German armored scout vehicle SdKfz 234 Puma.
History, development, service, specifications, statistics, pictures and 3D-model of the heavy cross-country armored car series.
SdKfz 234 Puma
Type: Heavy cross-country armored car.
In August 1940, the Wehrmacht demanded a modernized version of the heavy eight-wheel armored reconnaissance vehicle. The new design should correspond to the previous heavy armored scout vehicles SdKfz 231 to 233, but should have a self-supporting hull and thus become flatter. The vehicle was also to be specially designed for the campaign in North Africa, for which a very large driving range was required.
For this reason, a diesel engine with 12 cylinders was ordered from Tatra for the first time, after all German armored cars had received petrol engines so far.
The first prototype was presented in July 1941, but there were serious problems with the new engine. This dragged on for so long that the production of the new armored scout car could only be started at the end of 1943. Therefore, the first vehicles were not put into service before 1944.
There were different versions of the SdKfz 234. The basic model was the command armored car SdKfz 234/1 with an open top, fully rotatable hexagonal turret with 2 cm quick-fire cannon.
The Puma was the SdKfz 234/2 with a turret shaped like a horse’s hoof from above. It should fight the Russian armored reconnaissance vehicles at the Eastern front and the turret with 5-cm-cannon was originally developed for the never put into service light main battle tank Leopard.
After it was clear that a stronger armament was necessary to fight the Soviet tank units, the SdKfz 234/3 with a short 7.5 cm gun and then the SdKfz 234/4 with a long 7.5 cm Pak 40, which were rigidly mounted to the front in an open top stand, appeared.
The vehicles had an extremely large driving range of about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers), as it would have been necessary in North Africa. For the use with the ‘Africa Corps’ they became naturally too late operational readiness, but at the Eastern Front and in northwest Europe they were effective combat vehicles.
Animated 3D model heavy armored car SdKfz 234/2 Puma
Heavy armored car Puma
On 5 August 1940 the order was given to develop a new eight-wheel armored reconnaissance vehicle comparable to the design of the SdKfz 231. In contrast to the previous design, where the armored body was screwed onto the chassis, the SdKfz 234’s armored fuselage was to serve as the chassis.
This new sPzSpWg 8-Rad TP (Tropen) was to have more armor and an air-cooled 12-cylinder diesel engine, which was intended to be used in the hot climate of North Africa and the southern Russian steppes.
Two prototypes were built and the original order of 500 units was later increased to 1,500 vehicles.
The original order provided for the arming with a 5cm KwK 39/1 and was called SdKfz 234/2. In January 1944 this order was reduced to 100 Puma and ordered to arm all further vehicles with the 2-cm KwK or the 7.5cm KwK.
The design of the fuselage was similar to the SdKfz 231, but had a better frontal protection by thicker armor plates, which were more angled. A large, fully enclosed turret with curved side plates was used for the 5cm KwK 39/1 and the coaxial MG42 in the ‘Saukopf’ gun barrel.
Each armored scout vehicle company consisted of 25 Puma. These four companies were assigned to four tank divisions, which were deployed on the Eastern front as well as in the west.
Heavy armored car (2cm)
In September 1943 it was ordered to arm fifty percent of the production of the new heavy armored scout vehicle SdKfz 234 with the 2-cm KwK38, after the first one hundred pieces were finished as SdKfz 234/2 Puma.
In June 1944 the share was even increased to 75 percent, when the vehicle was built simultaneously together with the SdKfz 234/3 and subsequently SdKfz 234/4.
The SdKfz 234/1 had the same fuselage as the Puma (SdKfz 234/2), but had a different turret. This turret resembled the short and open top construction of the SdKfz 222, but was simpler, hexagonal with a stronger front armor. The name of this turret was ‘2cm Hängelafette 38’.
Nineteen SdKfz 234/1 were planned for the TOE of a tank scout car company of the tank reconnaissance battalions, which were operating with Panzer and Panzergrendier divisions. The SdKfz 234/1 saw deployments from July 1944 on the collapsing fronts in the east and west until the end of the war.
SdKfz 234/3 and SdKfz 234/4
Heavy armored car (7.5cm) and (7.5cm Pak40)
Already in September 1943 it was determined that fifty percent of the production of the SdKfz 234 should be armed with the short 7.5cm KwK37 gun. This was reduced to 25 percent in June 1944, which was due to a change in the organizational structure of the reconnaissance units.
In November 1944 Hitler ordered that the 7.5cm Pak 40 be installed in the SdKfz 234. So the production of the version SdKfz 234/3 ended in December 1944 and the SdKfz 234/4 was built at least until March 1945.
Both the SdKfz 234/3 and SdKfz 234/4 consisted of the base fuselage of the SdKfz 234 without a turret. The body was therefore open and the 7.5cm KwK51 was mounted with a gun shield in the front part of the body. With the SdKfz 234/4 the 7.5cm Pak 40 with the standard gun shield and gun carriage was mounted on a base mounting.
Six SdKfz 234/3 formed a detachment of the Panzerspähwagen-Kompanie (recon coy) to give fire support to the nineteen SdKfz 234/1. In the last months of the war they were also issued to tank reconnaissance companies in order to support the other armored reconnaissance vehicles in fighting enemy tanks.
|Specification||SdKfz 234/1||SdKfz 234/2 Puma||SdKfz 234/3-4|
|Type||heavy armored car|
|Engine||Tatra 103 Diesel engine; 210 hp at 2,200 rpm||=||=|
|Gearbox||6 forward, 6 reverse||=||=|
|Length (over all)||19.7 ft (6.00 m)||22.3 ft (6.80 m)||19.7 ft (6.00 m)|
|Width||7.64 ft (2.33 m)||=||=|
|Height||6.89 ft (2.10 m)||7.81 ft (2.38 m)||7.25 ft (2.21 m ) resp 7.17 ft (2.35 m)|
|Weight||25,386 lb (11,500 kg)||25,916 lb (11,740 kg)||25,386 lb (11,500 kg)|
|Maximum road speed||56 mph (90 km/hr)||53 mph (85 km/hr)||50 mph (80 km/hr)|
|Fuel consumption per 100 km||40 liters on road; 60 liters cross-country (Diesel)||=||=|
|Fuel||240 liters||360 liters||240 liters|
|Road radius||373 miles (600 km)||621 miles (1,000 km)||373 miles (600 km)|
|Cross-country radius||248 miles (400 km)||373 miles (600 km)||248 miles (400 km)|
|Vertical obstacle||20 in (0.50 m)||=||=|
|Trench crossing||53 in (1.35 m)||=||=|
|Fording depth||47 in (1.20 m)||=||=|
|Turning circle||48.9 ft (14.90 m)||=||=|
|Specification||SdKfz 234/1||SdKfz 234/2 Puma||SdKfz 234/3-4|
|Turret front||30 (40°)||30 (20°)||-|
|Turret side||8 (40°)||10 (25°)||-|
|Turret rear||8 (38°)||10 (25°)||-|
|Turret top||offen||10 (90)||-|
|Superstructure front||30 (40°)||30 (35°)||30 (35°)|
|Superstructure side||8 (35°)||8 (30°)||8 (30°)|
|Superstructure rear||10 (38°)||10 (40°)||10 (22°)|
|Superstructure top||6 (87-90°)||6 (88°)||6 (88°)|
|Hull front||30 (35-50°)||30 (30-55°)||30 (40-55°)|
|Hull side||8 (35°)||8 (30°)||8 (30°)|
|Hull rear||10 (31-46°)||10 (40°)||10 (40°)|
|Hull bottom||5 (90°)||5 (90°)||5 (90°)|
|Gun mantlet||10 (40°)||40-100 (Saukopf-blende)||15 (40°) front, 15 (0°) side, 15 (35°) rear, top open|
Armament and Equipment:
|Specification||SdKfz 234/1||SdKfz 234/2 Puma||SdKfz 234/3||SdKfz 234/4|
|Main armament||2cm KwK38 L/55||5cm KwK 39/1 L/60||7,5cm KwK51 L/24||7,5cm Pak40 L/46|
|Traverse||360° (by hand)||360° (by hand)||-12° to +12° (by hand)||=|
|Elevation||-4° to 70°||-10° to +20°||-10° to +12°||-3° to +22°|
|Muzzle velocity Pzgr39||2,559 ft/sec (780 m/sec)||2,740 ft/sec (835 m/sec)||1,263 ft/sec (385 m/sec) with KGr rot||2,592 ft/sec (790 m/sec)|
|Muzzle velocity Pzgr40||3,445 ft/sec (1,050 m/sec)||3,871 ft/sec (1,180 m/sec)||1,476 ft/sec (450 m/sec) with Gr38 H1/C||3,248 ft/sec (990 m/sec)|
|Shell weight Pzgr39||0.327 lb (0.148 kg)||4.55 lb (2.06 kg)||15 lb (6.80 kg) for KGr rot||15 lb (6.80 kg)|
|Shell weight Pzgr40||0.221 lb (0.1 kg)||2.04 lb (0.925 kg)||10.6 lb (4.80 kg) for Gr38 H1/C||9.05 lb (4.10 kg)|
|Maximum fire range||?||?||13,478 yd (12,325m) as artillery||8,420 yd (7,700 m) as artillery|
|Secondary armament||1 x 7.92mm MG42 (2,400 rounds)||1 x 7.92mm MG42 (1,050 rounds)||1 x 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 (1,950 rounds) loose inside vehicle||=|
|Telescopic sight||TZF3a (max 1,312 yd = 1,200m)||TZF4b (max 2,281 yd = 3,000m)||Sfl ZF1b (max 13,478 yd = 12,325m HE)||ZF3x8° (max 8,420 yd = 7,700m HE)|
Penetration mm at 30° armor plates of the gun:
|Range||2cm Pzgr/Pzgr40 (SdKfz 234/1)||5cm Pzgr39/Pzgr40 (Puma)||7.5cm KGr rot/Gr 38 H1C (SdKfz 234/3)||7.5cm Pzgr39/Pzgr40 (SdKfz 234/4)|
|Figures||SdKfz 234/1||SdKfz 234/2 Puma||SdKfz 234/3||SdKfz 234/4|
|Production||June 1944 - Jan 1945||Sep 1943 - Sep 1944||June - Dec 1944||Dec 1944 - March 1945|
|Price per tank||? (8-wheel SdKfz 232: 57,290 RM)|
|Total production figure||200||101||88||89|
Video of the PUMA in action with computer games
Video of the SdKfz 234/4 ‘Pakwagen’ in action with computer games
Another replay video from War Thunder with seven kills of Soviet armored vehicles during the deployment of the SdKfz 234/4 ‘Pakwagen’ at a German vehicle line of the ‘Battle-Rating’ 4.0:
Who does not know the F2P tank and plane war game War Thunder can download it from here for free:
References and literature
Kraftfahrzeuge und Panzer der Reichswehr, Wehrmacht und Bundeswehr (Werner Oswald)
Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two (P.Chamberlain, H.L.Doyle)
Panzer und andere Kampffahrzeuge von 1916 bis heute (Christopher F. Foss, John F. Milsom, Colonel John Stafford Weeks, Captain Georffrey Tillotson, Richard M. Ogorkiewicz)
Panzerkampfwagen des 1. und 2. Weltkrieges (Andrew Kershaw)
Krieg der Panzer (Piekalkiewicz)
The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II (Chris Bishop)