Sd Kfz 304 Mittlerer Ladungsträger (E1951.48)
Built by the NSU Company, the Springer was powered by an Opel Olympia car engine and used many components from the Kettenkrad half-track motorcycle. It was intended to replace earlier designs such as the Goliath although none of these models had proved very effective.
The Springer contained 330 kilograms of explosive. It would be driven as close to the target as possible, after which the driver dismounted, folded down the armour plates around his seat, and the machine continued under radio control to the point where it would be detonated by the same means.
Springers were organised into special companies which included Sturmgeschutz 40 armoured control vehicles, each of which controlled three Springers. In fact only 50 Springers were built and they did not see very much use.
Germans developed several remote controlled demolition vehicles (funklenpanzer). Intended for attacking strong points, demolition of obstacles or mine detection and clearance. The effective range of control was about 2Km.
Precise Name: Mittlere Ladungstrager
Other Name: SdKfz 304, Springer, Gerat 680
The German Army developed several remotely controlled demolition vehicles during World War II. Some of these were wire guided, like the Leichte Ladungstrager Goliath (See E1951.42). Others, called Funklenpanzer, relied on radio guidance. The Springer was one of these.
Radio guidance was potentially more reliable than wire guidance: wires could catch on an obstacle on the battlefield or could be cut by shell fire, while the range of a wire guided vehicle was necessarily limited to a few hundred metres by the length of cable that it could carry.
The Springer was developed during 1943 – 44 as a replacement for the wire guided Goliath and the larger radio controlled BIV. The Goliath had proved to be fairly ineffective while the heavy BIV was expensive and was due to go out of production during 1944.
Effectively a self-propelled bomb on tracks, the Springer was produced by the NSU Company and employed many of the components of the Kettenkrad ‘motorcycle’ half-track (see E1952.37). It was taken as close to the target as possible by a driver who was protected by a lightly armoured cupola made of folding steel plates. The driver dismounted and folded the cupola down to protect the radio set used for remote control. The Springer continued, directed by radio from a specially equipped Sturmgeschutze 40 assault gun (see E1990.64). When the target was reached the 330kg explosive charge was detonated by radio. The control system had a maximum range of about two kilometres.
The Springer was issued to Radio Control Armoured Companies. Each company consisted of a command Sturmgeschutze plus three more Sturmgeschutze. Each of the latter three controlled three Springer, giving a total company strength of nine. The Springer wasn’t especially effective and only about 50 were manufactured between October 1944 and February 1945.
There was an abortive project to use the Springer chassis as the basis of a light tank, the Kleinpanzer Wanze. This was to mount a 10.5cm recoilless gun.
Summary text by Mike Garth V1.0