SdKfz 251 Halftrack
Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 Halftrack
|Role||Medium Infantry Transport Vehicle|
|Upkeep per Minute||-5.37|
|Produced By||Krieg Barracks|
|Primary armament||2x Mounted MG42 machine gun(only when occupied)|
|Max. Speed||6.5 m/s|
Blitzkrieg is often thought of as a purely Armor-centric concept but it was well understood by the heads of the German military that not every man could arrive in battle in a tank. It was still important for the infantry to be able to fill holes opened up in enemy lines by Panzer movements, and when necessary, to fight alongside them.
Trucks were often used for this, but they were essentially restricted to favorable terrain and Infantry had to be unloaded well before combat since they were no assistance in combat itself. Early Half-Tracks solved the mobility issue, but for Germany, the revolution came in the form of the SdKfz 250 and 251, which were armored and armed themselves.
These vehicles were meant to replace the trucks as Infantry transports which could fight with them in battle. It was a massive success- the vehicle was bulletproof, could carry weaponry of its own, and was seen as a valuable asset and constantly in demand from German troops who often had to make do with alternatives.
As with in Company of Heroes, the SdKfz 251 was used as the basis for several weapon platforms to become support weapons for mobile forces. However, unlike game, in real life, practically every SdKfz 251 used for Infantry transport was uncovered.
The SdKfz 251 is a multi-purpose vehicle. Initially unarmed until garrisoned or upgraded, it is not in itself particularly threatening, but its value as a support for other units is unparalleled for the Wehrmacht as a whole.
In its basic configuration, it is able to transport up to 12 men, or 4 units, whichever comes first. Infantry can enter and exit the vehicle at any time, but cannot fire out of it and are vulnerable while dismounting the vehicle. While a unit is inside the vehicle, both MG42s become manned (even if only 1 man is inside the vehicle).
This makes the halftrack a great way to deploy and redeploy- a Halftrack is considerably faster than walking Infantry, and the less time a unit has to spend moving to where they should be, the more time they spend doing something useful. This also makes the halftrack useful for a "limited retreat", loading endangered Infantry into the vehicle, pulling out of danger to reinforce, and returning to the fight in short order, creating an effective and fast rotation that keeps your units alive.
In addition, close-combat units like MP40-equipped Volksgrenadiers or Flamethrower-equipped Pioneers can be deployed closer to a unit that thrives on long-range combat without having to weather the storm- good for quickly swarming MG setups or well-equipped Infantry Sections. 75% of Infantry inside of a Halftrack when it's destroyed will die- if any individual such as an Officer is inside, it will almost never survive.
The MG42s on the vehicle itself cannot be underestimated. Like the .50 cal on the roof of the M3 Halftrack, the mounted MG makes the vehicle capable of fighting with the deployed Infantry to give them an added advantage in a fight. It is easy to assume these weapons would be simple deterrents, but they can easily take out Infantry on their own.
When upgraded with the Flamethrower package, the MGs and transport capabilities are replaced with Flamethrowers, making a brutal close-combat unit able to scorch any unarmored target to ashes in seconds if it is able to close the gap. The Walking Stuka package, on the other hand, converts the unit to a mobile Artillery platform, able to deliver high-explosive barrages at long ranges. Both of these upgrades completely change the Halftrack's use (and disable transportation but not reinforcement abilities), so careful consideration should be put into upgrading either way, especially given these upgrades cannot be abandoned.
In any configuration, the Halftrack's armor prevents it from taking damage from any small arms save for the .30 cal or Vickers MG's armor piercing rounds. It is vulnerable to most AT weapons, including Sticky Bombs, but will not take any significant damage in battles where these are not present.
The versatility, armor, and supporting capabilities of the SdKfz 251 mean that it is a safe bet you will see the vehicle used in every single game involving the Wehrmacht in some form or another. Any Allied commander should be familiar with it and how to respond to it, and any Wehrmacht commander should know how to use it. As one of the faction's main units it should not be misused.
The SdKfz begins with 2 mountable MG42s. Other weapons require mutually exclusive upgrades.
The MG42 is one of Germany's most famous weapons, and as expected, finds its home on any open vehicle, including the SdKfz 251.
Far more comparable to the Tripod-mounted variation than the Infantry variation, the MG42 has a range of 35 meters, fires between 15-30 rounds per burst and 7-8 bursts per 6-second reload. Accuracy is good for such a high fire rate, at 45% in most combat ranges. Each hit does 5 points of damage.
The weapon is very suppressive, meaning enemy Infantry will be suppressed or pinned in very short order, especially in combination with other units' fire. This makes the MG42 a very effective anti-Infantry weapon, though it has almost no anti-Vehicle characteristics.
The two MGs on both sides handle nearly identically. It should be noted that the Halftrack will always fire with the forward-facing MG- even if it is already attacking an enemy behind it, it will turn and face the enemy, which may cost valuable seconds. On the upside, both MGs act independently and suffer no penalty when both in use.
After purchasing the flammenwerfer upgrade, the Sdkfz 251 will be equipped with 2 flamethrowers, biased to the left and right sides of the vehicle. The flamethrowers cannot fire straight forward (from the MG's position, in other words), but can cross near the end of their effective range. Like with the MGs, both Flamethrowers operate independently.
Each flamethrower inflicts from 30 to 35 points of damage per second with no penetration power whatsoever. The flamethrowers fire in bursts of inconsistent length but as long as the vehicle is in range, at least one of the two Flamethrowers will nearly always be firing. Fire has no suppressive capabilities but does have the ability to occasionally instantly kill a soldier, even when he still has full or nearly full health. Units in buildings are in particular danger as they take additional damage.
The short range of the Flamethrowers of only 25 meters means that the ability to close up with the Infantry is key- Flamethrowers halftracks work best as a "bully unit", taking on Infantry unequipped to properly deal with them.
Wurfrahmen 40 Rocket Launchers Edit
With the Walking Stuka upgrade, the Halftrack loses all of its other weapons but gains 6 rocket artillery launchers, used with the Fire Rockets ability.
The Rockets will be fired up to 150 meters away, and fall within a given range indicated when targeting- improved by the SdKfz 251 being closer to the target and the target being visible. Each rocket does between 70 and 120 points of damage within 8 meters.
Like most forms of artillery, these rockets do full damage to buildings and units inside. Unlike most artillery, Wurfrahmen 40 rockets do full damage to vehicles, though the travel time of the rockets makes hitting these vehicles unlikely. Regardless, this is the SdKfz's sole form of offense against enemy armor.
The SdKfz 251 always has the ability to Reinforce Squad, and can receive an additional ability, Fire Rockets, when given the appropriate upgrade.
Reinforce Squad Edit
- Costs vary based on reinforced unit
- Activation: Through the target unit's menu
- Duration varies based on reinforced unit
Any infantry squad within 20 meters of the Sdkfz 251 Halftrack can replenish lost men for the same cost and duration the unit would need with a base building. This ability works anywhere on the map, though standard rules still apply- you cannot reinforce garrisoned units, even those in the Halftrack itself.
This ability is retained even when Upgrades are applied.
Fire rockets Edit
- Requires upgrade: Walking Stuka
- Costs nothing
- Activation: Select ground
When this ability is selected, the Halftrack will drive within 150 units of the target, stop, and fire rockets until either interrupted or all 6 rockets have been fired. The ability's long cooldown is mitigated by veterancy upgrades.
Flammenwerfer Upgrade Edit
- Requires Escalation to assault phase
- Costs 75
- Removes vehicle's previous armament
- Removes vehicle's transport ability
- Takes 45 seconds to install
This upgrade fills the space inside the Halftrack with Flamethrowers, allowing the unit to do tremendous damage to Infantry close enough to the unit. Note that a Halftrack with this upgrade cannot carry infantry, and will simply unload them upon upgrade- though it will retain its ability to reinforce.
Walking Stuka Upgrade Edit
- Requires the Escalation to battle phase,
- Costs 150
- Removes vehicle's previous armament
- Removes vehicle's transport ability
- Takes 30 seconds to install
This expensive, late-game upgrade turns the SdKfz into a mobile artillery unit. It is no longer able to carry Infantry, but can still reinforce them. This upgrade gives the SdKfz the Fire Rockets ability.
The Sdkfz 251 halftrack is classified as a medium vehicle, and receive upgrades through vehicle veterancy upgrades, available at the Kampfkraft Center. These upgrades are cumulative, and apply to both vehicles on the battlefield and those newly constructed.
|Level 1 Veterancy:
|Level 2 Veterancy:
|Level 3 Veterancy:
These upgrades are more useful as the game goes on, and mainly serve to give the Halftrack some ability to survive against enemy anti-tank weapons and tanks themselves- if the SdKfz is the only Vehicle you are using, you would do well to have these upgrades later on, but can safely skip them in the early game.
In particular, the 30 seconds off of the Walking Stuka barrage makes the weapon fire far more consistently, and if you are planning on using this upgrade at all, always invest in Level 3 veterancy in this category.
- In the base configuration, keep a Pioneer Squad inside this vehicle when possible. This will make sure the guns are always firing in battle even if combat infantry deploy, and the squad can repair the halftrack and help build up defenses when not threatened.
- Generally speaking, it is best to have at least 1 Halftrack on hand in any defensive setup or for any attack, if nothing else, just as a reinforcement point for Infantry.
- Unless you have an overabundance of the unit, avoid the urge to have a dedicated "taxi" for sending new units to the frontline- it is more efficient to just have a few specific squads associated with each vehicle.
- Keep a mobile unit with good suppressing power- the MG equipped version of this unit, for instance- with any Flammenwerfer halftracks. The suppression will allow the Flamethrower track to close in quickly and safely on the enemy unit.
- The Reinforce ability works on friendly units along with your own- keep an eye on other Axis players' nearby squads.
- Panzerschrecks and the SdKfz are a great combination- the Halftrack can help Infantry keep up with a fleeing vehicle and reinforce, while suppressing enemy Infantry attempting to take your AT squads out.
- Keep your Stuka zu Fuß units on the move. As a mobile unit, you have no excuse to let them stay static- especially given the bonus to accuracy against closer targets.
- If your halftrack is Firing Rockets when a threatening enemy approaches, it is better to halt and retreat than risk destruction to get the entire barrage out. The rockets will reload, so long as they still have a vehicle attached.
- Watch Riflemen- if they're coming to your Halftrack, quickly reverse to avoid a sticky bomb-related fate. Do not turn around or retreat, but keep them chasing your Halftrack away from their own lines until they can be dealt with.
While the SdKfz 251 will be omnipresent, this does not mean it does not have weaknesses. in fact, an unsupported Halftrack is very easy to take out with the majority of units in the game- almost every Allied unit has some sort of anti-tank ability or weapon, each working well on the lightly armored Halftrack.
Sticky Bombs are a constant threat to the SdKfz, being common weapons and nearly always destroying the engine on the first use- with only 3 or 4 needed to kill the vehicle outright. AT Guns can kill the unit quickly, and Tanks are the halftrack's worst nightmare- able to easily dispose of the 251 without so much as a scratch in most situations. Mines will rarely finish the job but often cripple the vehicle.
Flamethrowers and Rockets are expensive upgrades, making a Halftrack turned to scrap an even bigger investment lost. Wehrmacht players will be relying on these to keep their small but sturdy Infantry reinforced and supported- in a battle, they should almost always be your number one priority.