The armoured hull of this vehicle was of welded construction and was built up on a chassis frame. Of light construction owing to the rigidity of the armoured hull , the chassis frame was mainly the assembly foundation for all the mechanical components and was composed of two parallel Z-section side-members joined by two main tubular cross-members-which also served as the pivots on which the four suspension springs rocked. Auxiliary light cross-members of channel section and the four final drive gearboxs, very rigidly attached to the direct side-members, gave additional strength. The bare chassis weighed 4120kg (4.12 tons). The early chassis, produced from 1937 to 1938.
The development of a schwerer Panzerspahwagen with improved cross-country mobility was ordered in 1934. Designated Versuchskraftfahrzeug (experimental vehicle) 623 and 624, an eight-wheeled chassis was developed to carry the armoured body and turret. The designation changed to Sd Kfz 233 and 234 in mid-1937 and, finally, to Sd Kfz 231 and 232 (8-Rad) in October 1939. Only the Sd Kfz 232 version was produced after May 1942. Sd Kfz 232 production ceased in September 1942 to be replaced by the Sd Kfz 234 series.
All chassis were produced by Bussing-NAG, and featured steering and drive for all eight road wheels. Double controls were installed to allow rapid maneuvering, advancing and retiring. The engine was located in the rear, which gave adequate protection together with adequate cooling. Early in 1940, an 8mm armour shield (Pakschutz) was added to the front of many of the Sd Kfz 231/232 already produced, and this practice continued until early 1942. From May 1942, this temporary solution was eliminated from production vehicles, since the hull and turret frontal armour thickness was increased to 30mm. The weight then increased to 9.1 tons.
Six Sd Kfz 231 and 232 were issued to the heavy platoon of the Panzerspahwagen squadron of each motorized Aufklarungs detachment. The entire platoon was not usually employed together, but was split up to accompany and give support to the smaller, four-wheeled armoured cars. The Sd Kfz 231 and 232 were employed in all campaigns throughout the war.
Characteristics Sd Kfz 231 8-Rad
Weight, unladen: 7550kg (7.55 tons).
Weight, fully laden: 8300kg (8.3 tons).
Axle loadings, front two axles: 2050kg (2.05 tons) each.
Axle loadings, rear two axles: 2100kg 2.1 tons) each.
Crew: Four men (commander, gunner, two drivers).
Length, overall: 5850mm (19.18ft) (without front pannier) .
Width, overall: 2200mm (7.22ft).
Height, overall: 2340mm (7.66ft).
Type: Flat, face-hardened armour steel, welded, proof against light anti-tank guns.
Hull: Nose, 8+10mm (2ft space), later 30mm; glacis,
5mm; sides, 8-10mm; rear, 10mm; roof, 5mm; floor, 5mm.
Turret: Front, 8mm-15mm (later 30mm); sides, 8mm; rear, 8mm; roof, 5mm.
One 2cm Kwk 30 or 38t. Both mounted coaxially in flat
One 7.92mm MG-34 mantlet and both fired by pedals on gunner's foot-rest.
One 9mm MP-38 or MP-40 machine-pistol.
One 27mm signal pistol.
Six stick hand-grenades.
Traverse: 360°, mechanically assisted.
Elevation: -10° to +26°.
2cm: 180 rounds.
7.92mm: 2100 rounds.
9mm: 192 rounds.
27mm signal cartridges: 12.
Maximum speed, road: 85kph (53mph).
Maximum speed, cross-country: 30kph (19mph).
Radius of action, road: 270km (170 miles).
Radius of action, cross-country: 150km (95 miles) .
Communication: R/T, rod-type aerial.
Sighting and Vision: Coaxial sighting telescope T.Z.F.6., commander's periscope; vision openings with laminated glass and armour flaps.
Schwerer Panzerspahwagen (s.Pz.Sp.Wg.) Sd.Kfz.232 (Fu) (8·Rad)
This was the Funkwagen version of the eight-wheeled armoured car-identical to the Sd.Kfz.231 (8-Rad) as regards its armament and traversing turret. The medium-range wireless equipment, however, was provided with a large frame-aerial mounted horizontally above the turret, extending approximately the whole length of the vehicle and curved down at each end. It was mounted on a pivot above the turret at the front and on two stays at the rear of the vehicle. The pivot mounting at the front allowed the turret to traverse; but when traversed to the rear, there was a danger of shooting away the supporting stays at low elevation and the rear of the aerial at high elevation. Like the Sd.Kfz.231 (8-Rad), this vehicle had a crew of four.
In later models, the horizontal frame-aerial was replaced by a rod-aerial on the turret roof and a star aerial on the centre of the rear deck. The radio equipment in this vehicle was expensive and very complicated, and it therefore proved difficult to maintain.
Characteristics (differing from those of the Sd. Kfz.231 (8-Rad)
Weight, unladen: 7700kg (7.70 tons).
Weight, fully laden: 8800kg (8.80 tons) .
Axle loadings (all axles): 2275kg (2.3 tons).
Height, overall: 2900mm (9.50ft).
Armament: As for Sd.Kfz.231 but with the omission of the 7.62mm coaxial machine-gun.
Communication: R/T and WIT (medium-range) transmitter and receiver.