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WWII Vehicle -- Kleines
Kettenkraftrad HK 101
Story: Victor Ma TL

The Idea of Halftrack Vehicle

The early half-track vehicle development was first appeared in the United States around 1890. The machine was designed for agricultural purpose, strangely feature by a pair of caterpillars placed under the rear, middle engine, and the vehicle front with a single wheel for steering. In this case, the Halftrack design is much fixable than the original 4-wheel tractor.

The military authorities soon discovered and shown their interest in the cross-country ability of the Halftrack Vehicle.

Early Invention

Before the outbreak of WWI, any after market track or caterpillar would be most likely modified with a rear drive wheel to re-build into a 4x2 truck which can overcome soft soil and snow surface.

At the end of 1910s, the French automobile company Delahaye manufactured a 4-track truck. The design included 4 sets of bogies placed inside a 4-wheel truck, however, the early Delahye 4-track truck design caused a highly disadvantage for steering. At the same period, around mid 1910s, a German engineer Hugo E.Bremer had a new concept for the cross-country 4-track truck by adding amoured out cover. The concept was not successful at the beginning and the further development of Bremer¡¦s concept stopped in 1917. The concept continue to be improved by German automobile company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, while another automobile company Benz started to develope halftrack vehicle.

In 1917, the first 4WD (4x4) truck converted into a halftrack was made by the US manufactorier Holt Mfg Co. Symbolized by the driven front axle, the Holt Mfg Co. halftrack shared many similarity to M2. and M3. which later on developed and used by the US army during WW II. The Holt Mfg co. would later acquire the trade mark ¡§caterpillar¡¨ and become the biggest construction and mining machinery company including the trackers.

200 units of halftracks were ordered by the German Army in 1918 and there were only 50 units completed by the end of WWl.

Lighten and Speed Up Halftrack

The early halftrack vehicles were slow and heavy weighted due to the metal continuous tracks at the back which were not ideal to use in the city. During 1920s, the Kegresse system was introduced in France. The Kegresse system comprised metal into rubber continuous tracks advance for a light weight bogies. The Kegresse system was converted to other manufacturer such as Packars, Roll Royce, Citroen and etc. expeditiously to improved performance off road. Austin armoured vehicles were also converted. In 1921, the halftrack with rubber continuous tracks was being tested at a Sahara trip.

During the late 1920s, the German army was interested in the off road tractor on various purpose. The German army noticed the French automobile manufacturer Citroen sent out a total seven halftrack vehicles to the "Yellow Expedition"in 1931, it was a very successful trip crossing from Asia to at Middle East.

Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101

The concept of Kettenkrad was carried out by the German engineer Heinrich Kniepkamp. He first developed a small cross country vehicle capable of operating in hilly, and narrow terrain for recovering felled timber in the dense German forests. At a time, the Kettenkrad was indeed of an advance new design for great improvement.

In 1932, a family have designed a range of semi-track vehicle with various sizes. Soon, this range of semi-tracks were scheduled to develop. The series started from one-ton model Sd.Kfz.10, three-ton Sd.Kfz11, five-ton Sd.Kfz.6, eight-ton Sd,Kfz.7, twelve-ton Sd.Kfz.8, eighteen-ton Sd.Kfz.9 to the smallest Sd.Kfz.2. The successed of KdKfz would later become the first all terrain vehicle in the world.

The SdKfz 2 is the smallest of the SdKfz series, better known as the Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101 or Kettenkrad for short. Ketten in german definite as chain or tracks, krad equal to military abbreviation of the german word Kraftrad, to the administrative German term for motorcycle.

Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101 started its life as a light tractor for airborne troops.The vehicle was designed to be delivered by Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, though not by parachute.The vehicle has an advantage of being the only gun tractor and small enough to fit inside Junkers Ju 52. Nevertheless, it was the lightest mass-produced German military vehicle in using the complex Schachtellaufwerk overlapped and interleaved road wheels which used by majority German military half-track vehicles of World War II.

Appointed by Wehrmacht the German Unified Armed Force

The first group of Kettenkrad vehicles were produced in 1938, but were not a great success due to weakness of the spoked front wheel and they were proved failing task. Further production models ensued of having a solid front wheel.

In 1940, orders were placed by both the German army (Heers) and airforce (Luftwaffe). It was at this point in time that the Kettenkrad earned it's place in the history as one of the first vehicle to be used in airborne operations, preformed as an air-portable tractor or a prime mover for the newly formed parachute troops (fallschirmjager) of the German airforce.

Subsequently, the Kettenkrad became a robust and reliable vehicle used by all arms of the German forces throughout World War II and continuously produced as a civilian tractor and forestry vehicle till 1948.

Despite the complicated feature, steering a Kettenkrad world feel as equivalent to control a 3 wheel motorcycle. This benefits any driver or co-driver in the army during World War. The design has the function of a tank or tracker, however, it does not require tank or tracker driving skills. It was truly a new page for everybody to control the first all terrain Vehicle as simple as a motorbike.

A Kettenkrad driver would accomplish by turning the handlebars: up to a certain point, only the front wheel would steer the vehicle. A motion of the handlebars beyond that point would engage the track brakes to help make turns sharper. The front wheel gives stability when driving straight on at high speed with it steers the vehicle through wide bends. When there are sharp bends such as rock surface or deep mud, the steering brakes will engaged. The speed will be significantly slow on this terrain. This is recommended in the driver's manual.

Analyzing HK 101

The SdKfz 2 was designed and built by the NSU Werke AG at Neckarsulm, Germany. First designed and patented in June 1939, and were use in the invasion of the Soviet Union during 1941. The vehicles were also produce by another manufactor during the WWII, automobile company Stoewer of Stettin, Poland, produced Kettenkrads under license accounting for about 10% of the total production.

The 4 cylinder Opel Olympia 1478cc OHC gasoline engine develop 36 bhp (26 kW) at 3400 rpm, Compression ratio 1 : 6 with a SOLEX Carburetter downdraught off-road carburetter 32 FJ-II, was located centrally, back to the front, drive the sprockets through a Gearbox with 3 forward gears and reverse gear, plus transfer box for "Gelande"(Off-road und "Strase" (Road). Sum up with a total of 1 forward and 2 reverse gears. Total 6 speed, in low gear and low transfer the overall gear ratio nc final drives was 68.59:1, in the top gear at high range was just 4.23:1. Under a fair road condition the Kettenkrad cruising speed at 2800 engine rpm with a rather impressive top speed 70km/h.

As mentioned earlier, Kleines Kettenkrafted HK 101 provides seats for 3, the driver on the motorcycle seat and 2 passenger at the rear on top of the tracker part. With the Bosch 6V Electrical system and the bodywork made from pressed steel, the smallest semi-motorcycle weight1235 kg only. Moreover, the Kettenkrad has a payload of 325kg and towing 450kg, towing weight equivalent to either a trailer or an anti-tank Gun or a light truck such as Opel Blitz or a Ford V3000S in the mud or Africa sand.

Fuel consumption on the road is 16 litre/100 km (18 mpg imperial), 22 litre/100 km (13mpg imperial) or more depending on the terrain. The Kettenkrad is designed with a pair of fuel tank capacity, each has a capacity of 21 litres, total 42 litres. The fuel tanks are located to the right and to the left of the driver and each could filled with one jerrycan.

Being a tracked vehicle, the Kettenkrad could climb up to 24¢X in sand and even more on hard ground which only two significant sub-variations of the Kettenkrad were constructed.

Military Contribution

Most Kettenkrads were recorded servicing on the Eastern Front, where they were used to lay communication cables, pull heavy loads and carry soldiers through the deep Russian mud. Later in WWII, Kettenkrad were used as runway tugs for aircraft, especially for both the Me 262 jet fighter, and sometimes the Arado Ar 234 jet reconnaissance-bomber. In order to save aviation fuel, A German jet aircraft would be towed to the runway by a Kettenkrad, rather than taxiing under their own power. The vehicle had another record used in the North African theater and on the Western Front. The Kettenkrad came with a special trailer (Sd.Anh.1) that could be attached to improve its cargo capacity.

Between 1944-1945 Based on the NSU HK 101 Kettenkrad,Germany developed 50 unit of Sd Kfz 304 the Springer, this Springer without motorcycle-style front fork wheel,each side add one more road wheel to make the track more longer, this resulted in the Springer have three outer and three inner road wheel.so the track is a little longer than HK 101 Kettenkard.this vehicle is like Sd Kfz 303 or Sd.Kfz 302Goliath can carrier 75KG high explosives, Sd.Kfz 304 Springer,can carrier 330kg high explosives under armor protection.A driver sit in the back of the Springer, drove the vehicle close to the target, than use wireless remote control. problem is it is too expensive and just can use once.this is the most small single seat track armor tank chassis.

Kettenkrad HK 101 after WWII

Production of the vehicle was stopped in end of 1944 or may be January1945, at which time 8,345 had been built. After the war, production resumed at NSU. Around 550 Kettenkrader were built for agricultural use, with production ending in between 1948 or early 1949.

A Kettenkrad HK 101 was one of the most useful military vehicle of Wehrmacht (the unified German armed force from 1935-46, consisted the army, navy and air force) support during WWII.

After WWII ended, the neighbourhood France has re-used a lot of the captured Kettenkrad HK 101. No matter in a completed or a bizarre condition, the captured Kettenkrad HK 101 would be re-built as a farm tractor. They were beneficial for the agricultural recovery in Europe after WWII for half a century until it became recognized as a collection item.

As for the US halftrack of the same period as Kettenkrad, the US halftrack has an open differential axle and front wheel for steering. On a good road condition, both works well. However, the US halftrack was in no comparison to German¡¦s halftrack.

After WWII, a large number of various design semi halftrack vehicle were still in use in German and US army until early 60s. There were new full track built as 6x6, 8x8 truck with low pressure large section pneumatic tyres. Before 2002, a large number of various ex-WWII American halftrack trucks were sent to Israeli Army proved the importance of halftrack in offroad and military support.

Based on a record in 1947, Kettenkrad cost RM 6,810 to compare a 1948 new Mercedes-Benz 170V sedan has cost RM 6,200. Hence, the value of Kettenkrad was very high mainly due to the expensive cost to built this small wheel adding a tracker at the rear In 1938. Around the same period, heavy draught horses were conscripted into the German army which was over 90% horsedrawn throughout WWII. The Semi Track Kettenkrad HK101 is one of the most important vehicle use by Greman Army. Before the advent of low pressure with large section pneumatic tyres, the halftrack or semi track was only design for carrying heavy loads use at soft ground and deep snow. German semi track steering is much similar to a tank, characteristic with a long track part at the rear and the fornt wheel assisted for steering. Today you can see few war time Kettenkrad HK 101 in Military Vehicle museum,only hundred original KK HK 101 have survived,most of them at Tank museum or in Normandy Museum or at WWII Military Vehicle collectors hand in Europe and USA.They are very rare and hard to find original condition because after WWII most them was converted into a tractor. the one we got in Hong Kong is a very original later production model, this tractor rebuilt in German at 1995.This one may be the 2 of the Kettenkrad in Asia. another one in Japan.


二戰最實用,有趣德軍支緩車NSU HK101 即Kleines Kettenkraftrad 又
或簡稱Kettenkrad
故事 馬大立

半履帶車的理念Half Track / Semi Track

最早期的履帶車出現在1890年左右,美國農業急需一種有良好越 野性能的拖拉車,一般4X2拖拉機性能不如理想。於是汽車設計人員 將履帶取代後輪,引擎放在大梁中央,轉向輪放在車頭,最早時前 輪向輪只有一個,這類獅身人面車越野性能遠比後輪驅動車強,軍 方很快地發現這類半履帶車十分適合拖動大炮和重型裝備。 第一次世界爆發前4X2的卡車基本不可能在軟土,雪地,沙地正常行 走,更別說拉貨,拉炮。上世紀1910年早期,法國Delahaye 公司設 計了一輛四條履帶卡車,只有後面履帶有動力越野性能還可以但轉 向十分費力,1910年中期德國汽車工程師同樣造出了四履帶卡車, 但同樣碰到轉向不順的問題,1917年更多德國卡車廠表示有興趣開 發這類支緩用卡車/拖拉車。

1917年美國汽車工程師在一輛最早期AWD 4X4卡車的大樑基礎上 發展出第一台臺履帶車,前輪可以附有驅動力,更進一步提升越野能 力,因為這時的半履帶車是用一般4X2卡車底盤,轉向靠前輪,後面 履帶中央附有一個普通差速器。越野性能和全履帶車還是有差別, 而加入了前驅動輪,越野性能獲進一步提升,在公路上此半履帶卡 車採用鏈條履帶帶動,遇到鬆軟的泥地,可以同時加入前輪驅動。 之後的美國二戰用M2,M3也是採用這個基礎,而德國二戰半履帶車 就採用了坦克式轉向,前輪基本作用不大,這也是為什麼在外觀上 美式半履帶車履帶不長,而德式則十分長。

1918年德軍訂購了200臺半履帶車,車速十分慢,金屬帶也不適合 公路使用,在城里對馬路破壞力太大。二十年代上世紀中後期德國 軍方注意到法國工程師用了當時十分昂貴的橡膠履帶放在卡車,汽 車的後軸(上世紀六十年代以前橡膠比金屬貴許多)。當中以雪鐵龍 和奧斯丁比較成功,1921年法軍在撒哈拉測驗雪鐵龍半履帶越野車 ,1913年七輛雪鐵龍半履帶車非常成功穿越中東和亞洲來到中國,這 也是所謂的“Yellow Expedition”此時的法國半履帶車前輪只是幫助轉 向,並不設驅動力。

這時德國工程師傾向採用坦克式輪向系統,履帶占半履帶汽車3/4 以上,前輪不設動力和剎車,我小時候不明德軍半履帶卡車為什麼 前軸沒有動力,以為性能不如美軍半履帶車,到了80年代底在歐洲 看到了實物才知道美式M3前,後差速都不設差速鎖,所以越野性能 不如想象強,反看德軍Sdkfg 251 越野性能有如坦克,採用控制式, 差速轉向。今天我知道德式設計更好,二戰後在過去的30年裡我看 不到有外文書談到這輛半履帶的設計驅動系統區別。又或誤以為美 式半履帶車越野性能更強,德國在二戰期間大量採用半履帶車,近 20款的半履帶車由1/3噸的NSU HK101到Sd.Kfz 9/2 18噸 這次我要為大 家介紹的就是這一台世界上最小,但十分實用的NSU HK 101 又名 Kettenkrad,這車也可以說是全世界最早的全地形越野車ATV。

德國汽車工程師Heinrich Kniepkamp 在上世紀三十年代末開發了這 輛專門用於森林工作的履帶摩托車,此車車長只有3米,寬1米,高 1.2米,自重1235公斤,可載325公斤,但拖拉力驚人,由於此車低 檔齒比比一般越野車的1:2再低近3倍,所以在戰場一般用於在泥濘 地拖出 Opel Blitz 2.5噸卡車,有照片證實在平路 NSU HK101 可以拖 動一輛近57噸虎式1型坦克。可見此小型全地形越野車不是開玩笑。 而分動箱高檔可以在公路上時速高達70公里/小時,近年有GPS 的幫 助測試這車在公路最高車速被證明可達80公里/小時,以今日的眼光 履帶車時速達80公里/小時都是十分快,別說回到76年前的上世紀 1940年。由於此車窄小,在地形狹窄的森林和沙漠山區有很大靈活 性,很快給軍方看中,加上公路時速高,又有巨大拖拉力作為德軍 支緩車是最適合。最後這車被廣泛使用於拖炮,空降,拖拉貨卡,和 牛,馬隊穿越,山蚯狹窄的森林地帶,這車的履帶由鋼製成,每格 加有膠以防在公路行走時損壞鋪裝路面。每格帶有精密的滾軸及油 封,以及牛油嘴,如有適當的保養十分耐用。今日有超過一百輛生 存下來的NSU HK101履帶還是原裝的,記得我國東方紅拖拉機履帶是 需要一路行一路修理,可見設計及品質的差距。

1932年德國軍方開始研發出自己的半履帶車和美、法大不相同,德 國工程師採用了坦克式操控差速來轉向,而前輪和方向盤只是幫助 半履帶車更像一般卡車來駕駛。而美國和法國的半履帶車前輪是必 須的,前輪用於轉向這也是在越野表現在有很大差別的主要原因。 在二戰時期德國使用了一系列的半履帶車從300公斤~18噸不等,近 二十款,包括了文中最小的NSU HK101/Krttenkrad, Sd.Kfz 10(1噸 )Sd.Kfz 251,Sd.Kfz 11(3噸),Sd.Kfz 6,Sd.Kfz 7(8噸),Sd.Kfz 8,Sd.Kfz 9(18噸)Sd.Kfz 9/2 Bussing-NAG SWS, Mercedes L4500R, 當 中Opel 3.6~36S/SSM, HKD S3000/SSM Ford, V3000S/SSM, 是用系統卡 車是簡單前輪轉向。

今日這文主角NSU HK101 Kettenkrad在1940年加入了德國空軍用於 拖飛機以及空降兵用車,由於越野性強,用途多,陸軍也看中了此 款半履帶摩托,從1940年到1945年初NSU, Stoewer等車廠一共生產 了八千三百四十五輛,是世界上第一台全地形小汽車,這台1.2噸小 車採用一台Opel 直四水冷四沖程1478cc OHC引擎,配上坦克式三前 一後波箱,并附有低檔分動箱,引擎中置,水冷系統在車尾,分動 箱,波箱在駕駛員腳下,驅動齒在摩托控制桿下,前轉向有連桿拉動 前驅動差速齒,以操控鏈條連接。由於這車採用了坦克轉向設計, 越野性能十分強,在緊急情況下前輪拆除後一樣可以照樣行走,駕 駛員左右2側配有兩個21公升汽油缸,車尾另有2個向後座位,車身十 分簡單實用,車尾兩座下右中央有水箱散熱口,并可以控制出風量 又或回風用做暖氣。

軍事上對軍隊貢獻

大多數Kettenkrad被派去東線戰場,在哪裡用來鋪設通訊電纜,拉車 ,拖炮,拉拖卡,在十分差的山林,泥濘地幫助三噸以下,軍車脫 難,尤其是在1941年入侵蘇聯後,這小車的作用更能發揮,這小型 多用途,強大拖拉力,在泥濘裡來去自如比牛馬更頑強,北非和西 線同樣採用了不少。戰後法國有公司把在歐洲戰場上,被抓獲的 NSU HK101 Kettenkrad。改裝為農用拖拉機,由於在戰場上留下的 Kettenkrad 殘缺不齊,公司設計人員只可以把前懸掛連前輪拆掉, 改用別的引擎直放在車尾,取代橫放在中央的原有1.5公升引擎,駕 駛座位不動,但也反過來坐,原來的油箱放在以前的車尾,現在車 頭引擎兩側,30年前我在歐洲見過,我還以為是NSU 戰後產品,今 日由於一輛完美Kettenkrad身價以超過二十萬美元,在歐美是不少軍 事收藏家的夢想,這類法國拖拉機不少已被東歐車迷改回Kettenkrad 原來的樣貌,剛入門的收藏家一般見了到分不出,而且這類車的售 價只有原來的三分之二。我也是用了多年才學會分別這類非原廠車 ,主要是多謝我在歐洲的朋友Mr. Andreen。他告訴我怎樣來看出由 拖拉機再改回Kettenkrad這類不正常的車是沒有收藏價值。高速越野 時也十分危險。

二戰最後1944-1945之間,基於NSU HK101 Kettenkrad,德國開發50輛 Sd.KFZ304 Springer,這Springer不用摩托車式前叉輪,每邊增加一個車輪,使履帶更長,這導致在Springer有三個外部和三個內道路車輪.履帶比HK101 Kettenkard.車長一點,眾所周知的Sd KFZ302/303 Goliath 只可以載 75千克炸藥,這SD KFZ304載體330千克高能炸藥在裝甲內.一名司機坐在Springer背面,駕駛車輛靠近目標,再使用無線遙控器遠程控制這Sd.KFZ304 Springer高爆炸藥到目標並引爆它,問題是它太貴了,只可以使用一次.這是世界上最小的單座履帶裝甲車。

戰爭結束后,德軍被捕獲的其他半履帶中,大,重型卡車也被歐 洲各國家軍隊大修再次使用一直到50年代中末期,新款輪式6X6,8X8 卡車才慢慢取代這些半履帶卡車原因是新款可以調車胎氣壓的大型 越野卡車輪胎面市,越野車卡車尾軸單尾輪設計全面取締傳統雙尾 輪的設計,這二項改良都大大提升輪式卡車越野能力。以色列立國 後大量採用了在歐美戰場留下的美國M2,M3半履帶車。M2半履帶軍 車改用了當時新款的柴油發動機,我在1999年131日環遊世界時,經 約旦河西岸還親眼看到這批車在以色列軍隊服役,不可思議,而捷 克在戰後採用了Sdkfz 251 德國履帶卡車的基礎上生產了OT 810,可 見德式半履帶車越野性能超越盟軍半履帶車。

NSU HK101由於有出色越野性能,適合森林,沼澤地及山地使用 ,1945年底獲得戰勝國准許再次生產,由於車價成本十分高昂,戰 後整個歐洲經濟不景氣,1948年NSU HK101再次停產,由45年底至 48年一共生產了約550輛,主要是供西德政府部門使用。1947年一輛 Kettenkrad是6810馬克,而1947年一輛頂級配置奔馳170V才是6200 馬克。可見這款小越野車成本多高。德式半履帶車採用了鐵鏈,而 每格鏈加上昂貴膠塊,採用坦克式轉向,前輪只是幫輪,性能遠比 美式膠鏈半履帶車優勝。70年代美國軍方文件公開,二戰時期美國 軍方對這小小的Kettenkrad評價十分高,更被評為最有實用,最有趣 的高性能全地形越野車,外表是摩托,但其實是世界上最小的履帶 車(沒有炮的坦克)。這車在亞洲十分罕有,除了香港這一輛收藏 ,日本另有兩輛,我這輛是來自德國軍車收藏家,此車同時擁有德 國的非洲行車證,是戰爭尾期生產的型號,估計有百分之99原裝程 度,運來香港后基本不用做任何維修,只是發現左右履帶車輪各有 一個輔助輪是來自同款最早期的款式,極大可能是在戰場車輪遭到 損壞,士兵在其他同款車拆下這兩個早期款的車輪,裝在此車上。 這也是證明德國軍車沒有一輛不是上戰場的。

記者試坐72歲德軍軍車 頑強戰鬥力Fing到頭暈


【馬路起義】迷你坦克×電單車 納粹戰驅無視地形輾入上水?!

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