The publication of any images or informations related to nazism, fascism or any other totalitarian regimes must be understood as the reproduction of historical accuracy and not as apology to these regimes, leaders or symbols.
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

FAMO - Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18 t - Sd.Kfz.9 with Sd.Ah.116 heavy trailer - a case report

      Let's revisit this formidable machine, one of the most powerful and robust tractors of the WWII ... Yeah.. we are talking about the FAMO - Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18t - Sd.Kfz.9 in the version of tank transporter, towing the heavy trailer Sd.Ah.116. Let's go on this mission together !!!
Sd.Kfz.9/1 Famo crane driver of a 10th Panzer Division - Panzer Regiment 7
 relaxing a little while traveling by train. France, 1941.
FAMO - Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18t - Sd.Kfz.9 with Sd.Ah.116 heavy trailer
carrying a Tauchpanzer III - Summer 41
    The Sd.Kfz. 9 (also known as "Famo" ) was a German half-track that saw widespread use in WWII, and the heaviest half-track vehicle of any type built in quantity in Nazi Germany during the war years. Its main roles were as a prime mover for very heavy towed artillery and as a tank recovery vehicle. Approximately 2,500 were produced between 1938 and 1945.

      At the end of the 19th century, more precisely in 1890, an American company based in California, the Stockton Wheel Company (later, Holt Manufacturing Company, later Catterpillar Inc.) released a strange agricultural vehicle, with tracks replaced the rear wheels for better traction, but maintaining the front wheels for  easier handling: the Stockton steam driven crawler tractor - 1890.
Stockton steam driven crawler tractor - 1890.

The Holt's first logo as it appeared on a
25th anniversary sales brochure
      This tractor can be considered the predecessor of the entire world military halftracked vehicles.
Original vertical design - Patent Office - USA
gasoline engine

Drawing repositioned horizontally, for better visualization.
    The American Armed Forces saw the potential of using this vehicle as an artillery tractor and off-road transporter, being immediately converted to military use as a Holt heavy artillery tractor.
U.S. Army punitive expedition against Pancho Villa - Mexico,1916
Holt Artillery Tractor
      Meanwhile, in Germany, the same idea also started to develop, but it really only got a boost at the beginning of the First World War. The military concept for these vehicles was that even on the most difficult terrain, these tractors should be able to move around and pull loads or artillery pieces safely. But engine technology at that time was just in its infancy and the big problem with these machines was poor reliability. Even with the stimulation of conflict worsening, no mature solution has emerged. The prototypes and test series manufactured until the end of the war were completely discarded in 1919. Despite this disappointing result, the WWI brought innovation to motor vehicles as a military vehicle.
       From 1930 onwards, we can say that work on the development of half-track tractors has started more seriously in Germany. The Krauss-Maffei company received a request from the Army Weapons Department to develop a tractor.equipped with a retractable rear track drive.
Krauss-Maffei project for a retractable rear track suspension tractor
      The first drawings generated the tractor ZW 10,also equipped with a retractable rear drive and his successor, the MSZ 201, appeared in 1931.

Krauss-Maffei Type MSZ 201 was a wheeled tractor with supporting tracks.
For cross-country drive, a track could be applied in the rear retractable suspension.
During road driving, this track was stored in racks on both sides of the body.
The vehicle had a payload of 1 ton and a towing capacity of 6 tons.
There were seats for ten soldiers in the superstructure.
In 1931, the Reichswehr procured 24 vehicles of this type.
       The Weapons testing agency conducted tests on a test bench created especially for this purpose. The goal was to develop a new type of traction and steering system that was a combination of conventional steering and halftrack traction.
    Preliminary design of all the German half-tracks of the early part of the war was done by Dipl.Ing. Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp of the Military Automotive Department (Wa Prüf 6) before the Nazis took power in 1933.
Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp - Engineer
1895 - 1977
a civilian official in the Wehrmacht
      His designs were then turned over to commercial firms for development and testing. Fahrzeug- und Motorenbau GmbH (FAMO) of Breslau received the contract for the 18t (18 long tons; 20 short tons) heavy towing tracked vehicle. Their first prototype, the FM gr 1, was completed in 1936. It had a 200 horsepower (200 PS) Maybach HL98 TUK engine and was only 7.7 metres long. The F 2 prototype appeared in 1938, but differed only in detail from its predecessor.
    The F 3 appeared in 1939 and was the production version. The design was simplified over the course of the war to reduce costs and the use of strategic metals. Some vehicles produced by Tatra had its 12-cylinder, air-cooled Type 103 diesel engine fitted. Large spades were added at the rear of the chassis during the war to improve the vehicle's ability to recover tanks and other heavy vehicles.

    The Sd.Kfz. 9 had a ladder frame chassis. Power was provided by a Maybach 12-cylinder, water-cooled, 10.838 litres HL 108 gasoline engine of 270 horsepower (270 PS). It had a syncromesh ZF G 65 VL 230 transmission with four forward and one reverse gears. It had two fuel tanks, one of 90 litres and the other of 230 litres capacity.
Sd.Kfz. 9 ladder frame chassis under construction
in Famo plant - Germany, 1938.
Maybach 12-cylinder, water-cooled, 10.838 litres HL 108
gasoline engine with 270 horsepower in
    Both tracks and wheels were used for steering. The steering system was set up so that shallow turns used only the wheels, but brakes would be applied to the tracks the further the steering wheel was turned. The drive sprocket, like all German halftracks, had rollers rather than the more common teeth. The rear suspension consisted of six double sets of overlapping, interleaved Schachtellaufwerk layout roadwheels mounted on swing arms sprung by torsion bars. An idler wheel, mounted at the rear of the vehicle, was used to control track tension. The front wheels had leaf springs and shock absorbers.
Famo under construction showing the front wheels,
the drive sprocket and overlapping, interleaved roadwheels.
Notice the final transmission box and air tank in the top of the chassis
A Famo worker building the swing arms sprung by
torsion bars of the Sd.Kfz 9 rear suspension
    The upper body had a crew compartment common to all versions. This had bench seats, one for the driver and his assistant, and another for the crew. The rear portion of the upper body was adapted for the vehicle's intended role. The windshield could fold forward and was also removable. A convertible canvas top was mounted at the upper part of the rear body. It fastened to the windshield when erected.
    The Sd.Kfz. 9 was designed to have a towing capacity of 28 tonnes (28 long tons; 31 short tons). This was adequate for medium tanks like the Panzer IV, but two or even three or four were necessary for heavier vehicles like the Tiger I, Panther or King Tiger. It towed Sd.Anh 116 low-loader trailers to carry disabled vehicles. All were equipped with a winch, mounted at the middle of the vehicle, just under the cargo platform.

    The Famo's upper body had a crew compartment common to all versions. This had bench seats, one for the driver and his assistant, and another for the crew. The rear portion of the upper body was adapted for the vehicle's intended role.
  • Artillery version: The artillery model had two extra bench seats for the gun's crew and a space for transporting ammunition for the artillery piece being towed. Although the space was not very large, it allowed the artillery piece to go into action immediately as soon as it was detached from the tractor.
Sd.Kfz.9 18t artillery version
  • Cargo/tractor/towing version: The cargo/tractor/towing version had two rows of seats and two storage compartments mounted in the front of the cargo compartment, one on each side, that opened to the outside. I built this version. See here, in our Panzerserra Bunker!!

A Famo Sd.Kfz.9 tractor version in rough terrain. Notice the two rows of
benches for the crew.
    This version could also carry a earth spade in the rear, to "anchor" the tractor to the ground, for it to pull heavy loads with its winch installed in the middle of the chassis.

Frame for earth spade in the Famo (early) rear body
The frames were not standardized, and several types of frames
can be seen in the photos that have reached our times.
Notice the different shape of the spade frame and
the presence of "X" shaped ribs on the tractor cargo door panels
compared to the photo below.

Frame for earth spade in the Famo's (late) rear body
Notice the different shape of the spade frame and
the absence of "X" shaped ribs on the tractor cargo door panels
compared to the photo above.
Three Sd.Kfz.9 18t towing a broken King Tiger II. The last Famo shows
his spade frame erected with the 
earth spade installed in the frame's top,
 during the displacement (rare photo - red arrow). 
Three Sd.Kfz.9 18t were needed to drag a Tiger II
Notice the shadows of the tractors, in the lower left corner of the photo (yellow arrows)

The original pic from above
    The frame and spade at the rear of the vehicle serve as an anchor when winching heavy loads.(special hollow steel chock blocks are also supplied to beused at the rear of the tracks). The hinged frame is rectangular in sharpe and consists of three pieces of channel-section steel, two longitudinal and one or two transverse, reinforced by triangular plates. The open end of the frame is hinged to reinforced ends of the chassis frame. The spade is attached to the free end of the frame by two removeable pins. 
To increase the pulling power of the installed winch, massive earth spades
were attached to the vehicles used to recover heavy vehicles.
These often had a different appearance... Notice the two shapes of earth spades...
    The frame is raised and lowered with the winch by running the winch cable over a pulley mounted on a vertical framework at the rear of the body. A hook to engage the eye of the cable is attached to the free end of the frame. To recover a vehicle, the frame is dropped with the winch and the spade is attached to it. The winch cable is then unhooked from the frame, removed from the upper pulley, and extended to the rear for coupling to the vehicle to be recovered. The winch is located under the body and is controlled at the rear of the vehicle. It has a hand operated brake with an extension bar and handle.
Modified drawing from German technical manuals
  • Tank transporter version: This is not an official "version" of a specific type of Sd.Kfz.9 18t, but when a Sd.Kfz.9 18t Famo (usually a tractor version) towed a heavy tank transporter trailer, this composition was called a tank transporter. The trailers were usually the Tiefladeanhänger für Panzerkampfwagen 10t (Sd. Ah. 115) with capacity of 10 tons and the Tiefladeanhänger für Panzerkampfwagen 22/23t (Sd. Ah. 116) with capacity of 23 tons.One, two or three Famos Sd.Kfz9 18t coupled together could tow one Tiefladeanhänger für 60 t  (or 75 t ) Nutzlast (Sd. Ah. 121), for the transportation of the heavy Tiger I and Tiger II tanks six-axle trailers for a payload of 60 and 75 tons or another heavy trailer, like the Culemeyer-Strassenroller 24 wheels heavy trailer.
A Sd.Kfz.9 18t Famo tows a Sd.Ah. 115 with a Sd.Kfz. 252 ammo carrier taking a ride.
Crete - May 1941. 
A Sd.Kfz.9 18t Famo tows a Sd.Ah. 116 with a Tauchpanzer III - (Dive-tank III)
France - 1941
A solo Sd.Kfz9 18t Famo "ERNA" towing the chassis of
Karl-Gerät self-propelled siege mortar to firing position
The trailer is a Culemeyer-Strassenroller 24 wheels heavy trailer
Heavy Artillery Battalion 833 - Siege of Sebastopol - Crimea - Summer 1942.
3 Sd.Kfz.9 18t Famos towing a 38-cm gun barrel for Batterie Todt
in a double composition of Culemeyer-Strassenroller 24 wheels heavy trailers
Calais - France

    But the champion of versatility was undoubtedly the trailer Sd.Ah. 116, which carried everything and anything when attached to the Sd.Kfz9 18t. Here are some examples, in addition to the tanks ... 

The couple Sd.Kfz.9 and trailer Sd.Ah. 116 carrying barrels of fuel.. a lot of fuel!!
And talking about fuel, here's the double Famo + Sd.Ah.116 with a fuel tank for a Luftwaffe airfield.
The Famo is a late version, with bumpers and simplified stirrups
Sd.Kfz.9 18t Famo "HEDI" with a Sd. Ah. 116 transport a huge electric transformer in narrow streets.
Kharkov - Russian Front 
Same composition above, by other angle...
  • Crane version: A new upper body was used for the Sd.Kfz. 9/1 with a 6 ton capacity Bilstein crane in lieu of the crew's bench seat and the cargo compartment. It was issued to tank maintenance units beginning in September 1941.This version was very popular with maintenance personnel, as it was practically irreplaceable on the battlefield, due to its usefulness and versatility. I built this version, too. See here, in our Panzerserra Bunker!!
A Sd.Kfz.9/1 Bilstein 6t crane : versatile, robust and irreplaceable

A Famo 6ton crane rescuing a Nashorn with serious transmission problems.
    A larger, gasoline-electric, 10ton Demag crane was fitted on the later Sd.Kfz. 9/2, but this required outriggers to stabilize the vehicle before operations could begin. 
A Sd.Kfz. 9/2 10ton crane lifting a Tiger turret...
Notice the Sd.Ah.116 trailer in background
    A larger, gasoline-electric, 10 t (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons) crane was fitted on the later Sd.Kfz. 9/2, but this required outriggers to stabilize the vehicle before operations could begin. 
  • Anti-tank version: In 1942, was placed order for 112 self propelled 8.8cm Flak 37. The first prototype vehicle was completed at the end of October 1942. From July to September 1943, a total of 12 production vehicles 8.8cm Flak 37 (Sf.) auf s. Zgkw. 18t - a self propelled 8.8cm anti aircraft gun - were produced. The armoured upper body was 14.5mm thick armour riveted plates. The gun itself had limited traverse because of the armored cab and could only be fully traversed with the gun elevated. A platform with drop-down sides was fitted for the gun. During combat, these stabilizing legs had to be folded down for reasons of stability. The vehicle weighed 25 tonnes, was 9.32 metres long, 3.67 metres tall and 2.65 metres wide. 40 rounds could be stored in ammo boxes at the rear.  Due to the increased weight of the vehicle, the chassis had to be strengthened.
    All 12 serial vehicles were assigned to Heeres-Flak-Abteilung 304 of 26. Panzer Division. They were used in Italy from 1943 to 1945.

A Famo 8.8cm Flak 18 (Sfl.) auf Zugkraftwagen 18t (Sd.Kfz. 9) in anti-tank firing position.
Notice the crew's side platforms lowered, as well as the stabilizing legs beside and above the tracks

Another Famo 8.8cm Flak 18 (Sfl.) auf Zugkraftwagen 18t (Sd.Kfz. 9) in rolling position.
Notice the crew's side platforms raised, as well as the stabilizing legs beside and above the tracks

A Famo 8.8cm Flak 18 (Sfl.) auf Zugkraftwagen 18t (Sd.Kfz. 9) in anti-aircraft firing position.
Notice the crew's side platforms lowered, as well as the stabilizing legs beside and above the tracks

    Vomag of Plauen began producing the Sd.Kfz.9 in 1940 and Tatra joined in the last years of the war. 855 were on hand on 20 December 1942. 643 were built in 1943 and 834 in 1944. In total, approximately 2,500 were built.

Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18 t - Sd.Kfz. 9  Famo
TypeHeavy half-track
Place of origin                                                 Nazi Germany
Service history
In service1938–1945
Used by Nazi Germany
WarsWorld War II
Production history
ManufacturerFAMO, Vomag, Tatra
Unit cost60.000 Reichmark
No. builtapprox. 2500
VariantsSd.Kfz. 9/1, Sd.Kfz. 9/2
Mass18,000 kg
Length8.32 metres
Width2.6 metres
Height2.85 metres overall
Crewdepends on body type fitted

Engine10.8L Maybach HL108 petrol 12-cylinder, water-cooled
270 horsepower (270 PS)
Payload capacity2,620 kilograms
Transmission4+1 speed ZF G 65 VL 230
Suspensiontorsion bar
Ground clearance44cm
Fuel capacity290 litres 
260 kilometres  road
100 kilometres cross-country
Maximum speed50 km/h road

The kit:
    For this project I will use a wonderful kit, manufactured by Tamiya in 2000: the Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18t "FAMO" und Tiefladeanhänger für P.Kpfw. Sd.Ah.116 (# 35246), in 1:35 scale. 
Tamiya kit 35246 box art
    Although it is a twenty-year-old kit, I can only classify it as fantastic, with the Tamiya standard of injection quality, detailing and ease of construction. And I will also use an accessory part also manufactured by the same Tamiya, the Tank Recovery Accessory Set for German 18 ton half-track (# 35243), which is nothing more than the earth spade for my Famo!
Tamiya kit 35243 box art
      Imagine the bald one, satisfied and happy with life !!!
Panzerserra's workbench...
   Starting now!!  By the book, as usual!! Gents, start your engiiiiines!!!
Maybach engine!!  I love Tamiya stuff...

I'll put some metal here...
(No..I'm not sissy...I'll scratch with cooper wire..)

Starting the chassis...Man..the alignement is perfect...
right side

Chassis - left side

The engine is in dry-run, for testing in the chassis...Perfect!!
left side

Right side!!
      The building continues...torsion bars&arms&suspension... and front axle, too... But, in step 10 you need to step on the brake, as the wire rope guide subassembly composed of parts E-26,27 and 28 must not be installed, in the earth spade version. See below:
Wait a minute, man...
     In this stage, you start adding the specific earth spade parts to the chassis ...
Earth spade joint supports at the rear of the chassis... Chuck approves!!

The subassembly 10 replaced by the set provided in the conversion kit

This subset is very important, as it will be the basis of the future blade lift that
will be made in scratch, since Tamiya's accessory kit does not come with this part ...

The earth spade in dry-run in the chassis rear..Ya, baby...ya!!

And the blade will now wait for the rest of the tractor building ...
See you soon, boys and gals!!!

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