The Panzerkampfwagen III and IV were the first medium battle tanks produced in Germany.


The Panzerkampfwagen III

The Panzer III was built from 1937 on at Daimler-Benz. Initial variants were armed with a 3.7 cm gun and were intended to fight other tanks.

Later versions however were equipped with a larger 5 cm gun, due to the improved tank developments of the allies.

Starting from June 1942 also the caliber of the 5 cm gun was no longer sufficient, so that the Panzer III was built then with a flamethrower (Mark M) or a short barreled 7.5 cm gun (Mark N) and was used as infantry support tank.

In August 1943 the production of the Panzer III was canceled. Altogether approximately 5,700 Panzer III from Ausf. A to N were built. Different chassis of outdated Panzer III were re-equipped either with new turrets or converted e.g. to bridge -, recovery- or ammunition tanks.


The Panzerkampfwagen IV

The development of the Panzer IV began in the year 1935 under the name "7.5 cm Geschuetz-Panzerwagen" (7.5 cm gunned armored vehicle) at Krupp. Its planned task was the fight against infantry and fortified positions in company of the Panzer III, which was intended to fight enemy tanks.

1936 the name was changed to Panzerkampfwagen IV and production started 1937 with the Ausführung A. The Marks A to F1 were armed with a short 7.5 cm gun.

 When the German tanks encountered the far superior T-34 after the invasion of Russia in the summer 1941, the development of a 7.5 cm KwK (tank gun) with a long barrel began. In March 1942 this new gun was then for the first time installed in the Panzer IV Mark F2 and was immediately a success. The Panzer IV was thus approximately equal to the T-34 and far superior to the English and American tanks in North Africa.

The Panzer IV was built up to the end of the war (up to Mark J) and was the most numerous built German tank. Altogether approximately 8,500 Panzer IV were produced. The chassis of the Panzer IV was also base for further armored vehicles e.g. the Jagdpanzer IV (tank destroyer), Sturmpanzer IV (assault gun) and different armored anti-aircraft vehicles.

Some Panzers IV were even used by the Syrian army until 1967 when they were captured by Israeli troops on the Golan Heights.


The Sturmgeschuetze [Assault guns] III and IV

In 1935 the Wehrmacht began with the development of assault guns, which should give direct fire support for the advancing infantry. Therefore chassis of the Panzer III were provided with fixed superstructures, into which a gun was integrated. These vehicles were thus substantially faster and cheaper to produce than adequate battle tanks.

Production began 1940 with the StuG (Short for Sturmgeschuetz [assault gun]) III Ausführung A, which was armed with a short 7.5 cm gun. As the long barreled 7.5 cm gun became available in 1942, these were also built into the StuG III, starting from Mark F.

Due to the low silhouette of the vehicle it was also suitable as tank hunter, which were urgently needed in Russia.

About 10,000 StuG III were built from Mark A to G. When the production of the Panzer III was stopped in August 1943, the assault guns should then be built on basis of the Panzer IV chassis, about 1,100 pieces were built from the StuG IV designated vehicle between December 1943 and March 1945.

Against the planning the StuG III remained in production to end of war however.

Because of tank scarceness assault guns were also integrated frequently in tank companies as replacement for battle tanks.

The Models:

PzKpfW III Ausf. L

StuG III Ausf. G

StuH 42

PzKpfW IV Ausf. F1

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