Rommel's Command Cars in the Desert

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Adler Diplomat G3 Cabriolet
Rommel's very first staff car on African soil
during the famous D.A.K. parade, Tripoli/Libya, Feb 15, 1941
Export version of the Diplomat with cannister instead of sparewheel


 
 
Bartoletti GU Tipo 4 Caravan
Bartoletti GU Tipo 4 Caravan based on the Viberti chassis
Yesterday I reviewed the Italian troops recently arrived from the homeland. After that, the Commander gave me a gift of a magnificent field-dwelling wagon. I am very happy about this, because it will be very useful to me in the coming weeks.
Erwin Rommel, Libya, March 2,1941
Inspection of the Italian gift
Towed by a Sd.Kfz.251/3 Ausf.B halftrack
 
...I am very glad that your husband [Rommel] has an Italian caravan, which at least offers him some comfort and quiet, and protection against the cold nights. The Italians are real masters at such amenities; others we will provide for ourselves in Cairo [sik!]...
Major Schraepler, Rommefs Adjutant, letter to Mrs.Rommel
 
 
Slightly camouflaged SdKfz.251/3 Ausf.B Radio APC with canvas over crew compartment
Somewhere in the endless Libyan desert...
Digging out after a sandstorm...


 
 
FIAT 635 RN Civilian Bus
Italian FIAT 635 RN civilian bus, requisitioned from the Tripoli bus service
(Mille grazie to Lorenzo for IDing !)
Rommel talking to the Italian ally
"PK Afrika" preparing for an interview
Anyone able to identify the utility car ?
Rommel speaking, Fröhlich to the left
Lacking the sparewheel...


 
 
Wehrmacht-Omnibus, Opel-Blitz, 2.5-ton, 4x2, Typ 3.6-47
Italian Fiat 508CM Command Car in the foreground
Close to the captured AEC ACV "Dorchester"
Protecting the wheels against the agressive Libyan sun
Staff meeting in the dunes with (l-to-r) Rommel, "Chief-of-Staff" Gause, "Staff Ia" Westphal and "Staff Ic" v.Mellenthin


 
 
AEC 4x4 "Dorchester" Armoured Command Vehicle later called "MAX"
O'Connor's original WD.Number "L4426425" still shining thru...
Inscription "MAX" later added
Plain "Light Stone" painted front darkened with graygreen stripes
Riding on roof top for better outlook and mine protection
 
An armored box as big as a bus, on giant balloon tires as big and fat as the undercarriage wheels of a Junkers plane. A spent machine gun bullet is still embedded in it. The walls are windowless and painted in blue-gray camouflage tints [sik!]. Only the driver and his co-driver have windshields, protected behind armored visors.
Fritz Lucke, "Kriegsberichterstatter" (War Reporter)
Classic Western Desert Force "Caunter" camo scheme applied
Entering a Libyan town
 
...At one point during the battle [Operation "Crusader", Nov-Dec 1941] , Cruewell’s Mammoth [former "White 2", called "Moritz" after capture] pushed too far forward and was surrounded by British tanks. The British, however, were not aware of the prize that was within their reach. One British soldier became curious as to who was in the Mammoth, however, so he got out of his tank and knocked on the hatch of Cruewell’s vehicle with a crowbar. Imagine his surprise when the general himself opened the hatch, and the soldier found himself staring face to face with the commander of the Afrika Korps! At that exact moment, a German 20-mm anti-aircraft gun opened up on the British soldier, who immediately ran to the cover of his own tank and disappeared. Cruewell’s vehicle sped away in the confusion. Apparently, the British tanks were out of ammunition because no one fired on the Mammoth. There were no casualties in the incident...
 
One reason Rommel liked the "Max" was that its high cab gave an ideal vantage point. Rommel was an inveterate cab-top rider, which gave his staff officers sleepless nights! Despite camouflage attempts, the Mammoths did have a tendency to attract inquisitive RAF aircraft like flies.

In April 1941 Max was put temporarily out of service by an RAF strafing attack which punctured a tyre and severely wounded Rommel's driver, with a bullet narrowly missing Rommel, seated in the cab.
With the tyre replaced, Rommel took over the driving for the whole night while his driver was patched up.

Source: Twitter
 
The roof of the Mammoth made an excellent observation tower and gave us a wide view over the whole country necessary in that dangerous corner where it would have been only too easy for a British scouting party to have picked us up.
Source: Rommel Papers
Canvas rolled out and foldable wooden desk unfolded
Another captured AEC ACV nearby
Sd.kfz.221 or 222 Armoured Car in front
 
We left at 5 a.m. yesterday and have been riding in the Mammoth through the endless landscape ever since, part of the time over desert tracks (sand roads worn out with driving terribly hard on the vehicles) and part on the Via Balbia. I ve come back from my trip to the front very impressed. Command is good up there and we have fresh forces standing by in case we re not left in peace. Overnight we formed a laager (five vehicles) in the desert. Even my A.D.C.s did watch, without my knowing it. You see how well I‘m guarded.
Source: Rommel Papers, Letter to his wife
Meeting the Italian ally
Side by side with the Opel Blitzbus


 
 
m.gl.Einh.PKW Horch 901 Typ 40 Kfz.15
Embleme of the "Panzergruppe Afrika" (from August 1941), later: "Armeegruppe Afrika" (from April 1942)
WH-903944 with and w/out swastika air recognition
Entering Tobruk in the "white 4" WH-909953, June 1942
Wooden desk...
,,,typically used in radio cars
Talking to Walter Nehring
Rommel and his driver Hellmuth von Leipzig
"...Then we were quickly in action. Me at the steering wheel, and Rommel, perhaps the most insane co-driver in history, next to it. Standing, the dust coat fluttering, the orders whipping in the wind. He always said to me: 'faster from Leipzig, faster, faster, faster'. But when he noticed that I could drive fast, he stopped briefly every morning. Leipzig, he said then, I have time! ..."
Hellmuth von Leipzig, Rommel's driver
Visiting the Italian ally...
Note additiobal filler neck to the right
Inspecting the enemy's men and materiel (M3 "Honey" light tank)
Standing alert in the Horch
Rommel and Westphal (Rommel's "Ia") in action...
Fully closed in case of a sandstorm ("Ghibli" in Italian, "Kamsin" in Arabic)


 
 
Opel "Admiral" Command Car
Militarized Opel Admiral still in darkgray
Rommel inspecting engine repair
Meeting the Italian ally


 
 
Alfa Romeo 2500 Coloniale Command Car
Rommel confering with German and Italian officers
A gift to the German ally from the Italian Headquarter
Only some 150 produced and deployed to all fronts
Rommel's entourage in the Libyan desert, early 1942


 
 
Sd.Kfz.250/3[Z] Radio Command Car "Greif"
Rommel and his Chief-of-Staff Fritz Bayerlein on board of the Sd.Kfz.250/3/Z conversion named "GREIF"
No spare tracks on hull front
Four spare track links on hull front
Note slightly steeper rear plate of Sd.Kfz.250/Z conversion
Luftwaffe officer providing information and/or receiving orders
Note six-pack of darkgrey jerry cans
"GREIF" inscription on right side in white outline only
Extremely limited space of Sd.Kfz.250/3


 
 
m.gl.Einh.PKW Horch 901 Typ 40 Kfz.21 Command Car
Huge dual air filters on fenders and Notek black light posed in the middle
Both "P(ropaganda)K(ompanie)" photos dated 1942 (late that year, my guess!)
Talking to Fritz Bayerlein (with prominent cap and goggles), from Oct 1941 on Chief of Staff, D.A.K.
Just 50+ built, for German high-brass only...
Arrived in May 1942, "original darkgray never repainted" (Rommel's driver H.v.Leipzig)


 
 
"Begleitkommando Rommel"
le.Pz.Sp.Wg.(2 cm) Sd.Kfz.222 Ausf.A Mid Production Light Recce Car
Turret at 6 o'clock
Sfl.für 2 cm Flak 30 Sd.Kfz. 10/4 AA SPG
Leading the column on a rare paved road...
Pz.III, Mammoth and Horch, with Sd.Kfz.10/4 in the rear
Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. G Sd.Kfz.141 Late Production Medium Tank
Sd.Kfz.250/3 seeking protection
Rommel on top of the Pz.III cupola
s.Pz.Sp.Wg.(8 Rad) Sd.Kfz.231 Heavy Recce Car


 
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Last Updated: Mar 10, 2022