Military Review

The Ugly Ducklings Panzertruppen

8
The Ugly Ducklings Panzertruppen



On January 27, 1934, the 6th Inspectorate of Motorized Forces of the German General Directorate of Land Forces (Allgemeine Heeresamt / lnspektorat6, or AHA / In.6) issued an order to the 6th control and experimental department of automobile and armored vehicles of the Directorate of Land Forces (Waffenamt Allgemeine / Waffenpruefwesen 6, or WA / Wa.Prw.6) start designing two tanksarmed with anti-tank guns. The first model, the “verstaerkter KI.Tr.6 to” (6 t reinforced light tank), code-named La.S.100 (agricultural tractor with 100 hp engine), was to be equipped with a 2,0 caliber gun cm The second, weighing up to 10 tons, had the designation ZW (Zugfuehrerwagen - tank of the platoon commander), - a 3,7 cm cannon. Subsequently, the first tank became known as Pz.Kpfw.ll (Sd.Kfz.121), and the second - Pz.Kpfw.lll (Sd.Kfz.141).

Spring suspension first worked on the Leichttraktor company Rheinmetall


The TK for new tanks was formulated by In.6, and the initial task of Wa.Prw.6 was the development of draft designs in collaboration with prospective manufacturers. However, already at the stage of preliminary design of the overall layout of the tank with the 3,7 cm gun, it turned out that it would not be possible to meet the weight limits (10 t), and it was decided to limit the maximum weight of the loaded tank with 18 t.

This limitation was explained by the fact that the pontoon-bridge park of the German type B column included 16 semi-pontoons and allowed to build either two ferries with a carrying capacity of 16 t (18 t for tracked vehicles) or a bridge of 54 m of the same carrying capacity.

The technical design assignment issued to the firms participating in the design competition for the 18-ton ZW chassis immediately envisaged that the tank was equipped with a Maybach HL 100 water-cooled engine with a 300 HP horsepower. This made it possible to obtain the same power density and dynamic characteristics as the last modification of the tank Pz.Kpfw.l Ausf. In (which had a Maybach NL38 Tr engine with 100 HP power. With curb weight 5,8 t), production of which was planned to start in 1936,

Permission for the construction of wooden models of both ZW and La.S.100 was issued on 12 in October on 1934. After studying three draft designs of the ZW chassis, presented by Daimler-Benz, MAN. and Rheinmetall, Wa.Prw.6 signed contracts for the detailed design and construction of Versuch-Fahrgestell (chassis prototypes) for the first ZW variant with Daimler-Benz (two ZW1 chassis) and with M.А.N. (one chassis). Production of the Versuch-Turm (prototype towers) for the ZW1 was commissioned by Krupp (two towers) and Rheinmetall (one). In addition, Krupp also received an order for the production of three more Versuch-Turm: one tower with enhanced armor and two - with the accommodation of two crew members instead of three. Daimler-Benz was also responsible for the release of two structural steel chassis for the ZW3 and ZW4 prototypes. The engine, as planned, was supplied by Maybach, but its real power was 250 hp.

In August, 1935, the company Daimler-Benz handed over the first Versuch-Fahrgestell of armored steel. In the same month, Krupp produced two towers made at the Essen factory. After testing, they were returned to the factory for small alterations. It is interesting that initially the “Krupp” towers had external masks for attaching guns, but later, on February 22 1936, Wa.Prw.6 demanded to replace them with internal ones.

Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.A (or its prototype) with an early version of the tower, which had along the bottom edge a number of conical bolt heads and an internal gun mask


The chassis designs of the ZW1 and ZW3 prototypes, after numerous modifications, formed the basis of the chassis designs, respectively, modifications of the 1.Serie / ZW and 2.Serie / ZW tank. The order for the production of the first experimental batch (0-Serie, or Versuch-Serie) from the 25 tank was made issued in December 1935 and envisaged the construction of ten tanks 1.Serie / ZW (chassis numbers 60101-60110) and 15 tanks 2.Serie / ZW (chassis numbers 60201-60215). With the introduction of 3 April 1936, the new designations for armored vehicles, these modifications were designated Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.A and Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.B, respectively.

The production of the chassis and the final assembly of the tank took place at the Werk 40 Daimler-Benz plant in Marienfelde, a suburb of Berlin. Deutsche Edelstahlwerke was in charge of armor kits for ten chassis and five turrets of 1.Serie / ZW, Krupp, Essen - five kits for 1.Serie / ZW’s hulls and ten for 2.Serie / ZW Krupp-Grusonwerk’s factory and ten build ten towers for 1.Serie / ZW and five for 2.Serie / ZW

Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .A on the ground of the 5-th tank regiment of the 3-th tank division. Two horizontal blinds and two in the side walls of the roof of the engine compartment were used for the flow of engine cooling air


At the beginning of the second half of 1936, orders for the production of 40 3.Serie / ZW tanks were issued. Alkett (Berlin-Tegel) was engaged in assembling 36 towers, and the other four towers were Krupp-Grusonwerk. Daimler-Benz should have presented the 15 3a.Serie / ZW modification chassis (60301-60315 number) and the 25 chassis - 3b.Serie / ZW (60316-60340) modifications. Subsequently, tanks with these chassis received the designation, respectively, Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.C and Pz.Kpfw.lllAusf.D.

All ten Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.A6binn were delivered to the army from May to October, and ten Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.B — approximately in the second half of November, 1937 (five 2.Serie / ZW chassis were used to create prototypes assault guns). Until the end of the year, three tanks Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.C also entered the troops, and the remaining 37 Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.C / D - until the end of July 1938.

Why, two and a half years after the issuance of the first order for the manufacture of Pz.Kpfw.lll, only 60 of such tanks were released?

20 December 1935 d. Inspekteur der Kraftfahrkampftruppen und furer Heeres-motorisierung Oswald Lutz, who led ln.6 from 1 April 1931 to 15 February 1936 (and simultaneously with XNMXXXXXXXXXX) who led the command of the mechanized-mechanized troops), sent a report to the Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces of Germany with a proposal that each tank brigade of the tank divisions being formed be armed with 1 "MG Pz.Kpf.Wg." (later designated Pz.Kpfw.l), 1934 " 1938 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg. ”(Pz. Kpfw.ll), 293“ 72 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg "(Pz. Kpfw.lll), 2" 79 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg ”(Pz. Kpfw.IV) and ten“ Befehls-Pz.Kpf.Wg ”. Total - 3,7 linear and ten commander tanks. The battalion was to consist of three light and one heavy company. It was proposed to have three platoons in light tank companies, each with two tanks armed with 40 cm guns and five machine-gun tanks, and a fourth platoon with five tanks with 7,5 guns, see. It was planned to include one light platoon with seven MG Pz in the heavy tank company .Kpf.Wg. and three platoons of three tanks each with 472 caliber guns (see 2 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg).

Buried in the slope of the pit Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .A. A signal flag sticks out of the commander's turret, its manhole covers are fixed in the extreme position. Under the mask of a cannon, a bump stop is installed, which served to deflect the antenna when turning the turret. In the photo on the right: in front of the commander’s turret, on the left and right, there are ventilation hatches with covers (the cover of the right hatch is tilted back). A simulator of a periscope observation device is installed on the left cover. The covers were folded back for signaling flags and for throwing out the spent cartridges. The armor cover of the front viewing opening of the driver, covered with a glass block 12 mm thick, does not have a viewing slot; in battle, the driver used a periscopic binocular observation device KFF1 with a field of view 50 ° and a slight increase 1,15 times


In response to this report, the chief of the General Staff, Beck, expressed the opinion that tanks armed with 3,7 caliber guns should form the basis of tank brigade forces. In his opinion, tanks with 2-cm guns were suitable only for reconnaissance. It was proposed to reduce the number of tanks in the light mouth platoons to five. However, 15 in January 1936 was the German General Land Affairs Directorate (Allgemeine Heeresamt, or AHA), which included ln.6, sent Beck his vision of the armament of tank brigades. Agreeing with the decrease in the number of tanks in the platoons, the AHA, supporting Lutz, did not agree with Beck’s view that all tanks should be armed with anti-tank guns. The following arguments were made:
- the fight against enemy manpower for tanks is no less important than the destruction of its tanks. Three machine-gun tanks (the price of each 50 thousand Reichsmark) is better accomplished this task than a single tank with a 3,7 caliber cannon cm (at the price of 150 thousand Reichsmark);
- The gun tank is a larger target than a machine gun tank. To destroy it, one hit is enough, and to disable three machine-gun tanks, three hits are required;
- using SmKH cartridges with armor-piercing bullets made of tungsten alloy, machine-gun tanks can fight with lightly armored targets.

On the same day, the head of the Army Armaments Directorate, Lise (Liese), sent his reply to Beck, which briefly boiled down to the following:
- design of heavy tanks will require long-term refinement, so you should not rush to launch them in high-volume production;
- the transition from the production of light machine-gun tanks to heavy ones requires additional investments up to 20 million Reichsmarks for each tank assembly plant;
- to save skilled labor in tank factories, it is required to keep light machine-gun tanks and tanks with 2 caliber guns in production.

Summarizing the above, Lisa reported that additional equipment could be supplied to the factories for 1 on April 1937. By this time, the blueprints with changes made according to the test results of the tanks with the 3,7-cm cannon will be ready, and from that moment large series can be ordered, counting for the supply of up to 100 tanks per month from 1 in January 1938. Until that time, light tanks should be produced.

The body of the tank Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf. A. had a vertical rear wall. Two high cylindrical caps on the sides protected the caterpillar tension mechanisms. The central towing eye had a developed upper horizontal stiffener. Along the upper edge of both the rear and side walls of the engine compartment, as well as on the rear inclined part of the roof of the engine compartment, there were louvres for cooling air to exit. Above the silencer is a device for dropping smoke grenades (additionally installed on tanks since August 1938)


28 January 1936. Lutz in a report addressed to Beck also explained the reasons why the tank 3,7 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg. could not be run in high volume production. He proposed the following production schedule: the first 25 tanks will be delivered to the troops on April 1 1937 g .; after the military technical and tactical tests, which will last until the end of the summer, 4 of the month will be required to make changes in the design and rework the drawings. Therefore, plants will receive a new set of drawings by the beginning of 1938. Production of the first tanks will take 9 months, as a result, the first large-scale production vehicles will arrive in the troops no earlier than the autumn of 1938.

Lutz also recalled the directive of the Commander-in-Chief of Land Forces (Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres), which prescribes that high-priced weapons should be launched into high-volume production only after the completion of their finalization. The report concluded that the troops armed with MGPz.Kpf.Wg. and 2cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg., have significant combat value.

Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .A. with tower number 432 (the second tank of the third platoon of the fourth company) near Pz.Kpfw.IV (number 443). By the beginning of the war, the battalions of most of the tank divisions Pz.Kpfw.lll and Pz.Kpfw.IV were part of a light tank company of type "a" (leichte panzerkompanier a), which had, in addition to five Pz.Kpfw.ll, in a light platoon, three Pz .Kpfw.lll in one platoon and six Pz. Kpfw. IV in one or two other platoons


Despite the outward harmony and logical explanations of Lisa and Lutz, it is impossible not to notice a number of contradictions. Referring to the fact that the design of the tank 3,7 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg. It is still underdone, they urged to limit the large-scale production of MG Pz.Kpf.Wg. and 2 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg. under the pretext of preserving skilled labor. But the design of the tank 2 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg. was no less raw. Responsible for the development of tanks in Wa.Prw.6 Knipkamp (Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp) at a meeting with a representative of the company Krupp 27 on January 1937, directly stated that the design La.S. MAN's 100 was unsuccessful. Small-diameter compactors tires quickly wore out, leaf springs kept running only from 1500 to 2500 km, the caterpillar tension adjustment mechanism often failed, and to improve cross-country maneuverability, the shape of the front part of the case had to be redone, which caused the body to be extended to 35, see. it was required to transfer from the combat compartment to the engine compartment, tankmen complained about the difficult access to the engine and the unsuccessful design of the driver's hatch.

Judging by the solid white crosses, Pz.Kpfw.Ill Ausf.A. photographed just before the start of the Polish campaign


Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.B during the parade at the stadium in Nuremberg. Four carts, each with two road wheels, are individually connected to four horizontal cylindrical shock absorbers and in pairs with two leaf springs


The roof of the engine compartment Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.B had a smaller inclination of the rear part than that of the Ausf .A, and there were no louvers for air in its side walls


Nevertheless, In.6 in October 1935 issued to MAN an order for the production of three batches of tanks (25 machines each) of the 1-series of the Pz.Kpfw.ll series (Daimler-Benz carried out the turrets and turret boxes). In the middle of 1936, the 2 series was ordered - the 131 tank, including the 31 - with a new individual suspension of the Ausf.c. modification. Then followed the 3-series - 44 Ausf.c, and in September 1936 appeared an order for the 4-series (210 tanks of the first serial modification Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf .А). Thus, within a year after the decision to start production, 460 tanks Pz.Kpfw.ll were ordered. Over the next year, before 1 in October 1937, 748 5, 6 and 7 series tanks were also ordered. As a result, by September 1 1939, the German army had 1223 tanks Pz. Kpfw. Ii.

Indicative and история launch a series of another tank (heavy). Having finished 30 on April 1936, the manufacturer of the prototype BW fire support tank (Begleitwagen - escort vehicle), later received the designation Pz. Kpfw. IV, Krupp received in December of the same year an order to manufacture 35 machines 1.Serie / BW right away. Over the next year, 42 tank modifications 2.Serie / BW and 140 - 3.Serie / BW were ordered (in October). At the same time, the Krupp chassis design was also considered inadequate, so they did not even try to use it for the ZW tank. Moreover, 1 June 1937 of Mr. Knipkamp told Krupp that starting with the third series, the BW tanks would use the chassis that was unified with in the development of 4.Serie / ZW Only a delay in the development of the latter and the outbreak of the war prevented the implementation of this decision. Krupp completed the third order for 1 in September 1939, having managed to deliver Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks to the ground forces of 211 (six chassis were used to create bridge layers).

Thus, the designs of tanks Pz.Kpfw.ll and IV were brought in the process of deploying large-scale production.

Return to Germany after the Polish campaign. On the front sheet of the podashennoy box Pz.Kpfw.Ill Ausf.D with tower number 142 visible remnants of smeared solid white cross. The crosses on the front sheet were already painted over during the war, as the German tank crews believed that these marks stood out against the background of the protective coloring of the tanks and served as a target for Polish gunners.

The discussion at the beginning of 1936 with the manufacturers of the plans for tank production showed that the figures for the required investment cited by Lisa in the Beck report turned out to be greatly overestimated. Thus, Daimler-Benz’s proposal to organize the production of an 18-ton tank (ZW) at its Werk 40 plant in Berlin’s Marienfeld suburb to increase its production capacity to produce 20 tanks per month with single-shift operation and 50 tanks with three shifts, it was necessary to provide from the military ministry subsidies of only 2,3 million Reichsmarks. MAN, which was supposed to organize the production of the same capacity, demanded that the state finance the purchase of only a few units of specialized equipment.

By the way, I must say that the plant, which produced 20 tanks per month during single shift work in peacetime, was a large production for Western Europe. Thus, the orders of the French government for the most massive tanks R35 and H35 in 1935 were, respectively, 300 and 200 units.

Ha Pz.Kpfw.llI Ausf.B to protect the driver’s front viewing aperture, still covered with glass block 12 mm thick, used an armored housing with a viewing slit borrowed from the light tank Pz.Kpfw.ll Ausf.A, like the new periscope binocular device observations K. F2


Recessed round hatches with loops to provide access to the brake drums were a distinctive feature of Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.В


Approval of Lisa on the need for production of MG and 2 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg. in order to preserve the workforce is also debatable.

By 15 January 1936, five firms already had orders for the production of MG Pz.Kpf.Wg tanks. (Pz.Kpfw.l) - Krupp-Grusonwerk, Magdeburg (496 tanks), Henschel (357), MAN (266), Daimler-Benz (236) and Rheinmetall (160); total 1515 tanks (including commander). Until September, 1936 orders were issued for another 258 tanks - Krupp-Grusonwerk (34), Henschel (116), MAN. (34), Daimler-Benz (74). But the firm Rheinmetall orders for tanks no longer received.

The program for the production of tanks 2 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg. Initially, two companies participated: MAN (chassis) and Daimler-Benz (turret box and tower). When issuing an order for the 4 series (210 tanks of the first production version Pz.Kpfw.ll Ausf .A), the plant was additionally attracted to the factory for assembling towers and underboard boxes (Wegmann, Kassel) and two chassis assembly plants (including Henschel ). For the production of the 5-series chassis involved Alkett, 7-series - MIAG and FAMO. Thus, the number of ordered 2 cm Gesch. Pz.Kpf.Wg. turned out to be so large that it exceeded the capabilities of the tank factories available at 15 in January of 1936 and required the connection of an additional four firms that had not previously participated in tank production. Moreover, the fulfillment of a large order for Pz.Kpfw.ll disrupted preparations for mass production of Pz.Kpfw.lll., First of all, at the companies-suppliers of component parts and armor details. This caused a delay in the start of the production of the "triples" of the new modification at the assembly plants.

Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.With chassis number 60313 in a tank park in Wünsdorf. The tower received a new commander's turret. On the plates of the inscription: "Ready to move," "Water is not drained," "Antifreeze"


Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .C. The hatches on the lower front plate again became square. The road wheels were still arranged in pairs on four bogies, but now the two central bogies were connected to one central leaf spring; extreme trolleys with track rollers have received individual short leaf springs


So, if Daimler-Benz assembled the first nine chassis Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.E already in 1938, then MAN could start assembling the first three chassis of this tank only in March 1939 in Henschel its first Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .F passed only in August, and MIAG produced the first two Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.F in September 1939. FAMO from 35 ordered by Pz.Kpfw.ll released 26 before the end of November 1939, the last nine - in April 1940 g ., and the release of Pz.Kpfw.lll could only start at the beginning of 1940.

Obviously, the real reason for the small number of ordered Pz.Kpfw.lll was that Lutz deliberately directed the limited resources of the German tank industry to release Pz.Kpfw.ll. Both tanks were created in accordance with the tactical and technical requirements formed in January 1934. Their armor provided protection only from armor-piercing bullets with a steel core of rifle caliber. Armor-piercing shell Pzgr. 2 cm caliber, released from the Kw.K.30 tank gun with an initial speed of 780 m / s, punched at an angle of 30 ° from the normal, armor 20 mm thick at a distance of 100 m and 14 mm - at a distance of 500 m. This was enough to fight the most common light tanks of potential opponents - Czech LT-34, Polish Vickers and French FT-17. At the same time, German experiments with sub-caliber shells made it possible to hope for a dramatic increase in the effectiveness of the 2 cm gun (indeed, the Pzgr.40 projectile later used at an initial speed of 1050 m / s pierced 40 mm in armor).

In Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .D, the axles of the balancers of the end carriages shifted to the center, the balancers themselves turned in the opposite direction, therefore the extreme short leaf springs connected to their levers were installed with a slope


Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .D with tail number 431, drove onto Pz.Kpfw.l when reversing


In addition, Lutz defended the point of view that in the upcoming wars, tank battles with tanks would be the exception, not the rule. To enter into battle their tanks should choose areas of the front where there were no enemy tanks, and the attack of enemy combat vehicles should be repelled by artillery, as a cheaper and massive anti-tank weapon. Therefore, although the shell 3,7 see Pzgr. Kw.K L745 cannon tank Pz.Kpfw.lll and ensured penetration of armor 35 mm thick at a distance of 100 m and 29 mm at a distance 500 m, and the presence of a dedicated tank commander, who had all-round visibility, made it easier to detect the enemy in search. battle, from the point of view of Lutz, this did not justify doubling the cost of the tank. In addition, the Pz.Kpfw.ll could use the same bridges with a 8 tonnage as the Pz.Kpfw.l machine gun armor of the armor of the tank forces, while for the Pz.Kpfw.lll a 16-ton bridge was required.

It is possible that the fact that Beck offered 1935 in December as one of the options for organizing tank forces to give each army corps, instead of an anti-tank division, a tank battalion armed with Pz.Kpfw.lll, influenced Lutz’s decision. According to Lutz and his chief of staff, Guderian, this was contrary to the principle of massive use of tanks, which could only be achieved by concentrating them in tank divisions.

Meanwhile, the light tanks had a dangerous enemy - automatic and semi-automatic guns of the caliber 20 and 25 mm. The French army in 1934 adopted the Hotchkiss 25-mm anti-tank gun, Canon leger de 25 antichar SA-L and 1934. At the same time, if in August 1933 the French army in the conditions of the competition for the creation of a new light tank indicated the required thickness of the armor 30 mm, then according to the test results of the Hotchkiss gun in June 1934 demanded that the contestants submit prototypes with armor 40 mm thick. In accordance with these requirements, R-35, H-35 and FCM-36 were created. The Czechoslovak military followed a different path. The new Czech LT-35 tank received frontal armor 25 mm thick, which withstood the 20-mm projectile of the Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannon at a distance of 250 m, while the onboard armor had to withstand the armor-piercing rifle bullets. [1]

After inspecting Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.C, damaged under Mlava in Poland, they decided not to restore it. Repairmen of the 7-th tank regiment dismantle all components and assemblies


But In.6 continued to adhere to the concept of sufficiency of anti-bullet reservation of tanks. Only after 15 in February, 1936 of Lutz left In.6, Wa.Prw.6, in a memorandum from 23 in March, 1936 raised the question of revising the required reservation level of German tanks, offering at least some of the machines to protect armor, allowing counter 25-mm Hotchkiss cannon shells.

However, neither the 1936.Serie / ZW tanks ordered in the second half of 3, nor the 1.Serie / BW heavy tanks (December of the same year) received an enhanced reservation. The turning point in the approach to the required level of protection occurred only in 1937, largely due to the experience gained during the battles in Spain. The 1937.Serie / BW tanks ordered in the middle of 2, which were launched in May of 1938, already had 30-mm frontal armor. But the main event was the creation of the tank 4.Serie / ZW (also known as ZW38), the design of which ended in 1938. Tank, as it was conceived, embodied the latest achievements of German tank construction. Not all the new nodes tested on the prototype went into the series. But also in a more suitable for mass production and operation, in a simplified form, the tank ZW38, or Pz.Kpfw.lll E, as well as its subsequent modifications, struck contemporaries with the perfection of their design. It was he who became widely known as a real "troika".

Combat service Pz.Kpfw.lll of the first series was short. On 1 September 1939 was produced 110 tanks Pz.Kpfw.lll, of which 50 - Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.E / F. [2] But the troops had only 103 [3] (or, according to other sources, 98 [4]) Pz.Kpfw.lll of all modifications, of which 87 is in the army, 11 is in tank schools and reserve units. Apparently, before 12 Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.E were in the arsenals, where they passed the final staffing with radio stations, machine guns, etc. Thus, at least 49 Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.A, B, C, D took part in the hostilities in Poland.

The 37 “threes” (mostly the newest Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.E) were in I.Abteilung / Panzer-Lehr-Regiment (1 battalion of the tank training regiment) subordinated to the 3-th tank brigade of the 3-th tank division. Another three Pz.Kpfw.lll were in the Pz.Rgt 5 (5-m tank regiment) and in the Pz.Rgt 6, which was part of the same brigade. 26 Pz.Kpfw.lll was counted in the 1 Panzer Division (20 in Pz.Rgt 1 and 6 in Pz.Rgt.2). Three Pz.Kpfw.lll were located in Pz.Rgt.3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 15.

The thin armor of the first modifications of the “troika” was easily penetrated by Polish anti-tank guns and cannons. As a result, permanent losses in Poland amounted to 26 Pz.Kpfw.lll. Although these tanks roughly matched many contemporaries (for example, the Soviet T-26 and BT tanks), German tankers found them unsuitable for use in the first line. Before the start of the French campaign, modifications of Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.A, B, C, D were withdrawn from the army and transferred to tank schools after factory overhaul. Judging by the fact that in February and April 1940 40 Pz.Kpfw.lll were excluded from the composition of the tank forces (and returned in March 1941), 20 of the three triples lost in Poland from 26 were exactly these four modifications.

German infantryman inspects abandoned Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.D, damaged during the Polish campaign


Same tank already delivered to SPAM


But the combat service of the first "triples" is not over. Under an additional contract, Daimler-Benz assembled five modified 3b.Serie / ZW chassis (60221-60225 numbers) and installed five towers and underboard boxes of the Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.B tank on them, remaining after five 2.Serie chassis / ZW used to create prototype assault guns. The manufacture of five hybrids, which received the designation Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.D, was delayed until October 1940 due to the fulfillment of the production contract for Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.E, which had a higher priority. Outdated at the production stage, the tanks were sent to Norway, where they became part of the 40 2nd Special Purpose Tank Battalion (Panzer-Abteilung zbV40).

In general, it can be recognized that the first “troika” did not become mass vehicles due to tactical and technical requirements for the cannon tank that were incorrectly formed in January of the 1934. This led to the creation of an expensive large tank with a three-seat turret, which had only bullet-proof booking. The leadership of the German tank forces chose to massively order cheaper light tanks, albeit with a less powerful gun. The first “troika”, in fact, have become test benches, which have allowed us to work out many components and assemblies in the process of lengthy military tests. For example, brake drum sizes on Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .C / D increased by 25% compared to Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf .А / В, and on 50% - on Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.E. In the first three, the Maybach HL 108 TR engine, on the basis of which the HL 120 TR was created, was tested, and the design of many armor-pieces was tested (as in the text, note of the BBC).

A positive role was played by the fact that, having determined the impossibility of meeting the mass limit in 10 t, the designers were allowed to immediately design the tank in the 18 t class - the next natural limit, determined by the carrying capacity of the German engineering bridge park. As a result, a tank appeared that had a huge potential for further modernization - up to the installation of an 50-mm long-barreled gun or an 75-mm short-barreled gun and an increase in the thickness of the frontal armor to 50 mm. But only the Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.E, which was redesigned almost anew, with armor protecting against small-caliber shells, became a really well-balanced, effective combat vehicle.

The main tactical and technical characteristics of tanks Pz.Kpfw.III first modifications

Modification

Ausf.A

Ausf.B

Ausf.C

Ausf.D

Length m

5,800

5,665

5,850

5,920

Width, total, m

2,810

2,810

2,820

2,820

Case width, m

1,850

1,850

1,860

1,860

Height, m

2,360

2,387

2,415

2,415

Gross weight, t

15

16

16

16

Volume of fuel tank, l

300

300

300

300

Thickness (mm) / armor angle:

front body sheet

14,5 / 20 °

14,5 / 19 °

14,5 / 19 °

14,5 / 19 °

front sheet of the turret box

14,5 / 9 °

14,5 / 9 °

14,5 / 9 °

14,5 / 9 °

front sheet of the tower

16 / 15 °

16 / 15 °

16 / 15 °

16 / 15 °

side hull sheet

14,5 / 0 °

14,5 / 0 "

14,5 / 0 °

14,5 / 0 °

side sheet of the turret box

14,5 / 0 °

14,5 / 0 °

14,5 / 0 °

14,5 / 0 °

side sheet of the tower

14,5 / 25 °

14,5 / 25 °

14,5 / 25 °

14,5 / 25 °

commander's cupola

14,5 / 0 °

14,5 / 0 °

30,0 / 0 °

30,0 / 0 °

Maximum speed, km / h

35

35

35

35

Cruising on the highway, km

165

165

165

165

Transmission

SSG75

SSG75

SSG75

SSG76

Number of speeds

5

5

5

6

The height of the obstacle, m

0,55

0,575

0,575

0,575

Width of the overcrowded ditch, m

2,30

2,60

2,58

2,60

Wading depth, m

0,80

0,80

0,80

0,80

Specific pressure, kg / cm2

0,68

0,65

0,64

0,65



The tank unit could have a “troika” of various modifications. In the foreground is Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.D, in the background - Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.C


Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf. From the park of the 6-th tank regiment in the spring or summer of 1939 g. To facilitate access to the units, the upper horizontal and lower vertical hatches of the front of the hull were removed. The cross is applied directly on top of the chassis number - 60306. Usually such crosses were temporarily applied to armored vehicles participating in special events. Perhaps the tank was used during the oath-taking ceremony or headed the convoy during the parade in Prague


Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf. From the 6 or D tank regiment in Poland in the autumn of 1939. Polish 37-mm anti-tank guns, manufactured under the license of Bofors, penetrated the 16-mm armor of the first triples from any distance. The photo clearly shows the design feature of the towers of the first series Pz.Kpfw.lll - the forehead of the tower was not monolithic, but represented three vertical sections attached to the tower with conical-head bolts


Repair Pz. Kpfw. III Ausf.A 2 Tank Regiment during the Polish campaign. A standard device for dropping smoke grenades, replacing the old tubular structure, is visible on the right side of the back of the case.


In preparing this article, the book materials are also used:
Jentz TL Panzer Tracts #3-1. Panzerkampfwagen III
Author:
8 comments
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  1. Su-9
    Su-9 17 September 2013 08: 08 New
    +2
    It was always interesting to understand how the Polish campaign was analyzed in the USSR, and how the loss of lightly armored tanks among the Germans affected the creation and introduction of production of KV and 34ki.
    And about the Germans - Vicki writes that the Germans of three modifications A-D produced only 80 pieces - and already with decent E they began mass production. And of course it's surprising that the Germans managed to foresee so much about WW2. One quote "In addition, Lutz defended the point of view that tank-to-tank battles will be the exception, not the rule, in future wars." what is it worth ...
    1. maxvet
      maxvet 17 September 2013 10: 40 New
      +4
      The Polish company did not have a greater influence on the creation of the t34 and kv, but the war in Spain, where 37 mm anti-tank guns were used for the first time
  2. Marks
    Marks 17 September 2013 10: 33 New
    0
    People! Tell me where to find information on the use of German armored vehicles from the Second World War, after the war?
    1. dzvero
      dzvero 17 September 2013 12: 00 New
      +2
      "German tanks in battle" by Baryatinsky - there is a little at the end of each chapter.
    2. pensioner
      pensioner 17 September 2013 12: 20 New
      0
      If you type in google T-34 against pershing, then a lot of things are there ...
    3. andrewkor
      andrewkor 21 August 2017 17: 59 New
      +1
      First of all, in Israel!
  3. Kars
    Kars 17 September 2013 12: 07 New
    +5
    ______________
    1. Corsair
      Corsair 18 September 2013 02: 22 New
      0
      Wehrmacht plywood tank used to train troops in the interwar period.

      Clickable Image:
      1. Corsair
        Corsair 18 September 2013 02: 28 New
        0
        The wooden model of the T-34 tank used to train the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.

        Clickable Image:
  4. Dezzed
    Dezzed 17 September 2013 17: 42 New
    +2
    "Both tanks were created in accordance with the tactical and technical requirements formed in January 1934."
    Their armor only provided protection against steel-core rifle-caliber armor-piercing bullets. Armor-piercing shell Pzgr. caliber 2 cm, "


    "This was enough to deal with the most common light tanks of potential enemies."

    I somehow did not understand. here is the Soviet tank BT2, born in 1932.

    armament: 37 mm B-3 (5K) gun
    Barrel length 45 calibres

    Bt2 is 5 (five!) Years older than Pz.Kpfw.ll and the German generals thought that Renault 17 (1917!) Would be on the battlefield and m birth will be caught

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FT_17.jpg


    and yet, if the author writes about a 37 mm German cannon, then please let me add the barrel length, the rod was honest.
  5. Marks
    Marks 17 September 2013 20: 06 New
    +1
    Thanks, I will read!
  6. Shesternyack
    Shesternyack 17 September 2013 20: 22 New
    0
    This theme is well revealed in "Memories of a Soldier" by G. Guderian. After all, he was one of those who stood at the origins of the creation of the theory of the use of tanks and describes the pre-war period in some detail, revealing the features of the entire undercover struggle around the formation of German tank forces.