Five little-known tanks of the Second World War. Part of 2. Light reconnaissance tank "Lynx"
This combat vehicle was positioned as a further development of the light tank PzKpfw II built in a large series. In fact, the “Luchs” was an absolutely new tank. Like its larger and more formidable relatives in the family of feline "Tigers" and "Panthers", the light reconnaissance tank "Lynx" received a undercarriage with a chess arrangement of support rollers. Mounted on a 6-cylinder 180-strong engine, it accelerated along the highway to 60 km / h, and new observation devices were installed on the tank. But the reservation scheme and the main armament - automatic 20-mm gun KwK 38 went to the “Lynx” from the original PzKpfw II, which automatically became the main drawbacks of the new combat vehicle, which did not add to its popularity among the troops.
A number of circumstances contributed to the Wehrmacht’s request for a light reconnaissance tank. At the initial stage of the Second World War, numerous armored cars coped well with the tasks of conducting reconnaissance in the interests of the motorized and tank units of the German army. Their use in this role was greatly facilitated by the development of an extensive road network in Western Europe (there were a large number of paved roads) and the enemy’s lack of a massive anti-tank defense. It is not hard to guess that after the attack on the USSR, the situation radically changed, instead of roads, directions appeared, especially the situation became aggravated in the fall and spring, when the German technology literally stuck in the Russian mud. The second unpleasant surprise for the Wehrmacht was that the rifle divisions of the Red Army were armed with a sufficient amount of anti-tank artillery, and besides, Soviet soldiers began to use anti-tank guns on an ever-increasing scale. The 14,5-mm armor piercing bullet fired from an anti-tank gun easily penetrated the armor of all German light and heavy armored vehicles.
To rectify the situation, the Sd.Kfz.250 and Sd.Kfz.251 semi-tracked armored personnel carriers began to be massively transferred to the reconnaissance battalions. They also began to use Pz.38 (t) and Pz.II light tanks for reconnaissance, but the need for a specialized reconnaissance tank also became more obvious. However, the Wehrmacht’s Armaments Department workers foresaw a similar development of events, initiating work on the creation of a light reconnaissance tank before the start of World War II. However, these works, in fact, ended in nothing and the first truly reconnaissance tank was created only in 1942 year, and went into mass production in late August of that year. It was MAN's VK 1303 tank, which in June 1942 was tested at the famous Kummersdorf test site. During the tests, the car passed the 2484 kilometer and was put into service under the designation Pz. II Ausf. L "Luchs". The advance order provided for the release of 800 tanks of this type.
Surprisingly, the tank was outdated by the start of production: the reservation was clearly insufficient, although it exceeded the reservation of armored vehicles, and the 20-mm automatic gun was too weak a weapon. Reservations for the tank hull ranging from 10 mm (roof and bottom) to 30 mm (hull forehead) were clearly insufficient, especially for entering 1943-1944 battlefields. The welded box-shaped hull of the light reconnaissance tank was divided into three sections: control (the same as the transmission compartment), combat and engine. In front of the hull were the jobs of the driver (left) and the radio operator (right). At the disposal of both were observation devices located in the front sheet of the case, they could be closed by armored dampers. In the two-person tank tower there were the seats of the tank commander, who also served as a gunner and loader.
The tank turret was welded, but for some reason there was no commander's turret on it. At the same time, two periscopic observation devices were installed in the roof of the tower - in the commander’s and loader’s manhole covers. At the disposal of the latter there was also a viewing device on the right side of the tower. Unlike all modifications of the Pz.II linear tanks, the Lynx tower was installed symmetrically with respect to the longitudinal axis of the combat vehicle, the tower was rotated manually. All tanks were equipped with two radio stations: a shortwave radio station Fspr "f" and VHF radio station FuG 12.
The main armament of the tank was 20-mm automatic gun Rheinmetall-Borsig KwK 38, along with it was paired 7,92-mm machine gun MG 34 (MG 42). The gun's rate of fire reached 220 rounds per minute, the initial velocity of the armor-piercing projectile was 830 m / s. He could pierce an 25-mm armor sheet placed at an angle of 30 degrees over a distance of 350 meters. For the start of the war, such a gun was enough to confidently fight the Soviet light tanks BT and T-26, but against medium and heavy tanks the gun was almost completely useless, although the chance to beat off the light tanks T-60 and T-70 was even with such a weapon . The effectiveness of fragmentation ammunition was low. The ammunition of the tank consisted of 330 shots to the cannon and 2250 cartridges for the machine gun.
Even during the design, the German designers realized that for the 1942 of the year, the 20-mm gun would be very weak, which would significantly limit the tactical capabilities of the new tank. For this reason, from April 1943, it was proposed to switch to the release of a tank armed with a long-barreled 50-mm KwK 39 cannon with a barrel-length 60 caliber. The same gun was installed on the German tanks Pz.IIl modifications of J, L and M, it was enough to fight the T-34. At the same time it was planned to place the gun in the new tower, since the old one was too small for it. Another feature was that the new expanded tower was open at the top, which also provided the crew with a better overview and ability to observe the battlefield (after all, the tank was originally created as a reconnaissance vehicle). The prototype of a tank with such a turret was known as VK 1303b, but its production was eventually limited to a few units.
The heart of the tank was a liquid-cooled Maybach HL 6р Xb-cylinder carburetor inline engine, it developed the maximum power of the HP 66. at 180 rpm. With this engine, the tank accelerated to 3200 km / h while driving on the highway, which was more than enough. The fuel used was leaded petrol with an octane rating of 60, the capacity of the two available fuel tanks was 76 liters. Cruising on the highway was about 235 km, when driving on rough terrain - no more than 290 km.
The chassis of the tank in relation to one side consisted of five rubberized rollers arranged in two rows (in a checkerboard pattern), a guide wheel with a caterpillar tensioning mechanism and a front-wheel drive wheel. On the first and fifth track rollers were located telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers. In general, due to the use of a chess arrangement of rollers, the tank was distinguished by a good smoothness.
The light reconnaissance tank “Lynx” was serially produced at two German enterprises: MAN and Henschel. Mass production began in the second half of August 1942. At the same time, 118 PzKpfw II aufs left the workshops of MAN. L Luchs, the company Henschel collected all 18 combat vehicles. All of them were armed with an 20-mm KwK 38 automatic cannon. The exact number of assembled tanks equipped with 50-mm guns is unknown, according to various sources, the factory workshops left only 4 to 6 of such combat vehicles (and this is the most optimistic estimate).
The first production tanks began to arrive in combat units already in the autumn of 1942. According to the plans they planned to equip one company each in the reconnaissance battalions of tank divisions. But in fact, the number of tanks released was not enough; new reconnaissance vehicles received only a few parts. For example, on the Eastern Front, these were the 3-I and 4-I tank divisions. On the Western Front - 2-I, 116-I and Tank Training Divisions. In addition, several "Rysya" was in service with the tank army division "Dead Head". Despite its small number of PzKpfw II aufs. L Luchs were used extensively until the end of the 1944 of the year, and in the 4 tank division, in which these tanks were fully equipped with the 2 company of the 4 reconnaissance battalion (27 tanks in October 1943), the last remaining vehicles were used in the 1945 year
The combat use of these tanks confirmed the weakness of their armor protection and armament, and if the Germans tried to do something even in the field, then with the rearmament of tanks nothing could be done. It is reliably known that in the 4 Panzer Division, a part of “Ryysy” received additional 20-mm armor plates in a frontal projection, which brought the thickness of the reservation of the forehead of the light tank body to 50 mm.
The vast majority of these tanks were lost during the fighting on the Eastern and Western fronts. Only two copies of PzKpfw II aufs have survived to our time. L Luchs. One light reconnaissance tank is located in France, in the tank museum in Samyur, the second is in Great Britain, in the tank museum in Bovington.
Performance characteristics PzKpfw II aufs. L Luchs (Lynx):
Overall dimensions: body length - 4630 mm, width - 2480 mm, height - 2210 mm.
Combat weight - 11,8 t.
The power plant is a Maybach HL 6р 66 180 carbureted carburetor engine.
The maximum speed is up to 60 km / h (on the highway), up to 30 km / h over rough terrain.
Power reserve - 290 km (on the highway), 150 km (over rough terrain).
Armament - 20-mm automatic cannon KwK 38 and 7,92-mm machine gun MG-34.
Ammunition - 330 shells, 2250 cartridges for machine guns.
Crew - 4 person.
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