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German Tank Facts
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Default German Tank Facts

German Panzer Tanks WW2

In the years after WW1, Heinz Guderian, a dedicated German officer that was deeply interested in tanks and studied British literature about them, developed and presented many new concepts regarding the use tanks for mobile warfare. Initially he was blocked by conservatism, but in 1933, when Adolf Hitler saw Guderian's demonstration of mobile tank warfare and strategies, he understood the potential of the tanks and Guderian's ideas were allocated a high priority. Under Guderian's leadership, Germany built the most powerful "Panzer" (armor) force that was, together with strong Luftwaffe air support tactics, the basis for its overwhelming Blitzkrieg (lightning war) tactic.

Between 1933 and 1945, the German industry developed and produced a series of tank types which were called "Panzerkampfwagen" which means "Armored Fighting Vehicle". Abbreviated, they were called "Panzer" (armor).

When the German armed forces overran Europe at the start of World War II, their Blitzkrieg tactics relied on close co-operation between airpower and highly mobile land forces. Just like the deadly Stuka aircraft, the name Panzer struck terror into the hearts of civilians and soldiers alike. Although the word Panzer just means armoured1, it became associated with German tanks and was the name that the Americans and British soliders referred to them by.

While many of the other major powers treated the tank as primarily an infantry support weapon, the Germans used it, supported by close air cover, at the forefront of battles. With tactics developed in the Spanish Civil War, the German Army, headed by their armoured units, conquered much of Eastern and Western Europe at the start of the war.

Superior tactics were not their only advantage. In the Panzer IV, they had the best tank in terms of a combination of speed, armour and fire-power at the start of the war. So confidant in the Panzer IV were they that had no plans for any improved models, in stark contrast with the other powers who were all too aware of their tanks limitations. Given the Panzer IV's abilities, it was more surprising that the German factories wasted time building the much less able Panzer II and Panzer III well into the war. After encounters with the Russian T-342, German high command drew up designs for some of the most fearsome tanks to take the field.

These tanks were much more complex and over engineered than their rivals. Combine this with an industrial base that was under constant attack from the RAF and the US 8th Airforce, and there was no way that German armour could be produced at a rate anywhere near the same as the allied powers. Germany produced 47,000 armoured fighting vehicles during the war against the 28,000 British Tanks, but America and the USSR produced 88,000 and 105,000 respectivly. Much of the manufacturing was done by men from occupied countries, forced to work by the Nazi state. Military historians and tank reconstructors have found much evidence that these workers were happy to sabotage tanks so that they were as poorly made as a product of the 1970s British Leyland car company.

German Tanks

Panzer I -

The Panzer I was designed as a small, light tank of 6 tons with a crew of two, driver and commander, armed with two light 0.3" machine guns (with 1500 rounds), which was produced in the mid 1930s as a training tank. Over 800 tanks were produced in 1935, and the tank was used by the German forces which participated in the Spanish civil war.

Designed in the early 1930s as a training vehicle, this tank saw a surprising amount of service considering it was outclassed by almost everything on the battlefield. Carrying just a commander and a driver and weighing in at a little over 5 tonnes, it was just armed with twin machine guns3. It was obviously of no use against armour, but with a decent turn of speed, was relativity effective against infantry at the start of the war, when anti-tank weapons were not in great supply.

Panzer Is were engaged in most of the early battles of the war. It saw service in Poland, Belgium, France and North Africa. By the time of the invasion of Russia, it was limited to towing around supplies. Just over 800 were made.

By the time WW2 began, the German army had nearly 1500 Panzer I tanks. They participated in the Blitzkrieg invasion of Poland in 1939. Although it was known they are not suitable for front line battle because of both a lack of firepower and thin armor. In the Blitzkrieg invasion of France in 1940 only 500 deployed. The rest remained in Germany and Poland.

By the end of 1941 they were no longer used in front line service, except a command tank version, which contained a small map table and extra radio equipment for use by Panzer unit commanders. The chassis of the obsolete tanks was converted for carrying ammunition or an anti-tank gun, but these also became obsolete and were completely phased out.
  • Type : Light tank
  • Place of origin : Nazi Germany Germany
  • In service : 1934–1954
  • Used by : Nazi Germany, Bulgaria, Republic of China, Hungary, Spain
  • Wars : Spanish Civil War, Second World War, Second Sino-Japanese War
  • Designed : 1934
  • Manufacturer : Henschel, MAN, Krupp, Daimler
  • Produced : 1934–1937
  • Number built : 1493
  • Weight : 5.4 tons
  • Length : 4.02 m
  • Width : 2.06 m
  • Height : 1.72 m
  • Crew : 2; Commander and Driver
  • Armor : Between 7 and 13 mm
  • Primary armament Two 7.92 mm MG13 machine guns
  • Engine : Krupp M 305 four cylinder air cooled gasoline engine. 60 PS (59 hp, 44 kW)
  • Power/weight : 11.1 PS/t
  • Suspension : Quarter-elliptical leaf spring suspension
  • range : 200 km on-road; 175 km off-road.
  • Speed : 50 km/h on-road; 37 km/h off-road.


Panzer II -

The Panzer II came into being as a stopgap while the heavier Panzer III and IV were sorted out. Based on the Panzer I, but this time it actually looked vaguely recognizable as a tank, this light tank appeared in 1936 and formed the bulk of the German Tank Force at the start of the war.

It pushed the scales at 7.2 tones when it first came out and had a quick firing 20mm gun, which was pretty handy against most things that weren’t tanks. A machine gun was also fitted to the tank. Originally it had 14mm thick armour, which provided little protection against anything heavier than a machine gun. This, combined with a reasonably high speed, led it to be mainly used as reconnaissance duties as the war carried on.

While it was removed from front-line duty in 1942, production only ceased in 1943, four years after the Panzer III arrived. Given the scarcity of materials later on in the war, it may well have been better, in hindsight, to have finished production much earlier and concentrated on the heavier tanks.

The Panzer II was designed as a light tank of 10 tons with a crew of three, developed in the mid 1930s as an interim vehicle until the arrival of the Panzer III and Panzer IV medium tanks. Despite being primarily intended as a training tank, it was the main tank in the Blitzkrieg invasions of Poland and France, where about 1000 Panzer II's were deployed. It was also deployed during Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia in 1941, despite the fact it was already declared obsolete The PZII was lacking both armor and firepower. It was armed with a 20mm gun (with 180 rounds) and a coaxial 0.3" machine gun.

The Panzer II also was the basis for several special tank types: a fast recon tank, an amphibious tank, equipped with a propeller, developed for the intended invasion of England in 1940, and a flamethrower tank ( called Flammpanzer II ) equipped with two flamethrowers (100 were in service by 1942).

When the Panzer II tank became obsolete, it was converted to a self-propelled anti-tank gun, using captured Russian 76mm guns ( called Marder I ) and German 75mm guns ( Marder II ). A self-propelled 105mm artillery gun version ( called Wespe ) was produced in occupied Poland.
  • Type : Light tank
  • Place of origin : Nazi Germany
  • In service : 1936–1945
  • Wars : Spanish Civil War, World War II
  • Designed : 1934
  • Produced : 1935–1943
  • Number built : 1,856 (excluding conversions)
  • Weight : 7.2 tons
  • Length : 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in)
  • Width : 2.2 m (7 ft 3 in)
  • Height : 2.0 m (6 ft 7 in)
  • Crew : 3 (commander/gunner, driver, loader)
  • Primary armament : 1 × 2 cm KwK 30 Ausf.A–f 1 × 2 cm KwK 38 Ausf.J–L
  • Secondary armament : 1 × 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34
  • Engine : 6-cyl petrol Maybach HL 140 hp (105 kW)
  • Power/weight : 15 hp/tonne
  • Suspension : Leaf spring
  • Operational range : 200 km (120 mi)
  • Speed : 40 km/h (25 mph)


Panzer III -

The Panzer III was designed as a medium tank of 22 tons with a crew of five, the main German tank in 1940-1942. Initially it had a 37mm gun (and two machine guns), but was planned for future use of bigger guns. It participated in small numbers in the invasion of Poland, but mass production began after the beginning of World War 2, with a 50mm gun.

Since the new gun was too weak against Russian T-34 tanks, a more powerful 50mm gun was installed. Later types had an even bigger 75mm gun, same as that of the Panzer IV, with 64 rounds. Production ended in mid 1943, but production of a self-propelled gun version continued until the end of the war. There were also a command tank version and other versions. A total of 15,000 were produced.

The Panzer III and Panzer IV medium tanks were designed to work in partnership. The III, built by Daimler-Benz, would engage enemy tanks and other armored vehicles while the IV would provide infantry support. A big step up on the Panzer II in terms of size, it weighed in at 23 tons and had armor up to 70mm thick. To increase share of parts with the infantry, the Panzer III was fitted with a 37mm main gun, although once they came up against the Russian T-34s, this was upgraded to a 50mm, then finally a low velocity 75mm cannon for its new role in infantry support.

The production run started in 1939, so few were in use during the Polish and French campaigns, but they were the largest tank type by number when the Russian invasion came along. Having a three person turret meant that the tank commander was free to command the tank rather than man the gun, this gave it an advantage in combat. This didn’t really matter that much when they came up against newest Russian tanks which were markedly better than the Panzer. 5774 were built, but it became clear that the Panzer IV was a better tank in terms of upgradability and resources were concentrated on that. The Panzer III was the basis of many assault guns, including the Russian SU-76i, on which the Russian gun was mounted on a captured chassis. Including all the Assault guns and Tank Destroyers based on the chassis, the total run was over 16,000.
  • Type : Medium tank
  • Place of origin : Nazi Germany
  • In service : 1939–1945
  • Used by : Nazi Germany, Romania, Slovak State, Hungary, Independent State of Croatia, Turkey, Norway
  • Wars : World War II
  • Designer : Daimler-Benz
  • Designed : 1935-1937
  • Manufacturer : Daimler-Benz
  • Produced : 1939–1943
  • Number built : 5,774 (excluding StuG III)
  • Weight : 23.0 tons (25.4 short tons)
  • Length : 6.41 m (21.0 ft)
  • Width : 2.90 m (9.5 ft)
  • Height : 2.5 m (8.2 ft)
  • Crew : 5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, radio operator/bow machine-gunner)
  • Armor : 5–70 mm (0.20–2.8 in)
  • Primary armament : 1 × 3.7 cm KwK 36 Ausf. A-F, 1 × 5 cm KwK 38 Ausf. F-J, 1 × 5 cm KwK 39 Ausf. J-M, 1 × 7.5 cm KwK 37 Ausf. N
  • Secondary armament : 2-3 × 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34
  • Engine : 12-cylinder Maybach HL 120 TRM 300 PS (296 hp, 220 kW)
  • Power/weight : 12 hp/t
  • Suspension : Torsion-bar suspension
  • Operational range : 155 km (96 mi)
  • Speed : 40 km/h (25 mph) road, 20 km/h (12 mph) off road

Panzer IV -

The Panzer IV was the brainchild of German general and innovative armored warfare theorist Heinz Guderian. In concept, it was intended to be a support tank for use against enemy, anti-tank guns and fortifications. Ideally, the tank battalions of a panzer division were each to have three medium companies of Panzer IIIs and one heavy company of Panzer IVs.

While Panzer was the general term for all German tanks, the Panzer IV was the model that was generally referred to as the Panzer.

Krupp’s4 Panzer IV was designed for infantry support, so it was fitted with a short barreled 75mm gun that was effective against buildings, but not as much against tanks. After the shock of how good the Russian tanks were, the Panzer IV was upgraded to use a longer antitank 75mm cannon.

In terms of armor (up to 80mm), gun and speed (26mph), this 25 ton tank was the best tank design of the early war and remained a major threat, especially to US and British tanks, till the end of the war. It was the most produced German tank of the war, almost 8,900 Panzer IVs were built, with over 6,000 of them coming in 1943 and 1944 when better tanks were also being built. It could be argued that the very success of this design and its Panzer III sister meant that the Germans didn’t put the effort into designing a replacement that they should have. This led to subsequent tanks having glaring weaknesses mainly in terms of depolyability, reliability and in their turrets.

The Panzer IV was designed as medium tank of 25 tons with a crew of five, which was first produced in 1936. PZIV production continued until the end of the war. The PZIV became the main German battle tank. At first, it carried a short-barreled 75mm gun, which was later replaced by a more powerful, long-barrel 75mm gun (with 87 rounds)and two machine guns (one coaxial and one anti-aircraft on top, with 3000 rounds). Its excellent chassis remained unchanged despite many modifications and additions of extra armor, skirts, and was also the base for many variants, such as tank destroyers ( Jagdpanzer IV ), self-propelled guns, anti-aircraft guns, and others.
  • Designer : Krupp
  • Designed : 1936
  • Manufacturer : Krupp, Steyr-Daimler-Puch
  • Produced : 1936–45
  • Number built : 9,800 (estimate)
  • Weight : 25.0 tonnes (27.6 ST; 24.6 LT)
  • Length : 5.92 metres (19 ft 5 in) 7.02 metres (23 ft 0 in) gun forward, Width 2.88 m (9 ft 5 in), Height 2.68 m (8 ft 10 in)
  • Crew : 5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, radio operator/bow machine-gunner)
  • Armor : 10–80 mm (0.39–3.1 in)
  • Primary : armament 7.5 cm (2.95 in) KwK 40 L/48 main gun (87 rds.), Secondary armament 2–3 × 7.92-mm Maschinengewehr 34 (MG34)
  • Engine : 12-cylinder Maybach HL 120 TRM 300 PS (296 hp, 220 kW)
  • Power/weight : 12 PS/t
  • Transmission : 6 forward and 1 reverse ratios
  • Suspension : Leaf spring
  • Fuel capacity : 470 l (120 US gal)
  • Operational Range : 200 km (120 mi)
  • Speed : 42 km/h (26 mph) road, 16 km/h (9.9 mph) off road
9,800 Panzer IV's were produced. Perhaps more would have been produced as Guderian recommended, if it was not for Hitler's obsession for complex and very expensive advanced weapons, the Panther, Tiger, and King Tiger heavy tanks in that case, which reduced the production of the Panzer IV before they were fully developed and tested.


Jagd 38t Hetzer -

In March 1943, Col. Gen. Heinz Guderian demanded a light tank destroyer to replace all existing "interim solutions" (e.g. Marders) and towed anti-tank artillery (e.g. 75mm PaK 40 guns). The result of this was the Panzerjägerprogram or G-13.

The new vehicle resulting from it was to equip tank destroyer units of infantry divisions. The Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) chassis was chosen as a base for this new Panzerjäger. It was first known as "Leichtes Sturmgeschutz 38(t)", then "Jagdpanzer 38(t) für 7.5cm Pak 39 L/48", and finally "Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer".

It appears that the name Hetzer was not an official name but used by troops and then used in post-war publications. On December 17, 1943, designs were ready and, on January 24, 1944, a wooden mock-up was finished. In March 1944, the first three proto-types were produced by BMM (Boehmish-Mährische Maschinenfabrik) and it was decided to start production. From March to April of 1944, prototypes were extensively tested, while preparations for production were made at BMM (Praga/CKD-Ceskomoravska Kolben Danek) in Prague and then at Skoda Works at Pilsen.
  • Designer : Skoda
  • Designed : 1943
  • Manufacturer : Böhmisch-Mährische Maschinenfabrik, Škoda
  • Produced : March 1944–May 1945
  • Number built : Approx. 2827
  • Weight : 15.75 tonnes (34,722 lbs)
  • Length : 6.38 m (21 ft)
  • Width : 2.63 m (8.62 ft)
  • Height : 2.17 m (7.11 ft)
  • Crew : 4
  • Armor : 8-60 mm (.31-2.36 in)
  • Primary armament : 1x 7.5 cm PaK 39 L/48 41 rounds
  • Secondary armament : 1× 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34 1,200 rounds
  • Engine : petrol R6, 7.8 liters, diesel Tatra Type 928 V-8 160 hp (120 kW) at 2800 rpm, diesel 190hp
  • Power/weight : 10 hp/ton
  • Suspension : leaf spring
  • Fuel capacity : 320 L
  • Operational Range : 177 km (110 mi)
  • Speed : 42 km/h (26 mph)
On April 20, 1944, the Hetzer was shown to Hitler and other leaders of the Third Reich at Arys (Orzysz) in East Prussia. At this time, the new Panzerjäger was designated Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer (Baiter or Troublemaker), Sd.Kfz.138/2, but it was also known simply as Panzerjäger 38(t). Production started, in April 1944, at BMM and, in September, at Skoda. 2,584 were produced by May 1945 in three series (chassis numbers 321001-323000 by BMM, 323001-unknown by Skoda, and 325001-unknown). In April 1944, BMM produced the first 20 Hetzers and monthly production increased greatly thereafter. Eventually, plants in Prague, Pilsen, Königgrätz, Boehm, and Breslau made the Hetzer. Late-war production plans called for 1,000 Hetzers per month, starting in mid-1945.

In late 1943, before Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer entered production, BMW and Wesserhuette were awarded a contract to design a small tank destroyer - klein Panzerjaeger Rutscher (Sander) but the project was canceled in February of 1944 after Hetzer was selected. The project was reactivated in January of 1945, and it was decided to continued development of Panzerkleinzerstoerer. The vehicle was to be a light and fast tank destroyer to compete with an American M 18 Hellcat tank destroyer. It was to be armed with PWK 8 H 63 smooth-bore gun firing fin-stabilized projectiles with effective range of 700 meters or regular 75mm KwK L/48 gun. Prototypes were never completed and the end of the war ended any further development.


JagdPanther -

The Jagdpanther (German: "hunting panther") was a tank destroyer built by Nazi Germany during World War II based on the chassis of the Panther tank. It entered service late in the war (1944) and saw service on the Eastern and Western fronts. Many military historians[who?] consider the Jagdpanther to be one of the best tank destroyers of the war due to the combination of the very powerful 8.8 cm KwK 43 cannon and the well armored Panther chassis.

To accommodate the heavier-calibre gun, much as on previous Jagdpanzer-style unturreted tank destroyers, the glacis plate and sides of the Jagdpanther were extended up into an integral, turretless fixed casemate as part of the main hull itself to provide a roomy interior. The Jagdpanther had side armour of increased thickness to offset the slightly reduced angle of the side armor necessary to provide enough interior space. The new (April 1944) Panther Ausf. G had the same feature, to harmonize production and increase protection.

It was armed with an anti-tank version of the same long-barreled 8.8 cm gun as the Tiger II "King Tiger" and a single 7.92 mm MG-34 machine gun in the front glacis plate for local defence. The Jagdpanther had a good power-to-weight ratio and a powerful main gun, which enabled it to destroy any type of Allied tank. Based on the existing Panther chassis, the vehicle did not suffer too many mechanical problems—it had an upgraded transmission and final drive to counter the Panther's main weakness. It was manned by a crew of five: a driver, radio-operator, commander, gunner and a loader.
  • Produced : 1944–1945
  • Number built : 415
  • Variants : G1, G2
  • Weight : 45.5 tons (100,300 lb)
  • Length : 9.87 m (32 ft 5 in)
  • Width : 3.42 m (11 ft 3 in)
  • Height : 2.71 m (8 ft 11 in)
  • Crew : 5
  • Armor : 80 mm (3.14 in) frontal 100 mm (3.93 in), mantlet 45mm side, 40mm rear
  • Primary armament : 1 × 8.8 cm Pak 43/3 or 43/4 L/71 57 rounds
  • Secondary armament : 1 × 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34 600 rounds
  • Engine : Maybach HL230 P30 (V-12 petrol) 700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW)
  • Power/weight : 15.4 PS/ton
  • Suspension : dual torsion bar
  • Operational Range : 160 km (99 miles)
  • Speed : 46 km/h (28.6 mph)

Two main variants can be distinguished, the earlier (1944 model) G1 with a small internally-bolted main gun mantlet and a modified Panther A engine deck, and the later (1945 model) G2 with a larger, outside-bolted mantlet and a modified Panther G engine deck, though late G1s also had the larger mantlet. Early Jagdpanthers had two vision openings for the driver, whereas late versions had only one. The main gun originally had a monobloc gun barrel but later versions were equipped with the Pak 43/4 gun with a two-part barrel. Early G1s (to September 1944) were coated with Zimmerit in a distinctive "small-squared" pattern.

Panther -

While it may not be as famous as its Tiger sister, Germany’s other big cat, the Panther, was arguably best tank design of the whole war. Coming into service in 1943, as a response to the beatings that the Panzers got from the Russians, it was to become a benchmark in fighting machines. The front armor was 80mm thick, not only that, it was sloped so that any shells that did not deflect off would have more effective armor to penetrate. The 75mm cannon was one of the most powerful of the war, with a long barrel and high velocity, it was at least an equal to the larger gun of Tiger. It could pick off American-designed Sherman tanks at a distance, before the Allies could get in range. The 700hp engine could get this beast to reach speeds of 34mph. Although designated a medium tank, at 44 tons it was heavier than some Allied heavy tanks. It has been suggested that it cost around half the price of a Tiger tank to produce, and little more than a Panzer IV, making it a very cost effective design.

When the Allies first encountered it, they thought it was a kind of heavy tank, built in low numbers, but around half the German tanks in Normandy were Panthers. Around 6000 were built in total. No Allied tank could get though its armor at the front and so the Russians and British, followed eventually by the Americans, had to upgrade their guns to take it on at distance or head to head. Its side and rear armor were much lighter and less sloped, so tanks could try and flank it. Here they were helped by the Panther’s powered turret taking three times longer to rotate than a Sherman’s5. Not only that, but the some Panthers were killed off on slopes because the turret motor couldn’t actually rotate the heavy gun upwards on steep rises. Tank restorers have found things like cigarette butts in the metal of a Panther. They were built using slave labor, who were not averse to dropping stuff into the molten metal in the factories. Allied attacks on tank factories disrupted production and a lack of availability of some metals meant that the strength of armor was reduced. These were not this great machine’s downfall. It was the final drive linking the engine to the tracks. It could not cope with the weight of the tank and did for more tanks than enemy fire. It was calculated that a Panther’s final drive had an average life of less than 100 miles. This was never redesigned, so remained a fatal weakness. Panthers had to be brought as close to battle as possible on trains were possible, so air attacks on rail hubs could cause havoc with tank deployment. Also, attacks on factories and the desperation to build more tanks meant that fewer spare parts were produced as the war went on.

The Panther ( Panzer V ) was designed as a medium-heavy tank of 45 tons with a crew of four, The Panther was designed to counter the excellent Russian T-34 tank. It had a sloped armor for better protection and carried a long-barreled 75mm gun (with 79 rounds) and two machine guns (one coaxial and one anti-aircraft on top). Production began at the end of 1942 . The initial plan was to produce 600 Panthers per month, but it was complicated by its complexity (there were hundreds of production sub-contractors) and the Allied bombing campaign against German industry cut production to half of that or less. A total of just 6,800 were produced.
  • Designer : MAN AG
  • Designed : 1942
  • Produced : 1942–1945
  • Number built : about 6,000
  • Weight : 44.8 tons
  • Length : 6.87 metres (22 ft 6 in) 8.66 metres (28 ft 5 in) gun forward
  • Width : 3.27 metres (10 ft 9 in) 3.42 metres (11 ft 3 in) with skirts
  • Height : 2.99 metres (9 ft 10 in)
  • Crew : 5 (Driver, radio-operator/hull machine gunner, commander, gunner, loader)
  • Armor : 15–120 mm (0.59–4.7 in)
  • Primary armament : 1 × 7.5 cm KwK 42 L/70 79 rounds
  • Secondary armament : 2 × 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34 5,100 rounds
  • Engine : V-12 petrol Maybach HL230 P30 700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW)
  • Power/weight : 15.39 PS/tonne (13.77 hp/ton)
  • Transmission : ZF AK 7-200. 7 forward 1 reverse[2]
  • Suspension : double torsion bar, interleaved road wheels
  • Operational range : 250 km (160 mi)
  • Speed : 55 km/h (34 mph) (first models), 46 km/h (29 mph) (later models)

It was rushed into production without proper trials, as a result more Panthers were initially lost to mechanical problems than to enemy action. The problems were later fixed, and the Panther is considered the best German tank of the war. The Panther tank initially fought in the battle of Kursk in July 1943, the greatest tank battle of the war, and served in all fronts until the end of the war. It was widely used in Normandy after D-Day .

Variants of the Panther included a mobile observation post, a tank destroyer, and a command tank.


Tiger Tank , King Tiger
The most formidable German tanks, the Tiger and King Tiger. Extremely lethal and heavily armored, the Tiger and its later version Tiger II ( King Tiger ) were the most dreaded German tanks. Their technical complexity limited their production and field use.

Tiger 1 -

The great Tiger tank came about from a long standing need for a heavy tank that got given the hurry up by the fearsome Russian tanks. Porsche produced a design and built 90 chassis before being told that it was too complex6. Instead, the contract went to Henschel. It was the first tank to be able to mount an 88mm gun, based on the formidable Flak 88 anti-aircraft gun. Not only was the gun powerful, it was incredibly accurate as well. It had 110mm frontal armour, because it was flat, not sloped; it had to be much thicker to provide equal protection. When it was introduced, no Allied tank gun could hurt it front on. Sherman tanks had to get within 100 meters to get though the side of the tank whereas Tigers could pick off a Sherman at over 2 kilometres. Eventually guns like the British 17 pounder were introduced to kill it from the front.

Despite being 60 tons in weight, it was still as quick as a Panzer IV, but due to fears over reliability, crews were advised not to over rev it. It didn’t matter; the Tiger was, like the Panther, a very unreliable tank. Very wide tracks were fitted so the Tiger could cope easily with muddy conditions, and boggy ground, despite its great weight. However parts of these tracks had to be removed in order to get the tanks onto train wagons to be carried to the frontline. Where the 60 tons were a problem was where it had to cross bridges or bash through buildings that may have a basement. Few things were built to take the weight, so Tigers could ford rivers. The first 495 were fitted with complex equipment to be able to ford four metres of water, the later Tigers could cope with half that.

Originally designed to break though lines and cause havoc, fortunes of war changed along with tactics and Tigers often found themselves dug in and hidden to create mobile gun emplacements. There were cases of a lone Tiger killing off 20 US tanks in one battle. Like the Panther, its turret was a major weakness, as its traverse was much slower than Allied tanks and could allow it to be flanked.

In the end, it was the complexity of the design that was its great failing. No tank of its time was as well protected or as well armed but probably none were as expensive and time consuming to build. It cost over twice as much as a Panther and four times as an assault gun, so only 1350 or so were built. It doesn’t matter that they have a kill ratio of 5.7 allied tanks to each lost Tiger when for each of these, 30 Shermans and over 42 T-34s were built. Only one Tiger remains in working order, currently at Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset.

After years of research for a heavy, next generation tank, German designers were eventually required to quickly produce one by Hitler's 53rd birthday in April 1942. It would be armed with the most powerful German gun, the 88mm, which was used both as a heavy anti-aircraft gun and as an anti-tank gun. Two prototypes were ready for Hitler's birthday. The design by Henschel, was selected for production. Officially marked Panzer VI, it was the first German tank which was given a name, they named it Tiger. 1350 Tigers were produced between August 1942 and August 1944, when production shifted to the heavier and more powerful Tiger II, which was named King Tiger.

There were only two variants of the Tiger, a gun-less command tank, and a rare heavy rocket launcher of which only 10 were produced. The command tank was equipped with a winch for its secondary role of tank towing vehicle, a sure sign of the technical problems many of the late German tanks endured.

The Tiger was an outstanding design. Many modern tanks are direct descendants of its unique design innovations. It had an extremely powerful gun and matching optics, which allowed it to kill every other tank from a longer range. It had very thick armor which made it almost indestructible from front. But it was also very complex for production and maintenance, unlike its Allied counterparts which were mass produced in great numbers. Allied tanks were far more reliable in the field.

Panzerkampfwagen VI (Tiger) Ausf. H/E (Pz. Kpfw. VI, Sd. Kfz. 181) Technical Overview

The complete technical specifications of the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I, variant H/E.

General Details
  • Crew : Five (Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver, Bow Machine Gunner/Radio Operator)
  • Hull length : 6.3m (20.66ft)
  • Length : gun forward 8.45m (27.7ft)
  • Width : combat tracks fitted 3.72m (12.2ft), transport tracks fitted 3.14m (10.3ft)
  • Height : 3.0m (9.8ft)
  • Weight : transport 50.5 tonnes (49.7 tons), combat 57 tonnes (56 tons)
  • Ground pressure : combat tracks 1.04kg/sq.cm (14.8psi), transport tracks 1.43kg/sq.cm (20.4psi)
  • Ground clearance : 0.47m (1.5ft)
  • Fording depth: no preparation 1.6m (5.24ft), prepared 4m (13.1ft)
  • Maximum gradient : 70%
  • Maximum trench crossing : 2.5m (8.2ft)
  • Maximum step climbing : 0.8m (2.6ft)
Its complex suspension and wheels system, specifically designed to carry the Tiger's heavy weight, would often become jammed by rocks, rubble and mud. This posed a severe mobility problem for the Tiger. Mobility problems was particularly severe during the Russian winter, where frozen mud totally immobilized Tigers overnight, making them vulnerable due to their immobility during the morning hours, when the Russians attacked. It also had two sets of tracks, one for roads and one for the field and combat thus, adding more complexity.

The Tiger was a heavy tank of 55 tons with a crew of five. It carried 84 rounds for its killer 88mm gun, and was also armed with two machine guns, one coaxial and one above the front hull, with almost 6000 rounds. It was slower than other tanks and had a road range of just 100km, which was an increasing problem as Germany's fuel supply was decimated towards the end of the war, but in the battlefield its firepower and protection were unmatched.


King Tiger -

In order to defeat any possible future enemy, the German designers began to plan the Tiger's successor as soon as its production began in late 1942. It would have even more firepower and more armor protection than the Tiger. One rejected prototype was supposed to carry an amazing 150mm gun. Another prototype was rejected because its electric system used "too much" copper, a sign of the extreme difficulties the German industry had to cope with in the later stages of the war ( the most extreme example of that, in my opinion, was the design and production, in late 1944, of the He-162 Salamander, which was a jet fighter made mostly of wood ! ).

The King Tiger was brought in to replace the Tiger. Again Porsche thought it would get the contract and started building them but Henschel won the bid. It was basically an uprated Tiger, with even thicker armour, now sloped, and a new model of the 88mm gun. It also got hydraulics that could fully rotate the turret in less than twenty seconds. It retained the 700hp engine from the Tiger and Panther, so was hopelessly underpowered and consumed four gallons of petrol for every mile travelled, not a great thing for an oil starved country. While it was amazingly accurate and could kill off Allied armour well before they could close in to take it out7, it suffered from the same problems as the Tiger, it broke down, was difficult to move anywhere and, with less than 500 made, was too costly to make in war affecting numbers.

The design of the new tank, which was marked Tiger II and named King Tiger, was completed in late 1943, and production began in December 1943, initially together with the Tiger, and since August 1944 instead of the Tiger. Only 485 King Tiger tanks were produced before the war ended.

It first fought against the Russians in May 1944 and in France in August 1944. Its very thick armor, especially in the front, protected it from the guns of enemy tanks, but made it slow, because its engine could not compensate for its very heavy weight of 69 tons, and its size made it harder to hide than other tanks, which was a serious problem given the massive presence of allied fighter-bombers at that stage of the war. It was also technically unreliable, like the Tiger. Many were simply abandoned or self-destroyed for lack of fuel, rather than by enemy fire.

The King Tiger had a crew of five. It was armed with an extremely powerful long-barreled 88mm gun, even more powerful than that of the Tiger, which fired armor-piercing rounds at a muzzle velocity of 1200 meters per second, about a third faster than those fired by the Tiger. It carried 84 rounds and also two machine guns with almost 6000 rounds, like the Tiger.


The last German heavy tank of the war. Similar to the Panther in design, it carried much heavier armor. It first arrived in German units in July 1944, five months after production began.
  • Production dates : January 1944–March 1945
  • Number produced : 489
  • Manufacturer : Henschel
  • Crew : 5
  • Armament : 88mm KwK43 L/71; also 2 x 7.92mm MG34 machine guns (coaxial, bow)
  • Weight : 149,870 lbs.
  • Length : 33’8”
  • Width : 12’4”
  • Height : 10’2”
  • Armor : maximum 180mm, minimum 40mm
  • Ammunition storage and type : 72 x 88mm; 5,850 x 7.92mm
  • Power plant : Maybach HL230P30 12-cylinder 700-hp gasoline engine
  • Maximum speed : 21 mph
  • Range : 102 miles
  • Fording depth : 5’3”
  • Vertical obstacle : 2’10”
  • Trench crossing : 8’2”
Special characteristics: The first 50 Tiger II tanks had a Porsche-designed turret with a curved front plate. This was then replaced with one designed by Henschel, which then produced the remaining tanks in their entirety. The heavily armored Tiger II could stop most Allied antitank weapons, but it was mechanically unreliable and, with the same engine as the Panther, suffered from slow speed and poor maneuverability.


Czech-made Panzers

The occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 provided the German military with large amounts of high quality weapons at no cost, from the arsenal of the Czech military. There was enough equipment for about 40 army divisions. Furthermore, the Czech industry, mainly the Skoda factories, became part of the German military production machine and continued to produce tanks and other weapons for Germany.

A year later, when Germany invaded France, three full German Panzer divisions were equipped with Czech tanks. One division was equipped with the Czech type 35 light tank of 10 tons which was renamed Panzer 35, and two divisions were equipped with the type 38 light tank of 10 tons which was renamed Panzer 38.

Panzer 35 -

The Panzer 35 had a crew of four and carried a Czech 37mm gun (with 72 rounds) and two machine guns, one coaxial and one in the front (with 1800 rounds). It remained in front line service until 1942, when they were converted for other roles.

When Germany annexed Czechoslovakia, it gained access to the country’s huge arms industry. About 300 of these 1936 designed Skoda light tanks were used by the German Army in the early part of the war. 12 tons, with a 1.5in gun and a road speed of over twenty miles an hour, this proved a better tank than the Panzer II. It was also very reliable. Its major failing was that the armor was riveted on. If it was hit, the rivets could come firing out of the back of the plates and ricochet around the cabin until it hit something fleshy. By 1942, it was obsolete.

The Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) was assembled from a framework of steel "angle iron" beams to which the armor plates were riveted. A 4 mm (0.16 in) firewall separated the engine compartment from the crew. It had several mesh-covered openings to allow access to the engine and improve ventilation drawing air in through the commander's hatch. This had the advantage of rapidly dispersing gun combustion gases when firing but several disadvantages. The constant draft generated by the engine greatly affected the crew during cold weather, the danger of an engine fire reaching the crew compartment was increased and the engine noise and heat increased crew fatigue.
  • Type : Light tank
  • Place of origin : Czechoslovakia
  • In service : 1936—50?
  • Used by : Czechoslovakia, Nazi Germany, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary
  • Wars : World War II
  • Designer : Skoda
  • Designed : 1934-36
  • Manufacturer : Skoda ČKD
  • Produced : 1936—40
  • Number built : 434
  • Variants : T-11, TACAM R-2
  • Weight : 10.5 tons (10.3 LT; 11.6 ST)
  • Length : 4.90 metres (16.1 ft)
  • Width : 2.06 metres (6.8 ft)
  • Height : 2.37 metres (7.8 ft)
  • Crew : 4
  • Armor : 8–25 millimetres (0.31–0.98 in)
  • Primary armament : 3.7 cm KwK 34(t) gun
  • Secondary armament : 2 x 7.92 mm MG 37(t) machine gun
  • Engine 4-cylinder, water-cooled Škoda T11/0 gasoline 120 horsepower (89 kW)
  • Power/weight : 11 hp/ton
  • Transmission : 6 x 6
  • Suspension : leaf spring
  • Fuel capacity : 153 litres (40 US gal)
  • Operational range : 120 kilometres (75 mi)[1] or 190 kilometres (120 mi)[2]
  • Speed : 34 kilometres per hour (21 mph)


Panzer 38 -

The Panzer 38(t) was a conventional pre-World War II tank design, with riveted armor and rear engine. The riveted armor was mostly not sloped, and varied in thickness from 10 mm to 25 mm in most versions. Later models (Ausf. E on) increased this to 50 mm by bolting on an additional 25 mm armor to the front. Side armors received additional 15mm armor from Ausf. E onward.

Like the 35, this was another light tank from the Czech arms factories. Designed in 1939, it was lighter and faster than the 35(t), and suffered from the same problems with riveted armour. It saw service with a lot of the Axis countries, as well as 1500 being used by the German Army. They weren’t used as front line tanks after 1942.

The two-man turret was centrally located, and housed the tank's main armament, a 37 mm Skoda A7 gun with 90 rounds stored onboard. It was equipped with a 7.92 mm machine gun to the right of the main ordnance. This turret machine gun was in a separate ball mount rather than a fixed coaxial mount. This meant the machine gun could be trained on targets independently. Alternatively, the commander/gunner could couple the machine gun internally to the main gun and use it as a coaxial machine gun. The driver was in the front right of the hull, with the bow machine-gunner seated to the left, manning a 7.92 mm machine gun. As with many 1930s tanks, the bow gunner was also the radio operator. The radio was mounted on the left of the bow gunner.

The Panzer 38 had a crew of four and carried a Czech 37mm gun (with 90 rounds) and two machine guns, one coaxial and one in the front (with 2550 rounds). It was developed as the successor to the type 35 but did not enter service until after the Germans invaded France.

1400 tanks were produced for the German army in 1939-1942. When it became obsolete as a tank, it was used as a recon vehicle. There were many other variants which used its excellent chassis, including the Hetzer, a tank destroyer with a 75mm gun, which remained in production following the war. Built for the new Czech military, and also exported to the Swiss army where it remained in service until the late 1960's.
  • Type : Medium tank
  • Place of origin : Czechoslovakia
  • In service : 1939–1944 (Nazi Germany)
  • Used by : Nazi Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Peru
  • Wars : World War II
  • Designer : ČKD
  • Manufacturer : ČKD
  • Produced : 1939-42
  • Number built : 1,414
  • Weight : 9.725–9.85 tons (9.571–9.69 LT; 10.720–10.86 ST)
  • Length : 4.61 metres (15.1 ft)
  • Width : 2.135 metres (7.00 ft)
  • Height : 2.252 metres (7.39 ft) (overall)
  • Crew : 4
  • Armor : 8–30 mm Ausf. A–D 8–50 mm Ausf. E and newer
  • Primary armament : 1x 3.7 cm KwK 38(t) L/47.8
  • Secondary armament : 2x 7.92 mm ZB53 (MG 37(t)) machine gun
  • Engine : Praga Typ TNHPS/II water-cooled, 6-cylinder gasoline 125 PS (123.3 hp, 91.9 kW)
  • Power/weight : 13.15 PS/ton
  • Transmission : 5 + 1 Praga-Wilson Typ CV
  • Suspension : leaf spring
  • Ground clearance : 40 centimetres (16 in)
  • Fuel capacity : 220 litres (58 US gal)
  • Operational range : 250 kilometres (160 mi) (road) 100 kilometres (62 mi) (cross-country)
  • Speed : 42 km/h, 26.1 mph (road) 15 km/h (off-road)



Maybach HL230

The Maybach HL230 is a water-cooled 60° 23 liter V12 gasoline engine designed by Maybach. It was used during World War II in heavy German tanks, namely the Panther, Jagdpanther, Tiger II, Jagdtiger (HL230 P30), and later versions of the Tiger I and Sturmtiger (HL230 P45). The engine was a follow-up version of the slightly smaller HL210 that had a displacement of 21 liters and, unlike the HL230, an aluminum crankcase and block. The HL210 was used to equip the first 250 Tiger I tanks built.

The engine has a volume of 23,095 cm³ (approx. 1,925 cm³ per cylinder) and a maximum output of 700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW) at 3,000 rpm. Maximum torque is 1850 Nm at 2,100 rpm. Typical output was 600 PS (592 hp, 441 kW) at 2,500 rpm.

The crankcase and block are made of cast grey iron. The cylinder heads are made from cast-iron. The engine weighs 1200 kg and its dimensions are 1000 x 1190 x 1310 mm. Aspiration is provided by four twin-choke Solex type 52JFF carburetors.

Approximately 9,000 HL230s were produced in total by Maybach, Auto Union and Daimler-Benz.

The above is a compilation by yours truly of information gleaned from multiple sources on the Internet.


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Old 11-30-2006
Ricky(SCO) Ricky(SCO) is offline
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Nice collection of info Mike. Didnt realise all that info in relation to the Czech tanks.... anyone doing any mods, that might add these tanks, that you know of?
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Old 11-30-2006
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RFMariano RFMariano is offline
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Originally Posted by Ricky(SCO) View Post
Nice collection of info Mike. Didnt realise all that info in relation to the Czech tanks.... anyone doing any mods, that might add these tanks, that you know of?
No, not that I know of....


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Old 12-14-2006
dickybird dickybird is offline
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We're not planning on putting in any of the Czech Panzers in MN and T's using his tank models for both MN and his own mod (Darkest Hour). Don't know if he will add them in DH. His shermans (his favorite tank series) are fantastic.

As for the other mods like Mike i dont know.
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