Home Forums WWII Half Tracks….

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  • #36007

    What were they good for, huuuh!!!

    And why don’t we use them anymore?


    Good for not a lot except filling a briefly existing technological niche when regular trucks were still pretty awful (the narrow wheel designs of the time didn’t help much) at off road performance. They also looked kinda neat.

    Why we don’t use them is that it’s simply far easier and more effective to use a full track system or fully wheeled system now.

    Dave Talley

    plus modern versions are much better armored and fully enclosed, a airburst mortar or arty round isnt gonna instantly perforate everyone


    Half tracks were in many ways an interim design to improve cross country performance when compared to wheels alone. They were cheaper to develop than fully tracked vehicles and more reliable, steering was much less complicated, due to the remaining front axle and could be a very straightforward conversion. They were basically lightly armoured trucks and should have best been used as such, rather than thought of as armoured assault vehicles. The British concept of a ‘battlefield taxi’ seems apposite. The British actually classified them as transport rather than as a separate category.

    The simplest way to build a half track was simply to put a track around the rear 2 wheel sets on a 6 X 4 truck as done eg by Crossley for the British. More complex versions eg the French Kergrasse system (later used on US halftracks) and then the German interleaved wheels added technological complexity and cost, presumably with better performance.

    Armoured halftracks (eg the Sdkz 250 & 251) were simply armoured versions of pre-existing load carriers (Sdkfz 10 & 11 chassis respectively). The German vehicles were perhaps more accurately 3/4 tracks…..

    The American M2/3/5/9 series were mechanically fair simpler, but rugged and reliable, being basically a truck chassis with an armoured compartment on top and the tracks replacing the rear axle(s). The preceding wheeled (White) M3 scout car had a very similar body. They also, unlike the Germans, used a powered front axle.

    We don’t use them any more because technology has moved on. Motors, drive trains and chassis are much more rugged and reliable, allowing for powerful 4X4, 6X6 trucks or wheeeled APCs with excellent cross country capability and load capacity. Similarly full tracks are much more reliable than in the past. Fully tracked vehicles still require more maintenance and cost more than their wheeled equivalents though.

    The post war Czech OT-810 was simply a sdkfz 251D with a diesel motor and a lightly armoured roof over the rear compartment. Most ‘modern’ postwar APCs (M113, FV432 etc), as opposed to IFVs (Bradley, Warrior) didn’t have much thicker armoured protection than their WWII counterparts, albeit usually fully enclosed. IFV’s do, hence the different terminology.

    There may well be some WWII era M3’s rattling around in some third world army. The Israelis were using them up until the 1980’s, albeit rebuilt and remotored. Accoridng to wiki, they still had 600 in active service in 2009. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-track

    Iain Fuller

    When I lived in Israel in the early 90’s the base down the road was full of SP mortars which were half-tracks, not sure if it was a reserve unit but they still did look pretty cool!

    Actually there was pretty cool stuff to see every day if you are a military ‘enthusiast’.

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