Tanks in the German Army
This article deals with the history of tanks serving in the German Army from World War I, the interwar period, and the Panzers of the German Wehrmacht during World War II, the Cold War and modern times.
- 1 Overview
- 2 German design and development
- 3 Combat history
- 4 Overview per tank
- 4.1 A7V
- 4.2 Panzerkampfwagen I
- 4.3 Panzerkampfwagen II
- 4.4 Panzerkampfwagen III
- 4.5 Panzerkampfwagen 35(t)
- 4.6 Panzerkampfwagen 38(t)
- 4.7 Panzerkampfwagen IV
- 4.8 Panzerkampfwagen V Panther
- 4.9 Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I
- 4.10 Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger II
- 4.11 Leopard 1
- 4.12 Leopard 2
- 4.13 Leopard 2A1
- 4.14 Leopard 2A2
- 4.15 Leopard 2A3
- 4.16 Leopard 2A4
- 4.17 Leopard 2A5
- 4.18 Leopard 2A6
- 5 List of tanks in the German Army
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 External links
The development of tanks in World War I began as an attempt to break the stalemate which trench warfare had brought to the Western Front. The British and French both began experimenting in 1915, and deployed tanks in battle from 1916 and 1917 respectively. The Germans, on the other hand, were slower to develop tanks, concentrating on anti-tank weapons.
The German response to the modest initial successes of the Allied tanks was the A7V, which, like some other tanks of the period, was based on caterpillar tracks of the type found on the American Holt Tractors. Initially unconvinced that tanks were a serious threat, the High Command ordered just twenty A7Vs, which took part in a handful of actions between March and October, 1918. They suffered from numerous design faults, and Germany actually used more captured British tanks than A7Vs. As it became clear that the tank could play a significant role on the battlefield, Germany began working on designs for both heavy and light tanks, but only a small number of prototypes were completed by the end of the War.
After the Armistice, all tanks in German hands were confiscated. Almost all were eventually scrapped, and the various postwar treaties forbade the former Central Powers from building or possessing tanks.
On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Although he initially headed a coalition government, he quickly eliminated his government partners. He ignored the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles (1919) as had the Allied powers done as well after the first world war had ended, and began rearming, approving the development of many German tank designs he was shown.
The German Army first used light Panzer I tanks, along with the Panzer II, but the mainstays were the medium Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs which were released in 1937. The IV became the backbone of Germany's panzer force and the power behind the blitzkrieg. During the invasion of Russia in 1941, the Germans encountered the famous and technologically advanced Soviet T-34 tanks. This led Germany to develop the Panther or Panzer V in response. Its 75mm gun could penetrate the new Soviet tanks. Germany also developed the heavy Tiger I, released in 1942. The Tiger could defeat any Allied tank and was soon joined by the Tiger II, also known as King Tiger, but too few were produced to turn the tide.
One note of interest was the rates of breakdown of the German tanks, such as the Panther and Tiger tanks whose constant mechanical failures meant that there were rarely the full complement of tanks or even less than half available in each action. In the book The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan, he makes mention of the 7 million foreign workers forcibly brought into Germany to work in the factories, and businesses. Many of them worked in the military industries, and Ryan specifically writes about these foreign workers in the German tank manufacturing, who sabotaged every part they could  and may have contributed to the rate of breakdown of German tanks in the field. The tanks built later in the war, when forced labor had replaced German manpower in their manufacture, the Panther and Tiger tanks and variations, seemed to have been the most affected.
In the Battle of Kursk, when the newly arrived Panther tanks moved into their assembly areas, 45 out of 200 experienced mechanical problems requiring repair. A good example was the Großdeutschland Division, which had a brigade of two battalions of new Panther Ausf. D tanks come under its operational control before the battle. After the launch of Operation Citadel, the new Panthers were plagued by technical problems, suffering from engine fires and mechanical breakdowns, many before reaching the battle, in which the division was heavily engaged. Also it may have affected the Großdeutschland Division's non-role in the ensuing epic tank Battle of Prokhorovka, in which it was held in reserve, its Panther tanks not engaging as most were broken down by the time the battle started.
It also may have been an issue with the Tiger tanks. The Tiger's reliability problems were well known and documented; Tiger units frequently entered combat understrength due to breakdowns. It was rare for any Tiger unit to complete a road march without losing vehicles due to breakdown. The Jagdtiger, built on a lengthened Tiger II chassis, suffered from a variety of mechanical and technical problems and had frequent breakdowns; ultimately more Jagdtigers were lost to mechanical problems or lack of fuel than to enemy action.
German factories and industry was devastated by the end of World War II, but by the 1950s, the nation began to look at designing new tanks. The next tank design started as a collaborative project between Germany and France in the 1950s, but the partnership ended, and the final design was ordered by the Bundeswehr, production of the German Leopard 1 starting in 1965. In total, 6,485 Leopard I tanks were built, of which 4,744 were battle tanks and 1741 were utility and anti-aircraft variants, not including eighty prototypes and pre-series vehicles. The Leopard quickly became a standard of European forces, and eventually served as the main battle tank in Germany. It was superseded by the Leopard 2.
German design and development
German tank development can be traced back to 1911, when Austrian Oberleutenant Gunther Burstyn proposed a design for "motor vehicle gun" ("Motorgeschütz") with a turret. He patented his design in 1912 in Germany but it never progressed beyond paper.
World War I
After British tanks went into action on 15 September 1916, the German Army immediately demanded their own landships. Following the appearance of the first British tanks on the Western Front, the Allgemeines Kriegsdepartement, 7. Abteilung, Verkehrswesen ("General War Department, 7th Branch, Transportation"), was formed in September 1916.
The German High Command appointed a committee composed of experts from leading engineering companies. The project to design and build the first German tank was placed under the direction of Joseph Vollmer, a Reserve Captain and engineer. He was chosen to design the World War I German tanks A7V, and the Großkampfwagen or K-Wagen. The K-Wagen was a German super-heavy tank, two prototypes of which were almost completed by the end of World War I.
The A7V tank which actually got into the war, was known as the Schwerer Kampfwagen A7V, named after the committee that oversaw its development. It was to mass around 30 tons, be capable of crossing ditches up to 1.5 metres wide, have armaments including cannon at front and rear as well as several machine-guns, and reach a top speed of at least 12 km/h. The running gear was based on the Holt tractor, parts for which were copied from examples borrowed from the Austrian army. After initial plans were shared with the Army in December 1917, the design was extended to be a universal chassis which could be used as a base for both a tank and unarmoured Überlandwagen ("Over-land vehicle") cargo carriers. Powered by two Daimler engines, the tank was first demonstrated in the Spring Offensive of 1918. Internally, the Sturmpanzerwagen was cramped, smelly and noisy. No fewer than 18 men were called upon to man the machine to full potential. With the 57 mm main gun at front, internal operators had access to two 7.92 mm machine guns at the rear along with a further four along the sides of the steel beast - two to a side. Each machine gun would need to be addressed by a further two personnel per gun - a firer and an ammunition re-supplier. The engine sat in the lower-middle of the design with the main gear components resting under the rear. A crew of two would man the front 57 mm main gun, one firing whilst the other loading the weapon. Two drivers sat in the upper center budge area operating a steering wheel and lever controls. Stowage was allotted for individual crew weapons in the form of rifles. During final design the rear-facing cannon was removed and the number of machine-guns was increased to six. Grab ropes were provided throughout as the design had plenty of headroom space for the average soldier, though travel made for an uneasy and overall bumpy ride.
In theory, the idea of an armored box bristling with all types of deadly hardware seemed sound. In practice, however, the large design was far from perfect. The vehicle was excessively heavy, making it impractical to be used on uneven terrain. The system was slow as well, often meaning that it could be outpaced by the very infantry it was to assist. The short tracks of the tractor system also made the vehicle relatively unsafe and uncontrollable in some cases. If the A7V has one saving grace, it was that the all-around armor protection for the crew was second to none - even when compared to the British designs - over an inch in some areas. A hundred of these tanks were ordered although only 20 were ever produced, and the first of these were ready in October 1917. The Schwerer Kampfwagen A7V was first used at St Quentin on 21 March 1918. Although some of its features, such as the sprung tracks and the thicker armour, made it better than British tanks at that time, the A7V was less successful as a battle vehicle. The main problems concerned its mechanical reliability and the difficulty it encountered crossing enemy trenches.
By the time of the arrival of the Sturmpanzerwagen, the Germans had already successfully developed their own brand of armor-piercing projectile as well. Near the end of the First World War it was clear that the A7V was a failure, being too slow and clumsy in action and slow to build. Therefore it was decided that a lighter tank was required which could spearhead assaults and which could be mass-produced, and was called the Sturmpanzerwagen Oberschlesien.
Thirteen companies bid for the contract and in the middle of 1918 construction of a design by Captain Müller was assigned to the Oberschlesien Eisenwerk of Gleiwitz, which had partially completed two prototypes by October 1918. It was a radical design for a fast-moving, lightly armored assault tank.
The Oberschlesien included a track which was placed under the tank and only wrapped around half of it. The design sacrificed armor for the sake of speed and only required a 180 hp engine for the 19 ton body, giving it a projected ground speed of 14 km/h (8.7 mph).
The tank featured such advanced features as a main cannon mounted on top of the tank in a central revolving turret, separate fighting and engine compartments, a rear-mounted engine and a low track run. Neither the ordered test models nor the improved "Oberschlesien II" already planned were finished before the end of the war.
In the end, time running out on the new designs and the limitations of the A7V design, and being a part of the losing side of a war and fighting on the defensive, all led to a very average first try in the realm of tank design for the Germans.
The post-World War I Treaty of Versailles of 1919 prohibited the design, manufacture and deployment of tanks within the Reichswehr. When Imperial Germany fell to the Allies, the victors pushed for severe restrictions on the country's war-making capabilities and Germany took the brunt of the blame to the west and was forced into signing the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. Limitations for the land army included a 100,000-strong infantry army, absolutely no tanks of any kind and just a few armored vehicles for spot duty. The German Army became a shell of its former self. Paragraph Twenty-four of the treaty provided for a 100,000-mark fine and imprisonment of up to six months for anybody who "[manufactured] armoured vehicles, tanks or similar machines, which may be turned to military use".
Despite the manpower and technical limitations imposed upon the German Army by the Treaty of Versailles, several Reichswehr officers established a clandestine General Staff to study World War I and develop future strategies and tactics. One such Reichswehr officer, Hans von Seeckt, became Commander-in-Chief. Seeckt took to heart the lessons learned in the Great War and set about in rewriting the foundation of the German Army. Infantry still remained the heart and soul of any planned offensive, but the tank would become the spearhead of actions that could shatter enemy defenses through speed, force and firepower. Tactics involved the splitting up of enemy formations and counteractions involving pincer movements to surround and ultimately decimate the enemy in whole.By 1926, German Army doctrine was all rewritten to fulfill this vision. Although at first the concept of the tank as a mobile weapon of war met with apathy, German industry was silently encouraged to look into tank design, while quiet cooperation was undertaken with the Soviet Union. In late 1920s and early 1930s, Germans closely co-operated with Russians in the development of armored vehicles at Kama, near Kazan in USSR. There was also minor military cooperation with Sweden, including the extraction of technical data that proved invaluable to early German tank design.
As early as 1926 various German companies, including Rheinmetall and Daimler-Benz, produced a single prototype armed with a large 75-millimeter cannon (the Großtraktor, "large tractor", was so codenamed to veil the true purpose of the vehicle). Only two years later prototypes of the new Leichttraktor ("light tractor"), were produced by German companies, armed with 37-millimeter KwK L/45 guns. Development of the Neubaufahrzeug (German for "new construction vehicle") started in 1933 when the then Reichswehr gave a contract for the development of a Großtraktor ("heavy tractor") to both Rheinmetall and Krupp. Großtraktor was a codename for the development of a heavy tank, Germany being still forbidden to develop tanks under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The Rheinmetall and Krupp designs resembled each other to a great extent, the main difference being the weapons placement. Each had a main turret armed with a 75 mm KwK L/24 main gun and secondary 37 mm KwK L/45. Rheinmetall's design mounted the second gun above the 75 mm KwK L/24, while the Krupp design had it mounted next to the 75 mm KwK L/24. Both designs had a secondary turret mounted to the front and the rear of the main turret. These turrets were slightly adapted Panzer I turrets, with the standard machine gun armament.
Rheinmetall's design was designated PzKpfw NbFz V (PanzerKampfwagen NeubauFahrzeug V), and the Krupp design PzKpfw NbFz VI. It was intended that these designs would fulfill the role of heavy tank in the armored forces, but the design proved to be too complex and unreliable for this role. Nevertheless, development continued in order for the nascent German military to gain experience with multi-turreted tanks.
In 1934 Rheinmetall built two mild steel prototypes, both with their own turret design. Three more prototypes were built with proper armor and the Krupp turret in 1935 and 1936.The Großtraktor was later put into service for a brief period with the 1 Panzer Division; the Leichttraktor remained in testing until 1935.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s German tank theory was pioneered by two figures: General Oswald Lutz and his chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Guderian. Guderian became the more influential of the two and his ideas were widely publicized. Like his contemporary Sir Percy Hobart, Guderian initially envisioned an armored corps (panzerkorps) composed of several types of tanks. This included a slow infantry tank, armed with a small-caliber cannon and several machine guns. The infantry tank, according to Guderian, was to be heavily armored to defend against enemy anti-tank guns and artillery. He also envisioned a fast breakthrough tank, similar to the British cruiser tank, which was to be armored against enemy anti-tank weapons and have a large 75-millimeter (2.95 in) main gun. Lastly, Germany would need a heavy tank, armed with a massive 150-millimeter (5.9 in) cannon to defeat enemy fortifications, and even stronger armor. Such a tank would require a weight of 70 to 100 tonnes and was completely impractical given the manufacturing capabilities of the day.
In the early 1930s, the German Army called upon a few German firms to put together some funded prototype light and medium tanks. At this time, the Army did not have a formal plan of action in terms of what it realistically needed. Light tanks could be made available in large quantities for a relatively low price while medium tanks afforded firepower but came at a price. At any rate, the German industrial infrastructure - both the post-war limitations and the economical hit caused by the crash of 1929 - made the call easy for the Germany Army - the pursuit would be for the development of light tanks to start with.
In 1931, Major-General Oswald Lutz was appointed the "Inspector of Motor Transport" in the German Army (Reichswehr) with Heinz Guderian as his Chief of Staff and they began building the German Armored Forces and a program of light training tank to train future personnel of Panzer Divisions. In 1932, specifications for light (5-ton) tank were made and issued to Rheinmetall, Krupp, Henschel, MAN and Daimler Benz.
Soon after rising to power in Germany, Adolf Hitler approved the creation of Germany's first panzer divisions. Simplifying his earlier proposal, Guderian suggested the design of a main combat vehicle which would be developed later into the Panzer III, and a breakthrough tank, the Panzer IV. No existing design appealed to Guderian. As a stopgap, the German Army ordered the preliminary vehicle to train German tank crews. This became the Panzer I.
The Panzer I's was intended not just to train Germany's panzer troops, but to prepare Germany's industry for the mass production of tanks in the near future: a difficult engineering feat for the time. In July 1932, Krupp revealed a prototype of the Landswerk Krupp A, or LKA, with a sloped front glacis plate and large central casemate, a design heavily influenced by the British Carden Loyd tankette. The tank was armed with two obsolescent 7.92-millimeter (.312 in) MG-13 Dreyse machine guns. Machine guns were known to be largely useless against even the lightest tank armor of the time, restricting the Panzer I to a training and anti-infantry role by design.
A mass-produced version of the LKA was designed by a collaborative team from Daimler-Benz, Henschel, Krupp, MAN, and Rheinmetall, exchanging the casemate for a rotating turret. This version was accepted into service after testing in 1934. Although these tanks were referred to as the La S and LKA well beyond the start of production, its official designation, assigned in 1938, was Panzerkampfwagen I Ausführung. A ('model A' or, more accurately, 'batch A'). The first fifteen tanks, produced between February and March 1934, did not include the rotating turret and were used for crew training. Following these, production was switched to the combat version of the tank.
Its debut (combat test) was during Spanish Civil War (1936–38). First 32 PzKpfw I along with single Kleiner Panzer Befehlswagen I arrived in October 1936. Only 106 tanks, (102 Ausf A, Ausf B and 4 Kleiner Panzer Befehlswagen I) saw service with "Condor Legion" (Major Ritter von Thoma’s Panzer Abteilung 88 also known as Abteilung Drohne) and General Franco’s "Nationalists". Pz.Abt.88 with its 3 companies was based at Cubas near Toledo, where German instructors trained future Spanish crews, while the unit was used for training duties and combat (e.g. assault on Madrid). Panzerkampfwagen I tanks proved to be outclassed by Soviet T-26 and BT-5 provided to "The Republicans". However the Panzerkampfwagen I was also a propaganda tool and as a show piece of the Third Reich and its military might in the years leading to beginning of World War II.
Lesson learned from Panzerkampfwagen I provided the German designers and manufacturers with valuable experience in designing and producing next generation of new panzers that were soon to come. Although, Panzerkampfwagen I was not a superb combat tank, it proved to be an excellent training tank and most of the panzer crews were trained on Panzerkampfwagen I until the end of the war or operated it in combat as their first armoured vehicle.
The Germans also built the SdKfz 265 Panzerbefehlswagen was the German Army's first purpose-designed command tank, converted from the Panzer I Ausf B, and was the primary German command tank in service at the beginning of World War II.
In 1934, delays in the design and production of the Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks were becoming apparent. Designs for a stopgap tank were solicited from Krupp, MAN, Henschel, and Daimler-Benz. The final design was based on the Panzer I, but larger, and with a turret mounting a 20 mm anti-tank gun. The Panzer II came about in a German Ordnance Department requirement enacted in 1934, this time proposing a 10-ton light tank development with 20mm cannon and 7.92mm machine gun armament. As was the case in developing the Panzer I, it became common practice for the new Germany, now wholly under Hitler, to skirt the rules of the Versailles Treaty and develop its systems of war under various peaceful disguises such as farm equipment. As such, this new light tank design fell under the designation of "Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper 100" (or "LaS 100") under the guise that it was a farm tractor. The Panzer II was around 50% heavier than the I and added a 20 mm Solothurn cannon as main armament as well as increasing maximum armour to 30 mm. Production began in 1935, but it took another eighteen months for the first combat-ready tank to be delivered. It was also sent to Spain from 1937, and the PzKpfw II proved more capable against light infantry, but no better when faced with capable anti-tank guns or other tanks. Despite these weaknesses production continued until 1941, at the outbreak of war the German Army had 955 PzKpfw IIs and almost 4000 were built in total.
The Panzer II was designed before the experience of the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 showed that shell-proof armor was required for tanks to survive on a modern battlefield as prior to that, armor was designed to stop machine gun fire and shell fragments. Production began in 1935, and by July 1937, the Panzer II was cleared and ready for production and by 1939, some 1,226 Panzer IIs were in circulation.
While the Panzer I proved the spearhead of these initial invasion assaults, the Panzer II formed the backbone of such early forays. The plan was to produce a better-armed and armored version of a light tank to shore up the limitations of the Panzer I as well as provide priceless training to tank crews. Underpowered, under-armored and lightly armed, the Panzer II experienced its hardships particularly against anti-tank weaponry at close ranges. Nevertheless, war was on the horizon so time was of the essence and the more lethal Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs were being developed and soon be mass-produced for the coming battles.
World War II
The multi-turreted heavy tank Neubaufahrzeuge prototypes were used mainly for propaganda before the war and its role was extended with the German invasion of Norway, when a special Panzerabteilung was formed which took the three armored prototypes with them to Oslo. They saw some combat there, with one being blown up by German engineers when it got stuck in swamps near Åndalsnes and the other prototypes were eventually scrapped.
During the war, German tank design went through at least three generations, plus constant minor variations. The first generation included such unbattleworthy prewar vehicles as the Mark, (or Panzerkampfwagen) I and II, which were similar to the Russian T-26 and T series and to the British cruiser tanks.
Panzer II (Sd.Kfz.121) was larger than Panzer I but also did not prove very effective in combat, although it was the main battle tank of the Panzertruppen until 1940/41. The main armament of 20mm cannon was adequate at the time of its introduction into service but soon proved to be an outclassed weapon.
After the Fall of France, due to the poor cross-country performance, some of older Panzerkampfwagen II tanks were taken out of service and improved and modified version replaced them armed with newer 20mm KwK 38 L/55 cannon. But from then on the Panzerkampfwagen II tanks was phased out and the remaining chassis were used as a base for Marder II (Sd.Kfz.131) tank destroyers and Wespe (Sd.Kfz.124) self-propelled howitzers.
The second generation were the more heavily armored Panzer III and Panzer IV medium tanks. Ideally, the tank battalions of a panzer division were each to have three medium companies of Panzer IIIs and one heavy company of Panzer IVs. The Germans began to convert their tank battalions to a majority of Mark III and IV medium tanks soon after the 1940 French campaign, thereby stealing a march on the Soviets and British, who still possessed obsolete equipment. Panzer III was the first of German Panzers to be equipped with intercom system for in-tank communications. Later on all of Panzers were equipped with this device which, proved to be very effective during combat. Panzer III was designed as platoon commander’s vehicle (Zugfuhrerwagen) and was Germany’s first true main/medium battle tank. The Panzer III formed the bulk of the Panzer Divisions’ strength during early years of war. Also, in 1940/41, attempts were made to standardize the production of Panzer III and Panzer IV but soon after further development was halted.
However, the appearance of a few of the new generation T-34 and KV-1 tanks in Russia during 1941 compelled the Germans to begin a race for superior armor and gun power. The third generation included many different variants, but the most important designs were the Mark V (Panther) and Mark VI (Tiger) tanks.
First encountered on 23 June 1941, the T-34 outclassed the existing Panzer III and IV. At the insistence of General Heinz Guderian, a special Panzerkommision was dispatched to the Eastern Front to assess the T-34. Among the features of the Soviet tank considered most significant were the sloping armor, which gave much improved shot deflection and also increased the effective armor thickness against penetration, the wide track, which improved mobility over soft ground, and the 76.2 mm gun, which had good armor penetration and fired an effective high explosive round.
Daimler-Benz and MAN were given the task of designing a new 30- to 35-ton tank, designated VK30.02 which resembled the T-34 hull and turret form. Like the T-34, the DB design had a rear drive sprocket. Unlike the T-34, the DB design had a three-man turret crew: commander, gunner, and loader. But as the planned L/70 75 mm gun was much longer and heavier than the T-34's, mounting it in the Daimler-Benz turret was difficult. The two designs were reviewed over a period from January through March 1942. Reichminister Todt, and later, his replacement Albert Speer, both recommended the DB design to Hitler but a review by a special commission appointed by Hitler in May 1942 ended up selecting the MAN design. Hitler approved this decision after reviewing it overnight. One of the principal reasons given for this decision was that the MAN design used an existing turret designed by Rheinmetall-Borsig, while the DB design would have required a brand-new turret to be designed and produced, substantially delaying the commencement of production. A mild steel prototype was produced by September 1942 and, after testing at Kummersdorf, was officially accepted. It was put into immediate production. The start of production was delayed, however, mainly because there were too few specialized machine tools needed for the machining of the hull. Finished tanks were produced in December and suffered from reliability problems as a result of this haste. The demand for this tank was so high that the manufacturing was soon expanded beyond MAN to include Daimler-Benz, Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) and Henschel & Sohn in Kassel.
The initial production target was 250 tanks per month at MAN. This was increased to 600 per month in January 1943. Despite determined efforts, this figure was never reached due to disruption by Allied bombing, manufacturing bottlenecks, and other difficulties. Production in 1943 averaged 148 per month. In 1944, it averaged 315 a month (3,777 having been built that year), peaking with 380 in July and ending around the end of March 1945, with at least 6,000 built in total. Front-line combat strength peaked on 1 September 1944 at 2,304 tanks, but that same month a record number of 692 tanks were reported lost.
The Tiger differed from earlier German tanks principally in its design philosophy. Its predecessors balanced mobility, armour and firepower, and were sometimes outgunned by their opponents.
The Tiger I represented a new approach that emphasised firepower and armour. While heavy, this tank was not slower than the best of its opponents. However, with over 50 metric tons dead weight, suspensions, gearboxes and other such items had clearly reached their design limits and breakdowns were frequent. Design studies for a new heavy tank had been started in 1937, without any production planning. Renewed impetus for the Tiger was provided by the quality of the Soviet T-34 encountered in 1941. Although the general design and layout were broadly similar to the previous medium tank, the Panzer IV, the Tiger weighed more than twice as much. This was due to its substantially thicker armour, the larger main gun, greater volume of fuel and ammunition storage, larger engine, and more solidly built transmission and suspension. The development of one of the most famous tanks of World War II was not finished till after the war had started and the first massive Tiger I heavy tank emerged in July 1942.
The first production Tigers were ready in August 1942 and from July 1942, 1,355 Tigers were manufactured till as late as August 1944. Tiger’s production reached its highest point in April 1944, when 105 were produced. The main reason for the number produced was Tiger’s difficult production and its cost. Out the entire number produced some 500 saw service with sSSPzAbts. On June 7 of 1943, Japanese ambassador in Germany, General Oshima was shown a Tiger from sPzAbt 502. Single Tiger was then sold to Japan in 1943, but was never delivered due to the war situation and was loaned by Japan to the German Army (sSSPzAbt 101).
Tiger I was armed with powerful 88mm gun (originally developed from 88mm Flak 36 L/56 gun) that made it a very dangerous opponent for any Allied tank, and its thick (but not shot deflecting) armor made it virtually indestructible. Both Sherman with 76mm gun and T-34/85 stood a chance against Tiger only at close range. The rule applied by the British concerning the engagement of Tigers was that five Shermans were needed to destroy a single Tiger, but only one Sherman was to return from the engagement.
Tiger I heavy tank originally received the designation of Panzerkampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 - Sd.Kfz.182, but then in March 1943, was redesignated to Panzerkampfwagen Tiger (8.8 cm L/56) Ausf E - Sd.Kfz.181. It was commonly referred to as Tiger, Tiger I and PzKpfw VI. Officially there was only type of Tiger tank produced, but during the duration of production improvements were carried on.
Planning for the Tiger II started as early as May 1941, a year before the Tiger I entered production. By the fall of 1942/January 1943, designers started work on a new heavy tank that would eventually replace the Tiger I. In January 1943, Hitler ordered the new Tiger to be armed with a long 88mm gun and have 150mm frontal armor and 80mm side armor. Front and side plates were to be sloped and interlocked, resulting in a design similar to the then-new PzKpfw V Panther (Sd.Kfz.171).It shared many components of the Panzer V Panther and Tiger II production began in January 1944 and ended in March 1945 with only 489 production vehicles.
Unfortunately for the Germans, their emphasis on protection and gun power compromised the mobility and reliability of their tanks. In 1943, for example, Germany manufactured only 5,966 tanks, as compared to 29,497 for the US, 7,476 for Britain, and an estimated 20,000 for the Soviet Union.
The alternative to constant changes in tank design was to standardize a few basic designs and mass-produce them even though technology had advanced to new improvements. This was the solution of Germany's principal opponents. The Soviet T-34, for example, was an excellent basic design that survived the war with only one major change in armament, (76.2-mm to 85-mm main gun).
After the war, the Germans were given US equipment and the Panzerlehrbataillon armour forces established in April 1956. The Leopard tank project started in November 1956 in order to develop a modern German tank, the Standard-Panzer, to replace the Bundeswehr's United States-built M47 and M48 Patton tanks, which, though just delivered to West Germany's recently reconstituted army, were rapidly growing outdated.
Production was set up at Krauss-Maffei of Munich from early 1964 onward, with deliveries of the first batch between September, 1965 and July, 1966. The Leopard was soon being purchased from Germany by a number of NATO members and other allies.
After the first batch was delivered the next three batches were the Leopard 1A1 model, which included a new gun stabilization system from Cadillac-Gage, allowing the tank to fire effectively on the move. The 1A1 also added the now-famous "skirts" along the sides to protect the upper tracks, and a new thermal jacket on the gun barrel to control heating. A less important change was to use rectangular rubber blocks fastened to the treads with a single pin instead of the earlier two-pin "shaped" versions. The rubber blocks could be easily replaced with metal X-shaped crampons for movement on ice and snow in the winter.
Between 1974 and 1977 all of the machines in the first four batches were brought to the same Leopard 1A1A1 standard, and given additional turret armor developed by Blohm & Voss. The PZB 200 image intensification system was mounted in a large box on the upper right of the gun, creating the Leopard 1A1A2. A further upgrade with SEM80/90 all-digital radios created the Leopard 1A1A3.
In mid-1976 a prototype called Leopard 2AV (Austere Version) because it had a simplified fire control system, was assembled and shipped to the USA. It arrived in the US by the end of August 1976, and comparative tests between the Leopard 2 and the XM1 (the prototype name for the M1 Abrams) prototypes were held from 1 September at Aberdeen Proving Ground, lasting until December 1976. The US Army reported that the Leopard 2 and the XM1 were comparable in firepower and mobility, but the XM1 was superior in armour protection. (Today we know this was true as regards a hit by a hollow charge; but against KE-attack the Leopard 2 was almost twice as well protected as the original M1.)
In September 1977 1800 Leopard 2 were ordered, and the first batch of five was delivered on 25 October 1979. The Leopard 2 was made in many variations and for export became very popular in the nineties, when the shrinking German army offered many of its redundant Leopard 2s at a reduced price. It became successful enough in Europe that the manufacturer started calling it the Euro Leopard, but with further non-European orders, the name "Global-LEOPARD" is now used instead. However, France, Britain, and Italy all have their own MBTs currently (Leclerc, Challenger 2 and Ariete respectively).
Post Cold War
In 1984 Germany planned to develop a new MBT called Panzerkampfwagen 2000 (PzKW 2000). In 1988 the requirements for this tank were published, it was designed not as a conventional tank, it should incorporate advanced digital technologies and a new 140 mm gun. For reaching a higher level of armour protection by having the same weight limit as the Leopard 2, the crew of the PzKW 2000 was reduced to only two men, who were located within the hull.
The next German main battle tank project was part of the Neue Gepanzerte Plattform (new armoured plattform) programme, which was intended to develop a three versions of common plattform: the first for a tank, the second for an infantry fighting vehicle and the last was designed to be used for support vehicles like SPAAGS. The tank would be armed with a 140 mm gun, be manned by only two men and using modular composite armour. Therefore the weight of this vehicle would be between 55 tonnes and 77 tonnes. The project was canceled in 2001. No real prototypes were created, only one Experimentalträger Gesamtschutz (EGS), an armour test-bed, was built. The SPz Puma is based on some parts of the Neue Gepanzerte Plattform infantry fighting vehicle variant.
World War I
The A7V was first used in combat on 21 March 1918. Five tanks under the command of Hauptmann Greiff were deployed north of the St. Quentin Canal. Three of the A7Vs suffered mechanical failures before they entered combat but the remaining pair helped stop a minor British breakthrough in the area, but otherwise saw little combat that day.
The first tank against tank combat in history took place on the 24 April 1918 when three A7Vs (including chassis number 561, known as "Nixe") taking part in an attack with infantry incidentally met three Mark IVs (two Female machine gun-armed tanks and one Male with two 6-pounder guns) near Villers-Bretonneux. During the battle, tanks on both sides were damaged. According to the lead tank commander, 2nd Lt Frank Mitchell, the Female Mk IVs fell back after being damaged by armour piercing bullets. They were unable to damage the A7Vs with their own machine guns. Mitchell then attacked the lead German tank, commanded by 2nd Lt Wilhelm Biltz, with the 6 pounders of his own tank and knocked it out. He hit it three times, and killed five of the crew when they bailed out. His Mark IV fired at the enemy tanks and moved, a tactic which became the classic one during the next 50 years. He then went on to rout some infantry with case shot. The two remaining A7Vs in turn withdrew. As Lt. Mitchell's tank withdrew from action, seven Whippet tanks also engaged the infantry. Four of these were knocked out in the battle, one of the A7Vs destroyed one Whippet and damaged three ones (three more Whippets were destroyed by German artillery). Lt. Mitchell's tank lost a track towards the end of the battle from a mortar shell and was abandoned. The damaged A7V was later recovered by German forces.
All 18 available A7Vs had been put into action that day with limited results; two toppled over into holes, some encountered engine or armament troubles. After a counterattack, three ended up in Allied hands. One was unusable and scrapped, one used for shell testing by the French, and the third captured by the Australians when the Infantry moved forward and dragged it back to their lines, the Germans still being in a position in sight of the tank and firing at them.
The tank name,"Mephisto" of this captured A7V is painted on the end facing of the box-shaped tank chassis serial number 506, as almost all German tanks in WW1 were given individual names.
The A7V was not considered a success and other designs were planned by Germany, however the end of the war meant none of the other tanks in development, or planned ones, would be finished (such as the Oberschlesien, K-Wagen, LK I or LK II).
The final use in World War I of A7Vs was in October 1918; a number were scrapped before the war ended in November.
The extremely limited production of twenty A7Vs made a very limited contribution, and most of the tanks (less than a hundred in total) that were fielded in action by Germany in World War I were captured British Mark IV tanks (Beutepanzer).
The A7V was something of a bane for German tank crews to the point that the Germans actually preferred to fight in captured British specimens instead of their own designs. The British tanks were repaired and overhauled in workshops established at Charleroi and rearmed with 57mm Maxim Nordenfeld guns in place of their 6-pounders. Some French tanks (including Renault FT light tanks) were also captured during the German offensive in November 1918, but no changes are known to have been done.
Post World War I
After the war, many nations needed to have tanks, but only a few had the industrial resources to design and build them. During and after World War I, Britain and France were the intellectual leaders in tank design, with other countries generally following and adopting their designs. Germany was one of the countries which began to design and build their own tanks. The Treaty of Versailles had severely limited Germany's industrial output.
Among the German proponents of mechanization, Gen. Heinz Guderian was probably the most influential. Guderian's 1914 service with radiotelegraphs in support of cavalry units led him to insist on a radio in every armored vehicle. By 1929, when many British students of armor were tending towards a pure armor formation, Guderian had become convinced that it was useless to develop just tanks, or even to mechanize parts of the traditional arms. What was needed was an entirely new mechanized formation of all arms that would maximize the effects of the tank.
The German tanks were not up to the standards of Guderian's concept. The Mark I was really a machine gun-armed tankette, derived from the British Carden-Loyd personnel carrier. The Mark II did have a 20-mm cannon, but little armor protection. Germany, constrained by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, was not allowed to produce tanks of any kind and only a few armoured cars. In 1926 an unofficial program of tank construction was initiaited by Von Seeckt, the commander of the Reichswehr. Built by Rheinmetall-Borsig the first grosstraktor was similar to the existing British Mk II medium tank, 20 tons with a 75 mm gun. This and other designs were tested with Soviet cooperation at a tank school in western Russia. In Germany proper dummy tanks were used in training, apparently at the instigation of then Major, Heinz Guderian, a staff tactical instructor. Guderian had read Fuller, Liddell-Hart and other tank warfare theorists and he had the support of his commanders to develop his theories into reality. In 1931 the German General Staff accepted a plan for two types of tank, a medium tank with a 75 mm gun and a lighter vehicle with a 37 mm gun. While design and then construction work was carried out the German army used a variety of light tanks based on the British Carden-Lloyd chassis. The early tanks were code-named Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper (La S), a designation that lasted until 1938. The first of these light tanks ran in early 1934, a five ton Krupp design it was dubbed the LKA1. The new government approved an initial order for 150 in 1934 as the 1A La S Krupp, around 1500 of these light tanks were built.
Later German tanks received a new designation, Panzerkampfwagen (PzKpfw or PzKw). The first machine to use this was the two-man PzKpfw I Ausf A, a 5.4 ton machine with a 3.5 litre 60 hp (45 kW) petrol engine it had 13 mm of armour and was armed with twin 7.92 mm machine guns. The Panzer I light tank design began in 1932 and mass production in 1934. The more common Ausf B was a trifle larger to accommodate a 100 hp (75 kW) Maybach engine. Both models were sent to the Spanish Civil War for testing, along with other new German weapons. From Spain it quickly became clear that the next generation of tanks would need better armour, greater range and much heavier weapons. Experiences with the Panzer I during the Spanish Civil War helped shape the German armored corps' invasion of Poland in 1939 and France in 1940. The Panzer I's performance in combat was limited by its thin armor and light armament of two general purpose machine guns. As a design intended for training, the Panzer I was not as capable as other light tanks of the era, such as the T-26.
The PzKpfw II was around 50% heavier than the I and added a 20 mm Solothurn cannon as main armament as well as increasing maximum armour to 30 mm. In 1934, delays in the design and production of the Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks were becoming apparent. Designs for a stopgap tank were solicited from Krupp, MAN, Henschel, and Daimler-Benz. The final design was based on the Panzer I, but larger, and with the turret mounting the 20 mm anti-tank gun making it a more formidable tank than the Panzer I. Production began in 1935, but it took another eighteen months for the first combat-ready tank to be delivered. It was also sent to Spain from 1937, and the PzKpfw II proved more capable against light infantry, but no better when faced with capable anti-tank guns or other tanks. Despite these weaknesses production continued until 1941, at the outbreak of war the German Army had 955 PzKpfw IIs and almost 4000 were built in total.
A major boost to German armour came with the acquisition of Czechoslovakia in 1938, giving the entire Czech arms industry to Germany. The Czechs already had two main tank designs, the Skoda LT35 and the Cesko-moravska Kolben Danek (CKD) TNHP. The Skoda was a 10 ton machine with a 37 mm main gun and excellent cross-country capabilities; the CKD was 8.5 tons and also fitted with a 37 mm gun - due to extensive tests it was an extremely reliable machine with a top quality chassis. Both were taken into the German panzer forces, as the PzKpfw 35(t) and the PzKpfw 38(t), and further production was ordered. CKD was renamed Böhmisch-Mährische Maschinenfabrik AG (BMM) in 1940 and continued production until 1942, providing the Wehrmacht with 1,168 PzKpfw 38(t)'s. In 1940 Czech tanks made up around a quarter of the entire German panzer force.
Lighter tanks formed almost the entirety of the German forces, but the heavier tanks were at least in prototype. In 1934 a number of heavy prototypes were constructed, based around either 75 or 105 mm main guns. Designated Neubaufahrzeug (NbFz) and very similar to contemporary Russian and British designs six were built by Rheinmetall and Krupp. Useful for propaganda purposes these tanks did not enter production, their later designations of PzKpfw V and VI were transferred to the production Panther and Tiger types. With the knowledge of the NbFz and the experiences of the lighter tanks in Spain, German designers began to create their own designs.
The PzKpfw III as the first German tank capable of firing armour-piercing rounds, although the 37 mm gun was considered underpowered but was used in the interests of standardisation with the infantry. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen III (abbreviated PzKpfw III) translating as "armoured battle vehicle", and it was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and serve alongside the infantry-supporting Panzer IV. Limited by existing bridges to a maximum weight of 24 tons, development contracts for the Zugkraftwagen were issued late in 1936. Development work continued until 1938 when the Ausf D went into limited production, a 19 ton machine it was powered by a 12 litre 320 hp (240 kW) engine, with a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) and fitted with 30 mm armour all round. By the outbreak of war around fifty had been completed and some saw service in Poland. Full-scale production did not begin until October 1939 as the Ausf E, around 350 PzKpfw IIIs in D and E variants were ready by the invasion of France.
Spanish Civil War
On 18 July 1936, war broke out on the Iberian peninsula as Spain dissolved into a state of civil war. After the chaos of the initial uprising, two sides coalesced and began to consolidate their position—the Popular front (the Republicans) and the Spanish Nationalist front. In an early example of a proxy war, both sides quickly received support from other countries, most notably the Soviet Union and Germany, who wanted to test their tactics and equipment. The first shipment of foreign tanks, fifty Soviet T-26's, arrived on 15 October. The shipment was under the surveillance of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine and Germany immediately responded by sending forty-one Panzer I's to Spain a few days later. This first shipment was followed by four more shipments of Panzer I Ausf. B's, with a total of 122 vehicles.
The first shipment of Panzer I's was brought under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma in Gruppe Thoma (also referred to as Panzergruppe Drohne). Gruppe Thoma formed part of Gruppe Imker, the ground formations of the German Condor Legion, who fought on the side of Franco's Nationalists. Between July and October, a rapid Nationalist advance from Seville to Toledo placed them in position to take the Spanish capital, Madrid. The Nationalist advance and the fall of the town of Illescas to Nationalist armies on 18 October 1936 caused the government of the Popular Front's Second Republic, including President Manuel Azaña, to flee to Barcelona and Valencia. In an attempt to stem the Nationalist tide and gain crucial time for Madrid's defence, Soviet armor was deployed south of the city under the command of Colonel Krivoshein before the end of October. At this time, several T-26 tanks under the command of Captain Paul Arman were thrown into a Republican counterattack directed towards the town of Torrejon de Velasco in an attempt to cut off the Nationalist advance north. This was the first tank battle in the Spanish Civil War. Despite initial success, poor communication between the Soviet Republican armor and Spanish Republican infantry caused the isolation of Captain Arman's force and the subsequent destruction of a number of tanks. This battle also marked the first use of the molotov cocktail against tanks. Ritter von Thoma's Panzer Is fought for the Nationalists only days later on 30 October, and immediately experienced problems. As the Nationalist armor advanced, it was engaged by the Commune de Paris battalion, equipped with Soviet BA-10 armored cars. The 45-millimeter (1.7 in) gun in the BA-10 was more than sufficient to knock out the poorly armored Panzer I at ranges of over 500 meters (550 yd).
|Weight||9.4 t||5.4 t||3.15 t||2.3 t|
|Gun||45 mm cannon||2× 7.92 mm
|6.5 mm or 8 mm
|8 mm Breda
|Ammunition||122 rounds||2,250 rounds||3,200 8 mm or
3,800 6.5 mm
|Road range||175 km||200 km||125 km||125 km|
|Armor||7–16 mm||7–13 mm||5–15 mm||5–13.5 mm|
Although the Panzer I would participate in almost every major Nationalist offensive of the war, the Nationalist army began to deploy more and more captured T-26 tanks to offset their disadvantage in protection and firepower. At one point, von Thoma offered up to 500 pesetas for each T-26 captured. Although the Panzer I was initially able to knock out the T-26 at close range—150 meters (165 yd) or less—using an armor-piercing 7.92 millimeter bullet, the Republican tanks began to engage at ranges where they were immune to the machine guns of the Panzer I.
The Panzer I was upgraded in order to increase its lethality. On 8 August 1937, Major General García Pallasar received a note from Generalísimo Francisco Franco which expressed the need for a Panzer I (or negrillo, as their Spanish crews called them) with a 20-millimeter gun. Ultimately, the piece chosen was the Breda Model 1935, due to the simplicity of the design over competitors such as the German Flak 30. Furthermore, the 20 mm Breda was capable of perforating 40 millimeters of armor at 250 meters (1.57 in at 275 yd), which was more than sufficient to penetrate the frontal armor of the T-26. Although originally forty Italian CV.35 light tanks were ordered with the Breda in place of their original armament, this order was subsequently canceled after it was thought adaptation of the same gun to the Panzer I would yield better results. Prototypes were ready by September 1937 and an order was placed after successful results. The mounting of the Breda in the Panzer I required the original turret to be opened at the top and then extended by a vertical supplement. Four of these tanks were finished at the Armament Factory of Seville, but further production was canceled as it was decided sufficient numbers of Republican T-26 tanks had been captured to fulfill the Nationalist leadership's request for more lethal tanks. The Breda modification was not particularly liked by German crews, as the unprotected gap in the turret, designed to allow the tank's commander to aim, was found to be a dangerous weak point.
In late 1938, another Panzer I was sent to the Armament Factory of Seville in order to mount a 45 mm gun, captured from a Soviet tank (a T-26 or BT-5). A second was sent sometime later in order to exchange the original armament for a 37-millimeter Maklen anti-tank gun, which had been deployed to Asturias in late 1936 on the Soviet ship A. Andreiev. It remains unknown to what extent these trials and adaptations were completed, although it is safe to assume neither adaptation was successful beyond the drawing board.
|Date||Number of Vehicles||Additional Information|
|October 1936||41||Formed part of the Condor Legion|
|End of 1937||10|
Second World War
During the initial campaigns of the Second World War, Germany's light tanks, including the Panzer I, formed the bulk of its armored strength. In March 1938, the German Army marched into Austria, experiencing a mechanical breakdown rate of up to thirty percent. However, the experience revealed to Guderian several faults within the German Panzerkorps and he subsequently improved logistical support. Germany also had some other tanks that were to prove useful in the early part of the war. In October 1938, Germany occupied Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland, and the remainder of the country in March 1939. The capture of Czechoslovakia allowed several Czech tank designs, such as the Panzer 38(t), and their subsequent variants and production, to be incorporated into the German Army's strength. It also prepared German forces for the invasion of Poland.
On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland using seventy-two divisions (including 16 reserve infantry divisions in OKH reserves), including seven panzer divisions (1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 10., "Kempf") and four light divisions (1., 2., 3., 4.). Three days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany. The seven panzer and four light divisions were arrayed in five armies, forming two army groups. The battalion strength of the 1 Panzer Division included no less than fourteen Panzer I's, while the other six divisions included thirty-four. A total of about 2,700 tanks were available for the invasion of Poland, but only 310 of the heavier Panzer III and IV tanks were available. The Germans held some 1,400 of Panzer Is at the ready during the invasion. Furthermore, 350 tanks were of Czech design—the rest were either Panzer I's or Panzer IIs. The invasion was swift and the last Polish pockets of resistance surrendered on 6 October.
The entire campaign had lasted five weeks (with help of the Soviet forces which attacked on 17 September), and the success of Germany's tanks in the campaign was summed up in response to Hitler on 5 September: when asked if it had been the dive bombers who destroyed a Polish artillery regiment, Guderian replied, "No, our panzers!"
The Poles suffered almost 190,000 casualties (including around 66,300 killed) in the campaign, the Germans around 55,000 (including around 35,000 wounded). However, some 832 tanks (including 320 PzI, 259 PzII, 40 Pz III, 76 PzIV, 77 Pz35(t), 13 PzBef III, 7 PzBef 38(t), 34 other PzBef and some Pz38(t)) were lost during the campaign, approximately 341 of which were never to return to service. This represented about a third of Germany's armor deployed for the Polish campaign. During the campaign no less than a half of Germany's tanks were unavailable due to maintenance issues or enemy action, and of all tanks, the Panzer I proved the most vulnerable to Polish anti-tank weapons.
Furthermore, it was found that handling of armored forces during the campaign left much to be desired. During the beginning of Guderian's attack in northern Poland, his corps was held back to coordinate with infantry for quite a while, preventing a faster advance. It was only after Army Group South had its attention taken from Warsaw at the Battle of Bzura that Guderian's armor was fully unleashed. There were still lingering tendencies to reserve Germany's armor, even if in independent divisions, to cover an infantry advance or the flanks of advancing infantry armies. Although tank production was increased to 125 tanks per month after the Polish Campaign, losses forced the Germans to draw further strength from Czech tank designs, and light tanks continued to form the majority of Germany's armored strength.
The occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 had provided the German military with large amounts of high quality weapons at no cost, from the arsenal of the Czech military. There was enough equipment for about 40 army divisions the Germans integrated the Czech industry, mainly the Skoda factories, becaming part of the German military production machine and continued to produce tanks and other weapons for Germany. So when Germany invaded France, three full German Panzer divisions were equipped with Czech tanks. One division was equipped with the Czech type 35 light tank (10 tons) renamed Panzer 35, and two divisions were equipped with the type 38 light tank (10 tons) renamed Panzer 38. The Panzer 35 had a crew of four and carried a Czech 37mm gun (with 72 rounds) and two machine guns, one coaxial and remained in front line service until 1942, when they were converted for other roles. The Panzer 38 had a crew of four and carried a Czech 37mm gun (with 90 rounds) and two machine guns, one coaxial and one in the front (with 2550 rounds). 1400 tanks were produced for the German army in 1939-1942 and many variants used its chassis, including the Hetzer, a tank destroyer with a 75mm gun.
Despite its obsolescence, the Panzer I was also used in the invasion of France in May 1940. Of 2,574 tanks available for the campaign, no fewer than 523 were Panzer I's. Furthermore, there were only 627 Panzer IIIs and IVs. At least a fifth of Germany's armor was composed of Panzer I's, while almost four-fifths was light tanks of one type or another, including 955 Panzer II, 106 Czech Panzer 35(t), and 228 Panzer 38(t). For their defense, the French boasted up to 4,000 tanks, including 300 Char B1, armed with a 47-millimeter (1.7 in) gun in the turret and a larger 75-millimeter (2.95 in) low-velocity gun in the hull. The French also had around 250 Somua S-35, widely regarded as one of the best tanks of the period, armed with the same 47 millimeter main gun and protected by almost 55 millimeters (2.17 in) of armor at its thickest point. Nevertheless, the French also deployed over 3,000 light tanks, including about 500 World War one-vintage FT-17s. The two main advantages German armor enjoyed were radios allowing them to coordinate faster than their British or French counterparts and superior tactical doctrine.
The last major campaign in which the Panzer I formed a large portion of the armored strength was Operation Barbarossa, 22 June 1941. The 3,300 German tanks included about 410 Panzer I's. By the end of the month, a large portion of the Red Army found itself trapped in the Minsk pocket, and by 21 September Kiev had fallen, thereby allowing the Germans to concentrate on their ultimate objective, Moscow. Despite the success of Germany's armor in the Soviet Union, between June and September most German officers were shocked to find their tanks were inferior to newer Soviet models, the T-34 and Kliment Voroshilov (KV) series. Army Group North quickly realized that none of the tank guns currently in use by German armor could penetrate the thick armor of the KV-1. The performance of the Red Army during the Battle of Moscow and the growing numbers of new Soviet tanks made it obvious the Panzer I was not suitable for this front. Some less battle-worthy Panzer I's were tasked with towing lorries through mud to alleviate logistics problems at the front.
Italian setbacks in Egypt and their colony of Libya caused Hitler to dispatch aircraft to Sicily, and a blocking force to North Africa. This blocking force was put under the command of Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel and included the motorized 5th Light Division and the 15th Panzer Division. This force landed at Tunis on 12 February 1941. Upon arrival, Rommel had around 150 tanks, about half Panzer III and IV. The rest were Panzer I's and IIs, although the Panzer I was soon replaced. On 6 April 1941, Germany attacked both Yugoslavia and Greece, with fourteen divisions invading Greece from neighboring Bulgaria, which by then had joined the Tripartite Pact. The invasion of Yugoslavia included no less than six panzer divisions, which still fielded the Panzer I. Yugoslavia surrendered 17 April 1941, and Greece fell on 30 April 1941.
The Panzer II was the most numerous tank in the German Panzer divisions beginning with the invasion of France, and was used in the German campaigns in Poland, France, the Low Countries, Denmark, Norway, North Africa and the Eastern Front. Originally, Panzerkampfwagen II was the main component of the early Panzer divisions being issued to company and platoon commanders. It was soon after issued to Panzer Battalions and in the Polish Campaign was used as a combat tank. Following the reorganization of the Panzertruppen in 1940/41, it was relegated to the role of reconnaissance tank. During the Campaign in the West in 1940 and early stage of the Invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Panzerkampfwagen II served mainly as reconnaissance but were often used as combat tanks. But by 1942 a majority were removed from frontline service. On June 22 of 1941, 782 Panzerkampfwagen II tanks took part in the Operation Barbarossa, where many tanks were lost to Soviet tanks and anti-tanks. The Panzerkampfwagen II tanks were also used in North Africa, by the German Afrika Korps, with some success as the nature of the battlefield was more mobile and shortages of equipment forced Rommel to use them lacking updated replacements. It began to supplemented in the amoured forces by the Panzer III and IV in 1940/41. Afterwards, it was used to great effect as a reconnaissance tank, and when removed from front-line duty, it was used for training and on secondary fronts.
Despite increasing production of the medium Panzer IIIs and IVs prior to the German invasion of France on 10 May 1940, the majority of German tanks were still light types. According to Heinz Guderian, the Wehrmacht invaded France with 523 Panzer Is, 955 Panzer IIs, 349 Panzer IIIs, 278 Panzer IVs, 106 Panzer 35(t)s and 228 Panzer 38(t)s. Around the time of Operation Barbarossa, the Panzer III was numerically the most important German tank. At this time the majority of the available tanks (including re-armed Ausf. E and F, plus new Ausf. G and H models) had the 50-millimetre (1.97 in) KwK 38 L/42 cannon which also equipped the majority of the tanks in North Africa. Initially, the Panzer III's were outclassed and outnumbered by Soviet T-34 and KV tanks. However, the most numerous Soviet tanks were the T-26 and BT tanks. This, along with superior German tactical skill, crew training, and the good ergonomics of the Panzer III all contributed to a rough 6:1 favourable kill ratio for German tanks of all types in 1941. The Panzer III was used throughout the war and a handful were still in use in Normandy and at Arnhem in 1944, but most were replaced with Panzer IV or the newer Panther.
In the early battles of Second World War, German forces had gained notoriety for the rapid and successful invasions of Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and the Soviet Union, in 1939–41. Although the early-war Panzer II, III, and IV were clearly inferior to some of their French and Soviet counterparts, this blitzkrieg (‘lightning warfare’) was made possible by several factors: the German military experience in World War I, their excellent training, integrated communications, coordinated use of airpower, and, perhaps most famously, by the combined-arms employment of integrated infantry and armoured forces, the panzer divisions of the Germany Army and Waffen-SS.
Although the Panzer IV was deployed to North Africa with the German Afrika Korps, until the longer gun variant began production, the tank was outperformed by the Panzer III with respect to armor penetration. Both the Panzer III and IV had difficulty in penetrating the British Matilda II's thick armor, while the Matilda's 40-mm QF 2 pounder gun could knock out either German tank; its major disadvantage was its low speed. By August 1942, Rommel had only received 27 Panzer IV Ausf. F2s, armed with the L/43 gun, which he deployed to spearhead his armored offensives. The longer gun could penetrate all American and British tanks in theater at ranges of up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft). Although more of these tanks arrived in North Africa between August and October 1942, their numbers were insignificant compared to the amount of matériel shipped to British forces.
The Panzer IV was the only German tank to remain in both production and combat throughout World War II, and measured over the entire war it comprised 30% of the Wehrmacht's total tank strength. In came into service by early 1939, in time for the occupation of Czechoslovakia, but at the start of the war the majority of German armor was made up of obsolete Panzer Is and Panzer IIs. The Panzer I in particular had already proved inferior to Soviet tanks, such as the T-26, during the Spanish Civil War.
As the blitzkrieg began to stall on the Eastern Front, and a mobile war pushed back and forth across North Africa, Germany was quickly forced into an arms race in armour and antitank weapons. 88 mm antiaircraft guns were used as antitank weapons, thousands of captured antitank guns were marshaled into German service as the 7.62 cm PaK 36(r), and new inexpensive tank destroyers such as the Marder series were put into production, while Panzer III & IV tanks & the Sturmgeschütz were hastily up-armoured and up-gunned.
A new generation of big tanks, the heavy Tiger, Panther, and King Tiger tanks were developed and rushed into the battlefield. The Panther was a direct response to the Soviet T-34 and KV-1 tanks. First encountered on 23 June 1941, the T-34 outclassed the existing Panzer III and IV. The Panther tank were rushed to the front in January, 1943 and took part in Operation Zitadelle, and the attack was delayed several times because of their mechanical problems, with the eventual start date of the battle only six days after the last Panthers had been delivered to the front. This resulted in major problems in Panther units during the Battle of Kursk, as tactical training at the unit level, coordination by radio, and driver training were all seriously deficient. During Zitadelle the Panthers claimed 267 destroyed tanks. The Panther demonstrated its capacity to destroy any Soviet AFV from long distance during the Battle of Kursk, and had a very high overall kill ratio. However, it comprised less than seven percent of the estimated 2,400–2,700 total AFVs deployed by the Germans in this battle, and its effectiveness was limited by its mechanical problems.
At the time of the invasion of Normandy, there were initially only two Panther-equipped Panzer regiments in the Western Front, and the majority of German panzer forces in Normandy – six and a half divisions, were stationed around the vital town of Caen facing the Anglo-Canadian forces of the 21st Army Group; and the numerous battles to secure the town became collectively known as the Battle of Caen. US forces in the meantime, engaged mainly the Panzer Lehr Division, and the Panther tank proved to be most effective when fighting in open country and shooting at long range—its combination of superior armor and firepower allowed it to engage at distances from which the American M4 Shermans could not respond.
The Tiger was first used in action on 23 September 1942 near Leningrad. Under pressure from Hitler, the tank was put into action months earlier than planned. Many early models proved to be mechanically unreliable; in this first action many broke down. Others were knocked out by dug-in Soviet anti-tank guns. In the Tiger's first actions in North Africa, it was able to dominate Allied tanks in the wide-open terrain. The Tiger was originally designed to be an offensive breakthrough weapon, but by the time they went into action, the military situation had changed dramatically, and their main use was on the defensive, and their mechanical failures meant that there were rarely more than a few in each action.
Tigers were usually employed in separate heavy tank battalions (schwere-Panzer-Abteilung) under army command. These battalions would be deployed to critical sectors, either for breakthrough operations or, more typically, counter-attacks. The first time Tiger saw action was on August 29 of 1942 and September 21/22 at Mga, southeast of Leningrad with 1st company of sPzAbt 502. The unsuccessful engagements ended in the new Tiger being captured by the Soviets, who then examined it and exhibited during the captured equipment exhibition in Moscow’s Gorky Park in 1943. The failure of Tigers was attributed to mechanical problems as well as poor terrain conditions, totally unsuitable for heavy tanks. In December 1942, Tigers from sPzAbt 501, saw action near Tunis in North Africa. During their combat service, Tigers destroyed large numbers of enemy tanks and other equipment, creating the myth of their invincibility and fearsome power - "Tiger-phobia". Tiger also had tremendous effect on morale of both German and Allied soldiers, German felt secure, while Allies thought that every German tank, especially late model PzKpfw IV was a Tiger. On July 7 of 1943, single Tiger tank commanded by SS-Oberscharfuehrer Franz Staudegger from 2nd Platoon of 13th Panzer Company of 1st SS Panzer Grenadier Division "LSSAH" engaged Soviet group of some 50 T-34 tanks around Psyolknee (southern sector of the Kursk salient). Staudegger used up his entire ammunition after destroying some 22 Soviet tanks, while the rest retreated. For his achievement, Franz Staudegger was awarded the Knight’s Cross.
On August 8 of 1944, single Tiger commanded by SS-Unterscharfuehrer Willi Fey from the 1st Company of sSSPzAbt 102, engaged a British tank column destroying some 14 out of 15 Shermans, followed by one more later in the day using his last two rounds of ammunition. sSSPzAbt 102 lost all of its Tigers during fighting in Normandy but reported 227 Allied tanks destroyed during the period of 6 weeks.
The first combat use of the Tiger II was by the 1st company of the Schwere Heers Panzer Abteilung 503 during the Battle of Normandy, opposing Operation Atlantic between Troarn and Demouville on 18 July 1944; losses were two from combat, plus the company commander's tank which became irrecoverably trapped after falling into a bomb crater made during Operation Goodwood.
On the Eastern Front, it was first used on 12 August 1944 by the Schwere Heers Panzer Abteilung 501 (s.H.Pz.Abt. 501) resisting the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive. It attacked the Soviet bridgehead over the Vistula River near Baranów Sandomierski. The majority of King Tigers went to Wehrmacht units, while some 150 were assigned to the Waffen SS. The first Tigers II tanks reached schwere Panzer Abteilungen of both Wehrmacht and Waffen SS as early as February 1944. Only two companies of Schwere Heers Panzer Abteilung 503 (s.H.Pz.Abt. 503), equipped with Tiger II tanks (with Porsche turrets), were committed to the fighting in Normandy. Tiger II tanks of Schwere Heers Panzer Abteilung 506 (s.H.Pz.Abt. 506), saw combat during the "Market Garden" operation in the Netherlands in September 1944.
On 15 October 1944 Tiger IIs of s.H.Pz.Abt. 503 played a crucial role during Operation Panzerfaust, supporting Otto Skorzeny's troops in taking the Hungarian capital of Budapest, which ensured that the country remained with the Axis until the end of the war.
The Tiger II was also present at the Ardennes Offensive of December 1944, the Soviet Vistula–Oder and East Prussian Offensives in January 1945, the German Lake Balaton Offensive in Hungary in March 1945, the Battle of the Seelow Heights in April 1945, and finally the Battle of Berlin at the end of the war.
During the war, the mass of a panzer increased from the 5.4 tonnes of a pre-war Panzer I light tank, to the whopping 68.5 tonnes of the Tiger II. In the meantime, the Soviets continued to produce the T-34 by the tens of thousands, and U.S. industry nearly matched them in the number of M4 Sherman tanks built and deployed in Europe after D-Day.
Throughout the war, the panzer was a key piece of the combined arms doctrines supporting the German blitzkrieg. The tanks were used in almost every theatre of German involvement. Their largest engagement occurred at The Battle of Prokhorovka, which saw about three hundred panzers pitted against five hundred Soviet tanks.
After the war, the Germans were given United States-built M47 and M48 Patton tanks and in 1956 the Germans began development of the Leopard tank project to build a modern German tank, the Standard-Panzer, to replace the Bundeswehr's outdated tanks.
The German Leopard (or Leopard 1) tank first entered service in 1965. The Leopard focussed on firepower in the form of the German-built version of the British L7 105-mm gun, and improved cross-country performance that was unmatched by other designs of the era. The Leopard quickly became a standard of European forces, and eventually served as the main battle tank in over a dozen countries worldwide, but the German Leopards never saw combat.
In the German Army, the Leopard 1 MBTs have been phased out in 2003 while Leopard 1 derived vehicles are still widely used. The Leopard 2 MBTs have taken over the MBT role and first entering service in 1979. The Leopard 2 have served in the armed forces of Germany and twelve other European countries, as well as several non-European nations. More than 3,480 Leopard 2s have been manufactured. The Leopard 2 first saw combat in Kosovo with the German Army and has also seen action in Afghanistan with the Danish and Canadian ISAF forces.
The German contingent of the Kosovo Force operated a number of Leopard 2A4s and 2A5s in Kosovo. Also Canadian Leopard C1A1s, served with Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) in the 1999 KFOR mission in Kosovo.
Overview per tank
(Only tanks that were built in significant numbers are listed.)
One hundred vehicles were ordered during the spring of 1918, but only 21 were delivered. It was nicknamed "The Moving Fortress" by the British because of the shape of the hull. They saw action from March to October of that year, and were the only tanks produced by Germany in World War I to see operational use.
The tank's name was derived from that of its parent organization, Allgemeines Kriegsdepartement, 7. Abteilung, Verkehrswesen. In German the tank was called Sturmpanzer-Kraftwagen (roughly "assault armoured motor vehicle").
The Panzer I was a light tank produced in Germany in the 1930s. The name is short for the German Panzerkampfwagen I (armored fighting vehicle mark I), abbreviated PzKpfw I. The tank's official German ordnance inventory designation was SdKfz 101 (special purpose vehicle 101).
Between 1934 and the mid-1940s several variants of the Panzer I were designed, especially during the later years of its combat history. Because they were obsolescent from their introduction, incapable of defeating foreign armor, and outclassed by newer German tanks, the Panzer I chassis were increasingly repurposed as tank destroyers and other variants.
Panzer II was the common name of a German tank used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen II(abbreviated PzKpfw II). Designed as a stopgap while other tanks were developed, it played an important role in the early years of World War II, during the Polish and French campaigns. By the end of 1942, it was largely removed from frontline service and production of the tank itself ceased by 1943, but its chassis was used for several other armored vehicles.
Panzer III was the common name of a medium tank that was developed in the 1930s by Germany and was used extensively in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen III (abbreviated PzKpfw III) translating as "armoured fighting vehicle mk. 3". It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and serve alongside the infantry-supporting Panzer IV. However, as the Germans faced the formidable T-34, stronger anti-tank guns were needed. Since the Panzer IV had a bigger turret ring, the role was reversed. The Panzer IV mounted the long barreled 7.5 cm KwK 40 gun and engaged in tank-to-tank battles. The Panzer III became obsolete in this role and for most purposes was supplanted by the Panzer IV. From 1942, the last version of Panzer III mounted the 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24, better suited for infantry support. Production of the Panzer III ended in 1943. However, the Panzer III's capable chassis provided hulls for the Sturmgeschütz III until the end of the war.
The Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) commonly shortened to Panzer 35(t) or abbreviated as Pz.Kpfw. 35(t) was a Czech-designed light tank used mainly by Nazi Germany during World War II. The letter (t) stood for tschechisch (German: "Czech"). In Czech service it had the formal designation Lehký (Light) Tank vzor (Model) 35, but was commonly referred to as the LT vz. 35. Four hundred and thirty-four were built; of these the Germans seized two hundred and forty-four when they occupied Bohemia-Moravia in March 1939 and the Slovaks acquired fifty-two when they declared independence from Czechoslovakia at the same time. Others were exported to Bulgaria and Romania. In German service it saw combat during the early years of World War II, notably the Invasion of Poland, the Battle of France and the invasion of the Soviet Union before being taken out of frontline units.
Overall 424 were produced between 1935 and 1939 by Skoda (approx. 340) and CKD (approx. 84).PzKpfw 35(t) formed the bulk of the 1st Leichte (Light) Division during the Polish Campaign and then of 6th Panzer Division (former 1st Leichte Division) during the French Campaign and the Invasion of Russia. In late 1941, Germans had better tanks in production and PzKpfw 35(t) was relocated to second line duties such as policing and antipartisan units.
The Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) was a Czech tank used by Germany during World War II. The (t) stands for tschechisch, the German word for Czech; the Czechoslovak military designation was LT vz 38Manufacturer's designations included TNH series, TNHPS, LTP and LTH). The special vehicle designation for the tank in Germany was Sd.Kfz. 140. Ordered into production in 1938 as the Czech LT-38, the design drew on the experience from earlier Czech LT-35 and was made in different variants.
The 1938/39, German take-over of the Czechoslovak state resulted the tanks incorporated into the German Army as PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf A - Sd.Kfz.140. PzKpfw 38(t)s were built under German supervision and they saw extensive service in Poland (3rd Leichte Division), Norway (XXXI Armee Korps), France (6th, 7th and 8th Panzer Division), Balkans (8th Panzer Division) and Russia (6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, 19th and 20th Panzer Division). During the fighting in Russia, the need for heavier armour and armament made PzKpfw 38(t) inadequate and in 1942, it was relegated to other duties (e.g. reconnaissance and service in armored trains). Overall, the most successful design built on the base of PzKpfw 38(t) was Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer (tank destroyer).
The Panzerkampfwagen IV (Pz.Kpfw. IV), commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a medium tank developed in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 161.
Designed as an infantry-support tank, the Panzer IV was not originally intended to engage enemy armor—that function was performed by the lighter Panzer III. However, with the flaws of pre-war doctrine becoming apparent and in the face of Soviet T-34 tanks, the Panzer IV soon assumed the tank-fighting role of its increasingly obsolescent cousin. The most widely manufactured and deployed German tank of the Second World War, the Panzer IV was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles, including tank destroyers and self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. Robust and reliable, it saw service in all combat theaters involving Germany, and has the distinction of being the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the war, with over 8,800 produced between 1936 and 1945. Upgrades and design modifications, often made in response to the appearance of new Allied tanks, extended its service life. Generally these involved increasing the Panzer IV's armor protection or upgrading its weapons, although during the last months of the war with Germany's pressing need for rapid replacement of losses, design changes also included retrograde measures to simplify and speed manufacture.
Panzerkampfwagen V Panther
The Panther ( listen (help·info)) was a tank fielded by Nazi Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV, and, while never replacing the latter, it served alongside it as well as the heavier Tiger tanks until the end of the war. The Panther's excellent combination of firepower, mobility, and protection served as a benchmark for other nations' late war and immediate post-war tank designs, and it is frequently regarded as one of the best tank designs of World War II.
Until 1944, it was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther and had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. On 27 February 1944, Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral V be deleted from the designation.
The Panther tank was a compromise of various requirements. While sharing essentially the same engine as the Tiger I tank, it had better frontal armor, better gun penetration, was lighter overall and thus faster, and could handle rough terrain better than the Tigers. The tradeoff was weaker side armor; the Panther proved to be deadly in open country and shooting from long range, but vulnerable to close-quarters combat. Also, the 75 mm gun fired a slightly smaller shell than the Tiger's 88 mm gun, providing less high explosive firepower against infantry, though it was still quite effective.
The Panther was also far cheaper to produce than the Tiger tanks, and only slightly more expensive than the Panzer IV, as its design came to fruition at the same time that the Reich Ministry of Armament and War Production was making great efforts to increase war production. Key elements of the Panther design, such as its armor, transmission and final drive, were compromises made specifically to improve production rates and address Germany's war shortages, whereas other elements such as its highly compact engine and its complex suspension system remained with their elegant but complicated engineering. The result was that Panther tank production was far higher than what was possible for the Tiger tanks, but not much higher than what had been accomplished with the Panzer IV. At the same time, the simplified final drive became the single major cause of breakdowns of the Panther tank, and was a problem that was never corrected.
The Panzerkampfwagen V Panther, next to the PzKpfw VI Tiger, is the best-known German tank of World War II. The Panther and the Soviet T-34 are considered to be the best tanks of World War II.
Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I
The Tiger I was a German heavy tank used in World War II, produced from late 1942 as an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of Operation Barbarossa, particularly the T-34 and the KV-1. The Tiger I design gave the Wehrmacht its first tank mounting the 88 mm gun, which had previously demonstrated its effectiveness against both aircraft and tanks. During the course of the war, the Tiger I saw combat on all German battlefronts. It was usually deployed in independent tank battalions, which proved to be quite formidable.
While the Tiger I was feared by many of its opponents, it was over-engineered, expensive and time-consuming to produce. Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944. The Tiger was prone to mechanical breakdowns and in 1944, production was phased out in favour of the Tiger II.
The tank was given its nickname Tiger listen (help·info) by Ferdinand Porsche, and the Roman numeral was added after the later Tiger II entered production. The initial official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausführung H (‘Panzer VI version H’, abbreviated PzKpfw VI Ausf. H), but the tank was redesignated as PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in March 1943. It also had the ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 181.
Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger II
Tiger II is the common name of a German heavy tank of the Second World War. An official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. B,[notes 1] often shortened to Tiger B, with the ordnance inventory designation Sd.Kfz. 182. It is also known under the informal name Königstiger (the German name for the "Bengal tiger"), often translated as King Tiger or Royal Tiger by Allied soldiers.
The design followed the same concept as the Tiger I, but was intended to be even more formidable. The Tiger II combined the thick armor of the Tiger I with sloped armor as used on the Panther medium tank. The tank weighed almost seventy metric tons, was protected by 100 to 180 mm (3.9 to 7.1 in) of armor to the front, and was armed with the long barrelled 8.8 cm Kampfwagenkanone 43 L/71 gun.[notes 2] The chassis was also the basis for the Jagdtiger turretless tank destroyer.
The Tiger II was issued to heavy tank battalions of the Army (Schwere Heeres Panzer Abteilung - abbreviated s.H.Pz.Abt) and the Waffen-SS (s.SS.Pz.Abt). It was first used in combat with s.H.Pz.Abt. 503 during the Normandy campaign on 11 July 1944; on the Eastern Front the first unit to be outfitted with Tiger IIs was s.H.Pz.Abt. 501 which by 1 September 1944 listed 25 Tiger IIs operational.;
The Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger II Ausf. B "Königstiger" (Sd.Kfz.182) / VK4503(H) was the most powerful combat tank of World War II. Up to the end of the war, the Allies did not introduce anything that could effectively counter it. The Tiger II combined a powerful and effective gun with armor that was virtually impervious to any Allied tank or anti-tank gun.
The Leopard (or Leopard 1) is a tank designed and produced in Germany that first entered service in 1965. Developed in an era when HEAT warheads were thought to make conventional heavy armour of limited value, the Leopard focussed on firepower in the form of the German-built version of the British L7 105-mm gun, and improved cross-country performance that was unmatched by other designs of the era.
The design started as a collaborative project between Germany and France in the 1950s, but the partnership ended and the final design was ordered by the Bundeswehr, production starting in 1965. In total 6,485 Leopard tanks have been built, of which 4,744 were battle tanks and 1741 were utility and anti-aircraft variants, not including eighty prototypes and pre-series vehicles.
The Leopard quickly became a standard of European forces, and eventually served as the main battle tank in over a dozen countries worldwide. Since 1990, the Leopard 1 has gradually been relegated to secondary roles in most armies. In the German Army, the Leopard 1 MBTs have been phased out in 2003 while Leopard 1 derived vehicles are still widely used. The Leopard 2 MBTs have taken over the MBT role. Leopard hulls have been re-used in a wide variety of roles.
The Leopard 2 is a German main battle tank (Kampfpanzer) developed by Krauss-Maffei in the early 1970s and first entering service in 1979. The Leopard 2 replaced the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the German Army. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and twelve other European countries, as well as several non-European nations. More than 3,480 Leopard 2s have been manufactured. The Leopard 2 first saw combat in Kosovo with the German Army and has also seen action in Afghanistan with the Danish and Canadian ISAF forces.
There are two main development batches of the tank, the original models up to Leopard 2A4 which have vertically faced turret armour, and the "improved" batch, namely the Leopard 2A5 and newer versions, which have angled arrow-shaped turret appliqué armour together with a number of other improvements. All models feature the Rheinmetall 120 mm gun, digital fire control systems with laser rangefinders, a fully stabilized main gun and coaxial machine gun, and advanced night vision and sighting equipment (first vehicles used a low-light level TV system or LLLTV; thermal imaging was introduced later on). The tank has the ability to engage moving targets while moving over rough terrain.
The baseline Leopard 2, sometimes informally called the "A0" to differentiate it from later versions, was the first series manufactured version. The vehicles were manufactured from October 1979 until March 1982, altogether 380 vehicles. 209 were built by Krauss Maffei and 171 by MaK. The basic equipment consisted of electrical-hydraulic WNA-H22, a fire control computer, a laser rangefinder, a wind sensor, a general purpose telescope EMES 15, a panorama periscope PERI R17, the tower sight FERO Z18, on the tower roof as well as a computer controlled tank testing set RPP 1–8. 200 of the vehicles had a low-light enhancer (PZB 200) instead of a thermal imaging. Two chassis served as driver training vehicles.
Minor modifications and the installation of the gunner's thermal sight were worked into the second batch of 450 vehicles Leopard 2 designated the A1; 248 by Krauss-Maffei (Chassis Nr. 10211 to 10458) and 202 by Mak (Chassis Nr. 20173 to 20347). Deliveries of the 2A1 models started in March 1982 and ended in November 1983. The two most notable changes were the modification of the ammunition racks to be identical to those in the M1 Abrams, and redesigned fuel filters that reduced refuelling time.
A third batch of 300 Leopard 2; 165 by Krauss-Maffei (Chassis Nr. 10459 to 10623) and 135 by MaK (Chassis Nr. 20375 to 20509.) 2A1's of the third batch were built between November 1983 and November 1984, which included more minor changes that were later retrofitted to the earlier 2A1s.
This designation was given to upgraded vehicles of the first batch of Leopard 2s, brought up to the standard of the second and third batches. This modernisation gradually replaced the original PZB 200 sights in the first batch with thermal sights for the EMES 15 as they became available. Furthermore the upgrade included the fitting of filler openings and caps to the forward hull fuel tanks to allow separate refuelling, as well as the addition of a deflector plate for the periscope and a large coverplate to protect the existing NBC protection system. Finally, the tank was given new five metre towing cables with a different position. The programme began in 1984 and ended in 1987; the third, fourth and fifth batches were during this period produced with the same features. The modernised first batch can be recognised by the circular plate covering the hole where the cross-wind sensor for the fire-control system was removed.
The fourth batch of 300 vehicles; 165 by Krauss-Maffei (Chassis Nr. 10624 to 10788) and 135 by Mak (Chassis Nr. 20510 to 20644) was delivered between December 1984 and December 1985. The main change was the addition of the SEM80/90 digital radio sets (also being fitted to the Leopard 1 at the same time), and the ammunition reloading hatches being welded shut. Even with these minor changes the new batch was known as the 2A3.
The most widespread version of the Leopard 2 family, the 2A4 models included more substantial changes, including an automated fire and explosion suppression system, an all-digital fire control system able to handle new ammunition types, and improved turret with flat titanium/tungsten armour.
The Leopard 2s were manufactured in eight batches between 1985 and 1992. All the older models were also upgraded to 2A4 standard. Until 1994 Germany operated a total of 2,125 2A4s (695 newly built and the rest modified older versions), while the Netherlands had an additional 445 tanks. The 2A4 was also license manufactured in Switzerland as the Panzer 87 "Leopard" or Pz 87. This version included Swiss-built 7.5 mm Mg 87 machine guns and communications equipment, and featured improved NBC protection system. Switzerland operated 380 Pz 87 tanks.
At the turn of the century, Germany and the Netherlands found themselves with large stocks of tanks they had no need for after the end of the Cold War. These tanks were sold to NATO or friendly armies around the world. Among these were Austria, who received 114 vehicles, Canada (107), Chile (140), Denmark (51), Finland (139), Greece (183), Norway (52), Poland (128), Portugal (37), Singapore (96), Spain (108), Sweden (160), and Turkey (339) were among the buyers of the surplus tanks.
The Pz 87WE (WertErhaltung) is planned a Swiss modification and upgrade of the Pz 87. The modification significantly improves protection through the addition of the Leopard 2A6M's mine protection kit, thicker armour on the front glacis, and a turret equipped with a Swiss-developed armour package using titanium alloy. The turret roof armour is improved and the smoke grenade launchers redesigned. Further improvements enhance survivability and combat capability, such as a turret electric drive similar to the Leopard 2A5, a driver rear-view camera, an independent weapons station for the loader, and enhanced command and control systems. The fire control system is also upgraded, using the Carl Zeiss Optronics GmbH PERI-R17A2 fire control system. A remote weapons station containing a fully stabilized Mg 64 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun is also fitted to the tank.
The Pz 87-140 is an experimental variant of the Swiss Pz 87 with a 140 mm gun and an additional armour later used on the newer production variants.
The Leopard 2A4CHL is the upgraded Chilean version of the Leopard 2A4 ordered by Chile in 2007. Upgrades include new electronics, sighting and information systems meant to elevate the Leopard 2A4's networking capability to be equal to that of the Leopard 2A6, a new suspension system and the upgrading of the tanks main gun to the L55 smoothbore cannon used on the Leopard 2A6. Other upgrades are remote weapon stations over the gunner and commander hatches fitted with the MG3 and HK GMG. The Leopard 2A4CHL also has improved roof and side turret armour and can be uplinked with Chile's battlefield control network.
The Leopard 2A4M CAN is the upgraded Canadian version of the Leopard 2A4 acquired from the Royal Netherlands Army surplus. The Leopard 2A4M CAN is specially designed for the war in Afghanistan, based on experience gained by Leopard 2 operators. The first 20 were delivered in October 2010 and with only 5 being deployed to Afghanistan at end of 2010, and operated until July 2011 when combat operations stopped. Though originally planned to be up-gunned to the L55 for consistency with the 2A6M CAN, the longer barreled guns (optimized for tank-vs-tank warfare) were found to be less than ideal in Afghanistan, therefore it was decided to retain the L44. In addition, only small areas of slat armour were added, in contrast with the fully caged 2A6M CANs. The protection of the Leopard 2A4M CAN has been further augmented with the addition of applique armour resembling that found on the most recent Leopard 2A7+ variant, but modified to fit the turret configuration of the 2A4. Of the remaining ex-Dutch Leopards, Canada will upgrade 42 for training use (though whether they will be fully upgraded to 2A4M CAN standards is uncertain) and convert 18 to Armoured Engineering Vehicles (13 firm and 5 options). Canada has also purchased 15 2A4s from Germany as Logistic Stock Vehicles (for spare parts), and in February 2011 bought 12 2A4s/Pz 87 from the Swiss to be converted to "support vehicles" (likely Armoured Recovery Vehicles).
The Leopard 2NG (Next Generation) is a privately funded Turkish upgrade by Aselsan that includes the application of modular composite armour (AMAP), upgraded optics, completely overhauled turret mechanics and a new fire control system on the work since 1995 and to be delivered by late 2011 which is intended to be used on new Altay MBT. It was developed without an order of the Turkish Army, but might meet the requirements for the modernization of the Turkish Leopard 2A4s. The old powerpack and the L/44 gun barrel are kept, but the combat weight is increased to 65 tonnes. According to the Turkish news sources, Finland is interested in getting the Turkish upgrade package to modernize their fleet of Leopard 2A4s.
The A5 introduced a wedge-shaped, spaced add-on armour to the turret front and the frontal area of the sides. These armour modules defeat a hollow charge prior to reaching the base armour. The spaced armour is also designed to affect kinetic-energy penetrators by forcing them to change direction and eroding them in the process; it does not form a shot-trap since it doesn't deflect the penetrators outwards to hit the hull or turret ring. The gun mantlet was redesigned to accept the new armour. There were also some improvements in the main armour composition. The tank interior received spall liners to reduce fragments if the armour is penetrated. The frontal "heavy" third of the side skirts was replaced with a new, stronger type. The commander's sight was moved to a new position behind the hatch and it received an independent thermal channel. The gunner's sight was moved to the turret roof as opposed to the cavity in the front armour in previous models. A new heavier sliding driver's hatch was fitted. Turret controls went all-electric, increasing reliability and crew safety, and producing some weight savings. The gun braking system was improved to prepare for the later mounting of the new L55 gun tube and to enable firing of more powerful ammunition, such as the DM-53 APFSDS. The A5 entered service in the German tank battalions in mid-1998.
The Leopard 2(S) is a Swedish Army variant of the Leopard 2A5, which has received the local designation Strv 122. It is based on what was then called "Leopard 2 Improved" and features increased armour on the turret top and front hull, and improved command, control and fire control systems. Externally, the vehicle can be distinguished from the Leopard 2A5 by the French GALIX smoke dispensers, different storage bins, and the much thicker crew hatches. The Strv 122B, a variant equipped with modular AMAP composite armour from IBD Deisenroth, has increased 360° protection against threats like EFPs, RPGs and IEDs. The width of exactly 4 metres (13 ft) has been kept, while the weight increases by only 350 kilograms (770 lb).
The Leopard 2A5 DK is a variant of the Leopard 2A5 similar to the Leopard 2A6 with some small modifications, used by the Danish Army.
Includes the addition of the Rheinmetall 120 mm L55 smoothbore gun and other changes. All German tank battalions of the "crisis intervention forces" are equipped with the A7. Canada purchased 20 Leopard 2A6s from the Netherlands. These were delivered in 2007. Portugal also purchased 37 Leopard 2A6 from the Dutch in 2007, with delivery in 2008. In January 2014, Finland purchased 100 L2A6s, as well as munitions, simulators, and a ten-year supply of reserve parts from the Netherlands. The tanks are being delivered in batches between 2015-2019.
The Leopard 2A6M is a version of the 2A6 with enhanced mine protection under the chassis, and internal enhancements to improve crew survivability. Canada has borrowed 20 A6Ms from Germany for deployment to Afghanistan in late summer 2007. The new tanks all have turret electric drive.
The Leopard 2A6M CAN is a Canadian variant of the Leopard 2A6M. Significant modifications include distinctive black boxes mounted on the rear of the turret bustle, originally expected to be the new air conditioning unit but instead likely contains Canadian Forces designated communications gear (as they lined up with the new antennae stands), and stand-off slat armour. The first tanks configured in this variant are the twenty tanks loaned from the German Bundeswehr, in an effort to increase firepower and to increase protection given to Canadian troops operating in the south of Afghanistan. The loaner tanks are expected to retain their German MG3 machine guns, while the ex-Dutch tanks are expected to retain their FN MAG machine guns due to commonality with existing Canadian stocks. Due to the loaned status of the first 20 tanks, the air conditioning unit originally could not be installed as only minimal changes could be made (instead, the crew wore cooling vests, and the turret's electric drive generates less heat than the hydraulic drive of Canada's older Leopard C2). The loaned German tanks will now be kept by the Canadian Forces and may be upgraded even further, while the ex-Dutch Leopard 2A6's were modified to German Leopard 2A6M's specifications and used as restitution for the loaned tanks. Currently, Canadian Leopard 2's in Afghanistan have since been fitted with an air conditioning unit, and the Saab Barracuda camouflage mats which also serve to reduce solar loading by 50 percent.
List of tanks in the German Army
World War I
World War II
- Panzer I
- Panzer II
- Panzer 35(t)
- Panzer 38(t)
- Panzer III
- Panzer IV
- Neubaufahrzeug (Prototype)
- Panzer V Panther
- Tiger I
- Tiger II
- Panzer VII Löwe (Prototype)
- Panzer VIII Maus (2 only made)
- E-100 (Incomplete prototype)
- Ratte (Proposed)
Tank destroyers used in WWII
- Panzerjäger I
- Marder I
- Marder II
- Marder III
- StuG III
- Jagdpanzer IV
- Sturer Emil
Self-propelled artillery used in WWII
- M60 Patton
- Leopard 1
- TAM (In use also in the Argentine Army)
- Lince (In use in the Spanish Army)
- Leopard 2
Modern day tank destroyers
Modern day self-propelled artillery
- German armoured fighting vehicle production during World War II
- Comparison of early World War II tanks
- The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan, page 51
- Frieser, p. 113.
- Elefant - Jagdtiger - Sturmtiger: Rarities of the Tiger Family
- Gelbart, Marsh (1996). Tanks main battle and light tanks. Brassey’s UK Ltd. pp. 109–110. ISBN 1-85753-168-X.
- Zaloga, S.J., 2006, German Panzers 1914–18, p.7.
- Guderian, Achtung-Panzer!, p. 133
- Gander, Tanks & Armour: Panzerkampfwagen I & II, pp. 6–7
- Perett, German Light Panzers: 1932–42, p.4
- Franco, Panzer I: El Inicio de una Saga, p.3
- Franco, Panzer I: El Inicio de una Sage, p.3; Gander, Tanks & Armour: Panzerkampfwagen I & II, p.7
- See: Achtung-Panzer!, first released in German in 1937.
- Guderian, Achtung-Panzer!, pp.169–170 for a detailed look into Guderian's theories.
- Gander, Tanks & Armour: Panzerkampfwagen I & II, p. 9
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p.31
- Franco, Panzer I, p. 4
- Franco, Panzer II, pp.4–5
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 31
- Perett, German Light Panzers, p. 4
- Franco, Panzer I, pp. 5–6
- Franco, Panzer I, p.6
- Perrett (1999), p. 4
- Zaloga 1994, p.16.
- Forczyk 2007, p. 4
- Doyle and Jentz 1997, p. 4
- Jentz 1995, p 16–18.
- Jentz 1996, p. 284
- Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 3.
- Krauss-Maffei Wegmann
- Modern German Tank Development, 1956-2000 by Rolf Hilmes
- Panzerbaer.de VT-2000
- Wikipedia.de: Neue Gepanzerte Plattfrom
- Image of the EGS
- Forty, George (1995). Tank Action from the Great War to the Gulf. Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd. pp. 39–47. ISBN 0-7509-0479-8.
- Koch, Fred (1994). Beutepanzer im Ersten Weltkrieg. Podzun-Pallas-Verlag GmbH. ISBN 3-7909-0520-8.
- Candil, Soviet Armor in Spain: Aid Mission to Republicans Tested Doctrine and Equipment.
- Candil, Soviet Armor in Spain, p. 32; for reference, Wikipedia's T-26 article includes a table of every shipment of T-26Bs to Spain throughout the entirety of the war.
- 38 Ausf. A and 3 Panzerbefehlswagen I Ausf. B command vehicles. García, Las Armas de la Guerra Civil Española, p. 308
- Perrett, German Light Panzers, p. 46
- García, Las Armas de la Guerra Civil Española, p. 311; Perrett offers the total number of 180, but then contradicts himself by later stating only 100 vehicles were sent. Las Armas de la Guerra Civil Española puts the correct number at 122.
- Ramos, La Legión Cóndor en la Guerra Civil, p. 96
- Beevor, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 97–104
- Moa, Los Mitos de la Guerra Civil, p. 323.
- Candil, Soviet Armor in Spain, p. 32
- Daley, Soviet and German Advisors Put Doctrine to the Test, pp. 33–34
- Daley, Soviet and German Advisors Put Doctrine to the Test, p. 35
- Franco, Lucas Molina (2005). Panzer I: El inicio de una saga (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain: AF Editores. p. 613. ISBN 84-96016-52-8.
- Franco, Lucas M. (2006). "El Tanque de la Guerra Civil Española" in Historia de la Iberia Vieja, No. 13. ISSN 1699-7913
- Miller, Illustrated Directory of Tanks and Fighting Vehicles: From World War I to the Present Day, p. 164
- García, Las Armas de la Guerra Civil Española, pp. 327–328
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 34
- Candil, Soviet Armor in Spain, p. 36
- Franco, Panzer I, pp. 47–49
- Franco, Panzer I, p. 50
- García, José María; Lucas Molina Franco (2006). Las Armas de la Guerra Civil Española (in Spanish). 28002 Madrid: La Esfera de los Libros. p. 613. ISBN 84-9734-475-8.
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 51
- Perrett, German Light Panzers, pp. 35–37
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 42
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, pp.42–43
- Perrett, German Light Panzers, pp. 37
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, pp. 50–51
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 59
- Guderian, Panzer Leader, p. 73
- Wojna Obronna Polski 1939, page 851
- Fritz Hahn, Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutschen Heeres 1933–1945, Polen 1939
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 60
- Cooper, The German Army, p. 176
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 61
- Guderian, Panzer Leader, p. 472
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 72
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 73
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 90
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 99; 750 were Panzer IIs, 150 Panzer 35(t) s, 625 Panzer 38(t) s, 965 Panzer IIIs and 440 Panzer IVs.
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 103
- Beevor, Stalingrad, p. 29
- Raus, p. 34
- Perrett, German Light Panzers, p. 45
- Latimer, Alamein, pp. 27–28
- Bierman, The Battle of Alamein, p.67
- Perrett, German Light Panzers, pp. 43–44
- Porch, The Path to Victory, p. 149
- McCarthy, Panzerkrieg, p. 94
- Perrett, German Light Panzers, p. 44,
- Porch, The Path to Victory, p. 159
- Guderian (1996), p. 472
- Zaloga (1984), p. 223
- White, B. T. (1983). TANKS and other Armoured Fighting Vehicles of World War II. New York: Exeter Books. p. 5. ISBN 0-671-06009-0.
- Perrett (1999), p. 34
- Ormeño (2007), p. 48
- Doyle & Jentz (2001), p. 21
- Doyle & Jentz (2001), p. 23
- McCarthy & Syron (2002), p. 36
- Caballero & Molina (2006), p. 4
- Caballero & Molina (2006), p. 3
- Spielberger (1972), p. 82
- McCarthy & Syron (2002), p. 51
- McCarthy & Syron (2002), p. 34
- Jentz 1995, p. 130–132
- Frieser, P. 159. Frieser cites Zetterling/Frankson: Kursk.
- Healy 2008, p. 170
- Healy 2008, pp. 161–165
- Zaloga 2008, Armored Thunderbolt p. 193
- Schneider 2000, p. 133.
- Schneider 2005, pp. 214–216.
- Schneider 2000, p. 47.
- Schneider 2000, pp. 89–91.
- Schneider 2005, p. 217.
- Schneider 2005, pp. 300–303.
- Tucker, Spencer (2004). Tanks: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. pp. 24–25. ISBN 1-57607-995-3.
- Nomenclature see: Gander, Tanks and Armour: Panzerkampfwagen I & II, p.10
- Gander, Tanks & Armour: Panzerkampfwagen I & II, p. 62
- Hart 2003, pp. 41–43.
- Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 16.
- Buckley 2004, p. 119.
- Schneider 1990, p. 18.
- Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 37.
- Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 40.
- Gelbart, Marsh (1996). Tanks: main battle and light tanks. Brassey's UK Ltd. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-1-85753-168-8. OCLC 36171829.
- Jerchel, Michael; Schnellbacher, Uwe (1998). Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank 1979–1998. New York, United States of America: Osprey. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1-85532-691-0.
- Liess, Stefan (2007-07-22). "Leopard 2". Kampfpanzer.de. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
- Pz 87-140 image
- "Tanks for the Lesson: Leopards, too, for Canada". Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Background — Canadian Forces Upgraded Leopard 2A4M Tanks". Canadian-American Strategic Review. Feb 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- Christopher Foss. "Upgraded Leopard 2 MBT set for firing trials". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
- "Bakanın ağzından savunma ihalelerinde rüşvet kuşkusu". Radikal. 2010-11-09. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
- Bakanın ağzından savunma ihalelerinde rüşvet kuşkusu (2009-11-30). "Savunma İhalelerinde Rüşvet Skandalı 09 Kasım 2010 17:08". Aktifhaber.com. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
- Swedish Defence Materiel Administration: Leopard 2 - Stridsvagn 122 (Swedish)
- "New MBT122B Evolution with Unprecedented Protection" (PDF). IBD Deisenroth Engineering. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
- "Backgrounder: Renewing the Canadian Forces' Tank Capability". DND/CF. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Finland in 200 million-euro used tank deal with the Netherlands". Yle. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
- Foss, Christopher F (2007-08-08). "Canada receives first upgraded Leopard 2A6M MBT". Jane's Defence Weekly 44 (32): p. 10. ISSN 0265-3818. OCLC 210556835. BL Shelfmark 4646.840000.
- "The First of Twenty Loaned Leopard 2A6M CAN Arrive in Kandahar: A Glimpse of the CF's Future (With a Little Help From Our Friends)". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- "CASR Background — CF Leased & Purchased Leopard 2 A6M / 2 A4 Tanks". Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- "CASR Background — Leopard 2 A6M / 2 A4 Tanks for the Canadian Forces?". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- "Letter of Interest: Tank Replacement Project". MERX Website - Government of Canada. 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
- "Canadian Forces Armour — Leopard 2A6M CAN Main Battle Tank". Canadian American Strategic Review. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- Panzerkampfwagen – abbr: Pz. or Pz.Kfw. (English: armored fighting vehicle)
Ausführung – abbr: Ausf. (English: variant).
The full titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B and Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger Ausf. B (for the command version) were used in training and maintenance manuals and in organization and equipment tables. (Jentz and Doyle 1997)
Also sometimes referred to as Pz. VI Ausf B, not to be confused with Pz. VI Ausf H which was the Tiger I.
- Kampfwagenkanone – abbr: KwK (English: fighting vehicle cannon)
- Buckley, John (2004). British Armour in the Normandy Campaign, 1944. London: F. Cass. ISBN 978-0-7146-5323-5.
- Jarymowycz, Roman (2001). Tank Tactics: from Normandy to Lorraine. Boulder: L. Rienner Publishers. ISBN 978-1-55587-950-1.
- Jentz, Thomas; Doyle, Hilary (1997). Germany's Tiger Tanks - Vk45 to Tiger II: Design, Production & Modifications. West Chester: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7643-0224-4.
- Jentz, Thomas; Doyle, Hilary (1993). Kingtiger Heavy Tank, 1942-45. London: Osprey. ISBN 1-85532-282-X.
- Jentz, Thomas (1996). Panzertruppen 2: The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1943-1945. Schiffer. ISBN 978-0-7643-0080-6.
- Manchester, William (2003). The Arms of Krupp, 1587-1968: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War. Boston: Back Bay Books. ISBN 978-0-316-52940-2.
- Perrett, Bryan (2000). Sturmartillerie and Panzerjager 1939-45. London: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84176-004-9.
- Schneider, Wolfgang (1990). Elefant Jagdtiger Sturmtiger: Rarities of the Tiger Family. West Chester: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88740-239-5.
- Schneider, Wolfgang (2000). Tigers in Combat I. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3171-3.
- Schneider, Wolfgang (2005). Tigers in Combat II. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3203-1.
- Számvéber, Norbert (2000). Nehézpáncélosok. A német 503. nehézpáncélos-osztály magyarországi harcai. (in Hungarian). Hadtörténeti Levéltár. ISBN 963-00-2526-4.
- Wilbeck, Christopher (2004). Sledgehammers: Strengths and Flaws of Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II. The Aberjona Press. ISBN 978-0-9717650-2-3.
- Zaloga, Steve (1994). IS-2 Heavy Tank 1944-1973. London: Osprey Publishing (UK). ISBN 978-1-85532-396-4.
- AFV Database
- Panzer II Types
- Pictures of Panzer II at battletanks.com
- Panzer II—Panzer II at the Canada War Museum
- Surviving Panzer II tanks—A PDF file presenting the Panzer II tanks (PzKpfw. II, Luchs, Wespe, Marder II tanks) still existing in the world
- Surviving Panzer III tanks - A PDF file presenting the Panzer III tanks (PzKpfw. III, Flammpanzer III, StuIG33B, SU-76i, Panzerbeobachtungswagen III tanks) still existing in the world
- Production statistics and chassis numbers by month for the Tiger I at the Tiger I Information Center
- Information about the Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B "Tiger II" at Panzerworld
- Tiger II at the Armorsite
- Tiger II Ausf. B at Achtung Panzer!
- AFV Database
- La Gleize Museum's Tiger II
- Tiger survivors — Photos of surviving Tiger tanks (Tiger I, Kingtiger, Jagdtiger and Sturmtiger)
- Pantiger, A Redesigned Tiger (U.S. intelligence report, 1944)
- Saumur Musée des Blindés picture gallery, Tiger II at the bottom
- Tigers in the Ardennes Retrieved: 4 March 2010 - Photos and details of operational and captured Tiger IIs