Panzer Army Africa

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"Panzer Armee Afrika" redirects here. For the wargame, see Panzer Armee Afrika (board game).

As the number of German armed forces committed to the North Africa Campaign of World War II grew from the initial commitment of a small corps the Germans developed a more elaborate command structure and placed the now larger Afrika Korps, with Italian units under this new German command structure, a succession of different German commands were created to manage the Axis assets in Africa:

  • Panzer Group Africa, (Panzergruppe Afrika, Gruppo Corazzato Africa) August 1941-January 1942; German-Italian force
  • Panzer Army Africa, (Panzerarmee Afrika, Armata Corazzata Africa) January–October 1942
  • German-Italian Panzer Army, (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee, Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca) October 1942-February 1943
  • Army Group Africa, (Heeresgruppe Afrika, Gruppo d'Armate Africa) February–May 1943

Panzer Group Africa[edit]

When the Afrika Korps was formed on 11 January 1941 it was officially subordinated to the Italian chain of command in Africa. In the middle of 1941 the German Armed Forces High Command (German acronym OKW) created a larger command structure in Africa, forming a new headquarters called Panzer Group Africa (Panzergruppe Afrika, Gruppo Corazzato Africa). On 15 August 1941, Panzer Group Africa was activated with newly promoted Lieutenant-General (General der Panzertruppe) Erwin Rommel in command. The Panzer Group controlled the Afrika Korps plus some additional units that were sent to Africa (notably the 90th Light Infantry Division), as well as two Italian corps, X and XX.

Panzer Army Africa[edit]

Panzer Group Africa was redesignated as Panzer Army Africa (Panzerarmee Afrika, Armata Corazzata Africa) on 30 January 1942.[1]

German-Italian Panzer Army[edit]

Panzer Army Africa was redesignated as German-Italian Panzer Army (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee, Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca) in October 1942 during the long retreat after the defeat at the Second Battle of El Alamein during the Western Desert Campaign.

Army Group Africa[edit]

In February 1943, the headquarters was upgraded to Army Group Africa (Heeresgruppe Afrika, Gruppo d'Armate Africa) to manage the defense of Tunisia during the final stages of the North African Campaign. Army Group Africa included the German Fifth Panzer Army (5. Panzerarmee) and the Italian 1st Army.

Command of the Army Group was turned over from Rommel to Hans-Jürgen von Arnim in March. He surrendered the Army Group on 13 May 1943, ending the Axis presence in Africa.

Order of battle[edit]

Throughout its existence, this headquarters controlled the well-known Afrika Korps, and for most of its life it controlled a number of other German and Italian units as well.[2] The following overview of its assets is taken from lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de, with dates corrected (see references).

Order of battle of Panzer Group Africa[edit]

Panzer Group Africa (Rommel)

Order of battle of Panzer Army Africa[edit]

Panzer Army Africa (Rommel)

Order of battle of the German-Italian Panzer Army[edit]

German-Italian Panzer Army (Rommel)

Order of battle of Army Group Africa[edit]

From February 1943:

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ A German Panzer group was an army-level headquarters. As the war progressed all of the Panzer groups were redesignated as Panzer armies.
  2. ^ Notice that at no time were all the German units in Africa subordinate to the Afrika Korps; some were reserves for the Panzer Army, and some were occasionally subordinated to Italian armies or corps.
  3. ^ A very detailed order of battle for this period is given at axishistory.com. However, it may have a few inaccuracies in its details, e.g. other sources show the German 164th Light Afrika Division subordinate to the Italian XX Corps rather than directly to Panzer Army Afrika.