On 7 May 1942 Hitler ordered that development begin of a simple, low-speed, half-track, load-carrying vehicle for use on the Eastern Front. Büssing-NAG was selected to develop a new 5 t (4.9 long tons; 5.5 short tons) tractor (Zgkw. 5t neuer Art) to replace the earlier 5 tonne Sd.Kfz. 6 and 3 t (3.0 long tons; 3.3 short tons) Sd.Kfz. 11 half-tracks as well as the various lesser-known vehicles of the same class. Production started in December 1943 at Büssing-NAG. Early examples used a truck-like, unarmored cabin similar to the earlier Sd.Kfz. half-tracks it replaced, while later examples featured an armored cabin and engine compartment that looked similar to the famous Sd.Kfz. 251 armored personnel carrier. Tatra also joined in production, but both factories produced only 825 in total. Tatra continued production of an improved vehicle after the war as the T809.
In addition to the basic cargo role, the vehicle was also adapted as a mount for the medium 3.7 cm FlaK 43 anti-aircraft gun, which was placed at the front of the cargo area on a mounting with a large gun shield. The sides of the cargo compartment folded down to give the crew more room to maneuver. Ammunition was carried at the rear of the cargo area. The only other known modification was the Panzerwerfer 42 auf sWS, a 10-barreled 15 cm (5.9 in) Nebelwerfer 42 rocket launcher placed over an armored ammunition storage compartment built over the cargo area that was intended to replace the 15 cm Panzerwerfer auf Sf (Sd.Kfz. 4/1), commonly called the Maultier.
Read more about this topic: Schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper
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