German Schnelltruppen (Fast Troops) disembark from Hanomag Mittlere Schutzenpanzerwagen Ausf D (Medium Armored Cars Model D) SdKfz 251/10 (background) and 251/1 half tracks to attack a Russian village during the opening days of Operation Barbarossa. The 251/1, mounting three MG34 machine guns, was the standard armored personnel carrier for the soldiers to keep pace with the armored columns. The Schnelltruppen, later designated Panzergrenadiers in 1943, were trained to fight mounted in their vehicles or dismounted as regular infantry. The 251/10 mounted a 37mm (1.46 inch) Pak 36 cannon for light anti-tank and infantry artillery support. Each Schnelltruppe Zug (Platoon) would have three 251/1s and one 251/10. Each 251/1 could carry ten soldiers and two drivers. In combat, the 251s would be kept in reserve for mobile operations. When ordered to attack, the drivers would seek maximum tactical cover from hills and foliage to approach the target. When the point of disembarkation was reached, the commander would shout "Abspringen!" (Bale Out!) and the ten soldiers would take two MG34 machine guns and form a Schutzenkette (firing line) with the guns at the center with the squad leader or on the flanks. 16,000 Hanomag SdKfz 251s were built between 1939 and 1945; many were used in other roles, such as anti-aircraft, rocket platforms, or searchlights. While the 251 was a flexible platform, all these other uses distracted from the troop carrying role. Only one-third of Panzergrenadiers were carried into combat.
Caption ©2007 MFA Productions LLC
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