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"SdKfz 2 Kleines Kettenkraftrad".
Operating a Kettenkrad.
For those of us who don't read and speak German there comes a time when the manual must be consulted. At this time there are no known English language versions of any of the Kettenkrad manuals (Operator's and Parts - there are no Workshop manuals).
English speakers, especially those used to American manuals find it hard to accept that a workshop manual does not exist: here is why. The Germans sent most vehicles back to the manufacturer for major repairs or rebuild. Military workshops such as us English speakers are used to were not the norm. Of course, battlefield and rear area work was undertaken, such as component replacement or battle damage etc, but not rebuild.
The manufacturer would doubtless have had all the engineering data to hand and would not have had a need to publish that data.
Also, the operator manual appears to be written on the assumption that the reader is a German soldier (a logical assumption) AND that he has the required skills and competency to be entrusted with the vehicle. The German culture values competency, almost everyone is a specialist of some sort.
So where your average US military vehicle manual sets cover the whole spectrum of basic through to full workshop rebuild - making few assumptions of competency. The KK operator manual does not. eg. It assumes everyone knows how to adjust a clutch and does not provide this information.
This now brings us back to the problem of deciphering the German language used in the Operator's manual. Added to this is that parts of the Kettenkrad manual are in Gothic print, where the capital letters don't really look all that different to each other and bear little resemblance to western characters.
This frustrates Optical Character Recognition software just as much as manually trying to identify words and letters.
Note that some of these characters are not what you would assume them to be,
such as some (but not all) of the lowercase letters that look like "f" and "j".
In addition, technical German (automotive terminology) is not something to be found in your average German/English dictionary or online for that matter.
Even supposing you have got this far and managed to identify the letters and words, there is a final hurdle to overcome. There is an old saying that no language can truly be translated into another - how true! German grammar is quite different to English grammar, just as there are words that have fallen from use in the last 50 or more years.
As an example: almost every Kettenkrad has stencilled on the left and right rear panels a set of instructions for track tensioning. There are variations, but here is a typical example (I have had to revert to the convention of substituting a letter "e" to indicate a missing umlaut):
"Die Kette ist so ausspannen, dass der ober Kettenstrang auf den mitleren Laufradern aufliegt, jedoch das erste und letzt Laufrad nicht mehr beruehrt."
When translated word for word into English, you get:
"The chain is so to span that the upper chain path on the middle track wheel rest upon, however first and last wheel no more affected."
Which considering some of the gobbledegook that I have ended up with when trying to translate the more technical aspects of the vehicle, is actually pretty clear. One needs to keep in mind that German social moors, especially in the generations born before WW2 were much more formal than our own. What I have seen and experienced reminds me of medieval English in the "deference" and formality. As an example, Germans still use the deferential "Sie" ("thee" in old English). Anyone who has had even a smattering of German at school will recognise it from "Sprechen sie Deutsch?". The question is not "Do you speak German?" it is "Speak thee German?". The word "you" ("du") is informal and what you would normally only use with a friend or (younger) close relatives.
A more recent change in German is the substitution of the word "Zwo" for "Zwei" post WW2. There was too much confusion being caused by the spoken number 2 and 3 (Zwei and Drei) over the telephone and radio.
A real translation of the track tensioning instructions would be something along the lines of:
"Tension the track so that it stands clear of the first and last road wheels (1 cm is the ideal), but rests on the top of all other road wheels."
For those who would like to see an example of the actual German manual, see below for an exert from the operator's manual (this section is about the wheels).
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