Design and Use
The Sd.Kfz. 251 was designed to transport panzergrenadiers to the battlefield, protecting them from small arms fire and some artillery fire. The open top allowed greater situational awareness and the ability of the infantry to fire over the sides. The armored sides provided adequate cover from the sides, but left them open to attacks from above and thrown grenades. The standard design was equipped with a MG34 or MG42 in the front and an anti-aircraft mount in the back for an additional machine gun. In addition to the standard armored personnel transport design, 23 variants were designed to be used in specialized roles.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/1 - Standard personnel carrier.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/2 - 81 mm mortar carrier
- Sd.Kfz. 251/3 - Communications vehicle, fitted with extra radio equipment for command use
- Sd.Kfz. 251/4 - Gun-towing tractor
- Sd.Kfz. 251/5 - Assault Engineer vehicle with inflatable boats and assault bridges, also used as the Command Vehicle for Pioneer platoons
- Sd.Kfz. 251/6 - Command version equipped with map boards, cipher and encoding machines
- Sd.Kfz. 251/7 - Another assault engineer vehicle with fittings to carry assault bridge ramps on the sides.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/8 - Armored ambulance capable of carrying up to 8 seated casualties or 4 seated casualties and 2 stetcher cases.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/9 - Equipped with a 75mm gun
- Sd.Kfz. 251/10 - Equipped with a 37 mm Pak 36 anti-tank gun. Issued to platoon leaders as a fire support vehicle.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/11 - Telephone line layer.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/12 - Survey and instrument carrier for artillery units.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/13 - Sound recording carrier for artillery units.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/14 - Sound recording carrier for artillery units.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/15 - Flash spotting carrier for artillery units.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/16 - Fitted with two flame projectors and initially a rear mounted flamethrower, detachable but still connected to the vehicle, to be operated by dismounted infantry.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/17 - Anti-aircraft vehicle
- Sd.Kfz. 251/18 - Artillery observation vehicle.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/19 - Telephone exchange vehicle.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/20 - Introduced in late 1944, it had a mounted 60 cm infrared searchlight with a range of 1.5 km for illuminating targets at night. They guided IR sight-equipped Panther tanks to targets that were out of range of their own smaller infrared searchlights.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/21 - Anti-aircraft variant equipped with a triple-mount MG151.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/22 - Fitted with a 75 mm Pak 40 anti-tank gun.
- Sd.Kfz. 251/23 - Reconnaissance variant