By Michael Surbrook
Seen here a Waffenträgerschreitpanzer (Armored Walking Weapons Carrier) ‘Läufer’ (literally, "runner"), a highly mobile self-propelled field artillery piece. It mounted a short-barreled 75mm cannon in the main body, a MG 34 ring-mount around the main hatch (used for anti-aircraft defense), and a pair of 20mm cannon under a right side "wing" plate. This particular Läufer is seen taking on fuel, ammunition, and oil in an Eastern Front forest. The Läufer favored this sort of terrain, as it tended to be too thick for most tanks and allowed for secure firing positions.
The Läufer was popular among the infantry, who liked having close-in artillery support capable of traversing almost any terrain. The Läufer was a bipedal armored combat machine, designed to accompany infantry, snipe at enemy armor, and generally serve as an all-terrain self-propelled gun.
The Läufer had a squat blocky body mounted on two short legs. The howitzer was set to the right of the pilot, with the twin 20 mm cannon mounted to a fixed wing on the far right of the vehicle. The primary access hatch was behind the howitzer, while the vehicle's engine was directly behind the driver's compartment. It was roughly 12' tall, 10' long, and 8' wide. It weighed 20 tons, had a top speed of 26 miles per hour, and a crew of three (driver, gunner, loader).
The Läufer was used on both fronts, and was especially popular in the thick forests of Russia and the broken farmlands of France. Although not especially well armored, its size and shape made the vehicle easy to hide, and the Allies often found them tucked into barns, factories, deep ditches, thick stands of trees, and the like. As the howitzer was of limited use against enemy armor, the Läufer was usually used to shell troops in the open or soft vehicle targets -- such as jeeps and trucks. The 20 mm cannon was often used to help spot targets for the howitzer, and tracer rounds were a common load. The MG 34, on the other hand, was meant for close defense and as an antiaircraft weapon.
Although several hundred Läufer were made, they had little overall impact on the course of the war. While fine anti-infantry weapons, their high silhouette and thin armor made them walking (literally) targets for Allied tank gunners and ground-attack pilots. Also, as the war progressed, and parts became scarce, many Läufer were simply abandoned upon experiencing a mechanical failure, although a few were made into semi-fixed artillery platforms.
PANZERFLUCH AUSF G
The Third Reich’s answer to the British MBW is fully committed to a fearsome anti-armor role. Loud and lumbering, this behemoth crashes through the underbrush with its mere presence instilling dread in enemy tank crews. While proving highly effective against American Shermans, and the Soviet KV-1s and T-34s, its lack of speed and maneuverability made it desperately vulnerable to anti-tank infantry.
-Cannon terminates in a tightened muzzle break that employs a Gerlich effect.
-Free hand clamp used as self righter, and to carry extra loads of equipment.
-Hatch leads to small compartment for single loader and communications crewman.
BRITISH MAIN BATTLE WALKER
First introduced in the European Theatre by British forces in 1943, the Mk1 was an introduction that changed the battlefield. As unreliable and temperamental as the first tanks in WW1 were, the Mk1s still functioned as an incredibly versatile, all-purpose weapon. This particular model is fitted with a 105mm howitzer.
- Modular clamp hands for multiple weapon mounting options.
- Hatch placed on rotating head.
- Light machine gun mounting for a close quarters anti-personnel role.
- Arm joints covered in a jacket to prevent the elements from fouling operation.
- Legs are always plagued with problems; an escort accompanies with spare parts, and repair and maintenance engineers.
Friedrich Goeble, a German engineer from Riga, was one of Germany’s early tank pioneers who like Austria’s Gunther Burstyn and Australia’s de Mole was active in tank development way before their time.
He invented the “Landkreuzer” (land cruiser) in 1913.
This vehicle was very strange in appearance and functionality; instead of having a form of a track system like Burstyn’s and de Mole's vehicles, it had a set of “walking legs”, or pivoted legs that consequently had a slow gait like that on a child’s toy, which lurches down slopes on weighted legs. The vehicle utilized six legs, but had no means of steering. The vehicle itself was a standard German 4-ton NAG military truck.
Goeble had built a model to demonstrate to the German War Office “commercial testing commission” by their request. The commission also requested a few basic requirements, including a 50 foot turning radius and an average speed of 7.5 mph. This design did not impress the commission, because upon testing the “Land cruiser” was found to be very impractical; it became stuck very easy, and as in the model demonstration, there was no form of steering.
~Text modified by Rob Arndt