Nuts & Bolts Vol.41 schwere Wehrmachtsclepper

The Schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper (Heavy Military Tractor), or sWS, was a German World War II half-track vehicle used in various roles between 1943 and 1945. The unarmored models were used as supply vehicles and as tractors to haul artillery. Armored versions mounted anti-aircraft guns or a 10 barrel rocket launcher (Nebelwerfer). Less than a thousand were built before the end of the war, but production continued after the war of an improved model in the Tatra plant in Czechoslovakia.

On 7 May 1942 the development of a simple, low-speed, half-track, load-carrying vehicle for use on the Eastern Front was ordered. Büssing-NAG was selected to develop a new 5 t tractor to replace the earlier 5-tonne Sd.Kfz. 6 and 3-tonne Sd.Kfz. 11 half-tracks, as well as the various lesser-known vehicles of the same class. Production started in December 1943 at Büssing-NAG. Early examples used a truck-like, unarmored cabin similar to the earlier half-tracks it replaced, while later examples featured an armored cabin and engine compartment that looked similar to the Sd.Kfz. 251 armored personnel carrier. Like the earlier Demag-designed Sd.Kfz. 10, the sWS’s suspension system consisted of five double roadwheels per side, overlapping and interleaved, mounted on swing arms sprung by torsion bars. One idler wheel, mounted at the rear end of each track unit, was used to control track tension.

Tatra also joined in production, but together both factories produced only 825 vehicles in total. Tatra continued production of an improved vehicle after the war as the T809.

In addition to the basic cargo role, the vehicle was adapted as a mount both for the medium 3.7 cm FlaK 43 anti-aircraft gun and the quadruple 20mm flak gun. These mounts were placed at the center of the cargo area with a large gun shield. The sides of the cargo compartment folded down to give the crew more room to serve the weapons. Ammunition was carried at the rear of the cargo area. Another modification, intended to replace the 15 cm Panzerwerfer auf Sf (Sd.Kfz. 4/1), was the Panzerwerfer 42 auf sWS, a 10-barreled 15 cm (5.9 in) Nebelwerfer 42 rocket launcher placed over an armored ammunition storage compartment; it was built over the cargo area.

From the publisher’s website:

180 pages A4, glue-bound, approx. 268 photos, of these 91 contemporary photos from manuals, combat and war fronts in b/w, most of them previously unpublished; 119 colour photos of restored vehicles and their components in public and private collections, 58 colour photos of the four models from T.Greenland & V.Branigan, English / German captions, 40 pages English / German text with 25 tables, 35 pages of scale drawings of all versions and details in 1:35 scale from Lieven De Coninck, 18 camouflage schemes from Laurent Lecoq with tactical and units signs and 3 tables of organization of units (Kriegstärke-Nachweisungen KStN) having these vehicles in their arsenal, first published November 27th, 2018

  • Volume 41: Büssing’s schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper (sWS), armored and unarmored variants
  • Written by Dr. Nicolaus Hettler
  • Published on November 27, 2018
  • Softcover
  • German & English texts
  • 180 pages
  • 268 photos (91 contemporary photos from manuals, 119 color photos, 58 models)
  • 18 camouflage schemes, tactical markings, table of organization (KStN)
  • Available for €29.90 from the Nuts & Bolts website.

The texts are in English and German with the English texts on the left of the page and the German on the right. All images and photographs have captions in both languages. The English translation is excellent. Now, let’s take a look at the book to see what we get.

The various sections of the book are:

  • Development, page 5
  • technical description page 7
  • Variations page 16
  • production page 19
  • In service page 28
  • tables of organization and equipment, page 30
  • camouflage page 37
  • modeling page 37
  • acknowledgments page 39
  • bibliography page 40
  • contemporary photos page 41
  • drawings page 73
  • color profiles page 109
  • preserve vehicles and components, page 120
  • modeling page 168

The book starts with the reasons for the development of the vehicle and the need to reduce a large number of different towing vehicles in service with the Wehrmacht. There’s a good overview of the development of the vehicle and a thorough technical description. The 3 different variants that made it into production are covered as well as the infra-red searchlight version that was supposed to go into production but the war ended before that could happen. There also exists photos of a Flakvierling mounted on an unarmoured sWS, but this might have been a field modification as no documents can be found to support the production of such vehicles.

Production and manufacturers are listed along with a description of the problems caused by allied bombing and lack of raw materials. Postwar production is also covered. There’s a large section describing the sWS in service and how it was used by various engineering, artillery, and anit-aircraft units. There is also some brief info on camouflage and markings.

There’s a complete list of all the kits and aftermarket parts available for the sWS.

Then after the bibliography, there are the 91 contemporary photos that cover all the different variants of the sWS form the prototypes to the post-war production in Czechoslovakia. Then follows the 90 1/35 scale line drawings of every variant and that ends with drawings of the 4 types of road wheels used. Next follows the 18 color camouflage scheme profiles based on black and white images from the contemporary photos section of the book. Lastly, we come to 119 modern color photos of vehicles in museums. These photos show all the parts of the vehicle you never normally get to see.

The last section of the book is the models. It shows you 3 different Great Wall kits that were built and gives you some information about the kits themselves and what modifications were made, if any, to the kits.

Overall this is a definitive reference for the sWs and its variants. There is a wealth of information and photographs that will cover all your modeling needs and it will most likely be the only book you will ever need on this topic.

I have bought several books direct from the publisher at Nuts & Bolts.
Many thanks to Nuts & Bolts for supplying this review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
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Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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