he Kettenkrad (SdKfz 2) on display at the Deutsches Panzermuseum Munster,  Germany. Photo courtesy of baku13 on Wikimedia Commons.

This is the Kettenkrad, a motorcycle tank from World War II—a tracked vehicle that looks like a hybrid between a motorcycle and a tank. Its official name was Kleines Kettenkraftrad SdKfz 2, but it’s now better known under its abbreviation, Kettenkrad. In an article published in a U.S. military publication called Tactical and Technical Trends (from February 25, 1943), the vehicle was described as a German motorcycle tractor. The Kettenkrad was patented by German inventor Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp in June of 1939, as a fast, tracked vehicle that can transport loads and people in mountain terrains.

Most Kettenkrads were manufactured by the NSU Motorenwerke company in Germany. A small percent of the vehicles were made by another German automobile company—Stoewer. The Kettenkrad was first used in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, to carry German soldiers and heavy loads in the harsh Russian climate and terrain. Kettenkrads were also used during the war for tugging German jet fighters to save aviation fuel.

The Kettenkrad was produced in two sub-models (SdKfz. 2/1 and SdKfz. 2/2) and a special trailer (Sd.Anh. 1) was designed as an accessory that could increase its load capacity. Production of the Kettenkrad for military use ended in 1944. From 1944 to 1949, a small number of Kettenkrads were made for agricultural use.

Germans seem to be fascinated by the concept of merging tanks with motorcycles. Have you seen the tank bike?

Kleines Kettenkraftrad SdKfz 2 Specifications

Length: 9 ft 0 in
Width: 3 ft 3 in
Height: 3 ft 11 in

Without load: 2,690 lbs
Loaded: 3,470 lbs

Maximum speed on roads: At 3,000 rp – 38 mph; at 4,000 rpm – 51 mph (only in emergency)
Fuel capacity: 9 gal
Gasoline consumption: on road – 17 mpg; off-road – 12 mpg.

Video with the Kettenkrad

4 Responses to The Kettenkrad – World War II German Motorcycle Tank

  1. allwyn...... says:

    WASSUP ???????????/

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    It’s really a great beast

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