WW2 German Medium Tanks

Panzer IV Ausf.B-J

Nazi Germany (1937)
Medium tank – 8,544 built

The warhorse of the German army

When the Krupp factory’s Versuchs-Kraftfahrzeug 622 (Trial Vehicle 622) went into production as the Panzerkampfwagen-IV Ausf. A in November 1937, probably nobody realized that they had developed a vehicle what would become the mainstay of the German Panzerwaffe (Armoured Corps) well into the Second World War. It replaced the Panzer III as the most numerous German battle tank and fought alongside the later Panther, Tiger and Königstiger tanks until the end of the war.
The overall design of this tank dated back to November 1934 when the Wa.Prw.6, a section of the Heeres-Waffenamt (Army Procurement Agency), demanded a support tank, later to become the Pzkpfw. IV, and a battle tank, later to become the Pzkpfw. III.

Overall Layout

Although in production for 8 years and modified during every production run, the overall layout and appearance of the Pzkpfw. IV never changed. The engine was located in the rear of the vehicle, connected to a drive shaft which itself was attached to the transmission in the front.
One unique feature of the Pzkpfw. IV was the asymmetrical hull to connect the turret raze to the transmission to allow the turret to be traversed faster. To accomplish this, the turret was offset 6.50 cm (2.62 in) to the left and the engine 15 cm (6 in) to the right. The drive shaft itself was mounted on the chassis floor below the turret basket. The driver (Fahrer) sat on the front left of the tank with a large square hatch above its head and driver’s visor in front of him. The driver’s visor was protected by 50 mm thick bullet-proof glass and could be closed with an armoured cover during combat. When under small arms fire the driver used a binocular periscope with two small openings just above the driver’s visor supported by another visor to his left in the side of the upper structure.
He steered the vehicle with 2 steering brakes which worked on a conventional Krupp clutch-steering. On his left sat the radio-operator (Funker) below a identical square hatch in charge of an AM-radio with an effective range of up to 2 km. He had a forward mounted close-defence weapon (either a MG or a submachine gun depending on the variant) with a limited pivoting range mounted either in a armored ball mount or just stuck through a armored opening.
The radio operator had a very limited field of view. He could look through the aiming device of the ball mount (or just through the opening if no ball mount was installed) or a visor to his right in the side of the upper structure.
Behind the driver and radio-operator was the fully traversable turret with the 75 mm main gun and co-axial 7.92mm machine gun mounted in the turret front. The gunner (Richtschuetze) was located on the left of the gun, resting on a seat and aiming through a telescopic sight in front of him. To find any targets more easily, a small visor with a armored flap was attached next to the small opening for the gunsight.
The vehicle was equipped with an electrical turret traverse powered by a 2-cylinder DKW PZW-600 petrol engine, providing quick target acquisition and supporting the traverse of the turret in an oblique position. In case of a breakdown of the electrical turret traverse the gunner could operate a lever to switch over to traverse the turret manually. To traverse the turret full 360 degrees, the gunner had to turn the hand wheel 188 times.
The loader (Ladeschuetze) on the right of the turret was responsible for loading and maintaining the main gun and co-axial MG. The ammunition for the maingun and machine gun was dispersed in special containers all over the vehicle interior. For observation purposes he had a visor on his side of the turret front identical to that of the gunner.
The commander (Kommandant) was located right behind the gun breech, observing the battlefield through 5 armoured visors mounted around a tube-shaped commander’s cupola. While the gunner and commander sat on seats to offer them at least a minimum of comfort in the cramped turret, the loader could fold his seat up to stand besides the gun during the reloading procedure in combat situations.
A hatch was mounted in each side of the turret for easy access of the gunner and loader. A additional armored visor was installed in front of each hatch, offering additional but limited observation capacity. Two armored close defence openings were located in the rear of the turret to fend of enemy soldiers with pistols or submachine guns supplied to each tank crew.
The armor of the tank consisted of homogenous, nickel-free armor-steel PP694 of ever increasing thickness through production. The gasoline/petrol engine in the back of the chassis was supplied via 3 different fuel tanks (I, II, III). Fuel tank I and III were filled externally via fillers while fuel tank II was filled at the same time as III through a connecting hose which also vented the tank during filling. Fuel tank I contained approx. 140 litres of gasoline/petrol, fuel tank II approx. 110 litres and fuel tank III approx. 220 litres for a total of approx. 470 litres. The Pzkpfw. IVs had non-lubricated tracks consisting of 101 track links per side connected via bolts giving the tank a specific ground-pressure of 0.68kg/cm².

Armament and Ammunition

The main gun of the Pzkpfw. IV Ausf. A to F was the 7.5cm KwK (abbreviation for KampfWagenKanone = Combat Vehicle Tank Gun) 37 L/24. It was a howitzer type weapon with very short barrel just 1.7 m long, mounted in the front of the turret. The gun barrel was mounted in a jacket cradle with the recoil mechanism and recuperator located to its left and right side. It had a semi automatic gun breech at its rear. The gun fired high explosive (HE), armor piercing (AP) and shaped-charge anti-tank rounds (HEAT – high explosive anti-tank) as well as smoke and grapeshot/cannister rounds.
The usual anti-tank armor piercing round was the Kanonengranate rot (Leuchtspur) Panzer(brechend mit Schutzkappe) K. Gr. Rot Pz (Capped anti-tank round with tracer) or better known as Panzergranatpatrone-39 with a weight of 6.8 kg. It had a muzzle velocity of 385m/sec. and able to penetrate 41 mm of rolled homogenous steel plating at an angle of 30 degrees at a distance of 100 m. Three different shaped-charge anti-tank rounds came into use with the KwK 37 during the war, the Granate 1938 mit Hohlladung, Ausf. HL/A, HL/B und HL/C (HEAT round 1938 A, B, C) or just Gr. 38HL/A to C with a weight between 4.5 kg and 4.8 kg with a muzzle velocity of 450m/sec.
The short 75 mm main gun proved adequate against most light tanks fielded by the invaded nations like the French Renault R35 or Soviet T-26, but after facing the well armored Soviet T-34 medium tank and KV-1 plus KV-2 heavy tanks at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, and the French heavy tank Char B1 bis even earlier, the German Panzerwaffe demanded not only more effective tank guns but better ammunition as well.
Production of the HL/A round started on 12 December 1941 while the B followed in September 1942. From the HL/A to the HL/C, the armor piercing capabilities of the rounds was increased from 70 mm at any ranges to 75 mm to a total of 100 mm at any ranges.
A shaped-charge used a conical or hemispherical metal insert with forward facing opening surrounded by a extremely explosive blasting agent to shape a thin jet of cold-formed metal moving with very high speed to pierce through armor plating. One disadvantage of this ammunition was its dispersion because the armor piercing capability of the cold-formed metal jet was reverse proportional to the rotating speed of the round. Its effectiveness and dispersion was crucially reduced when fired by long barreled high velocity guns due to the high angular acceleration of the projectile. However as the intended role of the Pzkpfw. IV was to support the Pzkpfw. III and engage bunkers and field fortifications with the short barreled 75 mm gun, the main ammunition type used was the 7.5 cm Sprenggranate-34 or just 7.5 cm Sprg. 34, a 5.75kg heavy round with a high explosive charge of 0.66kg. These rounds proved very effective against unarmoured vehicles, bunkers and enemy infantry.
The secondary armament of the PzKpfw. IV consisted of a MG-34 mounted on the right hand side of the main gun and, depending on the version, a bow mounted MG-34 Panzerlauf (armoured barrel) operated by the radio operator. Not every versions of the early Pzkpfw. IV featured a ball mount for the bow mounted MG-34, some had just an armored flap through which the radio operator fired either with a MG-34 or a submachine gun. The MG-34 Panzerlauf featured an armored barrel cover with a lot fewer of the distinctive ventilation holes of the standard MG-34.
To make it easier to use the machine gun inside the cramped space of the tank, the weapon was used without the wooden butt-stock, but could equipped with one if necessary and a forward mounted bipod and a sight for use outside of the tank. The MG-34 machine gun had a calibre of 7.92 mm chambered for the 7.92 x 57 mm round and had a theoretical rate of fire of 800-900 rounds per minute and a muzzle velocity of 765 m/sec.

Paint and camouflage

When completed at the factories, German tanks received a basecoat of RAL-8012 (RAL-Reichsausschuss fuer Lieferbedingungen = Committee for Delivery Conditions) Rotbraun (Red Oxide Primer) over which the official camouflage pattern had to be applied.
This changed on 2 November 1938. Heeresmitteilung Nr. 687 (Army Announcement number 687) ordered all vehicles repainted in RAL-7021 Dunkelgrau (dark grey) and RAL-7017 Dunkelbraun (dark brown) at a rate of 2/3 to 1/3.
On July 31st 1940, another Heeresmitteilung, Nr. 854, ordered all vehicles to be repainted in just RAL-7021 Dunkelgrau (dark grey) and ordered this pattern as the standard base color for the Wehrmacht.
How long the 2-tone camouflage pattern of grey an brown, from 1938 was used is unclear, especially due to the fact that most pictures from this time are just black and white, but it seems it was more widely distributed than is wrongly assumed.
Over the course of the war, especially at the eastern front, German Panzer crews started to use not only additional paints but also mud and dirt to try and disrupt the visual silhouette of their vehicles. During Winter, the vehicles had to be white washed with either in water dissolved chalk or with a petrol-soluble paste delivered to the front lines. White bedsheets or other white cloth were used when the chalk or white paste was not available.
Vehicles sent to hot climates like Northern Africa in 1941 received a basecoat of RAL-8020 Sandgelb (sand yellow) over the original dark grey paint. Another specification from 1942 ordered the vehicles sent to Northern Africa coated in 2/3 of RAL-8020 Sandgelb and 1/3 of RAL-7027 Sandgrau (sand grey). The Deutsches Afrikakorps fighting in North Africa suffered almost from the beginning of the fighting their from overstretched supply lines and allied attacks on the shipping lines in the Mediterranean and was forced to use even stocks of british paint captured during the initial successes.
When the base color of German vehicles was changed to RAL-7028 Dunkelgelb in February 1943 vehicles in the old Dunkelgrau livery had to be repainted in the new colour by the units themselves, during larger repairs behind the frontlines or in factories when sent back for factory refit.
To increase the effect of the camouflage, additional petrol-soluble pastes of RAL-6003 Olivgruen (dark olive green) and RAL-8017 Rotbraun (dark chocolate brown) were delivered to the frontline units. The emerging multi-tone camouflage patterns varied from unit to unit and depended on the availability of the pastes, the time to apply them on the vehicles and orders given by commanders of certain units. These factors effected the camouflage patterns that much, that they could even vary from platoon to platoon or company to company. The paste was thinned with petrol and could be applied by paint spray guns, brushes or even brooms.

Panzer IV Ausf.B (Sd.Kfz.161)

The long version of the tank’s name is Panzerkampfwagen-IV (7,5cm) (Vskfz. 622) Ausfuehrung B, (2./B.W.). Krupp-Gruson completed 42 Panzer IV Ausf.B tanks between May and October 1938, a further 3 of the contract for a total of 45 vehicles were not completed due to problems with critical parts. The main changes of the Ausf. B to the previous Ausf.A were the thickening of the frontal armour to 30 mm and a new 300hp Maybach HL-120TR gasoline/petrol engine connected to a six-speed SSG-76 transmission, offering a top road speed of 40 km/h (24 mph).
The driver’s armored front was fabricated from one piece but without a ball mount for the 7.92 mm MG-34 machine gun. Instead a rectangular visor with an armored flap was mounted in front of the radio operator. A circular pistol port protected by an armored cover was fitted to the lower right of the visor. The radio operator could fire a 7.92 mm MG-34 machine gun, submachine gun or pistol through this opening to fend off enemy infantry.
A new Fahrersehklappe-30 (driver’s visor No.30) replaced the older, smaller version that was fitted to the Ausf. A. It consisting of two movable sliders mounted above and below a rectangular opening protected by 12 mm thick bullet-proof glass. Both sliders could be closed to protect the opening from heavy enemy fire. In this case, the driver could observe the area in front of his tank through a telescope with two small openings located just over the driver’s visor.
The split-hatches for both driver and radio operator were replaced with single-piece hatches opening to the front of the vehicle. A slightly smaller, better armoured split-hatch commander’s cupola with only 5 vision slits protected by bullet-proof glass, replaced the drum-shaped cuppola of the earlier Ausf.A version. The vision slits of the cupola could be protected by two armored sliders mounted above and below the opening. Due to the increased armor strength, the weight of the Ausf. B increased to 18.5 metric tons.

Panzer IV Ausf.B specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 5.92 m x 2.83 m x 2.68 m
(19ft 5in x 9ft 3in x 8ft 5in)
Total weight 18.5 tonnes
Crew 5
Armament 7.5 cm Kw.K 37 L/24 gun
Secondary Armament 7.92 mm MG34 machine-gun
Armor From 8 mm to 16 mm (14.5 mm on hull front)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TR V12 265hp gasoline engine
Top road speed 42 km/h (26 mph)
Max. road range 210 km (130 miles)
Total production 42 April 1938 – Sept 1938

Panzer IV Ausf.C (Sd.Kfz.161)

The long version of the tank’s name is Panzerkampfwagen-IV (7,5cm) (Vskfz. 622) Ausfuehrung C, (3./B.W.). The Panzer IV Ausf. C was the most numerous version of the early Pzkpfw. IV tanks, numbering a total of 134 completed vehicles between October 1938 and August 1939 out of a initial contract of 300 vehicles reduced to 160 even before the beginning of the production. A further six chassis were delivered to Wa Prüf. 5 in June 1939 for a special Bruckenleger IV (Armored-vehicle bridge laying tank).
The only external difference of the Ausf. C to the previous Ausf.B was an armored sleeve mounted around the barrel of the co-axial machine gun, making it very difficult to identify an Ausf. B from an Ausf.C if this feature is not visible. The internal differences included improved engine mounts and turret ring plus a modified 300hp Maybach HL-120TRM engine. With 18.5 metric tons, the weight was the same as on the previous Ausf.B.

Panzer IV Ausf.C specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 5.92 m x 2.83 m x 2.68 m
(19ft 5in x 9ft 3in x 8ft 5in)
Total weight 18.5 tonnes
Crew 5
Armament 7.5 cm Kw.K 37 L/24 gun
Secondary Armament 7.92 mm MG34 machine-gun
Armor From 8 mm to 16 mm (14.5 mm on hull front)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TRM V12 265hp gasoline engine
Top road speed 42 km/h (26 mph)
Max. road range 210 km (130 miles)
Total production 134 Sept 1938 – Aug 1939

Panzer IV Ausf.D (Sd.Kfz.161)

The long version of this tanks name is Panzerkampfwagen-IV (7,5cm) (Sd. Kfz. 161) Ausfuehrung D, (4. und 5./B.W.) Of the 248 ordered Panzer IV Ausf.D tanks, a total of 231 were completed between October 1938 and October 1939. The order for the first 200 were called series 4 (4. /B.W.) and the further 48 were called series 5 (5. /B.W.). Both series 4 and 5 /BW where of the same design.
Some of the remaining nineteen chassis were used for special version: sixteen were used to construct Bruckenleger IV tanks (Armored-vehicle bridge laying tanks); two for the 10,5cm K18 Sf. IV a Dicker Max self-propelled gun and one as ammunition carrier for the Karl-Gerät, a super-heavy Mortar. One tank was used in the trials to up-gun the Pzkpfw. IV with high-velocity guns. It was equipped with a 5cm KwK39 L/60.
Panzer IV Ausf.D on trials, 1940
A front hull armoured ball mounted 7.92 mm MG-34 machine gun was reintroduced. The driver’s front was stepped forwards, similar to the Panzer IV Ausf.A, with a circular visor/pistol port added in the resulting central corner. This gave the driver more vision to his right.
The 7.5cm Kw.K L/24 main gun mantlet was reinforced with a slightly curved armour plate of 35 mm thickness. The side and rear armour of the Ausf.D was increased from 14.5 mm to 20 mm, somewhat improving its survivability.
The front hull and superstructure was built with 30 mm thick face-hardened armour. In February 1940, 30 mm thick applique armour plates were bolted or welded to the front superstructure and hull bringing the armour protection up to 60 mm thick in these areas. Also 20 mm applique armour plates were also bolted or welded to the sides increasing the side armour in the centre to 40 mm thick. The last 68 Panzer IV Ausf.D tanks had 50 mm thick front hull armour instead of the original 30 mm. The increased thickness of the armour increased the weight of the Panzer IV Ausf.D to 20 tonnes.

Panzer IV Ausf.D specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 5.92 m x 2.84 m x 2.68 m
(19ft 5in x 9ft 4in x 8ft 5in)
Total weight 20 tonnes
Crew 5
Armament 7.5 cm Kw.K 37 L/24 gun
Secondary Armament 7.92 mm MG34 machine-gun
Armor From 10 mm to 50 mm (30+30 mm on hull front)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TRM V12 265hp gasoline engine
Top road speed 42 km/h (26 mph)
Max. road range 210 km (130 miles)
Total production 229 Oct 1939 – May 1941

Panzer IV Ausf.E (Sd.Kfz.161)

The full name of this version of the Panzer IV was Panzerkampfwagen-IV (7,5cm) (Sd.Kfz. 161) Ausfuehrung E, (6./B.W.) Of the 206 Panzer IV Ausf.E medium tanks ordered, a total of 200 were completed between October 1940 and April 1941. Of the six remaining vehicles, four chassis were used for to construct armoured vehicle-launched bridge tanks (AVLB) and the two others were modified with a Schachtellaufwerk (box running gear) and participated in extensive trials.
A new drive sprocket without side-holes and improved roadwheels with new hubcabs for improved lubrication were mounted on the Ausf. E. The two hatches offering entrance to the steering brakes in the vehicle front were embedded in the armor plating. While the driver’s front remained the same as on the previous Panzer IV Ausf.D, the Fahrersehklappe-30 drivers visor was changed to the version already used on the Panzer III Ausf.G. An armored smoke grenade launcher was mounted on the left side of the rear enginedeck. A new, better armoured split-hatch commander’s cupola with five vision slits, the same as already used on the Pzkpfw. III Ausf. G, was mounted on the turretroof.
The turret rear was changed to a single plate without the overhang of the previous versions. It had a single circular signal gun barrel opening on the left side of the turret roof. An exhaust fan with an armored cover that had been located on the right of the turret roof was now moved further towards the main gun.
The frontal armor of the Ausf.E was increased to 50 mm and many but not all Ausf. E tanks were up-armored with additional 30 mm applique armor bolted or welded to the driver’s front and vehicle bow. Some had 20 mm applique armor bolted or welded to the sides. The improvements added to the Ausf.E increased the vehicle‘s weight of 22 tons.

Panzer IV Ausf.E specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 5.92 m x 2.84 m x 2.68 m
(19ft 5in x 9ft 4in x 8ft 5in)
Total weight 22 tonnes
Crew 5
Armament 7.5 cm Kw.K 37 L/24 gun
Secondary Armament 7.92 mm MG34 machine-gun
Armor From 10 mm to 50 mm (30+30 mm on hull front)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TRM V12 265hp gasoline engine
Top road speed 42 km/h (26 mph)
Max. road range 210 km (130 miles)
Total production 223 Sept 1940 – April 1941

The Ausf.F (Ausf.F1), the last “short version”

The Ausf.F was a landmark in the Panzer IV evolution and development. The early model, “F”, called “F1” when the next model appeared, was the last of the “short” versions. The front bow plate appliqué was now replaced by a full 50 mm (1.97 in) thick armored plate. Side armor and turret thickness were raised to 30 mm (1.18 in). Total weight rose to more than 22 tons, which triggered other modifications, like larger track links (from 380 to 400 mm) to reduce ground pressure, and both the idler wheel and front drive sprockets were modified in turn. The F1 was produced to an extent of 464 units, until its replacement in March 1942. The last 42 were modified to the new F2 standard.

Panzer IV Ausf.F specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 5.92 m x 2.88 m x 2.68 m
(19ft 5in x 9ft 5in x 8ft 5in)
Total weight 22.3 tonnes
Crew 5
Armament 7.5 cm Kw.K 37 L/24 gun
Secondary Armament 7.92 mm MG34 machine-gun
Armor From 10 mm to 50 mm (50 mm on hull front)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TRM V12 265hp gasoline engine
Top road speed 42 km/h (26 mph)
Max. road range 210 km (130 miles)
Total production 462 April 1941 – March 1942 (L/24 gun)
175+25 March 1942 – July 1942 (L/43 gun)

The Ausf.G (Ausf.F2), the first “long”

Even equipped with the AP Panzergranate, the low-velocity gun of the Panzer IV was inadequate against well-armored tanks. In the context of the upcoming campaign in Russia, some decision had to be made, which also concerned the long-awaited major upgrade of the Panzer III. The now largely available Pak 38 L/60, which had been already proved lethal, was supposed to be mounted in the turret of the Panzer IV by Krupp. In November 1941, the prototype was ready, and production was scheduled to start on the F2 standard. But, with the first encounters of Russian KV-1s and T-34s, the 50 mm (1.97 in) gun, also produced for the Panzer III, was dropped in favor to a new, more powerful model, built by Rheinmetall, based on the 7.5 cm Pak 40 L/46 (2.95 in). This led to the KwK 40 L/43, a relatively long caliber gun, fitted with a muzzle-brake, which reduced its recoil. Muzzle velocity, with the Panzergranade 39, topped at 990 m/sec (3250 ft/sec). It could penetrate 77 mm (3.03 in) of armor up to 1850 m (6000 ft). After the first prototype was produced by Krupp, in February 1942, production of the F2 started. By July 1942, 175 had been delivered. However, in June 1942, the F2 was renamed Ausf.G, and further modifications were applied on the production line, but both types were known to the Waffenamt as the Sd.Kfz.161/1. Some nomenclatures and reports also speak of it as the F2/G version.

Panzer IV Ausf.G specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 6.63 m x 2.88 m x 2.68 m
(21ft 9in x 9ft 5in x 8ft 5in)
Total weight 23.6 tonnes
Crew 5
Armament 7.5 cm Kw.K 40 L/43 gun
Secondary Armament 7.92 mm MG34 machine-gun
Armor From 10 mm to 50 mm (30+50 mm on hull front)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TRM V12 265hp gasoline engine
Top road speed 42 km/h (26 mph)
Max. road range 210 km (130 miles)
Total production 1687 May 1942 – June 1943

Scaled-up production

Production figures for the Panzer IV had been relatively small in size until 1942. From the Ausf.A to F2, only 1209 Panzer IVs (of the “short type”) had been delivered to the Wehrmacht. Subsequently, they served primarily in the infantry support role. However, the bulk of the production (around 7500) was spread in only three variants, The Ausf.G, H and J. These remained relatively unchanged until 1945, despite simplifications of the design. As the Panzer III‘s 50 mm (1.97 in) gun was not up to the task against the best Russian mediums and heavies, the main model, carrying the bulk of any Panzerdivision, became the Panzer IV. The former was progressively phased out, and replaced on the production line by cheaper SPGs, like the StuG III.

Panzer IV Ausf.G: The transitional model

The G was an improved F2, with armor modifications, including a weight saving solution, consisting of a progressive glacis side armor, thicker at the base. The frontal glacis received a new 30 mm (1.18 in) appliqué plate, giving a total of 80 mm (3.15 in). This was largely sufficient against the Russian medium-velocity 76 mm (3 in) gun and the fearful 76.2 mm anti-tank gun. At first, it was decided to bring only half production to this standard, but Adolf Hitler personally ordered, in January 1943, that the full production would be upgraded, a decision well-received by the crews. However, the weight rose to 23.6 tons, further stressing the limited capacity of the chassis and transmission. Both unit reports and mass-production requirements commanded further modifications. The turret vision port slits were eliminated, the engine ventilation and ignition at low temperatures were improved, and additional racks were fitted for spare road wheels and brackets for track links on the glacis. These acted as makeshift protection as well. A new headlight was installed and the commander cupola was up-armored and modified. The late production versions, in March-April 1943, saw the introduction of side skirt armor (Schürzen) to the sides and turret, the latter equipped with smoke grenade launchers. Most importantly, they received the new KwK 40 L/48, with greater penetration power. After 1275 had been delivered by Krupp-Gruson, Vomag and Nibelungenwerke, plus 412 of the upgunned type, the production shifted towards the Ausf.H.

Panzer IV Ausf.H: The main version

The Ausf.H was equipped with the new long caliber KwK 40 L/48, and was subsequently registered as the Sd.Kfz. 161/2 by the ordnance department. Other modifications included simplifications to ease production, like the removal of the hull side vision ports, and, later, part sharing with the Panzer III. This was by far the biggest production of the type, with a total of 3774 machines, until its replacement by the Ausf.J, in June 1944. Krupp had received a request, in December 1942, for a new version featuring all-sloped armor, which would have also required a new chassis, transmission and probably engine as well, due to the added weight. However, production started with an upgraded version of the Ausf.G instead. A new headlight was set, a new Zahnradfabrik ZF SSG-76 transmission, new set of radios (FU2 and 5, and intercom). This was necessary in order to cope with the full glacis protection raised to 80 mm (3.15 in), with no appliqué parts. The H now stood at 25 tons in battle order, and maximum speed fell to 38 km/h (24 mph), but only 25 km/h (16 mph) in real combat conditions, and far less on rough terrain. By the end of 1943, Zimmerit paste was factory-applied, new air filters were fitted, along with a turret anti-aircraft mount for an extra MG 34 (Fliegerbeschussgerat), as well as modifications to the commander cupola. Side and turret spaced armor was also factory-mounted.

Panzer IV Ausf.H specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 7.02 m x 2.88 m x 2.68 m
(23ft x 9ft 5in x 8ft 5in)
Total weight 25 tonnes
Crew 5
Armament 7.5 cm Kw.K 40 L/48 gun
Secondary Armament 7.92 mm MG34 machine-gun
Armor From 10 mm to 80 mm (80 mm on hull front)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TRM V12 265hp gasoline engine
Top road speed 35 km/h (23.6 mph)
Max. road range 210 km (130 miles)
Total production 3774 April 1943 – July 1944

Panzer IV Ausf.J: The late, simplified version

Panzer IV Ausf.J at the Parola Museum
The last type, the Ausf.J, began to roll of the factory line at Nibelungenwerke (at St Valentin, Austria) and Vomag, as Krupp was now involved with other tasks, and incorporated more mass-production oriented simplifications, rarely welcomed by the crews. A first example was the removal of the electric turret drive, traversing being done manually, sacrificed for an additional 200 liters of fuel capacity, raising the operational range to 300 km (186 mi), a lesson hard learnt from the Russian campaign. Other modifications included the removal of the turret visor, pistol ports and turret AA mount in favor of a Naehverteidigungswaffe mount. Zimmerit was not applied anymore, nor was the Schurzen, replaced by cheaper Thoma type wire-mesh panels. The engine’s radiator housing was also simplified. The drive train lost one return roller, and two Flammentoeter (flame-suppressing) mufflers were installed, as well as Pilze 2-ton crane mount sockets. More critically, the late Panzer III SSG 77 transmission was mounted, despite it being clearly overloaded. Despite these sacrifices, the type J monthly deliveries were increasingly threatened by Allied bombings and the shortages caused, and only a total of 2970 were built until the last days of March 1945, Compare that to the total planned of 5,000, including modified models sporting the Panther turret. All prototypes developed by 1942 were dropped, in favor of the Panther. The chassis was also used for some variants.

Panzer IV Ausf.J specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 7.02 m x 2.88 m x 2.68 m
(23ft x 9ft 5in x 8ft 5in)
Total weight 25 tonnes
Crew 5
Armament 7.5 cm Kw.K 40 L/48 gun
Secondary Armament 7.92 mm MG34 machine-gun
Armor From 10 mm to 80 mm (80 mm on hull front)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TRM V12 265hp gasoline engine
Top road speed 38 km/h (23.6 mph)
Max. road range 210 km (130 miles)
Total production 1758 June 1944 – March 1945-0

Panzer IV Ausf.B
A Panzer IV Ausf.B, possibly from 2.Kompanie 15.Panzer-Regiment, 5. Panzer Division, Poland, September 1939. Notice the classical makeshift camouflage, with a hastily sprayed reddish brown and yellow unit markings.
Panzer IV Ausf.B, Normandy, 1944.
A Panzer IV Ausf.B of the 21st Panzerdivision – Normandy, June 1944.
Panzer IV Ausf.C
A Panzer IV Ausf.C, 8th Korps, IInd Abteilung, 35th Panzer Regiment, 4th Panzerdivision – France, May-June 1940.
Panzer IV Ausf.D, DAK
A Panzer IV Ausf.D, DAK (Deutsche Afrika Korps) of the XVth Panzerdivision, El Agheila, December 1941.
Panzer IV Ausf.D Tauchpanzer
Tauchpanzer IV Ausf.D, provisioned for operation Seelöwe (or Sealion, prospected landings in Britain). It was theoretically capable of fording the Channel in shallow waters and sandbanks (6 to 15 meters/20-50 ft). Tests were also conducted with the Panzer III and II, but remained inconclusive. All apertures were carefully blocked and an auto-adaptive submarine type schnorchel mast was mounted on the turret, both for engine air feeding and exhaust. A total of 43 were converted by August-September 1940. Later on, 168 Panzer IIIs of various versions were also converted for Operation Barbarossa, to ford large rivers.
Panzer IV Ausf.E, DAK
Panzer IV Ausf.E of the Afrika Korps, 15th Panzerdivision, Libya, the fall of 1941.
Panzer IV Ausf.E
Panzer IV Ausf.E of the 11th Panzerdivision, April 1941, during the Yugoslavian campaign. Notice the bolted armor.
Panzer IV Ausf.F1
Panzer IV Ausf.F1 of the 5th Panzerdivision, Group Center, Russia, January 1942.
Panzer IV Ausf.F1
Vorpanzer F1, with extra bolted appliqué armor on the sides, gun mantlet and frontal glacis, with the 5th Panzerdivision, Group Center, Russia, winter 1941-1942.
Panzer IV Ausf.F1, DAK
Panzer IV Ausf.F1 of the 5th Panzerregiment, 5th Leichtes Panzerdivision, Tobruk, Libya, March 1941. The camouflage was sand (Gelb braun) and degraded sand over the usual Dunkelgrau basis, forming Grau-Grün patches.
Panzer IV Ausf.F2/G
Panzer IV Ausf.F2/G of the 1st Infantry Division (motorized) “Grossdeutschland”, Voronezh, Russia, June 1942. Improvised pattern of sprayed brownish sand over standard factory dunkelgrau.
Panzer IV Ausf.F2, LSSAH, France 1942
Ausf.F2, 1st SS Panzer battalion, SS Division LSSAH in France, which took part to “Case Anton” (invasion and occupation of Vichy French zone), November 1942.
Panzer IV Ausf.F2, Egypt, 1942
Ausf.F2, 4th Kompanie, 1st Abteilung, VIIIth Panzer-Regiment, XVth Panzerdivision, DAK, El Alamein (Egypt), October 1942.
Panzer IV Ausf.F2, Russia, 1942
Ausf.F2, 36th Panzer Regiment, XIVth Panzerdivision, Army Group South, Russia, summer 1942.
Bulgarian Panzer IV Ausf.F2/G
Bulgarian Maybach T4G (Ausf.F2/G), 13th unit, Russian border, winter 1942. Early production transitional model.
Panzer IV Ausf.G, Tunisia, 1943
Ausf.G, XVth Panzerdivision, Tunisia, spring 1943. This is a late production vehicle, up-gunned with the new KwK 40 L/48 gun.
Panzer IV Ausf.G
Panzer IV Ausf.G of the IVth Panzerdivision, battle of Orel, Russia, early 1943.
Panzer IV Ausf.G, winter 1942
Panzer IV Ausf.G late production vehicle, XIVth Panzerdivision, Stalingrad, winter 1942/43.
Panzer IV Ausf.G, summer 1943, Kursk
Panzer IV Ausf.G, XXth Panzer Division, Kursk, Russia, summer 1943.

Italeri Panzer IV Ausf.F1/F2/G kit No.6514 construction and review by the Tank Encyclopedia team
Panzer IV Ausf.F/G, Stalingrad, 1942
Ausf.F/G upgraded to the H standard, with full Schurzen armor – XVIth Panzerdivision, Russia, southern sector, summer 1943.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, Kursk, 1943
Ausf.H – XVIth Panzerdivision, Kursk, July 1943. The H were equipped with the new 7.5 cm Kampfwagenkanone 40 L48 (3.61 m/11.8 ft barrel) high velocity gun, along with the Pzgr.Patr.40 APCR, with a 990 m/sec muzzle velocity, capable of piercing 80 mm (3.15 in) of armor at 2000 m.
Bulgarian Panzer IV Ausf.H
Panzer IV Ausf.H, 1st Armored Division, Bulgarian army, Hungary, winter 1944.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, IInd Panzerdivision
Ausf.H of the IInd Panzerdivision, France, June 1944.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, 35th Panzer Regiment, 4th Panzerdivision
Ausf.H of the 35th Panzer Regiment of the IVrd Panzerdivision, Bobruysk, December 1943.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, 4th Panzerdivision
Ausf.H of the 35th Panzer Regiment of the IVth Panzerdivision, Kowel, Poland, early 1944. The 35th Regiment inflicted heavy losses on the Soviet 3rd Tank Corps at the Battle of Wołomin (part of operation Bagration). Its symbol was the “Grizlibär”, a menacing brown bear.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, IXth Panzerdivision
Panzer IV Ausf.H, IXth SS Panzer Division, France, summer 1944.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, PanzerLehr
Panzer IV Ausf.H, 3rd Company, 130th Regiment of the 1st Panzerdivision, PanzerLehr, France, summer 1944.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, 9th Panzerdivision
Ausf.H, 9th Panzerdivision, Central Germany, April 1945. Notice the “ambush” type spotted camouflage and turret Schurzen armor open panels.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, 1st SS Panzerdivision Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler
Panzer IV Ausf.H, 1st SS Panzerdivision Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, France, summer 1944.
Panzer IV Ausf.H, SS Hitlerjugend
Ausf.J, 12th Panzerdivision SS “Hitlerjugend”, Normandy, France, June 1944.
Panzer IV Ausf.J
Panzer IV Ausf.J early production (unknown unit), Russia, summer 1944.
Panzer IV Ausf.J, central Germany
Panzer IV Ausf.J, central Germany, March 1945. Notice the wire-mesh side-skirts armor and complex “ambush pattern” camouflage.
Panzer IV Ausf.J, 12th Panzerdivision
Ausf.J, 12th Panzerdivision, Northern Russia, early 1944. Notice the long range radio equipment and ring mount for an AA MG 34.
Panzer IV Ausf.J, Ardennes
Panzer IV Ausf.J, IXth Panzerdivision, Ardennes, Belgium, December 1944. This is an early production model, with zimmerit on the entire hull and spaced armor.

History of the Panzer IV

Panzer IV variants

Jagdpanzer IV

Probably the best and most feared of these versions, this low and very efficient tank hunter was particularly at ease in Italy and Normandy. No less than 1980 were built in all, starting in 1943.

Sturmgeschütz IV

1140 of these excellent support assault tanks were quickly built, sporting the already proven Sturmgeschütz III superstructure and main armament.

Panzerbefehlswagen IV

The command version, equipped with a powerful set of radios, complete electrical equipment and corresponding wiring. These tanks were used to coordinate artillery support, infantry, as well as air support with Panzerdivisions. Roomy and dependable, it was probably the best German command tank of the war.

Panzerbeobachtungswagen IV

A well equipped artillery observation vehicle, working alongside with and coordinating Wespe and Hummel SPGs.

Sturmpanzer IV Brummbär

One of the most impressive German SPGs, the Brümmbar boasted a 150 mm (5.9 in) gun, and led to the Heuschrecke and Dicker Max prototypes.

Flakpanzer IV Möbelwagen

240 were built for AA support, with a single 37 mm (1.46 in) gun, produced in 1944-45, to compensate for the loss of air superiority, notably in Europe.

Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind

Perhaps more famous, this AA support variant was equipped with the very effective quad 20 mm (0.79 in) Flakvierling. 100+ delivered. Using the same chassis and turret, 66 more were equipped with a single 37 mm gun (1.46 in), known as the Ostwind.

Geschützwagen III/IV Hummel

An artillery SPG built on a Panzer IV chassis and with Panzer III parts. Over 666 were built during the course of the war, and was one of the most successful German SPGs ever.

Panzerjäger III/IV Nashorn

A highly successful tank hunter, equipped with the legendary 88 mm (3.46 in) gun. It was less expensive than the Tiger. 473 were delivered overall.

Geschützwagen III/IV Schlepper

Using the same arrangement, 150 ammunition carriers were built.

Bergepanzer IV

A German ARV (Armored Recovery Vehicle), more powerful than previous versions based on the Panzer III. Mostly used on the Eastern Front. Perhaps 21 or 22 were converted using repaired tanks, without a turret and with a 2-ton crane supported with rigid towing bars. Modified amphibious Panzerfahre (2 prototypes) and Landwasserschlepper were also produced in limited quantities.

Bruckenleger IV

One of the earliest Panzer IV based variants, this was a bridgelayer vehicle. The unfolded bridge was 56 m (183 ft) long. 24 vehicles were produced prior to the campaign of France. 4 modified versions served in Russia with the 3rd Panzer Division, and 20 more with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 10th Panzer Divisions in May 1940.
With increasing losses, makeshift repairs, upgrades to new standards, and cannibalization of all kind of versions, it was difficult by late 1944 to distinguish the J from the H or even G types. Almost any tank was a sub-version in itself. When turretless variants were produced, many surplus turrets were used in armored trains, anti-tank rail cars or fixed concrete antitank positions.

Panzer IV conceptual variants

PzKpfw IV mit Schmalturm

This was intended to be the “final form” of the Panzer IV. It was an attempt to mount the Schmalturm “narrow-turret”, already under development for the Panther II project, on the chassis of a late model Panzer IV H. With the turret came a better gun. Specifically the 75 mm (2.95 in) L/70 tank gun from Rheinmetall. The project, having never left the drawing board, was cancelled as it was soon found that the Panzer IV chassis had hit it’s weight and modifiable limits.

Panzer IV mit Hydrostatischem Antrieb

In 1944 an attempt was made to install a Hydrostatic Drive into the Panzer IV. It gave hydraulic power to both the turret rotation mechanism and steering. The Drive was added into the rear of the tank, under a large sloping engine cover, culminating in 2 smaller drive wheels. Just one prototype was produced and was sent back to the United States after the war for assessment. The vehicle now sits in the US Army Museum, Maryland.

Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz

The “Lightning Ball” was a late war prototype for a SPAA, intended to be a replacement for the Wirblewind and Ostwind models. It was one of the first tanks to feature a type of oscillating-turret, which was fully enclosed unlike most SPAAs of the era. This ball like turret was mounted with Zwillingsflak “twin-flak” 30mm MK 103 twin anti-aircraft cannons. These cannons fired at an impressive 450 rounds per-minute. A pilot run of 5 hulls and turrets to match is all that was produced by the time the war came to an end, but these were never mated.

Operational Use in World War II

The Pzkpfw. IV participated in the Second World War in ever increasing numbers right from the beginning. Starting with 198 (out of 211 produced) Pzkpfw. IV tanks were used in the attack on Poland in September 1939. A total of 279 were used during the attack on the Netherlands, France and Belgium in May 1940. On June 22nd 1941, the day the Wehrmacht started Operation Barbarossa, the attack on the Soviet Union, German Divisions reported a strength of 441 Pzkpfw. IV among a total of aprox. 3,500 tanks participating in the attack.
The number of Pzkpfw. IV tanks used by the Deutsches Afrika Korps (German Africa Corps) in Northern Africa against Commonwealth Forces between 1941 and 1943 was never that high as the number of Pzkpfw. III tanks although the later, long barreled versions were feared by their counterparts despite their limited numbers.
When more modern tank designs like the Tiger and upgraded versions of the Pzkpfw. IV with the high velocity long barreled 75 mm gun reached the frontlines starting in summer 1942, an ever dwindling number of early short barreled Pzkpfw. IVs soldiered on through the remaining war, either heavily modified, uparmed and armored or unaltered due to various reasons.
When Allied forces landed in Italy in September 1943, they faced the German 26. Panzerdivision, fielding a mix of Pzkpw. III, long barreled Pzkpfw. IV and at least 17 older short barreld Pzkpfw. IV tanks. The 21. Panzerdivision, newly established in France after it was destroyed during the final battles in Northern Africa, had to rely initially on a mix of very old and captured equipment.
Although reinforced with a wide array of custom built vehicles based on obsolete French tanks and modern long barreled Pzkpfw. IVs when the allies landed in the Normandy in July 1944, the Division still employed 6 unmodified early short barreled Pzkpfw. IV of unknown versions. Photographs taken prior to D-Day and afterwards show at least two Panzer IV Ausf. B or C tanks being deployed.
The 116. Panzerdivision, dispatched to the Normandy late in July 1944, fielded a total of 86 Pzkpfw. IV including 3 early short barreled versions. The II./Pz.Rgt.29 of 12. Panzerdivision fighting Soviet forces in the Kurland-Pocket in early March 1945 reported one Pzkpfw. IV L/24 operational besides 61 Pzkpfw. IV L/48 and some Pzkpfw. III on March 1 1945. The l./PzArt.Rgt.2 of the same Division had another Pzkpfw. IV L/24 in use at the same time.
Official German loss-reports from December 1st 1943 to October 31st 1944 accounted for a total of 30 lost Pzkpfw. IV L/24 at the eastern front, plus 12 more lost in the west between September 1 1944 and November 30 1944. Its well accepted that the earlier, short barreled Pzkpfw. IV tanks were sent to the tank driving schools or secondline-units to guard the hinterland when larger numbers of the more effective long barreled Pzkpfw. IVs became available.
These figures also show that a smaller number were retained in service well over their time due to a lack of more modern tanks or other reasons. The 13. verstärkte Polizei-Panzer-Kompanie (13th reinforced Police Tank Company) of the regular German police force was such a unit and deployed a platoon of four Pzkpfw. IV Ausf. F(1) to fight partisans after its formation in February 1943.

Panzer IVs into the Cold War

It must be said that the large provision of surviving Panzer IV tanks were not lost or scrapped, but saw service, like under Bulgarian colors in Europe, until 1989, or under Syrian colors in the Middle East. There, provisions of ex-French and ex-Spanish models were purchased, some equipped with a new Soviet 12.7 mm (0.5 in) heavy machine gun. They took part in the fight for the Golan Heights during the War of 1965, and the Six-Days War of 1967. Their opponents were much more recent Israeli Centurions and rearmed, upgraded Shermans. Some of them are part of the numerous machines still in existence in many museums and private collections around the globe, with perhaps a dozen in running condition.

Panzerkampfwagen IV production numbers and dates

The following figures were obtained from Waffenamt production statistics enhanced and verified by assembly plant reports and Fgst.Nr (chassis number) analysis by Thomas L.Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle.
Ausf A = 35 October 1937 – March 1938
Ausf B = 42 April 1938 – September 1938
Ausf C = 134 September 1938 – August 1939
Ausf D – 229 October 1939 – Mary 1941
Ausf E = 223 September 1940 – April 1941
Ausf F = 462 April 1941 – March 1942 (7.5cm Kpfwg.K. 37 L/24 gun)
Ausf F = 175+25 March 1942 – July 1942 (7.5cm Kpfwg.K. 40 L/43 gun)
Ausf G = 1687 May 1942 – June 1943
Ausf H = 3774 April 1943 – July 1944
Ausf J = 1758 June 1944 – March 1945


Panzer Tracts No.4 Panzerkampfwagen IV by Thomas L.Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle.
Panzer Tracts No.23 Panzer Production from 1933 to 1945 by Thomas L.Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle.
Panzer IV und seine Abarten by Walter J.Spielberger, Thomas L.Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle.
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.G, H and J 1942-45 (New Vanguard)
Germans Tanks of ww2
Germans Tanks of ww2
Poster Panzer IV C French campaign 1940
Poster Panzer IV Ausf C, French campaign June 1940

German Panzer IV Tank – Tank Encyclopedia Support Shirt

German Panzer IV Tank – Tank Encyclopedia Support Shirt

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