Infanterieanhänger IF-8

In Detail

One of the many non-motorised items of German wheeled transport in WWII was the Infantry Trailer IF-8. The initial specification for the IF-8 is unknown. The other armies of WWII had similar trailers, but in most of these armies they appeared to have been issued in the main to specialist troops; such as paratroopers and commandos, who by their very mode-of-operation would be lacking powered vehicles in any quantity. However, this is where the IF-8 differs as it was a widely used item throughout all the German ground forces and was also a very heavy when compared to these other specialist lightweight trailers. It also found used by German paratroopers but that was mainly because they were used as ground troops for most of the war after the battle for Crete in May 1941.

The parent company that developed the design is unknown, but it came into existence in early 1941 and can be seen in all theatres of operation during WWII.

The body dimensions of the IF-8 are 1,1m long without tow attachments, 0,95m wide and 0,8m high overall. There is no published evidence for the trailers dimensions, but its internal size can accommodate either six 20 litre Benzine Kanisters (Jerricans) in a 3 x 2 arrangement, or 24 of the standard Patronenkasten 34, the 250 round belted ammunition tin, in a 6 x 4 arrangement.

To some extent the widespread use of such a trailer is a damming indictment of the German automotive industries inability to produce enough motorised vehicles in the light vehicle category. Hence there were not the equivalent trailers in the US and British armies, there were always enough Jeeps, Dodges, 8 and 15 cwts, etc., to do the hauling for the infantry.

This lack of motorised transport was to plague German forces throughout WWII. They never solved the problem, which is why there were so many of these lesser means of transport used by the Germans.

Horses, mules, bicycles, motorcycle sidecars and these infantry trailers were in many cases these modes of transport were the only help that many German infantry units ever had to carry equipment and provide mobility of any form.

First Production IF-8 Technical Specifications

The original design consisted of a box shaped tubular framework to which all else was attached, and a seam welded sheet steel, open topped box fitted inside the frame to carry the load. This inner box had several strips of wood riveted into its lower half.

The suspension consisted of two trailing arms pivoting in an oil saturated Paxoline bearing, the trailing arms were restricted in movement by a single spring loaded telescopic shock absorber each side.

The stub axles supported 9 x 350 rims which could have either pneumatic tyres or steel tyres, the steel tyres were attached to the rims with a rubber strip for some shock absorbency. There were a wide variety of rim designs used, ranging from plain rims with 4, 5 and 10 holes. All wheels were of a quick release design, where a spring-loaded pin could be pulled and the wheel rim and hub could be detached from the trailer in seconds.

Part of each trailers equipment specification was four canvas shoulder straps each with a large spring-loaded steel clip at one end. The intention was that at an obstacle, if the trailer had to be lifted, four soldiers each attached a strap to the four loops welded in the corner of each trailer, lifted, and a fifth man removed the wheels. Once the obstacle was cleared the reverse was accomplished. This was some effort, as even an empty trailer weighed approximate 55kg (without its 35kg wheels) and could be a total of 350 kg when fully loaded.

Other standard equipment was a rear mounted spring loaded tow hook assembly, also fitted was a short curved tow bar for trailer to trailer connection, this was stowed on the front of the trailer body and held by two clips. Additionally a T-handled tow bar was available for manual pulling and was stored on top of the trailer if not used, being retained by leather straps.

Other equipment was available but not with every trailer, one in four trailers had a tyre pump and inner tube repair outfit.

Additionally there was a set of hafts for towing the trailer with a horse or mule. This was a twin haft arrangement that was approximately 3 metres in overall length, hinged in the middle for easier storage.

All the above interchangeable towing devices were attached at the same point to the trailer, this being a short tube and a single dowel pin.

The only “road lighting” fitted to these trailers was a rear facing reflector. There were no vehicle type lights fitted or provision made for electrical connections. Finally a canvas cover fitted over the top trailer tubes and was attached to several loops welded to the trailer body all round.

Manufacturing Variations

There were only two distinct design variations of the IF-8, known as “early” and “late”, to save materials and to ease manufacture, but did not alter the original dimensions or functional use of the trailer.

The major variation between the trailers was the removal of 80% of the tubular frame, which is virtually every tube below the top most frame level, and the use of the existing internal steel box as the new main structure of the trailer. The 20% remaining tubing around the top lip of the steel box to remained as a handling and tie down point.

This design change would have saved enormously on materials and labour. Within the “late” trailer design, there have been noticed several minor manufacturing differences, where some of the clips holding the box body to the tubular frame changed from riveted to welded. Another difference was around the top edge cut-outs of the box body, they were either reinforced with a steel strip edging welded in place, or the same result achieved with a pressed rib running the full length and width of the steel box just below the cut-outs. Additionally “late” trailers do not have the wooden battens fitted to the box body floor,

Mudguards were never fitted as a standard, although sometimes field fitted (and probably field manufactured), other trailers also have two mud deflector panels fitted between the rear side of the body and the rear wheels. These deflectors were an officially issued field modification kit, but are rarely seen.

A point of confusion occurs today with trailers currently fitted with any other wheel and rim design from those already mentioned. These are undoubtedly post-war innovations, trailers have been seen post-war equipped with wooden spoke wheels, half-track wheels, bicycle spoke wheels etc. So far none appear in contemporary WWII photographs or literature.

Production Figures

This is an area requiring some estimation, but first of all it is known that this trailer was a seriously mass-produced item, and total production has been estimated to be at least 100,000 by a published source. This huge figure can partially be substantiated by the fact that these trailers were produced for four and half years by at least 16 companies, possibly more, and further substantiated by adding up the serial numbers stamped on existing trailers.

Another published source quotes 38,500 for 1943 and 40,700 for 1944, quantities that match well with the 100,000 total when estimates for the missing years of 1941, 1942 and 45 are included.


This trailer was officially designed only for manual or horse drawn motion, but they can be seen in contemporary WWII photos being towed by a variety of vehicle types as needs dictated.

The design of this trailer precludes being towed legally behind motor vehicles, as it was never equipped with the correct lighting, electrical connections, lighting or mudguards, all which were a German civilian and military legal requirement for a motor towed trailer both before and during WWII. Whereas a manual or horse drawn trailer of the time need only have a rear facing reflector to comply with regulations and mudguards were not required either, these same regulations also applied to all towed guns, whatever the towing method.

Additionally the tow hook size is unique to this trailer, designed for trailer to trailer connection but it is of a smaller type than the smallest standard vehicle size towing hook.

WWII Usage & Equipment Variations

The trailer was issued for general use by the infantry to carry whatever they wished, and with these trailers their only specified content would be the four lifting straps, tow hook, canvas cover, manual tow handle and trailer to trailer tow bar. However there are many officially specified arrangements;-

Arrangement 1

The 1941 D193/1 booklet specifies two connected trailers, the first trailer carries a 5cm mortar barrel, base plate, tool kit, sight and ammunition tins, note that the 5cm mortar was replaced by the 8cm mortar in 1943. The second trailer carries four MG 34 machine guns, spare barrel containers, drum magazines, tool kit and the 250 round ammunition boxes. The MG items were arranged in three layers below the machine guns which, being longer than the trailer, are mounted onto a wooden cradle, secured longitudinally to the trailers top tubing handles. All other normal IF-8 equipment is carried in both trailers.

Arrangement 2

A 20th December 1944 specification illustrates two connected trailers, the first trailer carries six 8.8cm Panzerschreck rocket launchers, they are held longitudinally in place by two wooden cradles mounted at either end of the trailers and secured to the top edge tubing. 18 rounds of wooden boxed rockets are carried within the trailer. The second trailer, unmodified, acts as an ammunition limber for the first trailer and carries a further 30 boxed rocket rounds. All other normal IF-8 equipment is carried in both trailers

Arrangement 3

A booklet illustrates two connected trailers for carrying a heavy MG set-up. The first trailer is equipped with a tall tubular, high angle MG mount (Lafettenaufsatzstuck 34) and the MG 34, thus allowing the trailer to be used as an anti-aircraft mount, capable of firing the MG and providing protection when on the march. The second trailer carries a folded heavy MG tripod (Lafette 34), secured to the top of the trailer by a wooden framework and clamps. Within the trailers are carried all the usual MG accessories and ammunition. All other normal IF-8 equipment is carried in both trailers.

Arrangement 4

A document dated 7th January 1944 specifies the use of an IF-8 trailer to act as the ammunition limber for the 8.8cm Raketenwerfer 43 or “Puppchen ”. This rocket launcher, mounted on a simple two wheel carriage (the wheels were IF-8 steel rimmed trailer wheels). The same document also mentions both manual and horse drawn arrangements.

Arrangement 5

The IF-8 trailer is specified as the ammunition limber for the 28mm/20mm tapered bore anti-tank gun (s.Pz.B. 41). The trailer can also have the PzB mounted inside it, in order to raise the firing height, if required.

Arrangement 6

Consists of two connected trailers, the first carries the 8cm Mortar (sGr W 34) on a wooden framework that is secured to the top tubing of the trailer. Also carried are the baseplate, bipod, sight, tool kit and some ammunition. The second trailer carries ammunition only. All other normal IF-8 equipment is carried on both trailers.

Arrangement 7

As part of the breakdown of the 7.5cm Gerbirgsgeschutz 36 mountain gun into eight manually carried and horse/mule towed loads for transportation. Load 2, which is the axle, wheels and trail spades, has the trail spades supported by an IF-8 trailer complete with horse/mule towing hafts.

Arrangement 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12

Field Telephone carrier, Radio carrier, Survey equipment carrier, Medical equipment carrier and a Light Repair Tooling carrier, all using two connected trailers.


The paint finishes applied to the IF-8 follow the normal vehicle/ equipment paint applications applied across the Wehrmacht. That would be dark grey until April 1943 and dark yellow thereafter, sometimes over-sprayed with brown and green patterns.

Tactical insignias are frequently seen on trailers and usually indicates infantry units at a platoon level (Zug ). Also carried on some trailers are a stencilled set of empty and loaded weight figures, i.e. Gew.leer 81,9kg; Tragkr 350kg, one line above the other.

Restoration of Infantry Trailers

Chassis numbers #179 of 1942 and #1120 of 1943

These two trailers were initially acquired in amongst some very large piles of miscellaneous junk and rusty metalwork surrounding other larger vehicle purchases. Virtually there just to make up the weight, which about sums up the general level of interest and understanding of these small trailers.

However, as previously stated all equipment has its place in the bigger picture and in recognition of that fact, full restorations were implemented.

The trailers were identified as an early “model” and a “late” model with the following manufacturing data stamped on them. The “early” model was chassis number 179 manufactured in 1942 by Elsassische Maschinenbau A-G (ELMAG) of Mühlhausen, Elsass (today Mulhouse, Alsace in France, but at the time of manufacture Elsass was administered as an integral part of the German Reich).

The second and “late” trailer was chassis number 1120 manufactured in 1943 by Bayerische Motoren Werke A-G (BMW) at their Eisenach Werke.

Both trailers had similar problems due to age, weathering and their undoubtedly heavy civilian use post-war as general purpose carts. The main differences were that the “early” trailer had its steel cargo box missing, not an uncommon problem as it is a separate item and they do tend to collect water and corrode quickly. Whereas with the “later” trailer the steel cargo box was still there, it being an integral part of the trailer design, but it too had suffered badly from corrosion and some previous restoration attempts.

Otherwise both trailers had the following common problems, seized trailing arm axles, seized telescopic suspension springs, seized tow hook attachments, missing brackets and reflectors, missing trailer to trailer tow bars and attachment brackets, one missing manual tow bar, missing or badly damaged hub fixing studs and wheel rim nuts. Missing tow hooks, and one with missing wheel rims, there were no tyres or inner tubes. Corrosion was everywhere, with the tubular sections being particularly affected due to their thin walls.

A new cargo box was manufactured for the “early” trailer whilst the “later” trailers' cargo box was 80% reused with new metal grafted in to replace the corroded areas. A mixture of new made parts, new bought original items and refurbishment to existing original items finally completed these two trailers back to their original as manufactured condition. Both trailers were repainted as originally manufactured, dark grey (Dunkelgrau ) for the 1942 model and dark yellow (Dunkelgelb ) for the 1943 model. There are many construction differences between the two models, which was due to an ever developing simplification programme as WWII progressed, all these differences have been faithfully retained on these two trailers.

As mentioned in the earlier these trailers were often used in pairs to carry specific sets of equipment. It was decided to follow this process and equip this pair of trailers as per Arrangement 1 with four MG’s in one trailer but with the later war 8cm mortar variation for the second trailer, and to be typical of a late 1943 equipment arrangement.

To this end the “early” trailer had its exterior surfaces only, repainted dark yellow, as per German regulations for early 1943. Following German WWII documentation wooden supports were built on both trailers for carrying the MG's and the mortar barrel and tripod. Internally the trailers were fully equipped with all the ammunition boxes specified and the many ancillary items typical for both these weapon systems.

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