Built with 4WD drive and 4WD steering with coil suspension it was ideally suited to the barren terrain of the Russian steppes encountered on the Eastern front. With a short wave radio fitted to each vehicle for short-range communications and an extra seat for a third crewman the 222 proved a capable vehicle both on and off road, however the extreme russian mud proved to be the vehicles undoing. Between the years 1936 to 1943 some 989 examples were built.
The early Sd.Kfz. 222 variant [Model/Ausf A] is recognisable in service by several minor features; A two piece bolted together welded steel plate armoured hull [flange offset from the centre section], lack of exterior grab/hand rails, equally sized drivers vision ports, the installation of the 2cm KwK30 Flak Cannon along with the low anti grenade wire mesh screens and hub protection plates. Modifications to the design were inevitable and this culminated in the later war time variant [Model/Ausf B] recognisable by the change to a three section welded armoured steel hull that bolted together [offset from the centre section and rear engine section], an up rated engine to 3.8 litres 90 bhp. Enlarged vision slot for the driver and the addition of exterior grab/hand rails. Changes to the wire mesh cage over the turret were enlarged to give a higher profile to complement the new hanging anti aircraft mount, allowing the improved 2cm KwK38 Flak Cannon now being retro fitted to some service models and to all vehicles on the assembly line for a increased anti aircraft role.
The Sd.Kfz. 222 intended role as a reconnaissance vehicle proved well suited on European road network, however with the current armament arrangement only a short range fusprech.f vehicle to vehicle radio could be fitted, necessitating in another accompanying vehicle to be fitted with a more powerful medium range radio to be able to relay tactical information gathered by the forward reconnaissance vehicles back to divisional headquarters. It was for this role that the third vehicle in the series designated Sd.Kfz. 223, went into production with some 550 units being assembled, between 1935-1944. Initially armed with one MG13 later an MG34, intended for self-defence, mounted in a small turret not unlike the 221 versions. With additional radio equipment installed usually a Fu.10 Set (Torn.E.b & 30 W.S.a) or later the Fu.12, coupled with a large "bed-frame" type antenna that was fitted over the vehicle. However it should be noted that it was found that this type of antenna was rather cumbersome in operational use and more alarmingly an obvious target on the battlefield hence being later replaced by a star and pole antenna arrangement.
Other more dedicated radio and command vehicles were based on the Sd.Kfz. 221-223 hulls, these included for example the Sd.Kfz. 260 and 261 versions, both these variants omitted the turrets completely and were fitted with various antennas and additional radio equipment with some 500 units being completed by 1944 usually being issued to Staẞ platoons.
These so called ‘Horch Wagons’ a term used affectionately by the troops were eventually replaced by ¾-tracked vehicles such as the Sd.Kfz. 250/9 ‘Schützenpanzerwagen’ deemed to cope better with the muddy conditions faced by the Army fighting in Russia. However these tracked vehicles incurred higher production and materials costs and required labour intensive maintenance once in the field and operationally they made far more noise and were slower than their wheeled counterparts, giving the enemy advanced warning of their impending approach. Given all this, one certainly has to question the logic behind the decision to replace these much loved series of wheeled armoured vehicles with a far more costlier vehicle in a war of attrition that was stretching an already over stretched Germany.