During the Second World War, remote-controlled objects were used more effectively then in World War One. Development of these vehicles and airplanes started in the late 1800’s. Germany was not following this development at first but seeing unmanned small tanks used by the French during the invasion early May 1940 got them interested.
Prototypes and developed examples fell into German hands after Fall Red and the Germans used these for their own research. The British used drones as target practice from World War One and other countries had their own development sections to work on unmanned vehicles or flying devices. After the war these were further developed and perfectioned by Allied and other armies. The drone and robot vehicles today are examples. During the war the German army used the Argus remote controlled aircraft – a drone, outfitted with a photo camera for aerial reconnaissance above the battlefield. The Goliath and the Mittlerer Ladungsträger Springer are other examples, both remote-controlled vehicles.
The Goliath and Springer were tracked vehicles that drove an explosive charge toward another vehicle or object to disable or destroy it. The Goliath was wire guided but the Springer was controlled by radio signals. 330 kilograms of explosives were transported by the Springer built by the NSU firm.
Medium Demolition Vehicle made by NSU
The Mittlerer Ladungsträger Springer was a medium demolition vehicle based on the Kettenkraftrad Sd.Kfz 2, also built by NSU. It was powered by an Opel engine and had a radio controlled reach of 2 kilometers. It weighed 2400 kilograms and reached a top speed of 42 km/h. It had 10 mm of armor which made it vulnerable to infantry weaponry. The vehicle was destroyed when its 330 kilograms explosive charge detonated. They were not as effective due to their unreliability and they were expensive. The operator drove the Springer close to its target, left the vehicle and used manual wireless or wired command and kept line of sight “MCLOS” to steer the vehicle before detonating it. Only 50 units of the NSU Springer were produced.
The demolition vehicles came in three different types;
The Goliath Sd.Kfz. 302, Sd.Kfz. 303a and Sd.Kfz. 303b was a light Demolition vehicle.
The Springer Sd.Kfz. 304 was a medium demolition vehicle.
The Borgward IV Sd.Kfz. 301 was a heavy demolition vehicle.
A little bit of fun
The MM Park France opened its doors in 2017, we visited the museum in 2019 so we guess the sign below has been corrected.
In 2019 the museum placed an information sign by the Sd.Kfz. 304 Springer in multiple languages. The French visitors must have thought they were fluent in German and English when reading these foreign texts 🙂