die sozialen Errungenschaften im Deutschen Reich waren einzigartig und es gab auf der ganzen Welt nichts Vergleichbares
You can click on the individual pictures and read the detailed events of that time in the great chronicle from 1933-45
German tanks in World War II
Panzerkampfwagen I

The Panzerkampfwagen I (here in the pictures version B in Poland 1939) was a German light tank from the 1930s and the early years of the Second World War. It was the first German armored car to be mass-produced after the First World War. In addition to the main versions "A" and "B", there were several further developments and varieties. Originally conceived as a pure training tank, the tank was nevertheless used in combat. Due to its low combat strength, however, it was retired faster and faster in the first half of the war and had almost completely disappeared as a combat vehicle at the end of 1941. In 1933, the Army Weapons Office published a tender for the development of an armored car in the 5-ton class, which was to be equipped with two machine guns in a swiveling turret and had to withstand the fire from infantry.

After a thorough inspection, the Army Weapons Office commissioned the Krupp company with the development and construction of the chassis and transmission; the Daimler-Benz company took over the superstructure and tower. Interestingly, the Henschel company, which was actually hired for replica, produced the first three prototypes, which were delivered in December 1933 and tested in spring 1934. The first 15 models were delivered with an open hull and no tower, which is why they were mainly used as driving school vehicles. Even then, some vehicles were equipped with an air-cooled Krupp M601 diesel engine that produced 45 hp at 2200 rpm. This performance was considered inadequate and the trials were not continued. It is remarkable that practically until 1940 (Tatra diesel type 111) no further development attempts were made to create air-cooled diesel engines for armored vehicles. The internal project name (LKA / LKB) was replaced in the course of time in favor of the camouflage name "Agricultural tractor (LaS)". In 1938 the name changed to "Panzerkampfwagen (MG) (SdKfz 101) I Ausf . A ". The tank was first presented to the public at the 1935 Nuremberg Party Rally.

Panzerkampfwagen II

The Panzerkampfwagen II (also PzKpfw II or Panzer II) was a light tank of the German Wehrmacht, which was designed in the mid-1930s. Planned only as a temporary solution, the Panzer II formed the backbone of the armored divisions at the beginning of the Second World War due to the insufficient performance of the German armaments industry. Around 1900 Panzer II were manufactured from 1935 to the end of 1942. The tank was only used to a limited extent as a combat vehicle until 1943, but its chassis was used as the basis for numerous self-propelled guns until the end of the war. When it was recognized that the production of the two main types Panzer III and Panzer IV, which were intended to equip the Panzer divisions, would take longer than expected, the Army Commission decided in July 1934, as an interim solution, a quickly manufactured combat vehicle in the 10-ton class in Order to close the gap until tanks III and IV appear. The vehicle presented by the Krupp company was based on the "LKA 1" prototype for the Panzerkampfwagen I and was given the name "LKA 2". With the exception of the drive, the suggestions submitted by the other two companies hardly differed from the Krupp prototype. After testing, the MAN company was designated for the construction of the chassis; Like the Panzer I, the Daimler-Benz company was responsible for the tower and the superstructure. The vehicle received the code name "Agricultural tractor 100" (LaS 100) due to the Versailles Treaty, which was still valid as an imperial law. Mainly the companies Famo in Breslau, Wegmann in Kassel and MIAG in Braunschweig were destined for the replica. Not to be confused with the later “Ausf. A "was the" Ausf. A1 "manufactured in 1935, the first production vehicle to be delivered to the troops under the name" Panzerkampfwagen II (2cm) (Sd.Kfz. 121) ". It weighed 7.2 tons and had a 6- Cylinder gasoline engine from Maybach with 130 HP and still had a countershaft without a reduction gear. Improvements were made in the engine compartment and in the cooling system for the 25 units of the "Ausf. A2" produced in the same year. The last variant of the pre-series was 50 pieces of the "Ausf. a3 ", in which changes were made in the area of ??cooling, chains and suspension. The versions were manufactured from May 1936 to February 1937 by MAN and Daimler-Benz. As the engine performance was considered insufficient, the" Ausf. b "a 140 HP Maybach engine for installation. The 100 vehicles in this series had a new reduction gear and the final tracks of the Panzer II series. The weight increased to 7.9 tons. The “Ausf. c "had the final Panzer II drive with five castors suspended on quarter springs. This version ended development and series production began.

Panzerkampfwagen III

Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. C with ambulance Russia 1941
Panzerkampfwagen II used in Prague in 1935

The Panzerkampfwagen III (also PzKpfw III or Panzer III) was a medium German tank of the Second World War. Provided as a standard model for the future armored divisions, he was responsible for fighting enemy tanks with an armor-piercing cannon, while the tank-like Panzer IV was to serve as a support vehicle. The Panzer III, which was the most important German armored car in 1941 and 1942, performed well in the first half of the war, but after the appearance of more powerful enemy tanks, its fighting strength declined rapidly due to the limited expandability. From 1936 to 1943 5700 copies were produced, whereby the chassis as the basis for the much more successful assault gun III was in production until the end of the war. Colonel General Heinz Guderian, who later developed the armored weapon into an independent type of troop, had planned two armored vehicles for the final equipment of the future armored units. A car that was supposed to use its cannon to take out enemy tanks and a support vehicle with a larger caliber.

Out of these considerations emerged the Panzerkampfwagen III and Panzerkampfwagen IV, whereby Panzer III was intended for the equipment of the three light companies of a tank division and Panzer IV for the fourth company. There were fundamental differences of opinion about the armament of the planned Panzer III. Guderian and his inspection of the motor troops demanded a powerful 5 cm combat vehicle cannon (KwK), while the Army Weapons Office and the inspection of the artillery considered the 3.7 cm cannon already used by the infantry to be sufficient for reasons of standardization and ultimately also could enforce. At least Guderian managed to keep the turret large enough to allow the later installation of a stronger cannon; a fact that should later prove to be more than necessary. The other requirements for the combat vehicle were a maximum weight of 24 tons, taking into account the carrying capacity of the road bridges, a crew of five men and the installation of a radio system, which should enable internal communication and communication with other tanks and with the management level.

PanzerKW III version: L here in Russia 1943
At the end of 1941, delivery of the "Version L", built until 1942, of which 650 pieces left the factory halls began. This series had the long 5 cm cannon as standard. For this there were now only 78 rounds, but the MG ammunition was used instead more than doubled from 2,000 shots to almost 5,000 shots The armor of the turret front was increased to 57 mm.

PanzerKW III version: J here in Africa 1942
When it became apparent during the first combat operations on the Eastern Front that the penetration of the short 5 cm cannon was also unsatisfactory and that this weapon had no power reserves, the long 5 cm KwK 39 with its 60 caliber lengths became the first in the last 1076 Copies of the series of the "Version J" installed. This version, manufactured between March 1941 and July 1942, achieved the highest number of this series with 2616 units produced.

PanzerKW III version: D here in Russia 1941
At the beginning of the Second World War there were 200 Panzer III in the Wehrmacht, 98 of which took part in the Polish campaign. The rest of the vehicles were in the replacement army or as supplies in the army department. In view of this small number, the tank played almost no role in this campaign. The pre-series vehicles were taken out of service due to their weak combat strength after this campaign, except for a few version D used in Norway.

PanzerKW III version: E here in Lybien 1941
The series production started with the 96 tanks of the "Version E" manufactured in 1939/40, in which there were significant changes. A stronger Maybach engine was installed, which delivered 320 hp with a displacement of just under 12 liters. Variorex pre-selection gearbox, which relieved the driver, but was less suitable for series production and maintenance in the field due to its complexity. Version E had the final drive of the series.

Panzerkampfwagen IV

The Panzerkampfwagen IV (short Panzer IV or PzKpfw IV) was a medium German tank of the Second World War. Initially only produced in very small numbers, the Panzer IV, which was produced from 1937 until the end of the war, became the most-built German armored car with 8500 units. The tank, which was initially equipped with a short cannon, was originally intended as a support vehicle, but its range of uses changed fundamentally with the installation of a long cannon. Although it was not as well known as a panther or tiger due to its reception in military literature, it was the most important German tank in the second half of the war. In addition, the chassis served as the basis for numerous weapon carriers. Because of the Versailles Treaty, which was still valid as an imperial law, the vehicle was given the code name "Middle Tractor" for reasons of secrecy. This code name was changed shortly afterwards to "Battalion Leader Carriage" (BW), until 1935 when the Wehrmacht was founded, all camouflage names disappeared. The Rheinmetall-Borsig, MAN and Krupp companies took part in the development work that began at the end of 1934. The concept of a support tank with only one turret was new, because at that time the armies of the larger states were of the opinion that multi-turret tanks would be better suited for such tasks. The Rheinmetall prototype weighed 18 tons and reached a top speed of 30 km / h with a 320 hp engine. The drive consisted of a total of eight castors double suspended on long lever arms and was similar to that of the new vehicle manufactured by the same company. In contrast, the prototype from MAN had a box drive, which was influenced by Erich Kniepkamp, ??who later was the department head in the Army Weapons Office and was the main person responsible for the introduction of the box drive in German armored vehicles. At the request of the Army Weapons Office, the Krupp proposal also provided for such a drive with torsion bar suspension. Although this drive was less sensitive to fire and had better running properties, the Krupp engineers insisted on their leaf suspension and refrained from the torsion bar suspension despite resistance from the Army Weapons Office. After all prototypes had undergone extensive tests in 1935/36, Krupp was designated as the final production company. The Panzer IV was the last German armored car to be developed in peacetime. After the Panzer IV had been largely equipped with the Panzer IV in the existing tank regiments in 1938, production remained at a low level even after the war began. As a result of the poor performance of the industry and the fact that it was stored in depots by the OKH, only a few vehicles came to the fighting force.

Only after the power reserves of Panzer III, which until then had been considered more important, were completely exhausted, did the large-scale production of Panzer IV begin in 1942. VOMAG in the Saxon town of Plauen and the largest tank assembly plant in the German Reich, the Nibelungen plant in Sankt Valentin in Lower Austria, were added as further production facilities. The main Krupp plant in Essen, the iron and steel works in Bochum, the Eisenwerke Oberdonau in Linz, the Dortmund-Hörder steelworks association in Dortmund and Böhler & Co. in Kapfenberg acted as important suppliers of armored steel plates, tubs and towers. The Maybach engines mainly came from the Maybach main plant and the subsidiary Nordbau, as well as a license from Orenstein & Koppel in Nordhausen and from MAN; the transmissions came from ZF in Friedrichshafen.

PanzerKW IV France 1940
PKW IV version: D Lybien 1941
PKW IV version: F1 Russia 1941
PKW IV version: H Russia 1943
PKW IV version: F2 Lybien 1942
PKW IV version: G Tunesien 1943

The Panzerkampfwagen IV was considered a robust and reliable combat vehicle. Its initially thin armor and short cannon was due to its use as a support tank and corresponded to the state of the art at the time. However, its potential and its expandability were not recognized for a long time, which was reflected, among other things, in the fact that in the plans of the Army Weapons Office in July 1941 it was only intended for 2160 units with its intended 36 armored divisions and 15,440 tanks, while that was actually only used as a training vehicle designed Panzer II more than twice as many should be procured. Only with the reinforced armor and above all with the installation of the long cannon did the Panzer IV change from a support tank to a main battle tank, which at that time was almost superior to almost all enemy standard models or at least equal and until the end of the war due to its numerical availability and its spread was the backbone of the German armored weapon. As a result, the Panzerkampfwagen IV was considered the most important German tank. Due to its long development and trial period, the Panzer IV was a mature and proven vehicle that, unlike the Panther or Tiger, did not have to struggle with technical problems. The disadvantages were its conventional design, its many view flaps, which were detrimental to armor protection, its chains that were too narrow for rough terrain, and its power-to-weight ratio, which kept getting smaller while reinforcing the armor. Nevertheless, even in 1943 the Panzer IV was clearly superior to the T-34/76 due to its better aiming optics, its "range overhang" of the long cannon, its better division of work by the commander and gunner, as well as its mostly better trained crew and its radio control However, the front was increasingly affected by the increasing quantitative inferiority of the German armored troops.At the end of the war, due to conceptual limitations after ten years of service, the Panzer IV, especially the modern Soviet tanks, was barely able to cope with the situation Models T-34/85 and IS-2 found that Panzer IV was far inferior to these tanks in terms of firepower, and because of the absolute quantitative inferiority, it was irrelevant that the Allies perceived it as a serious enemy until the end of the war and that most western tanks is on par or - like the standard version of the Sherman - superior.

Panzerkampfwagen V „Panther"

The panther was developed after the shock of the appearance of the Soviet T-34, against which the standard models of the Panzer III and IV used in 1941 with their small-caliber or short-barrel main weapons only had a chance to be fired at dangerously short distances. At that time, German tanks were often only able to assert themselves because of their greater tactical mobility, due to the fact that every vehicle was equipped with radio equipment. After investigation of captured T-34, it was decided to build an at least equivalent tank. Development contracts went to both Daimler-Benz and MAN. After the tender, two prototypes were developed, the Daimler Benz VK.30.01 (DB) and the MAN VK.30.02 (MAN). The Daimler-Benz proposal was strongly reminiscent of the T-34. As a result, the turret was also placed very far forward on the hull, which would have been unproblematic with the initially planned 75 mm KwK 39 as the main armament. But when the new KwK 42 - also in the 75 mm caliber, but now with a tube length of 70 calibers (instead of 48 as with the old weapon) - was selected, this would result in a considerable overhang of the cannon and thus an unacceptable top-heavyness of the vehicle guided. Furthermore, the technical development would have taken a long time, since the design - for the first time for a German armored car - provided for a diesel engine (MB 507), rear-wheel drive and leaf springs. For these reasons and because of the first test results already available, the MAN design was chosen for production. After the decision in favor of the VK 30.02 from MAN as the future Panzerkampfwagen V Panther was made, representatives of those four plants met in Nuremberg on June 4, 1942, where series production was to begin. MAN, Nuremberg, Daimler-Benz, Berlin, Henschel & Sohn, Kassel and M.N.H., Hanover were planned for the final assembly of the individual components. Demag manufactured a small number of versions A in Duisburg. Henschel & Sohn retired as a manufacturer after the D version ended. Although the production plan envisaged the start of series production at the end of 1942, no Panther could be delivered before January 1943. Even after that, production with four vehicles started rather slowly in January, 18 in February and 59 in March. When the Daimler-Benz plant in Berlin-Marienfelde and MAN in Nuremberg-Gibitzenhof were damaged by bombing in August 1943, the monthly emissions dropped briefly. Both plants were attacked again several times from August to September 1944. The M.N.H was not hit during the air raids on Hanover until March 1945. With the occupation of the factories in April 1945, production ended. A total of approximately 6,000 Panthers were produced, including 2953 G, 2192 A and 842 D. With 2030 units, MAN produced the majority, just ahead of Daimler-Benz (1929 units) and MNH (1856 units) , Henschel & Sohn with 130 and Demag with 50 units were only involved in the production for a short time.

From January 1943, the Wehrmacht set up tank divisions that were only equipped with the Panther. The ultimate goal was to incorporate a panther division into each tank regiment of the armored armored divisions and the Waffen SS. The strength of war certificate of January 10, 1943 provided for equipment with 96 panthers. There were three of them on the news train, five on the reconnaissance train and 22 each in the four tank companies. There was also an armored workshop train for the entire department, which was equipped with five heavy 18 t traction vehicles, two Bergepanthers for towing the heavy tanks and a strabokran. As of April 1, 1944, the planned equipment of the tank companies dropped to 17 panthers. Since the reconnaissance procession was completely eliminated, one section had only 71 panthers. On November 1, 1944, proofs of military strength then came into force, which each tank company was only entitled to 14 or 10 panthers, so that the entire department was only half as strong as in 1943. As a training aid, the Panther Primer was published on July 1, 1944 by the General Inspector of Panzer Troops Heinz Guderian. Like the tiger primer, it was provided with numerous comic-like illustrations and was written in the primer style in largely verse rhyming verses.

Panther version A Russland 1943
Panther version G Frankreich 1943

The later improved production series of the Panther (versions A [left picture] and G [right picture]) were superior both technically and in battle value to the T-34, which had been the main factor in the development of the Panther. Even if some errors on the Panther could not be corrected until the end of production, such as a too weak side gear (reduction gear behind the driving wheels in front), which was designed as a simple spur gear instead of a complex planetary gear, the advantages outweighed. The advantages of the panther were its very powerful cannon, a high rate of fire and its strong armor on the front. The Panther was equipped with a superimposed steering gear, which gave it very good maneuverability at low speeds. Suspension and damping are considered the best of all tanks of the Second World War. The Panther is considered the first modern German tank. Weaknesses of the panther were its insufficient motorization of the turret swivel system (for example, the tower could only be turned by hand when the tank was more inclined) and its weak lateral armor, which is why it was used in association with other tank types (Panzer IV) if possible. His complicated box drive also caused failures, especially in the Soviet Union - the tough mud settled between the wheels and could freeze overnight.

Panzerkampfwagen VI „Tiger"

The Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger was a heavy German tank manufactured by the exclusive manufacturer Henschel from 1942 to 1944 and used by the Wehrmacht from late summer 1942. Because of its strong main weapon and high armor protection, the tiger was one of the most powerful tanks of the Second World War. In addition to the conventional design without inclined armor, the serious disadvantage was the elaborate production, its underpowering, the short range and a fault-prone technology in connection with a high repair requirement, which considerably restricted the mobility of the tank. As a result, more tigers were lost through defects and self-destruction than through direct enemy action. Although the strategic importance of the tiger was relatively low with only 1350 units produced, it is considered one of the best and best known heavy tanks of the Second World War.

Although the actual design order for the tiger was only awarded in spring 1941, the development history can be traced back to 1937. At that time, the Kassel-based company Henschel received an order from the Army Weapons Office to develop an infantry support tank in the 30-t class as the successor to the Panzerkampfwagen IV. The prototype called the breakthrough car "DW 1" was supposed to have the 7.5 cm stub cannon used in Panzer IV as the main weapon. After the construction of a chassis, the tests were stopped in 1938 because a new order for the only minimally changed successor "DW 2 "was available, of which Henschel also produced only one chassis. In the meantime, Henschel also dealt with a 65 t successor to the new vehicle in the form of the "VK 6501", which, like the later Tiger, had front armor of 100 mm and side armor of 80 mm and its armament also from the short 7, 5 cm cannon existed. After the Army Weapons Office laid down new basic requirements, Henschel - alongside MAN, Daimler-Benz and Porsche - submitted a revised proposal by DW 2 under the designation "VK 3001 (H)". Of the three chassis built, one was subjected to in-house tests until the end of the war, while the other two served as chassis for the Sturer Emil self-propelled gun. At the same time, the "VK 3601" was developed at Henschel, which was developed on the basis of Hitler's demand for higher armor and stronger armament and is considered the direct forerunner of the Tiger With a side armor of 60 mm, the weight was almost 40 tons, and the main weapon should consist of a 7.5 cm cannon with a conical barrel. The four chassis manufactured later served as towing vehicles.

Jagdtiger Germany 1945
Tiger I version E Russia 1942

Like most German tanks, the tiger was manufactured in high-quality work, so that in combination with its complicated construction, rational mass production was not possible. The proportion of machining was very high in the tub and tower manufacture and placed high demands on the manufacturing technology. In order to create a stable weapon platform, the armor plates were kept as large as possible, so that, among other things, the floor pan and the turret consisted of one piece with the exception of the front. In order to prevent any breaks or cracks from being fired at, the armor plates were only subjected to a subtle surface hardening, so that, for example, the front plates had a hardness of 265 Brinell, which was only half as much as the Panzer IV. Nevertheless, it was very hard armor with no signs of brittleness. After assembly, the tanks without a turret were run in on a test track for around 100 km, using bottled gas as fuel to save petrol. Then the tower was put on, the vehicle fully equipped and officially handed over. The cost of a tiger - without weapons, optics and radio - was 250,800 Reichsmarks; fully equipped, the invoiced price was 300,000 RM.

Tiger II verssion B Poland 1944
Tiger I version E Tunesien 1944

The Tiger II was the high point of tank development in the German Empire during the Second World War, whereby the design was based on the panther. Compared to the Tiger I, both the dimensions and the armor strengths and thus the weight grew. The result was a vehicle that was hardly vulnerable from the front, but was relatively slow due to its large mass of 68 t. In the absence of better alternatives, the same engine as in the Panther and Tiger had to be used. The 8.8 cm KwK 43 L / 71 was the best tank cannon of its time and gave the "King Tiger" tremendous firepower. All enemy tanks could be shot head-on at distances of 1000 to 3000 m; there are a few reports from T -34 at a combat distance of about 4000 meters.

Tiger II version B France 1944
Panzerkampfwagen VI „Tiger II oder Kingstiger"

Between December 1943 and March 1945, a total of 485 or 489 Tiger II armored vehicles were produced by Henschel and Wegmann in Kassel (factory documents speak of 487). A monthly output of 140 units was planned, but these numbers were never even close. Only one month (August 1944) could produce 94 Tiger II. For a while, the Tiger II was built parallel to the Tiger I at Henschel, but from August 1944, production was completely switched to the new model. The first 50 examples of the Tiger II received the tower designed by Porsche; all others the so-called Henschel Tower. Both tower variants of the Tiger II had been developed by Krupp, whereby the Henschel tower was not ready for production in time, so that the already completed Porsche tower, developed for the rejected Tiger II design by Porsche, had to be used. In contrast to the so-called Porsche tower, the Krupp narrow tower, also called the Henschel tower or production tower, was easier and therefore cheaper to manufacture. In addition, there was no longer any danger that bullet rebounds - like the Porsche tower - would penetrate the thin driver's armor. The reinforced and, above all, cheaply tapered armor of the Tiger II could only be penetrated with the best enemy tank cannons from a relatively close distance, but often broke and splintered due to reduced material quality. 80 (Porsche turret) and 78 (Henschel turret) bullets for the main armament could be carried in the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger II. Usually 50% tank grenades and 50% explosive grenades were carried. There were 4800 rounds for the machine guns (32 belt bags with 150 rounds each) in the tank.

Exploded drawing TIGER I

1. Disc brakes
2. Steering wheel
3. Gear shift
4. Radio
5. Ammunition container
6. Fog machine
7. Ammunition belt
8. Rifle scope
17. MG ammunition belt
18. Fuel tank
19. Stopcock
20. Ventilation system
21. The shooter's seat
22. Target mechanism
23. Overturn protection
24. Hydraulic foot pedal
25. Fire extinguisher
26. Shock absorber
27. Driver's seat
28. Steering lever
29. Coupling
30. Foot brake
31. Accelerator pedal
32. Steering gear
9. Exit hatch
10. Turret fuse
11. Fresh air blower
12. Rangefinder
13. Protective armor
14. Turret drive
15. Commandant's seat
16. Turret operation