Panzerkeil

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The Panzerkeil ("Armoured Wedge" or "Tank Wedge") was an offensive armoured tactic developed by German forces on the Eastern Front during World War II. The panzerkeil was developed in response to the Soviet employment of the pakfront defence.

The Panzerkeil - Offensive Tactics Diagram

The panzerkeil was an offensive formation used by armoured vehicles, most commonly tanks. The tanks would form into a wedge-shaped formation, with the most heavily armed and armoured vehicles forming the tip. At the battle of Kursk, Tiger Is (Panzer VIE) would form the tip, Panthers (Panzer V) the base (where available), with the Panzer IVs and Panzer IIIs forming the wings.

The advantage of the panzerkeil was that the anti-tank gunners of the opposing pakfront would be forced to constantly adjust their ranges due to the depth of the formation. Also, the heavily armoured Tigers and Panthers would bear the brunt of the anti-tank fire, leaving the more vulnerable tanks safe from enemy fire.

The panzerkeil achieved mixed results. During Operation Citadel, the panzerkeil enabled the spearheads of Generaloberst Hermann Hoth's 4th Panzer Army to break through the elaborate Soviet defences. Meanwhile, in Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model's 9th Army sector, tank units using the panzerkeil tactic failed to achieve a breakthrough, and suffered heavy losses due to anti-tank fire.[citation needed]

Sources[edit]

  • Wolfgang Schneider: Panzertaktik - Deutsche Einsatzgrundsätze 1935 bis heute. Armour Research 2008, ISBN 3-935107-12-9
  • Rudolf Steiger: Panzertaktik im Spiegel deutscher Kriegstagebücher 1939-1941. Verlag Rombach (1973), ISBN 3-7930-0171-7
  • Oskar Munzel: Panzer-Taktik. Vowinckel Verlag (1959)