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StuG III Thread (and also other German vehicles I guess)

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That's not an over-complicated track link.  This is an overcomplicated track link:

 

 

 

This is the Zpw 5001/280/140 track from the SDKFZ 251.

 

Each track pin is packed in a sealed, lubricated container with needle bearings.

 

You bastard, I wanted to post the Hanomag track, but couldn't find a picture!

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Yeah, the Kettenkrad track I posted has the same weirdo greased track pin. Did anyone else do that?

 

Unique to German half-tracks as far as I know.  IIRC, even the Czech-made clones of the half-tracks produced post war used simplified track links.

And holy crap, the kettenkrad used that nonsense too?  It was a pretty dubious idea to start with!

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Also worth noting, most German half-tracks mechanically unusual.

 

In a full-tracked vehicle you only have two moving points of contact with the ground, as opposed to four for a wheeled vehicle.  On top of that, tracks are usually (some exceptions; tetrarch and universal carrier) laterally rigid.  That means that to steer, you've got to vary the power going to the tracks to steer.  This leads to some rather hideously complex transmissions.

 

In a half-track, you have four moving points of contact, and the front two are wheels.  Generally speaking, half-tracks are steered like wheeled vehicles with the attendant savings in transmission complexity.

 

Not in the German designs:

 

DSCN1425.jpg

 

That's the final drive from an SDKFZ 251.  It's a Cletrac controlled differential steering unit.  German half tracks steer both by turning the front wheels and by varying track drive speeds.  For fine adjustment only the wheels are used, but for hard turns the Cletrac kicks in and starts diverting power to the outer track.

 

Oddly, the Cletrac controlled differential is a much more sophisticated steering system than the one used on Pz I-IV.

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In fairness to the Hanomag, it kind of had to include the ability to skid steer the tracks due to the fact that they extended over 2/3 of the length of the vehicle.  The US half tracks had a far shorter track contact area with the ground, making them easier to steer using only the front wheels.  This gave the Hanomag a somewhat better offroad performance, although it was mitigated somewhat by the fact that the front wheels were not powered, as they were on the US half tracks.  Essentially, the US vehicles were an armored 4x4 truck with the rear wheels replaced by a set of simple rubber tracks.  The German Hanomags were essentially a tracked vehicle with a couple wheels stuck out on the front.  The US vehicle is much simpler from a production standpoint, and the differences in performance between the two vehicles is fairly inconsequential.  

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In fairness to the Hanomag, it kind of had to include the ability to skid steer the tracks due to the fact that they extended over 2/3 of the length of the vehicle.  The US half tracks had a far shorter track contact area with the ground, making them easier to steer using only the front wheels.  This gave the Hanomag a somewhat better offroad performance, although it was mitigated somewhat by the fact that the front wheels were not powered, as they were on the US half tracks.  Essentially, the US vehicles were an armored 4x4 truck with the rear wheels replaced by a set of simple rubber tracks.  The German Hanomags were essentially a tracked vehicle with a couple wheels stuck out on the front.  The US vehicle is much simpler from a production standpoint, and the differences in performance between the two vehicles is fairly inconsequential.  

 

Agreed.  The Hanomag was intended to be a primary supply and logistics vehicle with additional off-road capability, which meant that vehicles had to have very precise steering in order to handle traffic-clogged roads.  A pure tracked vehicle steering mechanism precise enough to deal with that didn't exist at the time except in France.  I suspect that's also why they went with the insane track link design.  These things were going to be common enough and going back and forth so much that the fuel savings were thought to be worth the added complication.

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