History of the Sd.Kfz.234/2
|This is the history section shared between the Sd.Kfz.234/2 and the Twitch Drop version.
The blitzkrieg tactics in Poland and France gave the Germans a new appreciation of mobile and lethal reconnaissance vehicles. The Germans especially valued the armoured cars due to their speed, firepower, and their pre-war build-up as they were not restricted by the Versailles Treaty. The Germans started with armoured cars like the Sd.Kfz.231 family, each with different armaments. However, these vehicles had its flaws and in August 1940, Germany sought a replacement following the conclusion of the Battle of France.
The new vehicle was built off an improved Sd.Kfz.232 chassis made in monocoque construction by Büssing-NAG, its armoured body was made by Deutsche Edelstahlwerke, the turret by Daimler-Benz and Schichau, and air-cooled diesel engines by Ringhoffer-Tatra-Werke AG. The monocoque chassis design was built with an eight-wheel steering system, six forward and reverse gears, as well as having an additional driver seat in the rear for quick reversal get-aways. This construction led to Sd.Kfz.234 family. Vehicle construction first started in 1943 as the Sd.Kfz.234/2, which had a turret originally intended for the VK 1602 Leopard mounting a 5 cm L/60 gun, construction continued on this vehicle until mid-1944. The Sd.Kfz.234/2 earned the nickname "Puma" from the soldiers using it.
Production for Sd.Kfz.234/2 shifted towards other armaments in 1944 that replaced the original. This produced variants such as the Sd.Kfz.234/1 which replaced the turret with an open-top one carrying a 2 cm KwK38, this was produced between mid-1944 to early 1945. Right besides that, the Sd.Kfz.234/3 was produced with an open-top structure to mount a 75 mm howitzer, this was produced from mid-1944 until the end of 1944. At the Sd.Kfz.234/3's production end, it was replaced by the Sd.Kfz.234/4, also known as the "Pakwagen", that had the armament replaced by a 7.5 cm PaK40 anti-tank gun. This last variant was produced from the end of 1944 to the capitulation of Germany in World War II. A total of 478 Sd.Kfz.234 armoured cars were produced, 200 of the 234/1, 101 of the 234/2, 88 of the 234/3, and 89 of the 234/4.
The Sd.Kfz.234 cars were originally intended for the conflicts in North Africa. However, the engine development took abnormally long to complete and by the time it was ready, the North African theater had concluded. Nevertheless, they served in the Western and Eastern front with success, but was impeded by its low production count.
The Sd.Kfz. 234/2 variant was arguably the most popular, as the staple of the 234 family. The vehicle served in the Panzer Lehr Division, 1st and 2nd SS Panzer Division, 2nd, 7th, 13th, and 20th Panzer Division. The Sd.Kfz.234 in the recon companies were allocated in 19 or 25 vehicles per division, further split into platoons up to six vehicles and one as the headquarters. However, due to their low production numbers, this allocation was rarely kept in full strength in the war,
The Sd.Kfz.234 first saw combat in Normandy after D-Day in the stationed Panzer Lehr and 2nd Panzer Division in the Sd.Kfz.234/2 variant. The divisions used these vehicles in recon roles until their withdrawal behind the Seine River, with Panzer Lehr having 8 Sd.Kfz.234/2 of the original 26 it had. These divisions were rebuilt in the fall of 1944 with the Sd.Kfz.234/1 and Sd.Kfz.234/3 after the 234/2 ceased production.