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Sd.Kfz. 2

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Sd.Kfz.2 Kettenkrad HK 101
Kettenkrad in Russia, Winter 1943/44.
TypeLight half-tracked gun tractor
Place of originNazi Germany
Service history
In service1941–1945
Used byNazi Germany
WarsWorld War II
Production history
ManufacturerNSU Motorenwerke
Mass1,560 kg (3,440 lb)
Length3 m (9 ft 10 in)
Width1 m (3 ft 3 in)
Height1.2 m (3 ft 11 in)
Crew1 driver
Passengers2 passengers

EngineOpel watercooled four-cylinder inline engine
36 bhp (26 kW)
Transmission3 forward/1 reverse × 2 range
Maximum speed 70 km/h (44 mph)

The Sd.Kfz.2 (German: Sonderkraftfahrzeug 2) is a half-track motorcycle with a single front wheel, better known as the Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101 (from German klein 'small', Ketten 'chains/tracks', and Kraftrad 'motorcycle'), shortened to Kettenkrad (pl. Kettenkräder). It was used by the military of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

View from above on the drivetrain of a 1942 NSU Kettenkrad. Driver's seat removed.



The Kettenkrad started its life as a light tractor for airborne troops. The vehicle was designed to be delivered by Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, though not by parachute. The vehicle had the advantage of being the only gun tractor small enough to fit inside the hold of the Ju 52, and was the lightest mass-produced German military vehicle to use the complex Schachtellaufwerk overlapped and interleaved road wheels used on almost all German military half-tracked vehicles of World War II.

Steering the Kettenkrad was accomplished by turning the handlebars: Up to a certain point, only the front wheel would steer the vehicle. A motion of the handlebars beyond that point would engage the track brakes to help make turns sharper. It was also possible to run the vehicle without the front wheel installed and this was recommended in extreme off-road conditions where speed would be kept low.[1]

The Sd.Kfz.2 was designed and built by the NSU Werke AG at Neckarsulm, Germany. Patented in June 1939, it was first used in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.[2] Later in the war Stoewer from Stettin also produced Kettenkrads under license, accounting for about 10% of the total production.[3]

The Kettenkrad came with a special trailer Sonderanhänger 1 (Sd.Anh.1) that could be attached to it to improve its cargo capacity. The trailer carried 350 kg (770 lb).

Being a tracked vehicle, the Kettenkrad could climb up to 24° in sand and even more on hard ground.[4]


Kettenkrad with Sd.Anh.1 trailer, Russia 1943

Most Kettenkräder saw service on the Eastern Front, where they were used to lay communication cables, pull heavy loads and carry soldiers through the deep Russian mud. Later in the war, Kettenkräder were used as runway tugs for aircraft, especially for the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter, and sometimes the Arado Ar 234 jet reconnaissance-bomber. In order to save aviation fuel, German jet aircraft were towed to the runway, rather than taxiing under their own power.

The vehicle was also used in the North African theater and on the Western Front.



Only two significant sub-variations of the Kettenkrad were constructed. The mittlerer Ladungsträger Springer (Sd.Kfz. 304) was a remotely controlled demolition vehicle. Also an enlarged five-seat version of the Kettenkrad was developed but only prototypes were built.

Production of the Kettenkrad was stopped in 1944, at which time 8,345 had been built. After the war, production resumed at NSU. Around 550 Kettenkräder were built for agricultural use, with production ending in 1948 or 1949 (sources vary).

See also

Kettenkrad at The Tank Museum, Bovington


  1. ^ Army manual D 624/1, Kleines Kettenkraftrad, Gerätebeschreibung und Bedienungsanweisung. OKH. 25 September 1944. p. 72.
  2. ^ Ulzheimer, Philip (2006). "Kleines Kettenkraftrad (Sd.Kfz.2) Typ HK 101". kettenkrad.com. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  3. ^ Parada, George. "Vehicles of the Wehrmacht 1939–1945". Archived from the original on 20 October 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  4. ^ Army manual D 624/1, Kleines Kettenkraftrad, Gerätebeschreibung und Bedienungsanweisung. OKH. 28 October 1942. p. 9.