SdKfz 251 Ausf D
From early 1943, the SdKfz 251 Ausf D model was developed with the purpose of halving the number of angled body plates, simplifying the design and thus speeding up the production. D models can be easily recognized by their single piece sloping rear (with flat doors).
The standard personnel carrier version was equipped with a 7.92 mm MG 34 or MG 42 machine gun mounted at the front of the open compartment, above and behind the driver. A second machine gun could be mounted at the rear on an anti-aircraft mount.
Variants were produced for specialized purposes, including with anti-aircraft guns, light howitzers, anti-tank guns and mortars or even large unguided artillery rockets, as well as a version with an infrared search light used to spot potential targets for associated Panther tanks equipped with infrared detectors.
Another potentially good design feature of the Sd.Kfz.251 was the large track area, with the characteristic "slack track" design with no return rollers for the upper run of track, and the Schachtellaufwerk system of overlapping and interleaved main road wheels common to virtually all German halftracks of the period. This lowered the ground pressure and provided better traction, giving the Sd.Kfz.251 better cross country performance than most other nations' half-tracked vehicles. However, the interleaved and overlapping main road wheels shared a major problem with the Tiger I and Panther tanks that also used such roadwheel configurations - in muddy or winter weather conditions, such as those during a rasputitsa mud season or the coldest Russian winter conditions, accumulated mud and snow could freeze solid between the road wheels, immobilizing the vehicle.
Sdkfz 251/1 - m. SPW (sometimes with side-mounted rocket launchers)
SdKfz 251/2 - 8cm Gr.W-wagen (mortar carrier)
SdKfz 251/3 - wireless vehicle
SdKfz 251/4 - ammunition carrier for le.I.G. (light infantry gun)
SdKfz 251/5 - engineer (troops) vehicle
SdKfz 251/6 - command vehicle
SdKfz 251/7 - engineer (equipment) vehicle
SdKfz 251/8 - armoured ambulance
SdKfz 251/9 - 7.5cm Stu.K 37 L/24 (Sf.)
SdKfz 251/10 - 3.7cm Pak (Sf.)
SdKfz 251/11 - telephone vehicle
SdKfz 251/12 - survey section instrument vehicle
SdKfz 251/13 - sound recording vehicle
SdKfz 251/14 - sound ranging vehicle
SdKfz 251/15 - flash spotting vehicle
SdKfz 251/16 - flame throwing vehicle
SdKfz 251/17 - 2cm Flak (Sf.)
SdKfz 251/18 - observation post vehicle
SdKfz 251/19 - telephone exchange vehicle
SdKfz 251/20 - infra-red searchlight vehicle
SdKfz 251/21 - 1.5cm or 2cm Flak MG-drilling (Sf.)
SdKfz 251/22 - 7.5cm Pak 40 (Sf.)
Production figures on German armored troop carriers.
The following numbers are from several sources and represent total production of various Schutzenpanzerwagens.
SdKfz 250 Alte produced from June 1941 to October 1943=4250 vehicles
SdKfz 250 Neu produced from October 1943 to March 1945=2378 vehicles
SdKfz 251 Ausf A produced from June 1939 to August 1939=250 vehicles
SdKfz 251 Ausf B produced from September 1939 to December 1939=350 vehicles
SdKfz 251 Ausf C produced from January 1940 to September 1943=4050 vehicles
SdKfz 251 Ausf D produced from September 1943 to March 1945=10602 vehicles
SdKfz 252 produced from January 1941 to September 1941=413 vehicles
SdKfz 253 produced from March 1940 to June 1941=285 vehicles
SdKfz 254 produced from June 1940 to March 1941=128 vehicles
According to "Armored Fighting Vehicles of Germany", Duncan Crow Editor, Arco Publishing, NY, 1973
Regarding the SdKfz 250:
"currently available official figures indicate that 5,930 le.SPW (SdKfz 250) were manufactured in the years 1942 to 1944." p. 174
Regarding the SdKfz 251:
"...Hanomag built 6,270 chassis by the end of 1944, while Borgward (formerly Hansa-Lloyd-Goliath) had produced 2,572 units by the end of 1943. The official Speer Report- Nr. M 1362/45 g. Rs.- published on January 27th, 1945, mentions the following production figures for the 3 t., Mannschaftstransportwagen: 1940- 348, 1941- 947, 1942- 1,190, 1943- 4,250, 1944- 7,800. Production figures for 1945 are no longer available." p. 164