During the early years of panzer development it was recognized that the infantry should be equally mobile. A full-track vehicle
seemed to costly, wheeled vehicles with the required cross-country performance were not available. A halftrack vehicle with the official name Sd.Kfz. 251 "Gepanzerte Manschafts Transportwagen" evolves.
There are earlier developments on the 3-ton chassis, but for the 251 they are a sidestep.
Büssing-NAG is ordered, in cooperation with Deutschen Werke, in 1937 to design an armored hull for the chassis of what is than know as the 3 ton artillery prime mover. That chassis starts its design-life with Hansa-Loyd-Goliath in 1933 but is standardized as Hanomag Hl Kl 6 (Sd.Kfz. 11). 1938 sees an order for a pre-production series. It is tested in Kummersdorf later that year. A special book documenting the history of testing in Kummersdorf gives no details. Who knows more?
The chassis is adopted and named Hkl 6p. The changes that are necessary:
A company of the first panzer division (Wehrkreis Weimar) is the first to be equipped in the spring of 1939. Extensive training and trails make the crews familiar with the new machines. They see action during the Polish campaign. Units of the 2nd Panzer division also see action with the 251. The concept of carrier born infantry is proven. The favored status and the fact that there are never enough soon grows into a shared production program.
Engines are produced by Maybach, Norddeutsche Motorenbau and Auto-Union. Chassis are made by Hanomag, Adler, Auto-Union, Borgward and Skoda. Superstructures are made by Ferrum, Schöller & Beckman, Bömische Leipa and Steinmüller. Final assembly is done by Wesserhütte, Wugam and F. Schichau AG.After the seizure of Austria 30 million Reichsmark is invested in several "Kriegswichtige Bauten" (Buildings that are important for warfare). Several went to companies that co-produced or made secondary products like sheet-steel. The Schöller Bleckmann works move their armor body production from factory 'Ternitz' to the new 'Südwerk' (south factory) near Mürzzuslag in September 1940. Among others the production of 251 bodies is taken on. In 1940 92 bodies were produced. An average of 25 a month is achieved. Böhler produced 800 bodies in the first half of 1942. In the second quarter of 1942 Schöller Bleckmann works gets an order for 800 bodies. From May on this is raised to 1200. In October 1942 Schöller Bleckmann gets an order for 60 251/9 bodies. In November they are ordered to raise the month production of 160 to 300 bodies. From May 1943 Schöller Bleckmann starts a new batch of 2000 bodies. MG shields and several other parts are also produced. In a document of 20-6-1944 Schöller Bleckmann is mentioned as fully occupied with production of parts for the 251/9. December 1944 they are still at it. The end of the war sees a total of 2322 bodies from Schöller Bleckmann.
On January 27th 1945, Speer mentions official production numbers. There are other numbers that get mentioned. Present day books quote these numbers mixed.
Now Speer should have had the last word on it, but in 1939 there really where 251's build. So, none of these numbers are 100% sure.
/A 1937 - 1940,
/B 1939 - 1940
/C mid 1940 - august 1943
/D 1943 - 1945
With so many companies involved building sub-assemblies and doing an end assembly all kinds of large parts where shipped throughout Germany. Does a chassis that is produced by Hanomag, and that is destroyed in an airraid on the train to Austria to get a hull count in the chassis production? And how many hulls where completed by Schöller & Beckman that where delivered to the Wehrmacht including the "Abnahmestempel" that never left the grounds?
- June 1939 to September 1943 4'650 Version A B and C.
- 1943 till end of production 10'602 version D.
- One source claims 4165 model "C". That would mean 485 model A and B
- 1939 production is claimed to be A-version only
- Schöller & Beckman has build 2'322 hull's in the period 40-44.
- Borgward has build 411 chassis in 1941 and 631 in 1942.
The 251/A is claimed to have the following serial-numbers:
- Borgward, 320831 to 322039
- Hanomag, 796001 to 796030
- Hansa Loyd Goliath, 320285