Whats it like to drive a half track?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by kfz, Apr 12, 2006.

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  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I love this shot - You can even see the empties coming out of the Thompson.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    That's Queenie and Curly, "A" Squadron pets, sitting on one of our halftracks at Opicina.

    The second pic shows some of the lads with a halftrack in the background.

    I vaguely remember driving one of these monsters, it would have been a rare vehicle owned by the Sqdrn that I did not drive at some time or another and this would have applied to almost any one in the Sqdrn/
     

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  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Great pics Ron....Especially the first one !
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    In answer to the original question:

    I talked to Old Hickory, whose memories I have been posting at WW2F, about the US M3 halftrack. He said he liked the vehicle, it was very reliable and he preferred them over the M8 or M20 armored cars that were also a part of his company. He said it drove like the trucks, but had far a better range of terrain on which it could operate, which he liked. He said it wasn't very comfortable to be a passenger in, but he knew that it would get him out of danger. He said that it was not prone to slinging tracks, unless you mishandled it and even then, putting the track on was not a difficult proposition and could be completed in as little as 10 minutes, using just a few hand tools. Regardless, if you were under fire and lost a track, the powered front wheels would move the vehicle at a respectable speed, allowing the vehicle and crew a chance to escape danger.
     
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    :D
    Just re-reading this old thread and Gnomey's original picture of a Kettenkrad seems to have been replaced by one of a Pz.38(t) - presumably as a photo on a website was hotlinked to, and that site-owner has since changed the image at that URL.
    Makes for rather an odd read now ;).
     
  6. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    Just my statement to the Halftracks (after speaking to a person who owns a White Halftrack and a SdKfz.251, both in driving condition).

    He said that whilst the White is easy to drive, like a truck, the German version is not.

    See the difference:

    The Americans took a 'truck-configuration' as it was but replaced the rear axle by a double axle with tracks. More or less.

    The Germans took a tank-driving gear and added a front axle. The only benefit of this front axle is that it helps the vehicle in driving straight on in a smooth way and helps in light curves...

    But that system was very expensive needed more maintenance (two steering systems) ad you can imagine that the front wheel were worn out fairly quick.

    A lt of people may defend the Germen system - but I am convinced that it was not good at all. An indication for this: Nobody continued it after WW2 and the Russians who would actually need the best such vehicle to cope with snow and mud did not develop (or copy) it for their armed forces.
     
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Been looking at some lovely old Kegresses on Youtube.
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3I5UMpID0k&feature=related[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acX_u5D7izE&feature=related[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUy3fPn8hdk&feature=related[/YOUTUBE][YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO3tC_amDFo&feature=related[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIsAT5jaBGY&feature=related[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JWFJE6aQ5s[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91yd0aa7P4w[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lhyso5hmIl8&feature=related[/YOUTUBE]
     
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Scanning some old pics.
    Wheatcroft Famo making first fully restored appearance at Beltring c.2005:

    famo f.jpg

    famo-2.jpg



    There's one more based in the UK and another in France, both in running or almost running nick.
    Wonder if we'll ever see 'em 'recovering' Tiger 131 at Bovington one day...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] famo f.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Blimey ! This is an old thread that I hadn't noticed before.

    Reverting to the original thread title of "What's it like to drive a half track" the answer is lots of fun, once you get used to the beast :)

    One thing about the army was that you had plenty of chance to get used to driving all wierd sorts of vehicles and I'm sure others will bear me out.

    Once you had "Driver" down as one of your skills you were often called upon to drive virtually any vehicle that a Battery or a Squadron had in it's complement and I eventually got to drive anything from a Jeep to a Tank Transporter during my service.

    I can remember one occasion in Egypt when I had been doing a lot of running around in a Jeep and on returning to camp was asked to shift a Bedford 3 Tonner.
    I couldn't get the bloody thing to move at all for quite some time until the penny dropped and I realised that whereas the clutch pedal on the Jeep was very sensitive the clutch on the Bedford was "ponderous", there is no other word, and I just had to be patient !

    The half track shown below was part of my "A" Squadrons vehicles and I drove it many a time.
     

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  10. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I never had any training on driving a half track. I just got in and thought "Now how to I work this great ugly bugger!" Did not take long.

    For sheer excitement. Driving a half track at night with the odd shell incoming is enough excitement to last a life time.
    Its bad enough driving in daylight. But Night? YUK.. After all these years, I find it almost impossible to come to terms with the fact that I did drive the ugly great beast and at Night....Must have been a great deal younger
    Sapper
     
  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Brian the half track at Pegasus Bridge museum used to be painted in your units markings.
     

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  12. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Makes me feel quite proud, as we took on the finishing of the bridge when others had gone to ground, under the weight of shell fire. We had to move one bridge as the shell fire made it is possible to carry on
    Under direct attack. 17 enemy planes were shot down while low level strafing
    Sapper
     
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  14. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    That half track with our Company markings, is not the same model I drove at night between Overloon and Venraij. But I suppose its an honour to have your vehicle on show at Pegasus...
     
  15. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    For the WW 2 period some general commentary based on published comments on these vehicles in collections today:

    The Sdkfz 251: The unpowered front wheels make it difficult to steer at speed. Although the track braking function does help. The steering wheel is at an odd angle making it difficult to use. Visibility from the driver position is inadequite as there are only two vision slots giving a limited view even when open.

    The M 3 half-track. At low speeds it is an absolute brute. Turning takes alot of effort. Above about 20 mph things get easier and the powered front axle helps alot. Otherwise, it drives pretty much like a truck.

    The kettenkrad at speed is really hard to turn easily. This is due to the weight distribution not being forward so the front wheel has a low contact pressure.

    My only experience with tracked vehicles was typically Canadian. Back in 1973, when I owned one of these, the same issue of low contact pressure on the skis made these a hairy machine to ride. It always increased your heart rate when at 60-70 mph, nothing happened when you cranked the steering. The harder the surface the worse it was. More modern snowmobiles have hugely improved control over the early versions.
    tnt silver bullet.jpg
     
  16. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Ron, I am really interested in your experience with half tracks especially the one in your photo. It is a very unusual variant in British service possibly one of only twelve M2's delivered - can you remember how this one was fitted out and who used it - and from when to when?

    Thanks in anticipation
    Keith Matthews
     
  17. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Hi Keith

    As I have already explained in my e-mail, I regret that my memories of 66 years ago don't extend to what the interior was like in the half tracks :)

    Don't forget, I never drove one in action, I was a D/Op on a Stuart Honey and it was only when fighting finished and I became a Tech/Corporal that I had to shift vehicles such as the half-tracks around.

    Having said that, I am sure that the info you seek can be and will be found on the internet in one form or another.

    Here. for example ?
    HMVF - Historic Military Vehicles Forum

    Best of luck !

    Ron
     
  18. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    I have good friend who rode across Europe and back in an M3 halftrack. He had nothing but praise for the vehicle.

    He said it rode better than a truck and was warmer in the winter than a jeep, a truck or an armored car. He said, "You could pretty much go where you wanted to go."

    He said it would top out at 70mph, but that they usually went no faster than 50. It was very reliable. "We never had a minute's trouble out of any of them." If a track got slung off, they could have it back on in about 10 minutes, using only a few specialized wrenches.

    He said he felt safer firing a machine gun from it than a truck, since it did have a little armor. One of the drivers was killed when a single bullet went through the viewing slit on the battle front and hit him in the chest, so it was still possible to get killed by small arms fire, even with the cab closed up.

    In his opinion, the only weakness was the pneumatic tires, since they were punctured a good bit and made steering a little more difficult. He does not remember anyone every getting killed because of a flat tire, but it sure made getting out of tight spots a bit harder.
     
  19. Jim Lankford

    Jim Lankford Member

    I have good friend who rode across Europe and back in an M3 halftrack. He had nothing but praise for the vehicle.

    He said it rode better than a truck and was warmer in the winter than a jeep, a truck or an armored car. He said, "You could pretty much go where you wanted to go."

    He said it would top out at 70mph, but that they usually went no faster than 50. It was very reliable. "We never had a minute's trouble out of any of them." If a track got slung off, they could have it back on in about 10 minutes, using only a few specialized wrenches.

    Note: This is not a personal attack of any sort, merely a correction.

    According to the US Ordnance Dept., the M3 halftrack had a maximum speed of only 40 miles per hour on a flat level road.

    It's low compression, flat head (L head), 6 cylinder White truck engine had only 128 net horsepower at 2800 rpm and 300 lbs. of torque at 1200 rpm. With a curb weight of around 20,000 lbs., and very high differential gearing front and back, an M3 in perfect operating condition would be going all out at around 40 mph.

    A standard joke among those who rode them into action was the armor of the M3 worked well only about half the time. The armor let nasty things in, but then would not let them out again, resulting in some very interesting moments for its occupants.
     
  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Note: This is not a personal attack of any sort, merely a correction.

    According to the US Ordnance Dept., the M3 halftrack had a maximum speed of only 40 miles per hour on a flat level road.

    It's low compression, flat head (L head), 6 cylinder White truck engine had only 128 net horsepower at 2800 rpm and 300 lbs. of torque at 1200 rpm. With a curb weight of around 20,000 lbs., and very high differential gearing front and back, an M3 in perfect operating condition would be going all out at around 40 mph.

    A standard joke among those who rode them into action was the armor of the M3 worked well only about half the time. The armor let nasty things in, but then would not let them out again, resulting in some very interesting moments for its occupants.

    I'll pass it on to him. He likes corrections.
     

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