Thursday, April 7, 2016
VsKfz 617 Minenräumer
From the Instructions - (in all its broken English glory).
In order to reverse the tide. German troops developed the minesweeper - VsKfz 617 Minenräumer for the loss caused by the intensive mines of USSR in World War II. This vehicle was jointly designed by Alkett, Krupp and Daimler - Benz. The first prototype VsKfz was completed in 1942.
The VsKfz 617 is a kind of vehicle which cracks mines directly. It's hull is covered by variable shielding between 10 and 40mm. The power of the Maybach HL - 12 engine which used the power systems is 300 horsepower. The power is transmitted to the drive wheel by chains. During these ground displacements the changes of direction were accomplished by an orientation of an aft wheel controlled by a system of chains actuated by a wheel. The tracks which are called shoes are installed on the three wheels. Because of the rugged structures, the shoes are hard to blow off by anti tank weapons. The superstructure possesses a turret of the Pz. Kpfw I tank which is equipped with two 7.92mm MG-34 machine guns.
Now only one VsKfz 617 exists. Legends are circulating about it, hundreds of specialists , big and small, wrote and said strange things about its history and design, basing on hearsay, hypothesis and outright lies. According to some of these (already published abroad), the vehicle was captured during the battle for the Kursk Salient. Others say "No, That's an absurd" and then tell a tale of a vehicle excavated after the Germans evacuated Belarus. Not Belarus says another story, but in Poland, where it was found after the war by de-mining teams. In April 1945, during their advance, Soviet troops captured this vehicle in the center of the testing grounds of Kummersdorf. Stored a few times in Dresden, it was then dispatched to the USSR. The vehicle underwent several evaluation tests after capturing by Soviet troops, the results of the tests showed that the operational effectiveness of this vehicle was rather low and could not rule out the mines over rough terrain. The weak armor failed to provide the effectively protected and could easily be perforated by various weapons. Its ponderous weight and awkward size made it incapable of moving fast and the gearing was very uncertain. Maybe that was the result why German troops stopped to product and use it on a large scale. The VsKfz 617 now resides in the Kubinka Museum outside Moscow.