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Models built from 1972 to present
German 8 ton Semi Track 20mm Flakvierling Sd.Kfz 7/1 - Tamiya
the end of World War I, the tank was extensively looked upon as a new
weapon which would decide the fate of ground warfare. The new weapon, of
unfamiliar shape, not only astonished soldiers on the battlefield but also
deeply impressed the civilian population the world over. It seems that
very few people had remembered the track driven tractor which had been
drawing as a heavy gun as a mechanical horse or as scene shifter behind
the muddy battlefield. Those who were in the know were aware that the Holt
catepillar tractor was the origin of the half track and had been the
mother of the tank which helped to lead the Allied to victory. After the
end of World War I, the Holt half track tractor which had been invented
originally for agricultural use, continued to be studied in many countries
for military purposes. Half Tracks were a happy invention, combining the
advantages of full tracks such as tank and tractor and those of wheeled
vehicles such as the car.
Full tracks were superior in cross country ability and tractive force, but inferior in running speed on roads, and in steering. On the other hand, wheeled vehicles made satisfactory speeds on road but often had difficulty in running cross country. Half tracks had the advantages of both types of vehicles and few of their disadvantages. However, the half track's main disadvantage was that they were complicated in construction and difficult to maintain. Recognising the excellent tractive force and cross-country ability of half tracks, the German Army Ordnance Burean decided in 1932 to develop six military half tracks, from a 1 ton to a large 18 ton tractor. Different car makers were ordered to develop one of these.
Krauss-Maffei in Munich took charge of an 8 ton half track. Because this firm had given attention and study to half tracks since 1928, they completed a prototype, named KMm7 as early as 1933. It soon developed into the KMm8 and KMm9, and in 1936 the KMm10 was put into production. It was not until the KMm10 was born that the 8 ton half track was officially designated : Medium 8 ton tractor - Sd.Kfz.7. The last production model, KMm11 was completed in 1938 and put into production immediately.
German half tracks were used in large quantities by the Wehrmacht and all were excellent vehicles built by the cream of German engineers, and their engineers' thoughtful consideration was given to their construction and parts. The 8 ton half track stood out amongst the others and was a masterpiece medium tractor which was used for various purposes. In half tracks of the German Army, unlike those of the U.S.Army etc., most of the parts were composed of tracks, and therefore their mechanism was complicated and required a great deal of maintenance. For instance, the differential brake - a device for slowing the rotation of the inside track so that the vehicle could make a quick turn - was designed to interlock with the steering mechanism. The suspension, complicated but practical in construction, was a happy combination or torsion bars and leaf springs, to which large bogies peculiar to German vehicles were fixed. Thus the fruition of the engineers' excellent efforts was seen in every point of the German half tracks, particularly so in the 8 ton half track.
The production of the 8 ton half track totaled about 1,200 in number by the end of World War II. Many of them were used as a tractor for the 150mm heavy field gun or 88mm anti-aircraft gun. During the middle and last stage of the war some of these medium half tracks were equipped with various weapons.
One of them was the 8 ton half track with 20mm four barreled AA machine gun (Sd.Kfz.7/1). The 20mm four barreled gun mounted on the vehicle was an excellent AA machine gun completed in 1940. Two 20mm AA machine guns, model 38, were arranged in two rows. The gunner seat behind the gun and, whilst looking through the self adjusted the direction of the gun by means of a manual handle. The gun was of the magazine-feed type and equipped with two loader seats, one on each side. It was designed to be swiveled through 360°, elevated by 100° and depressed by 10°. The maximum rate of fire was 800 rounds per minute. The maximum effective range was 3,700 meters (height) and 4,800 meters (ground distance).
Since the four barreled AA machine gun was called 2cm Flakvierling 38, the 8 ton half track armed with it was officially designated 8 ton Tractor with 2cm Flakvierling 38. - Sd.Kfz. 7/1.
In the first few months of 1945, German Luftwaffe were accompanied by an anti-aircraft battalion whenever they were moved from one place to another. The battalion consisted of one 37mm AA gun battery (nine guns) and two 20mm AA gun batteries (six gun each). These batteries laid down a thick anti aircraft barrage against enemy planes approaching the airfield at low altitude. Thus the half track, with 20mm four barreled AA gun, became the most formidable opponent of Allied fighters which tried to attack the Germans at low altitude.
This powerful weapon was used in quantities also by the Army and Schutzstaffel Units, and Allied troops were harassed by it in ground combat as well.
(From Tamiya Manual)
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