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Panzerkampfwagens III and IV


Panzerkampfwagen IV
The original task of the Panzerkampfwagen IV was to serve as a heavy-fire support vehicle for the Panzerkampfwagen III.
The original task of the Panzerkampfwagen IV was to serve as a heavy-fire support vehicle for the Panzerkampfwagen III.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf F, or F model, was armed with a short-barrel 75mm gun (combat experience in France highlighted the shortcomings of the original 50mm), was driven by a 250-horsepower Maybach engine (later up-rated to 300 horsepower), and had a top speed of 26 miles per hour.

Armor plate on the Pz.Kpfw IV was very thin -- varying from .75 inch to a little more than 1 inch on the turret and hull front. In upgrade programs appliqué armor brought total protection up to 2.3 inches in later models. The interior layout was the same as for the Pz.Kpfw III.

Nearly 280 Pz.Kpfw IVs were distributed throughout the ten Panzer divisions that took part in the invasion of France in May and June of 1940. Adolf Hitler stood wartime production down in July of that year, and as a result, there were only 580 Pz.Kpfw IVs available to the Panzer divisions that invaded Russia in June 1941.

The Pz.Kpfw IV served on every front and was heavily engaged against Soviet tanks. Until the T-34 Medium Tank and the KV-1 entered Soviet service, the Pz.Kpfw IV was the boss of the battlefield.

This Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H has been fitted with side plates surrounding the turret on three sides, as well as on either side of the hull.
This Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H has been fitted with side plates surrounding the turret on three sides, as well as on either side of the hull.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

When it became apparent that the Pz.Kpfw IV was the only Nazi German tank that could be up-gunned to meet the Soviet KV-Is and T-34s as equals, Hitler ordered priority production. A new gun, the KwK 40 75mm L/48, and a larger turret were mounted on the Ausf G model in 1943.

With this gun, the Pz.Kpfw IV proved the equal of the Soviet T-34 and KV-1. It was also very effective against the range of British tanks and the American M-4 Sherman Medium Tank. It operated successfully in Russia, Western Europe, the Balkans, North Africa, and Italy.

A Panzerkampfwagen IV drives through a ruined Belgian town on June 17, 1944.
A Panzerkampfwagen IV drives through a ruined Belgian town on June 17, 1944.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

More than 8,000 Pz.Kpfw IVs were built before Nazi Germany collapsed in May 1945; it was the only Nazi German tank to stay in continuous production during the entire war. The Pz.Kpfw IV last saw action during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War in the hands of Syrian tankers.

See the next page to find specifications for Panzerkampfwagens III and IV.

To learn more about historical tanks, check out: