There’s boredom that could be quenched by browsing through social media or maybe playing online games. Then there’s a kind of boredom that could only be helped by recreating the light four-wheel-drive armored car that the German armored forces used during World War II called Panzerspähwagen Sd. Kfz. 222. As for Zacharias Ourgantzidis from Thessaloniki in Greece, it’s the second one or nothing.
German’s four-wheeled armored car
Before the Sd. Kfz. 222, there was its 221 version. It was the first of the light scouting vehicles that were made to be reliable with its ability to run on different grades of fuel, could be driven off-road, and be constructed from simple materials. Later on, they realized that Sd. Kfz. 221 was too light and too lightly armed for their liking, so in 1936, they built a new version that would resolve all the issues of the previous version. The result was a heavier, four-wheeled armored car that used either of the two standard chassis that could be a front-mounted engine or rear-mounted one. Sd. Kfz. 222 was armed with a 2 cm KwK 30 L/55 autocannon and one MG 13 machine gun, operated by three crewmen instead of two with a dedicated gunner position on top of the open ring.. About 990 of this version were produced and used by the Panzer division’s reconnaissance battalions that were utilized well in Western Europe with good road networks. However, in the Eastern Front and the North African Campaign, the Sd. Kfz. 222 was no match on the desert and unpaved terrains. Today, the handful that survived, including the other versions, can be found in museums or private collections.
The design was quite innovative in terms of the Stealth Fighter type angles of its body panels. Obviously not for the purpose of evading radar the slopes and angles of the body were meant to deflect rounds fired at it and to increase its light armor protection. A bullet striking the steel armor at an angle would have to pass through more metal to penetrate the body and reach the men inside.
This scout car could fend off .30 cal rifle and machine gun rounds pretty well but anything larger would punch through it like tissue paper, but its relatively small size and speed made it difficult for tank gunners or anti-tank gun crews to draw a bead on. These Leichter Panzerspahwagens were employed as scout vehicles more than combat vehicles even when they were armed with 20mm cannons in some versions. These guns were used in a defensive role mostly.
It also incorporated full-time four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering making its four-ton chassis pretty maneuverable on paved and unpaved roads.
Preparing To Recreate It
Zacharias Ourgantzidis from Thessaloniki, Greece, is fond of collecting vehicles. In an interview with him written by ww2wrecks.com, he said:
“I already own 2 willys jeeps, 3 motorcycles, a BSA, a BMW and a Mustang, as well as a variety of other period vehicles and I wanted to add an armoured vehicle in my collection”
And so he started by researching and understanding how the actual Sd. Kfz. 222 was made based on the surviving and available documentation. Researching took him a year, and when he already had enough information on how he would do his armored vehicle, he spent the next 19 months planning and building the car from scratch.
“The chassis is based on a modified ISUZU Trooper, the engine is 2600cc and all other parts are custom made, based on the specifications and measurements of the original vehicle.
There are several original parts too, mostly coming from Russia and Germany, such as the lights, the gun muzzle and other elements which add a period touch to the vehicle.”
And it was not just the build. He also made sure to use the right paint, which was the RAL7021, the color used by the Wehrmacht during the campaign to conquer Greece called Operation Marita in 1941. And so, 19 months and approximately 10,000 euros later, his replica was built.
“..my vehicle is participating in reenactment events, parades and WW2 shows,” he also said.
The painstaking (but worth it) process
Here’s the documentation of his step-by-step replica Sd. Kfz. 222 production from frame to the parade (from WW2WRECKS.COM):