Saturday, November 23, 2013

Panzer II

PzKpfw II Light Tank  (Panzerkampfwagen)

Panzer II

Country:              Germany
Crew:                    3
                                20mm KwK 30 cannon
                                Armor-piercing rounds only
                                Range -                 600m (656 yards)
                                7.92mm MG 34 machine-gun coaxial with main armament
                                20mm -                 180 rounds
                                7.92mm -             1,425 rounds
                                Ausf A, B, C
                                10mm (0.39in) minimum
                                30mm (1.18in) maximum
                                Ausf F
                                14.5mm (0.57in) minimum
                                35mm (1.38in) maximum
                                Length -               4.8m (15ft 9in)
                                Width -                 2.2m (7ft 3in)
                                Height -                1.98m (6ft 6in)
Weight:                   9,500kg (29,944lb)
Engine:                 Maybach HL 62 TR 6 cylinder, water cooled, inline gas engine
                                130hp @ 2,600 rpm
                                140hp with bored out cylinders on later models
                                Power to weight ratio -                 13.3hp/ton
                                                Road -                   40 km/h (25mph)
                                                Cross-country -    19 km/h (12mph)
Road -                   149 km (93 miles)
Cross-country -   99 km (62 miles)
                                Obstacle -                0.43m (1ft 5in)
                                Trench -                    1.72m (5ft 8in)
                                Fording -                  0.91m (3ft)
                                Gradient -                50 percent
Entered Service:
                                Ausf A -                                1935
                                Ausf F -                                1941
Ausf:                     Ausführung – design or execution

1940 Battle of France

Once the decision was made to no longer accept the tank limitations placed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles armored production moved forward at a rapid pace.  Still, the time needed to develop Germany’s main battle tanks, the Panzer III and Panzer IV, was too long a wait and the military turned to interim solutions.  The first of these was the 2-man Panzer I, armed only with machine guns.  A short time later, in 1935, production began on the 3-man, more heavily armed, Panzer II.  Both Panzer models were primarily intended for training purposes but the advent of war in 1939 forced the German army to rely on them in a significant combat role.  The Panzer II formed the backbone of Germany’s armored divisions in both the invasions of Poland and France.  They also had an important role with Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps in the desert warfare of 1941.  Limitations in its design made it unsuitable for use in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, except as a reconnaissance vehicle.

Afrika Korps

The PzKpfw II was best suited for an infantry support role as its 20mm cannon was unable to penetrate the armor of other tanks.  At the same time, its own light armor was vulnerable to anti-tank weapons of most any kind.  The rate of fire of the cannon was reasonable but vision from within the turret was poor and fire control could be difficult.  The maneuverability and agility of the Panzer II was good but this performance was limited by the engine’s power.  Its high-frequency radio enabled coordination between tanks in combat – an important factor in winning the battlefield.

Destroyed in North Africa

The Panzer II did surprisingly well in its initial engagements in Poland and France because of its mobility.  Blitzkrieg tactics emphasize speed and the Panzer II was competitive in this regard with most any tank available at the time.  Still, its size and limitations in armor and armament made it unable to survive the battlefield beyond 1941.  By then, though, the Panzer III and Panzer IV were now doing the heavy lifting and the Panzer II had already delivered more value than anyone would have been expected when it was introduced.

Panzer II used in reenactment

No comments:

Post a Comment