The heavy MG mount indicates a crew of 11 (including commander and driver). The production of the body with the rivets indicates one of the participants of the gearing up of production as the C body variant entered production. The armor is really bolted to a frame. This can be seen beautifully in the interior pictures of the rear. The production of the /C started mid 1940. The short license plate number could indicate that this vehicle was one of the first produced.
Captured in North Africa by American forces in operational condition. It was used by the 5th. Kompanie of Panzergrenadier Regiment 69, of the 10 Panzer Division.
These 3 pictures where generously shared with us by Mr. Richard Gruetzner. The first picture is taken outside the barracks of Aberdeen. The left view of the other two shows the 251, and is a cut-out of the right one. It was taken in Africa while awaiting shipment to the USA in 1943. All vehicles are labelled "captured enemy equipment". The lay-out with it's early pattern benches and the heavy MG mount is clearly showing. The damage to the right fender is interesting. It looks like it has 2 bullet holes in it. Most baffling is the 4 digit license plate. These numbers where issued in groups by region, and neither Mr. Gruetzner nor I have ever seen one with this little numbers.
After trials and test on Aberdeen Proving Grounds it becomes part of the famous (open air) display for some 5 decades.
From the Bruce Culver article in Military modelling annual.
From a posting in the 251 newsgroup by Saul Garcia.
On 26 February 1993 it is transferred to the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin. It is in very bad condition and requires very extensive repair and restoration. There was enormous damage done to it by 50 years of exposure. The engine has been full of water for many years and is broken, the pan is rusted off and the cam is destroyed.
After peeling off many layers of Aberdeen paint we found a black Africa corps palm behind the side vision ports on both sides. The colors in the layers of paint are red primer/ gray/Desert tan/ red primer/Aberdeen color/Aberdeen color. The old paint is blasted off with soda. The color is matched for repaint. The interior had white paint on the front, back and sides, under the Aberdeen paint. Markings that were on the tan paint included the mark for the air defense arty on the front. The palm matches the normal Africa corps.
April 21st 1999. The Texas Military Forces Museum has just received the 251 /C /1 /riveted back from the shop where it has being restored for static display. It is in the museum display hall where it is available for public viewing. The shop in Saginaw, Texas, where it was reassembled has done a good job, considering what they had to work with. There are a few very minor corrections we will have to make where they "guessed" at things that were not present but wanted to represent them or where the original items were simply damaged beyond the point of restoration.
An impressive collection of photo's of how it is on display inside the Texas Military Forces Museum, located at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Photo credits go to Mr. J. C. Smallwood, a volunteer at the museum. The section showing the inside fitting of the canvas support are pictures of Mr. Gruetzner.
And than (in 2008) pictures turn up of the shipment to the USA. Turns out the layer that was identified as the last German layer is the first Aberdeen one. That disqualifies the markings that now are on it, but the facts uncovered are much more interesting.
From the message from Mr. Gruetzner:
- Of note is the unusual four digit license number displayed on the front armor, instead of the usual six or seven digit numbers. This four digit number is also noted in the written report done by Aberdeen, so it is not a photographic anomaly.
- I should mention that the information regarding tactical markings found under the paint job during restoration was accurate but misleading. When the top layers of paint from Aberdeen was removed, we did find the markings indicated.
- Based on the actual known markings and paint job of the vehicle, originally panzer gray which was then over painted with Afrika Braun and gray-green stripes, I can now report that our Sd Kfz 251 was from the 5. Kompanie, Panzergrenadier Regiment 69, of the 10 Panzer Division. Now if I can just obtain an explanation of the four digit registration number!
Many thanks to Mr. Richard Gruetzner, President of the Texas Military Forces Historical Foundation, for the superb covering of the story!
She's one of my favorites, because although extensively restored, they managed to keep her largely authentic. The museum is busy with more important things at the moment, but a repaint with the now found original pattern will happen one day.
The museum is located on a military installation which houses the Texas National Guard headquarters in Austin, Texas. The physical location is inside Camp Mabry - Building 6, 2200 West 35th Street, Austin, Texas.
Mail should be addressed as follows:
Texas Military Forces Museum
Post Office Box 5218
Austin, Texas 78763-5218
The director of the Museum is: Mr. Jeff Hunt