Other Panzer Types

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Flammwagen PzKpfw B-2 (f), PzKpfw B1 Bis(f) Flamm

French-designed Char B1 bis tanks (Flammwagen auf Panzerkampfwagen B2 (F) in German service) of Panzerabteilung (F) 102 captured by the Germans in the Battle of France move up to the front during Operation Barbarossa.

These tanks have been modified with the same flammenwerfer-Spritzkopf (flamethrower spray head) system designed for the Panzer II in the place of the hull-mounted 75mm (3-inch) main gun. The Germans took as much captured equipment as they could from occupied countries. Reichskanzler (Reichchancellor) Adolf Hitler, shown the plans for the Panzer II flammenwerfer, wanted a heavier armored vehicle for flame operations. The French Char B1 bis was already being used as a police tank around the German-held territories, and the Germans had taken over the maintenance facilities to paint the tanks in German colors and markings and repair them.

On May 26, 1941, Hitler approved the formation of Panzerabteilung (F) 102 consisting of two Schwere Flammkompanie (Heavy Flame Companies) of 12 flammenwerfer tanks and three unmodified Char B1 bis with the 75mm gun still in place. This unit was to work closely with the German Pioneeren (combat engineers) reducing Soviet fortifications. Serving under Armee-Oberkommando 17, Panzerabteilung (F) 102 was attached to the 296th Infantry Division for the assault on Wielki Dzial Mountain, Poland (now Ukraine), one of many border fortresses established by the Soviets. On June 29, the flammpanzers, supported by 88mm (3.5 inch) flak guns firing depressed against surface targets, attacked the Soviet positions on June 29, losing three flammpanzers. On July 27, Panzerabteilung (F) 102 was disbanded, but sixty Panzerkampfwagen B2 (F) were modified with a new pressurized flamethrower system and served with Panzerabteilung 223 (Eastern Front); Panzerbrigade 100 (Western Front); and SS “Prinz Eugen” (Yugoslavia). Panzerkampfwagen B2 (F) flammpanzers were encountered by Allied paratroopers at Osterbeek during Operation Market-Garden.

Kugelpanzer

The Kugelpanzer (literally translates as “spherical tank”) was a prototype reconnaissance tank built by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was one of the most unusual armoured fighting vehicles ever built.

The only example of this Rollzeug (rolling vehicle) is in Russia as part of the Kubinka Tank Museum’s collection of German armored vehicles. The Kugelpanzer is simply listed as Item #37 and is painted gloss gray. From fragmentary information, the drive has been removed from the vehicle and no metal samples are allowed to be taken from it.

KV-1 Beutepanzer (Panzerkampfwagen KV-1)

The Kliment Voroshilov (KV) tanks were a series of Soviet heavy tanks named after the Soviet defense commissar and politician Kliment Voroshilov and used by the Red Army during World War II. The KV series were known for their heavy armour protection during the early part of the war, especially during the first year of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. In certain situations, even a single KV-1 or KV-2 supported by infantry was capable of halting the enemy’s onslaught. German tanks at that time were rarely used in KV encounters as their armament was too poor to deal with the “Russischer Koloss” – “Russian Colossus”.

The KV tanks were practically immune to the 3.7 cm KwK 36 and howitzer-like, short barreled 7.5 cm KwK 37 guns mounted, respectively, on the early Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks fielded by the invading German forces. Until more effective guns were developed by the Germans, the KV-1 was invulnerable to almost any German weapon except the 8.8 cm Flak gun. Even then, in a speech to the Panzerkommission on 18 November 1941, Guderian stated that “the sloped armor causes hits from the 8.8 cm Flak gun to ricochet” referring to the KV-1.

Prior to Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of the USSR), about 500 of the over 22,000 tanks then in Soviet service were of the KV-1 type. When the KV-1 appeared, it outclassed the French Char B1, the only other heavy tank in operational service in the world at that time. Yet, in the end, it turned out that there was little sense in producing the expensive KV tanks, as the T-34 medium tank performed better (or at least equally well) in all practical respects. In fact the only advantage it had over the T-34-76 was its larger and roomier three-man turret. Later in the war, the KV series became a base for the development of the IS (Iosif Stalin) series of tanks.

Leichttraktor

The Leichttraktor (VK-31) was a German experimental tank.

After the First World War, Germany was restricted in military development by the Treaty of Versailles but a secret program under the name cover “Traktor” was developing armoured military vehicles and artillery.

The Germans tested the tank in the Soviet Union under the Treaty of Rapallo signed in 1922 under high secrecy and security. The testing facility used from 1926 to 1933 was called Panzertruppenschule Kama, located near Kazan in the Soviet Union.

The location was a joint testing ground and tank training ground for the Red Army and Reichswehr. It was codenamed Kama from the two words Kazan and Malbrandt because the testing grounds were near Kazan and Oberstleutenant Malbrandt was assigned to select the location for testing.

In the early years of World War II, it was used as a training tank.

Light Tank VK 1602 “Leopard”

The Light Tank VK 1602 “Leopard” was a planned German reconnaissance vehicle designed from March through October 1942, with the serial production scheduled for April 1943, but the project was abandoned before the first prototype was built. It was originally planned to arm the vehicle with the 75 mm Kwk 41, although that was changed to a smaller 50 mm cannon which was used on late Pz IIIs. The VK 1602 had largely sloped frontal armour, influenced by the Panther medium tank. In order to increase cross-country performance, the VK 1602 was fitted with 350 mm wide tracks. Production was scheduled to begin in April 1943, but the project was cancelled in January of that same year. The reason for this was that the 50 mm L/60 was insufficient for combat against modern Soviet and Western tanks, though it was useful against the British and American light tanks and Soviet amphibious light tanks. Also, the Leopard had a very high weight and the Sdfkz 234 Puma armoured car (also armed with a 50 mm cannon) could be used as a scout, though it was more vulnerable and could not traverse rough ground as easily. The Leopard chassis was also planned for use as the base for either a 20 mm Flakvierling mount (quadruple 20 mm anti-aircraft guns) or a single 37 mm gun in an anti-aircraft turret.

Panzer VII Löwe

The Panzerkampfwagen VII Löwe (Lion) was a design for a super-heavy tank created by Krupp government during World War II. The project, initially code-named VK 7001 (K), never left the drawing board, and was dropped in March 5/6th 1942 in favor of the heavier Panzer VIII Maus.

The Löwe was designed in two variants (both had crew of five):

Leichter Löwe – weight of 76 tons, 100 mm frontal armor, rear-mounted turret, 105 mm L/70 high velocity gun and a coaxial machine gun, top speed 27 km/h. Later cancelled by Adolf Hitler.

Schwerer Löwe – weight of 90 tons, 120 mm frontal armor, center-mounted turret, 105 mm L/70 high velocity gun and a coaxial machine gun, top speed 23 km/h. After redesign 140 mm frontal armor, 88 mm KwK L/71 gun, top speed 35 km/h.

Neubaufahrzeug Panzer

The German Neubaufahrzeug series of tank prototypes were a first attempt to create a heavy tank for the Wehrmacht after Adolf Hitler had come to power. Multi-turreted, heavy and slow, they did not fit in with the Blitzkrieg tactics and therefore only five were made. These were primarily used for propaganda purposes, though three took part in the Battle of Norway in 1940.

T-34 Beutepanzer (Panzerkampfwagen T-34(r)/Soviet T-34

T-34/76 was further development based on T-32 medium tank, which was based on A-20 and A-30 prototypes.Pre-production models were produced in early 1940 and full scale production commenced in mid-1940.T-34 Medium Tank (Tridsatchedverka), when introduced into production in June of 1940, was the most advanced tank design in the world. It was superior to any other tank in the world, including feared German tanks. Its revolutionary design featured sloped armor, speed, hitting power and low silhouette along with reliability and low production cost. T-34 although available in small numbers in the early stage of fighting on the Eastern Front gave German Army a nasty shock when first encountered and remained that way until introduction of more powerful anti-tank armament. T-34 was described by the Germans in the following statements: “Very worrying”, Colonel-General Heinz Guderian, Commander of Second Panzer Army, “We had nothing comparable”, Major-General F.W. Mellenthin, Chief of Staff of XLVIII Panzer Corps and “The finest tank in the world”, Field-Marshal Ewald von Kleist, First Panzer Army.

T-34 was produced in six main variants, all operated by four men crew and armed with 76.2mm gun and 2 or 3 machine guns designated as T-34/76. T-34/76 was produced in following variants: A (model 1940), B (model 1941), C (model 1942), D (model 1943), E (model 1943) and F (model 1943). From 1940 to 1944, some 35119 T-34/76 tanks were produced. In order to respond to T-34/76 in 1942, Germans developed their own Panzerkampfwagen V Panther, which incorporated many features of the Soviet T-34/76 and eventually proved to be a superb tank.

German Military History with a focus on World War 2 History including other areas of German History