Benz-Bräuer Kraftprotze

Almost nothing is known about the history of this machine, but it was possible to gather some information from various sources.

This artillery tractor was demonstrated to German military authorities on tests held June 20, 1918 near Sauberg, located near the city of Gaggenau. As can be seen from the photo, the vehicle is in fact a conversion of the 3-ton Benz 3KL tractor, which had 45-horsepower engine and chain drive to the rear wheels. The new tractor was called the Benz КР (45PS) and probably re-utilized the old engine.

Front wheels had cast tires, and the rear wheels were the same with the distinct difference in that they were strewn with caterpillar treads. In fact, it was one of the first produced german half-tracks and wheel-cum-track vehicles.

After a successful demonstration the government ordered one hundred units. Of the one hundred vehicles ordered, various contradicting sources claim that anywhere that only three to fifty were actually completed by the end of the war, and none of them saw any action.

But there is another interesting relative of this vehicle. Before the end of the war, an improved model was tested. Apparently, the chassis was supplemented with hydraulic pistons to control it. Front idler wheels could be raised and lowered as needed, thereby changing the area and shape of the ground contact patch. On a solid soil it was possible to raise them higher, thus to ride practically on the wheels, on a soft ground the rollers lowered and created a large flat caterpillar. It is simultaneously a half-tracked and wheel-cum-track machine combining both schemes. This model identified as Benz CR (45PS).

Special thanks to Ki McKenzie for editing.

Sources:

  • Waffen Revue Nr. 70 III. Quartal 1988.
  • Waffen Revue Nr. 71 IV. Quartal 1988.
  • Walter J. Spielberger – Die Rad- und Vollketten-Zugmaschinen Des Deutschen Heeres 1871-1945.
  • Е. Кочнев – Энциклопедия военных автомобилей 1769-2006 гг. | E. Kochnev – Encyclopedia of military vehicles 1769-2006.
  • https://landships.activeboard.com/t63818562/unrealised-german-projects-of-1918-year/
  • http://landships.activeboard.com/forum.spark?forumID=63528&p=3&topicID=17703236
  • https://strangernn.livejournal.com/37824.html
  • https://strangernn.livejournal.com/314939.html
  • https://stage-chronik.mercedes-benz-classic.com/en/benz-braeuer-kraftprotze-undergoes-inspection/
  • https://autoreview.ru/articles/gruzoviki-i-avtobusy/arocs%D0%BA%D0%B0vator
  • http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/name-that-vehicle.5241/page-99
  • http://mercedes-benzclubvenezuela.blogspot.com/2013/09/para-recordar_16.html
  • https://books.google.ru/books?id=HN3AUx_3Mn4C&pg=PA117&lpg=PA117&dq=Benz-Br%C3%A4uer&source=bl&ots=5pzSfCaR-G&sig=CjbXPfmip_lUrR3BFw6YUrUsFrs&hl=ru&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi95IzDleDcAhWLO5oKHWLmCYoQ6AEwC3oECAIQAQ#v=onepage&q=Benz-Br%C3%A4uer&f=false

Forgotten Sturmbegleitkanone

Probably every history researcher has some kind of his own riddle that is not solved for a long time and only brings up new questions the further they investigate. For me, this one photo, which attracted my attention. It was in very poor quality with a barely readable inscription about some kind of “assault gun”. Periodically on various forums I met mention of gun called a Sturmbegleitkanone or 3.7cm Sturmbegleitkanone. Digging deeper into the subject, I realized that this could perhaps be the most forgotten artillery piece of that war. I did not find exhaustive information about this gun in the encyclopedias and sites available to me, most often it was not even mentioned, almost unknown and forgotten.

Having decided to try my luck, 2 days ago I tried googling it and noticed something new – on one German site there was this photo in a larger resolution, on which it is possible to see many more details.

The caption reads: “From the eastern theater. Assault rapid-fire gun used in assault operations. (1st W., Eastern Front).

It is interesting that other versions of this picture are sold on a few online stores. Thanks to that, I managed to get the accompanying information to this photo, apparently written on the back of the photo.

Unfortunately, I can’t read most of the German text here, but something becomes clear. Firstly, the unit and the division are known for this stamp, but that is not important info in this case. What is important is the year and place: 1916, Koenigsberg. Therefore, I should not believe the 1914 date indicated in one of the online stores. Also, one of the descriptions to this photo mentioned that the photo was taken of the exercises with the new assault cannon in a forest on the Eastern Front, most likely it is.

Unfortunately, the gun shield hides all the interesting details that could shed light on the origin of this gun. What could it be? It is possible that this is an automatic cannon QF-1 or another Pom Pom derivative, captured and converted into an improvised assault gun. Or may be a trophy 42 mm Hotchkiss gun. One forum gave me the suggestion that it might be some small-scale Krupp assault gun, with some quotes from books to back it up,  but I still do not have access to the publications mentioned there. It is possible that in the epic work in two volumes “A Gun for All Nations: The 37mm Gun and Ammunition” there is detailed information, but alas, I do not yet have this book. In “Deutsche Artillerie: 1914-1918”, another book I do not possess, in the list of artillery is mentioned a certain 6-cm-Bootskanone L/21 as Sturmbegleitkanone. Also, 6cm Schnellade Boots Kanone L / 21 in Ladungslafette c/1900 has some similar visual dimensions. I do not presume to judge with all responsibility, since it is problematic for me to “determine by eye” the caliber of the gun in the picture, although the projectile itself is clearly visible in the photo, making calculation of the gun’s caliber easier.

For the time being, this gun’s origin remains a mystery.

Sources:
* AKG-Images.de
* DHM.de
* 1914-1918.invisionzone.com
* Oldthing.de