Kettenkrad For Sale – Own a Motorcycle Half Track

Kettenkrad motorcycle half track

Here's something you will rarely see, a genuine WWII Kettenkrad up for sale! These motorcycle half tracks were produced by NSU in the second world war and could be carried in Ju-52 aircraft and were used for such things as pulling small artillery pieces in the field. We covered these before but the last one I saw for sale was about a year ago. Collectors keep them running and take them out in the field to show people what they can do. Often they just sit in museums.

This one is powered by a 36 horsepower 4 cylinder engine with a top speed of 70 mph kilometers per hour, and is in running order.

I never fully understood the motorcycle fork on these things, I always figured you steered a tracked vehicle like this by driving and braking alternate tracks, what would the wheel up front do? Anyway, if you collect military vehicles or if you want something a little different from your standard trike, this is it!

More photos and links below:

Kettenkrad motorcycle half track

Kettenkrad motorcycle half track

Link: Kettenkrad for sale - auction has ended

Related: Kettenkrad - the motorcycle tank

Comments

  1. George says

    To skid steer a track vehicle, you must have some sort of controlled power divider. Half tracks and kitterenkrads were front line vehicles. they had a life expectancy of a few weeks. they had to be made cheap and in great numbers. An uncontrolled power divider (common differential) was much easier to produce. with a diff, the thing would just follow the path of least resistance, which in theory was the steer wheel, or wheels.
    I think that the speed would be more like 70 kilometers per hour, not miles.

  2. todd says

    It does look like there are steering brakes on the thing. The two (of three?) chrome bars leading to pedals on either side of the shift lever look as though they act directly on brake drums affecting the front most idlers. It’s not clear what all the other levers and pedals are for except the one with the shift gate (reverse has a lock-out). Maybe the knob is a speed control.

    How would you like to sit between two fuel tanks with bullets wizzing by?

    -todd

  3. Willie Schmitz says

    Thanks Kneeslider for running this article. These things always seem to pop up. Interest admittedly is small. Nice to learn about something that normally I wouldn’t put any effort into investigating.

  4. humanoid says

    Don’t the tracks have much more traction than the front wheel? In the film clips I’ve seen, it looks as if the front tire is just along for the ride.

  5. David Reay says

    Guys,

    I posted a message on this subject last time. I look after one of these for a friend. They have a Cletrac type braked differential, those rods are directally conected to the steering brakes.

    A well mainted Krad can do 40 mph, but its narrow width means it can be unstable on uneven terrain and in high speed turns.

    The front wheel is there only for stability at high speed on the road, and gives minor direction changing for road use. The manual recommends removing it in very rocky or muddy terrain.

    The engine is a 1478cc Opel car engine producing about 36hp.
    The main producer was NSU, some were also made by Stoewer, and Simca of occupied France was slated to build it also, however they seem to only have made components by wars end.

    Some 9000 or so were built, plus about 500 post war as “Forestry tractors”. An enterpising French company (Babiole) after the war converted quite a few into rearward driving “Vineyard tractors”.

    The tracks are very complicated, each link is joined to the other via a finely machined trackpin which runs in a pair of needle roller bearing races! Each link has a hollow guide horn and a grease point.

    Every 1500 KMs the operator was supposed to lube each link (80 of them) last time I did it it took me 4 hrs to do solo!

    I am in the process of getting our one on the road here in the UK, as we can drive tracked vehicles if you have the licence for it (I do).

    Finally, they may have had a short life expectancy, but that didn’t stop the Germans over-engineering them!

    David

  6. says

    The main purpose of front wheel was to enable the vehicle to climb over obstacles. Actual steering effect of the wheel itself would have been minmal – for steering one or the other track locked when the handlebard was turned a few degrees (five, if I remember correctly) to one side.

    Kim of Copenhagen

  7. David Reay says

    Kim,

    The front wheel is no help at all in climbing obstacles! I know, I have tried it……….

    The tracks do not lock per se due to the braked differential.

    david

  8. Colton Gyswyt says

    I heard that they were used as a transport for officers sometimes. They also may have been used as wire laying vehicles to lay phone lines on the battlefield

  9. Piet den Elzen says

    During the last years of WW2, the kettenkrads often were used as a towing vehicle on airfields.

    It was for example used to tow the Messerschmit 262a to the take of point.

    And yes they were also used to lay communication cables and were modified to do this, with a rack holding two cable drums.

  10. Jagdpanzer says

    Dude, did you see that one clip in “Saving Private Ryan” where they nearly flip that poor little kettenkrad while using it for bait? I wonder what ever happened to that particular kettenkrad.

  11. Tanko says

    That particular kettenkrad from the movie SPR is owned by a friend of mine. He said all the kettenkrads he rented to the movie were damaged quite a bit. He ended up having to replace the gearbox on one of them.

  12. troc99@yahoo.com says

    I’m interested in buying a kettenkrad, any leads would be appreciated.
    Thanks

    Archie

  13. Tack says

    Hi Archie,
    I read your posting with interest, finding a Kettenkrad for sale is a very rare occurence, only three have been offered in Europe in the last three years, one in the Czech republic, one in Vermoutieres, France (120,000 euros, at auction) and a further near wreck, that fetched 150,000 Euros at an auction in Munich this year. They have now become very collectable, and thus, very expensive. There are over 50,000 parts in a Kett, and they are very maintenance intensive, work begins very soon after buying one if it is to be kept in a running condition. It is not a thing to buy on a whim even if you have money to burn. How do I know this? I have just bought one, privately, and it is a beauty!

  14. says

    Hi, We’ve just been contracted to make a ‘period’ cover for an aircraft client that owns a kettenkrad…until then I’d never seen one before! As a matter of interest, to steer you use the handlebars only (so I’m told) small movements simply use the front wheel to steer, however larger movements are transmitted automatically to the track brakes via the steering mechanism, thus applying the correct track brake to tighten the turn. Simple really!

  15. Leo says

    I’m interested to buy this kettenkrad, I from south africa…& I own 3 W. American jeeps & a fairy museum peace collection of 2nd world war militaria, we could also trade..
    Please contact me soon
    best regards

  16. Randy Cooper says

    I have A Krad that is for sale if you are still interested . Early 1942 Great motor and tranny.I drive it around my property daily . Good Day