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"SdKfz 2 Kleines Kettenkraftrad".

Operating a Kettenkrad.

   (Ver 1)

 



Summary.

The Kettenkrad was a niche design for it's time. It was expensive and time consuming to produce. The original requirement for mountain warfare soon disappeared as did the paratroop application. However, despite never being available in significant numbers the German military forces did not discard the Kettenkrad during the war and it saw service right to the last days.

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A photo of a prototype tracked Kubelwagen. Interesting in that the
comparison vehicle is a Kettenkrad. Note the heavy going in loose sand. As far as I know
the tracked Kubelwagen was not produced.



After the war, application was made to the occupying powers for permission to restart Kettenkrad production so as to provide desperately needed agricultural vehicles. With the almost total devestation of their economy, lack of man power and starvation, there were few surviving factories capable of being returned to production. The NSU works still had a significant parts inventory and the Kettenkrad was one of the very few German vehicle designs that wasn't designed as a weapon. Permission was granted and a further 550 vehicles were produced. These were a mixture of new hulls, new, rebuilt or spare driveline components etc. An unknown quantity of wartime vehicles are thought to have existed that had been returned to the factory and not been refurbished before the war ended and subsequently re-appeared in this batch. There are rumours that some of the post-war production was exported to the USA for forestry service use: this does however seem to be illogical given the desperate need for them in Germany. No proof has ever surfaced that this occured.


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An early wartime Kettenkrad - quite what business it has found itself
employed in after the war I can't figure out.



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A post-war production Kettenkrad employed as a farm tractor as intended.


Wartime production is thought to be about 8871. Licence production of 2,630 was undertaken during the war by the St÷wer company (pronounced "Stove-er") of Stettin and is included in the above number.
Thus, including the post-war 550, a grand total of 9,421 is as close as can be tallied.
But due to the uncertainty with the post-war production and possible doubling up of serial numbers where a wartime vehicle subsequently obtained a post-war number, this figure can only be regarded as a best guess.
It is thought that about 250 vehicles survive. Lots being static in museums. The rest are in civilian hands, many of these are in operating condition and roadworthy.
As with anything WW2 that is German, authenticity is extremely difficult to prove. It is safe at this time to assume that a Kettenkrad is real, as the cost of tooling up to replicate the Cletrac gearbox and other unique components is not profitable. As to whether or not any vehicle really is of wartime production, post-war production or a modern Czech body is nothing more than a serial number stamping. Some people can get incredibly focused on just a number and MUST have a wartime serial or date, this often means that is what they are presented, the classic case being German helmets and the seemingly endless variety of copies.
It is highly unlikely that a modern version will appear, as Helicopters are more than able to serve the original requirement. There is also the trend to armoured or hardened light vehicles seating a minimum of 4 persons, which a small open design such as the Kettenkrad cannot address.

At the end of the day, there is nothing similar to this little vehicle.

BACK TO THE KETTENKRAD INDEX PAGE.

 

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