“Lufcik” – a pearl from Pilica – is the modern name of a partially reconstructed and restored unique Luftwaffe artillery tractor, which on January 18, 1945 sank while trying to forcing the river, plunging into its sandy bottom. It is most likely one of the few prototype vehicles ever launched. Its history dates back to 1934, when a slingshot was taken over an armored artillery tractor that could drive a towed 88mm AA gun directly into the line of fire. At that time, an armored body made of steel plates 12 mm thick was built on the standard chassis of the SdKfz 8 / DB 10 tractor. These tractors did not enter mass production, but the copies made were used by the Luftwaffe troops at the end of the war on the Eastern Front. The “Lufcik”, which has survived to this day, is just such a vehicle (which is confirmed by the original “WL 323 863” license plate – indicating the assignment to the Air Force).
The first attempt to extract an almost 18-ton tractor from Pilica, made by Polish sappers in 1957, ended in a fiasco. At that time, the upper and front parts of the vehicle protruding from the bottom were blown up. In 1998, a group of military enthusiasts from the Association of Friends of Pilica and Nadpilicz headed by Andrzej Kobalczyk hit the track of the vehicle. A year later, they excavated the wreck, the renovation and reconstruction of which was completed in 2003.
In June 2005, an attempt was made to “revive” this unique vehicle. The several-week-long work carried out by the Tomaszów-based company “Demobil” was completed successfully. On July 31, during the first historical and military picnic organized in the open-air museum, “Lufcik” set off for the first time in over 50 years! Unfortunately, the original engine could not be refurbished as too many components were missing. It was replaced with the engine of the Soviet Kraz, which did well in its new role. During the renovation, many puzzling and telling analogies were discovered between the original Maybach engine and the Soviet Kraz. As a result, it was possible to efficiently change the engine and its components. The original gearbox and many other elements of the driveline have been preserved. After the renovation, “Lufcik” has a completely preserved, authentic track system.
Currently, this, probably the only surviving vehicle of such a construction in the world, is the most valuable exhibit in the military department of the Pilica River Open-Air Museum in Tomaszów Mazowiecki.
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