor. He repaired and rebuilt the machine as an armoured carrier. On 25 July 1953, with seven passengers in the vehicle, he got through three border zones including wire obstacles, and penetrated thirty kilometres into West German territory. There he applied for asylum and emigrated to the United States, where the machine was exhibited as the "freedom tank" (Czech: tank svobody).[2] Today it is owned by a private collector.[3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Chamberlain and Doyle 2004, p. 179.
  2. ^ "Riding the Czech Freedom Tank Through the Iron Curtain".
  3. ^ Pejčoch, Ivo. "František Uhlík a Tank svobody" (PDF). Historie a plastikové modelářství (in Czech). Retrieved 9 February 2018.

SourcesEdit

  • Chamberlain, Peter; Doyle, Hilary (2004). Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two. Technical Editor: Thomas L. Jentz. Wigston, Leicestershire, UK: Silverdale Books. ISBN 1-84509-012-8.

External linksEdit