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"SdKfz 2 Kleines Kettenkraftrad".

Operating a Kettenkrad.

   (Ver 3)

 



Variants.

The full offical title for the vehicle is: "Sonder Kraftfahrtzeuge 2 Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK101"
unsurprisingly this was abbreviated to "Kettenkrad" in normal use.
Kettenkraftrad in English is "Chain motor bike" but a translation would be "Tracked motor bike".
Pronounciation for a non-German speaker of Kettenkrad =
  Ket - as in kettle
  ten - as in the number 10
  kra - as in kraft - but gutterally.
  dt - as in the letter "d" and the letter "t" combined, with both being pronounced in a similar way as applied to the "ft" in "kraft".

There are 3 documented variants:

1)  The standard SdKfz 2 with or without a trailer. (One trailer for every 2 Kettenkrades.)

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A typical standard Kettenkrad, early production.


2)  The SdKfz 2/1 Kleines Kettenkrad für Feldfernkabel - which carried a frame to mount a field telephone cable.

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This is the "light" (as in weight) phone cable version!

3)  The SdKfz 2/2 Kleines Kettenkrad für schwere Feldfernkabel - again with a frame, but a much heavier built version for heavier cable.

Does anyone have a photo of this version that I can use?

"Kleines" in the title means small or little. Where there is a "small" you would expect to find a "large" = "Große" in German. There is a picture in existance of a Kettenkrad, which is longer and has one more set of road wheels (5 on each side instead of four). You can't see much detail in the picture, only the extra wheels and two persons sitting behind the driver, facing forward. This was the only known picture of the "Große Kettenkrad" HK 102. NSU built only some prototypes and not a single vehicle survived the war.

But, strange things do happen and just into the 21st century some construction work was taking place at the site of a German army barracks and they hit something. The something turned out to be a Große Kettenkrad! Within 6 months it was fully restored and driving. This find included some surprises, the fact that the vehicle was wider than a normal Kettenkrad (body overhang, not tracks set wider apart) and that it was fitted with a German Ford V8 engine.
The extra 2 seats were really only cushions at the back of the fuel tanks, the passenger's legs went between the engine and the operator.

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The Grosse Kettenkrad.




Lastly, I have come across a photo of what appears to be a "Fitter's" vehicle (as it would be called these days in English), essentially this is a mechanic's service vehicle and carries tools and equipment necessary to maintain vehicles in the field. I have no idea if what is shown in the photo below is a field modification or if it was a factory product that was never documented. The storage locker that has been installed in place of the back seat is actually the upper works of the abandoned remote controlled Kettenkrad. That concept eventually became a vehicle called the "Springer".

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The mystery Fitter's version.


Of course, there were prototypes of variants that never went into production, such as an anti-aircraft version where the rear seat was set further back, but elevated and facing forward. A gun mount for an MG-42 machine gun was fitted immediately behind the engine cover.

If you study the 2 vehicles below, supposedly of the prototype you will notice that they are actually 2 distinctly different vehicles.
The upper one has the spoked front wheel, spoked inner wheels and spoked idler. The lower one has the characteristic solid front wheel but non-standard inners and idler. Note the prominent cutout in the rear panel. Perhaps this is a pre-production version?

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Prototype.




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Pre-production?




Note: Beware of what you see in museums and be especially wary of restored vehicles. There has been a great deal of artistic licence applied to many of these vehicles in that they have machine gun mounts on them, brackets for every conceivable weapon and accessory. Likewise markings: as Andreas has said to me "Kettenkrads were mostly unmarked other than military number plates: unit markings were not normal, the iron cross was specifically "verboten" (forbidden) on Kettenkrades".

Which isn't to say it didn't ever happen - as an example you would be unlikely to find a Luftwaffe Kettenkrad (typically used as an aircraft tug) carrying any markings other than its registration number. Vehicles as small as a Kettenkrad were painted only one colour, a camoflage scheme was not the norm - despite the number of vehicles that are now seen wearing camoflage schemes.

It is generally accepted that camoflage schemes only become effective on vehicles of car size and larger. Camoflaging smaller vehicles is actually detrimental as the subject is too "busy" and this attracts the human eye. To be done effectively would mean 1/3 to 1/2 of the vehicle in one colour and so on. Nobody seems to be able to resist the temptation to scale down the pattern from a larger vehicle. Likewise, wheels should never be camoflaged unless the vehicle is not intended to move - a rotating camoflaged object is unnatural and immediately attracts the eye.

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