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WW2 German Flame Tanks

Panzer II Ausf. (F) “Flamingo” Sd.Kfz. 122

Nation Flag IconGermany (1940-1942)
Flamethrower Tank – 151 built + 1 prototype

A couple of months before the beginning of the Second World War, the HWA (“Heereswaffenamt”, Eng: Army Ordnance Department) requested the construction of a flamethrower tank to support the infantry fight against heavily fortified positions. The first vehicles (named Flammpanzer II or “Flamingo”) were ready after the Fall of France and participated, along with other newly made Flamingos, in Operation Barbarossa. In combat, these tanks performed rather poorly due to their thin armor. Ultimately, all of them were pulled out of service and converted into Marder II tank destroyers.

Destroyed Flammpanzer II Flamingo 211 from Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 in the USSR, Summer 1941. (Colorization by Smargd123) (Original source: Worldwarphotos)

History of the Flamethrower Tank

The origin of the Flammpanzer can be traced back to the First World War, when the German Army started using the flamethrower as an assault weapon against infantry in close-range combat situations. These flamethrowers were carried by specially trained soldiers and were highly effective when assaulting a trench line. Their task was to pin down the enemy while friendly forces advanced into the enemy’s lines. They were not only effective as combat weapons, but also had a great psychological impact. The only major downsides were the fact that the flamethrower operators were unprotected from any kind of projectiles and had to carry a lot of heavy equipment.

Seeing their effectiveness, many nations experimented with their own flamethrowers. Another new type of weapon that saw great success during the First World War was the tank and combining these two inventions made a vehicle that could bring fear into the enemy while still being protected. After the end of the First World War, many Europeans and veterans immigrated to South America. This led to the creation of the first flamethrower tank to be ever used in combat. The so-called F-1 was a field-improvised tracked agricultural tractor with added armor protection and a flamethrower. It was used by the São Paulo Public Police Force during the Brazilian Revolution of 1932. The “tank” performed excellently against the Brazilian Army, which did not have tanks or enough anti-tank capabilities in the area where the F-1 was used. It proved to be most effective as a weapon of terror against the Brazilian infantry, but still lacked mobility and was too cramped for the crew.

The first serially constructed flamethrower tanks were the Soviet OT-26, developed from 1931, and the Japanese Sōkō Sagyō Ki, introduced in 1931. These tanks shared differences, but also had things in common. Both used an already existing tank chassis and the main armament was removed. The OT-26 was based on the twin turret T-26 variant. One of the turrets was removed while the other had its gun exchanged with a flamethrower. Although the T-26 chassis was reliable, the flamethrower was ineffective due to its short-range.

The Sōkō Sagyō Ki was based on the Type 89 I-Go chassis. Additionally, the turret was removed and replaced with a commander’s cupola. Unlike the OT-26 or previous flamethrower tanks, the Sōkō Sagyō Ki was not just a flamethrower tank. It was equipped with multiple flamethrowers, two claws in front of the tank for mine cleaning, and a winch to grab heavy objects. These tanks were made for the engineer battalions in order to destroy enemy fortified positions.

The Soviet OT-26 flamethrower tank. (Source: Pinterest)
The Japanese Sōkō Sagyō Ki flamethrower pioneer vehicle. (Source: ww2history)

Italian and German Flamethrower Use

The Italian tank fleet was very weak in the 1930s in terms of firepower. To increase this, flamethrowers were mounted on Italian tanks. The first tanks to receive this upgrade were the Fiat 3000 and the Fiat Ansaldo CV.35. After the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the Italians sent military aid to the Spanish Nationalists in 1936, including flamethrower equipped CV.35s. During the conflict, a new way of flamethrower tank combat was invented, which involved attacking the enemy tanks from behind and burning the crew alive. The small size of the CV.35 was perfect for sneaking up to the enemy. However, because of the thin armor, the tanks were only protected against small-arms fire and were vulnerable against enemy tanks like the BT-5 or T-26.

Furthermore a small number of Panzer I’s sent to Spain were converted into flamethrower tanks. These were less effective than their Italian counterparts and were generally vulnerable against any enemy tank fire. The flamethrower’s range was also not effective as it could only reach up to 25 m.

Italian CV.33 LF during training. (Source: ww2incolor)

Flamingo Flammpanzer

In winter 1939, the German weapons department ordered the creation of a flamethrower tank using an already existing chassis, with the idea of having a flamethrower tank to support the infantry in assaulting heavily fortified positions.

Flammpanzer II Flamingo Ausf. A No. 235 of Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 in the USSR, 1941. (Source: Panzer DB)

Name

The official designation for this tank was Sd.Kfz.122 Pz.Kpfw. II (F) Ausf. A/B. The (F) should not be confused with the later Panzer II Ausf. F version. The (F) stands for (Flamm) or (Flammpanzerwagen), which would translate to (flame) or (flamethrower tank). This is why most people refer to it as the Flammpanzerwagen II or “Flamingo”.

The name “Flamingo” (which has the same meaning in German and English) would be similar to the “animal names” given to the Panzer V and VI. This was also the first “animal name” that was given to a German tank. The reason for the naming is unknown, but it was likely chosen because “FLAMingo” is similar to the word FLAMmpanzer. For the sake of simplicity, the article is going to use the term “Flamingo”.

Flammpanzer II Flamingo Ausf. A in the USSR, late 1941 (Source: wolrdwarphotos)

Production (Ausf. A and B)

Since the Panzer I did not fulfill the criteria, the HWA decided to use the Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. D variant, originally a light tank made for cavalry support and independent light tank divisions. But, since this was never implemented, the Panzer II Ausf. D had no specific use. The Flamingo tank had two sub-variants, the Ausf. (variant) A and B. Ausf. A tanks were all vehicles built before the summer of 1941 and based on the Panzer II Ausf. D1 and E chassis, while the Ausf. B was built from June 1941 until March 1942 on the Panzer II Ausf. D2 chassis. While the D1 variant had a sprocket wheel with 11 spokes, the D2 chassis had only 8 spokes. The Ausf. E had changes made to the front and idler wheel and had lubricated tracks but only 7 Ausf. E chassis were made and all were converted into Ausf. A Flamingos.

Top picture: The suspension of the Flamingo Ausf. A based on the Panzer II Ausf. D1 chassis.
Middle picture: The suspension of the Flamingo Ausf. A based on the Panzer II Ausf. E chassis.
Down picture: The suspension of the Flamingo Ausf. B based on the Panzer II Ausf. D2 chassis.
(Source: Panzer Tracts)

The Panzer II manufacturing companies, MAN and Daimler-Benz, were approached by the HWA to design the hull and turret respectively.

From April to September of 1939, 46 chassis of the Panzer II Ausf. D1 were taken off the normal production line and rebuilt by MAN. 1 prototype vehicle was already finished in July 1939 made out of carbon steel (also known as soft- or mild steel). Later, in the Winter of 1940, all of them were converted to flamethrowers by Wegmann & Co. in Kassel. In addition to the construction of new tanks, 43 already completed Panzer II Ausf. D were taken from the 7th and 8th Panzerdivision. In May 1940, the production was halted and all completed vehicles were sent back for modifications. The original order demanded the production of a 0-series with 90 Flamingo tanks by October 1940. This deadline was achieved with the delayed production of only 3 tanks which were completed in February 1941 due to a lack of Panzer II chassis. Additionally, an order for 150 new Flamingos was given in April, which were to be produced at a rate of 30 per month. Production started in August 1941 but, due to a shortage of chassis for the Flamingos and the fact that some of the available chassis were not in a usable state, only 62 could be completed until March 1942. After that date, the conversion order for Flamingo tanks was stopped. The rest of the 150 tank order were normal Panzer II Ausf. Ds.

The table shows the production numbers of the Flamingos (Source: Panzer Tracts 23)

Design

The Flamingo used the same engine as the Panzer II Ausf. D, which was the 6-cylinder Maybach HL62 TRM 140 hp gasoline engine. Since the original role of the Panzer II Ausf. D was to support the cavalry, it had to keep up with the horses. Therefore, a more powerful engine had to be built in comparison to the regular Panzer IIs. This speed was transferred to the Flamingo, making it a very fast vehicle with a maximum speed of 55 km/h. Although the weight was raised from 11 to 12 tons, the vehicle showed no changes mobility-wise.

Flamingo during a training exercise. France 1940. (Source: World war photos)

Suspension

Both the Flamingo Ausf. A and B used the unchanged suspension of the Panzer II Ausf. D and E. Since the Panzer II Ausf. D requirements were for a better engine, the running wheels had to be upgraded too. They were given a completely new running gear, using four large all-rubber wheels sprung on torsion bars, which made the return rollers of the Ausf. C superfluous. Furthermore, all 7 vehicles were based on the Panzer II Ausf. E chassis had different front and back wheels which adapted to the new lubricated tracks on the Ausf. E.

Flamingo No. 311 captured by the Red Army in November 1941. Note the track type that was based on the Panzer II Ausf. E. (Source: wolrdwarphotos)

Hull and superstructure

The lower hull was completely identical to the Panzer II Ausf. D and E. The superstructure was also very similar. On the front of the tank were two escape hatches for the driver and radio operator. Two armored boxes were placed on the left and right mudguards, which consisted of the fuel tanks for the flamethrowers, which could be accessed by opening the top. On each Flamethrower turret, there were small hatches to access the flamethrowers if repair was needed. To reach the engine, which was separated from the crew compartment, a hatch was put on the rear top of the tank. Additionally, storage boxes and the standard tank equipment were placed on the superstructure. Some of the Ausf. A Flamingos had a spare track and idler wheel on the backside.

Destroyed Flamingo No. 124 of the 1st Regiment of the 18. Panzerdivision of Panzer Abteilung (F) 100. Note the opened hatches for the engine. (Source Worldwarphotos)
Top view blueprint of a Flamingo. (Source: Blueprints)
Top view of a Flamingo. Note the access hatches on the flamethrower turrets and fuel tanks. (Source: Panzer Tracts 2-3)

Turret

The turret was completely different from the one used on the previous Panzer II variants and was smaller. It had a hexagonal shape and an armored vision slit on each side. The front side had a MG fitted in a “Kugelblende”. Additionally, there was a hatch located on the top for the commander.

Top view of the Flamingo Turret. (Source: Blueprints)

Armament

One of the main flaws of the Flamingo was its weak armament. The two flamethrower turrets, called “Spritzköpfe” (meaning Spray heads), were equipped with two standard flamethrowers that could be moved 180°. The turrets were located on the front, on the left and right, on the mudguards. The fuel was stored in separate fuel tanks behind the turrets, running along the sides above the tracks. They could be refilled by opening the top of the armored box. Each of the two fuel tanks included 160 liters of flamethrower oil, a mixture of gasoline and oil, and were “shot” with the help of pressurized nitrogen stored in six pressurized tanks. The oil was then ignited by an acetylene lighter. The Flamingo could shoot 80 bursts for 5 seconds each at a maximum range of 35 meters. This range proved to be very weak and not enough for effective use. Additionally, there was a 7.92 mm MG 34 fitted in the turret with 1800 rounds available and a K.Z.F.2 (1,75 x 18°) as a gunsight with a range of 200 meters. Behind the turret on the backside, two pairs of three small “Nebelwerferanlagen” (smoke grenade throwers) were fitted, which could create a smoke wall to support infantry advance or help the tank retreat in dangerous situations.

Flamingo No. 311 was captured by the Red Army. Note the visible armament. October 1941. (Source: Worldwarphotos)
Flamingo during tests in Germany, 1940. (Source: Achtungpanzer)
A Flamingo shooting the flame oil would then be ignited by the acetylene lighter. (Source: Valka)

Armor

Another drawback of the Flamingo was its light armor. The turret was relatively well armored in relation to the hull, with 20-30 mm of thickness. The hull and superstructure had 14.5-30 mm of armor. The frontal armor plates provided effective protection against anti-tank rifles at most ranges. The side armor, on the other hand, could only protect against small arms fire and proved to be extremely dangerous for the fuel tanks of the flamethrowers.

Colorized photo of destroyed Flamingo No. 114 on the Eastern Front. Note the exposed fuel tank on the side, showing how thin the armor on the sides was. (Source: Worldwarphotos)

Crew

Flamingo tanks had a crew of 3 men (radio operator, driver, commander). The commander was situated in the turret. His tasks were commanding the crew, operating both flamethrowers and the machine gun in the turret. The small flamethrower turrets were moved by an electrical transmission located in the main turret. The radio operator was situated on the right side and operated the radio (FuG 2), while the driver sat on the left side.

A Flamingo and its crew in the USSR, June 1941. (Source: Flickr)

Operation Sea Lion

Flamingos were organized into Abteilungen (eng: Battalions) which served in Panzer Divisions together with the “Panzergrenadiere”. From the 1st to the 4th March 1940, two Panzer Abteilungen (Tank Battalions) were formed. These were Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 and, a few days later, 101. Another flamethrower unit was Panzer Abteilung (F) 102, but this battalion consisted of “Flammenwerfer Beutepanzer” (captured tanks that were converted into flamethrowers). Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 used a “Wolfsangel” (Wolf fishing rod) as their unit emblem, while 101 first used crossed flamethrowers in light green paint and, after 1941, a multi-colored flame.

Flamingo Ausf. A of Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 with its visible unit emblem (multi-colored flame) on the rear turret side in the USSR, 1941. (Source: Panzer Tracts)
“Wolfsangel” Emblem of Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 on the left side. The symbol on the right represents the 1st regiment. (Source: worldwarphotos)

Although they were ready for the invasion of France, there was only a small number built at this point. Before the invasion of France, both battalions were located at training schools in “Wehrkreis III” (Army Circle 3). Furthermore, the OKH (German Army High Command) delayed the production to July 1940. After the invasion, they were stationed in northern France and prepared for the planned Operation Sea Lion (amphibious invasion of Great Britain). Many photos show the tanks during exercises, being loaded and unloaded from transport ships and rafts.

A column of Flamingos (No. 315, 312, 316 Panzer Abteilung (F) 100) getting transported across a river in preparation for Operation Sea Lion. Northern France, summer 1940. (Source: Wolrdwarphotos)
Flamingo Ausf. A No. 313 driving onto a transport ship, France 1940. Note the small protection shield, protecting the Nebelwerfer from getting wet. (Source: World war photos)

Flamethrower combat tactics

In September 1940, a manual for “Panzerflammabteilungen” (Flamethrower Tank Battalions) was created. This manual reveals the tactical doctrine and the flamethrower´s intended combat role. Their main task was to support the “Panzertruppe” (tank force) or “Panzergrenadiere” (tank grenadiers) by eliminating threats which other tanks or the infantry could not. Furthermore, the flamethrower had a huge demoralizing effect on the enemy. While the flamethrowers were to be used at an effective range of 30 meters, the machine gun was used for longer ranges, up to 400 meters.

The manual covered three different methods of engaging enemy positions. The first method showed how to deal with enemy infantry on flat terrain. The flamethrower turrets were to be set at an 0° elevation angle and sprayed in discharging bursts. Furthermore, by traversing the turrets whilst driving, an area about 50 meters could be covered. The second method showed how to engage opponents in field fortifications, woods, buildings or machine-gun nests. This could be achieved by shooting out short bursts, demoralizing and driving out the enemy, so they could be eliminated with other weapons. The last method dealt with entrenched enemies or enemies in bunkers and log bunkers. By shooting out cold oil and covering the area then igniting it with a single burst, the area could be set on fire for a longer duration.

In terms of pushing forward, the flamethrower tanks were always to advance with cover fire from either the artillery or other tanks. Additionally, at close ranges, the regular Panzer IIs provided cover fire. During combat, all three flamethrower tank companies were to be deployed and were only allowed to advance with a Panzerdivision.

Furthermore, the Flamingo could create a smoke cloud whilst shooting the flamethrowers and using the “Nebelwerfer”. This could be used to close in on enemies or retreat safely. If supply vehicles managed to reach the Flamingos, the whole battalion could be refilled and rearmed in one hour.

A Flamingo Ausf. A shooting and revealing the amount of smoke that was created whilst shooting. Germany, Winter 1940 (Source: US Official)

Combat results on the Eastern Front

Since the invasion of Britain was never initiated, all 90 Flamingos were transported to the Warsaw area for the upcoming invasion of the Soviet Union. There, Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 was attached to the 19. Panzer Division in the XLVII Panzerkorps (47. Tank Corps) and Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 to the 7th Panzer Division as part of the 2. “Panzergruppe” (2. Tank Group). Both battalions were part of Heeresgruppe Mitte (Army Group Center). Each battalion had a Staff and Staffcompany, 3 armored flamethrower companies, 1 reserve squadron, 1 light tank platoon (with 5 Panzer II light tanks) and a workshop company. The armored flamethrower companies each consisted of 1 staff platoon with two Panzer II Ausf. D or C light tanks, three flamethrower tank platoons with 4 Flamingos each and a single light tank platoon with 5 Panzer II Ausf. C or D. The reserve squadron held a reserve of 2 Panzer II light tanks and 6 Flamingo tanks. In practice, these reserves did not last long.

Starting in August 1941, the first new Ausf. B Flamingos arrived, which were highly needed due to tank losses. They were put into the already existing battalions. After seeing how vulnerable the battalion was against enemy armor, the OKH demanded the addition of a Panzer III (5cm) platoon for extra anti-tank capability. There was also one single Pz. Bef. Wg. III added, which was a command tank variant of the regular Panzer III (5cm) but was fitted with a “Rahmenantenne” (cage antenna) and had the main armament removed. At the start of Operation Barbarossa, both battalions consisted of 24 regular Panzer IIs (2cm), 42 Flamingo tanks, 5 Panzer IIIs (5cm) and 1 Pz. Bef. Wg. III.

Fieldpostnumbers and organisation of Panzer Abteilung (F) 100. (Source: Lexikon der Wehrmacht)
Fieldpostnumbers and organisation of Panzer Abteilung 101. (Source: Lexikon der Wehrmacht)

Panzer-Abteilung (F) 100 first saw action in the area of Legi, beyond Warsaw, when the tanks drove over the Legi bridge. Only a few days later, the battalion reached Minsk and a month later participated in the battle of Smolensk. Instead of advancing to Moscow, the battalion was sent south and almost reached Kursk. This order was canceled and the tanks were ordered to support the advance on Moscow. Their final advance was to the area of Orel (350 km south of Moscow), where they were stopped. Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 followed a similar route as 100 and also got put out of service around the same date. In early November 1941, both battalions were pulled off the front and only left the regular Panzer II (2cm) and Panzer III (5cm) tanks behind, which were transferred into the 18. Panzer Division.

The advance of Panzer-Abteilung 100 from 23.6.1941 until 11.10.1941. Note Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 followed almost the same route (Source: Lexikon der Wehrmacht)

Unlike Panzer Abteilung (F) 100, 101 offers a detailed rare after-action combat report from the 26th June 1941. On the 26th of June 1941, near Stonim in Belarus, Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 and Panzer Regiment 25 supported the attack of “Schützenregiment 7” (7th Infantry regiment) against an enemy who held a position 2 km wide and deep. At 6 am, the battalion attacked. The 3rd Company attacked from the right side, while the 1st and 2nd attacked from the left. Due to terrain difficulties which included driving over multiple gullies, the advance had to be done on a narrow front. The Soviet infantry, which had only used small arms fire at this point, though the presence of anti-tank guns and heavy machine guns were suspected, had positioned itself in brush-covered woods.

Shortly after the tanks reached the forest, it turned out that the woods were impenetrable by tanks. The infantry, which advanced alone into the forest, was met with heavy machine gun fire. After the commander failed to direct the battalion around the forest, due to difficult terrain, the 2nd and 3rd Companies started to burn down the brushland with Panzer III (5cm) support. The advance through the woods was slow because many Soviet soldiers were shooting from hidden spots and therefore the German infantry could not advance forwards. The Flamingos burned down the Brush Piles, one after another, and captured soldiers who were struck by fear. With the support of the 1st Company, the woods and nearby cornfields could be secured by 11 am. At 12:30 am, Panzer Abteilung (F) 101, which had already retreated from the area, received a message from Schützenregiment 7 that they were under attack from all sides. The commander of Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 (Major Mast) sent the 1st Company for support but, upon arriving, this support was no longer needed, since the infantry had successfully defeated the enemy.

In the end, the battalion managed to destroy several light machine guns, 11 heavy machine guns, 1 mortar, 2 cars, 3 trucks, and one tank. Furthermore, the battalion claimed to have destroyed 1 heavy tank and 2 artillery pieces, but this number could not be verified. Around 100-150 Soviet soldiers were killed by either the machine guns or flamethrowers. Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 reported no casualties, vehicle- and men wise.

Flamingo Ausf. A in the USSR, December 1941. Note how the tank is being used as a transport vehicle for various equipment. (Source: Worldwarphotos)
Destroyed Flamingo Ausf. A No. 311 of Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 being inspected by Red Army soldiers. Winter 1941. (Source: Worldwarphotos)

Like many other German early war tanks, the performance of the Flamingo on the Eastern Front was rather weak. Due to their thin armor, Soviet anti-tank rifles and guns faced no problem penetrating the sides of the Flamingo at most combat ranges. Another downside was that the Flamingo, like many pre and early WW2 tanks, had a one-man turret. The commander of the Flamingo was overwhelmed with his tasks of observing the battlefield, giving orders to the crew, and operating the flamethrowers and the machine gun. Lastly, the flamethrower’s short-range made the tank even more vulnerable, since it had to approach the enemy very closely.

Both battalions suffered from huge losses, as seen in Tables 2 and 3. Almost the entirety of the time, the battalions had no command tank and only little medium tank support. Additionally, in the first few days, both battalions lost almost half of their Flamingo tanks. These problems continued throughout the invasion and the battalions were only at half of their strength for the most time. When the order arrived to pull the Flamingos back from the front, Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 and 101 together had only 12 operational Flamingo tanks. On the other hand, unlike the early Panzer II variants which had problems with their leaf spring suspension in the Russian mud, the Flamingo and its larger wheels performed excellently.

This Table shows the Operational Status Reports from Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 from June till October 1941. Note Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 ended up with similar results. (Source: Flammpanzer, German Flamethrowers 1941-1945)
This Table shows the Operational Status Reports from Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 in November 1941. (Source: Flammpanzer, German Flamethrowers 1941-1945)

Fate

After their last deployment, the Flamingos were pulled off the front by mid-November 1941. All surviving vehicles, including the regular Panzer II Ausf. Ds were converted into Marder II tank destroyers. The flamethrower tank project was canceled and production stopped, until 1943, when the Germans started introducing a new flamethrower tank, the Flammpanzer III. Meanwhile, Panzer Abteilung (F) 100 was renamed Panzer Regiment 100 and was reorganized and equipped with standard medium and light tanks. Panzer Abteilung (F) 101 experienced the same fate when they were renamed the 24th Panzer Regiment. Both regiments saw action again in the summer offensive of 1942. The flamethrowers were given to the pioneers and the MG turrets were built in coastal defenses in Norway as a part of the Atlantic Wall. Since all Flamingos got converted, only the turrets can be seen nowadays.

Picture of the Sd.Kfz. 132 with the 7.62 cm(r) gun on a D2 chassis. Note only the chassis and tracks were transferred from the Flamingo to the Marder. (Source: Kfz der Wehrmacht)
Flamingo turret as part of a defensive line near Kviljo. This turret is no longer present since 2012 (Source: Bunkersite)

Conclusion

In the end, the Flamingo was a well-thought-out first attempt at creating an armored flamethrower to attack bunker positions, supporting the infantry, and performing tasks that other tanks, such as the Panzer III or IV, could not achieve. The idea behind it was fairly good and, at that time, the armor and armament seemed good enough to fight the opponents. Furthermore, its original role was not to engage enemy tanks, but rather infantry and bunker positions. Additionally, the combination of speed and the fear factor from the flamethrowers made a fairly effective anti-infantry vehicle.

Panzer II (Flamm) Ausf. A (Sd.Kfz.122) flamethrower built on Panzer II Ausf.D1 hull. Illustration by David Bocquelet.

Flammpanzer II Flamingo specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 4.30 x 2.124 x 1.85 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 12 tonnes
Crew 3 (commander, radio operator, and driver)
Speed 55 km/h, roads: 40 km/h, cross-country: 20 km/h
Range roads: 250 km, cross-country: 125 km
Armament 2x flamethrowers & 7.92 mm MG 34
gunsight K.Z.F.2 (1.75 x 18°) 200 m range
ammmunition 320 liters falmeoil & 1,800 rounds/td>
Elevation -10° to +20°
Traverse Turret 360°, Flamethrower turrets 180°
Engine Maybach HL 62 TRM / 6-cylinder / 140hp
Armor 5-30 mm 90°-30°
Ground clearance 0.34 m
Power-to-weight ratio 11.7 hp/ton
Trench crossing capability 1.70 m
Communication FuG 2 or 5
Total Production Ausf. A: 89, Ausf. B: 62

Sources

Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle, Panzer Tracts No. 2-3 Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. D,E, and F development and production from 1937 to 1942

Thomas L. Jentz, Hilary Louis Doyle and Peter Sarson, New Vanguard 15 Flammpanzers, German flamethrowers 1941-1945

Michael Sawodny, Waffen Arsenal Deutsche Panzer Raritäten 1939-1945 Band 77

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2014/10/30/the_horrific_effectiveness_of_flamethrowers

Article on the OT-26 http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_OT-26.

Article on the Sōkō Sagyō Ki https://military.wikia.org/wiki/S%C5%8Dk%C5%8D_Sagy%C5%8D_Ki

Article on Panzer Abteilung 100https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/index.php?thread/42122-panzer-abteilung-100/

Article on Panzer Abteilung 101 http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gliederungen/PanzerAbt/PanzerAbt101-R.htm

Photos

https://bunkersite.com/locations/norway/lista/kviljo.php
https://www.the-blueprints.com/blueprints/tanks/ww2-tanks-germany-2/81813/view/sd_kfz_122_pzkpfwii_ausfd_flammpanzer_ii_flamingo/
https://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/germany/tanks-2-3/flammpanzer-ii/
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Kdj_rIsurTC10sorvy-m9deOkx92yYJz/view

Categories
WW2 German Light Tanks

Krupp Light Export Tank L.K.A. and L.K.B.

Nation Flag Icon Germany (1936-1938)
Light Tank – 4 prototypes + 1 incomplete

After World War I, senior tank companies, such as Renault and Vickers-Armstrong, began selling tanks and other military materiel to smaller countries that could not afford their own tank production. Seeing this, Krupp decided that Germany needed to export tanks too. In 1935, the first proposals and component drawings for a 5 tonnes light tank were completed, with the addition of light tanks based on the Panzer I chassis and a V8 air-cooled engine specifically designed for Bulgaria. These were the L.K.A. (Light Tank Export) and L.K.B. (Light Tank Bulgaria).

Colorized photo of the L.K.A. undergoing trials. Germany, 1938. (Original source: Panzer Tracts)

Export Tanks: a New Marketing Strategy

The idea of exporting tanks is as old as the introduction of tanks themselves. The Renault FT light tank and Mark IV heavy tank were the first tanks to be built in large numbers and also the first tanks to be either donated or sold to other countries. Sold to over 20 different countries, the Renault FT was one of the most influential tanks ever. In addition, it was the first tank for countries including the US, Italy, and the Soviet Union, which later created their own designs based on the Renault FT. The other Great War tank that was exported was the Mark IV or V heavy tank. Seeing service during the Great War, both tanks were exported after the war to countries that were still involved in the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War. Nations such as Poland, but also smaller nations, such as Estonia, received some tanks in order to stop the Red Army from advancing any further.

Polish Renault FTs before an attack on Daugavpils in 1920. (Source: Janusz Magnuski)

During the interwar years, the company of Vickers-Armstrong introduced a new light tank, the Mark E Type A and B, intended solely as an export tank and not for the British Army. It had a great impact on tank building and influenced many nations’ tanks, most notably the Soviet T-26 and Polish 7TP.

The Mark E had two different types. The Type A had two turrets armed with machine guns and was intended to be a trench sweeper, showing that the idea of trench warfare was still relevant in Great Britain at that time. The Type B was its successor which mounted only one turret, armed with a 47 mm gun against enemy tanks. The first nation to acquire this tank was Greece in 1931, followed by Bolivia, which used its tanks during the Chaco War in 1932. At the same time, Vickers-Armstrong introduced much lighter tanks primarily armed with a machine gun. The Vickers 4-ton tank (also named “commercial tank”) could be exported to countries that did not want to buy the Vickers 6-ton, as either they did not need the anti-tank capability or could not spend large sums of money on tanks. With the introduction of this tank, a new concept was also introduced to tank export.

Customers could customize the tanks that they bought. As an example, the customers could decide what armament the tank should have or whether it should have a radio. In the case of the Vickers 4-ton, the customers could decide that the tank should mount an anti-tank gun instead of a machine gun. A close partner of Vickers was Carden, which helped in the construction of the Vickers 6-ton. During the 1920s, Carden-Loyd mainly focused on developing a one-man tankette. Later, this would evolve into a two-man tankette, culminating in the Carden-Loyd Mark VI tankette. It was a huge success for the company, which sold over 450 units to other nations.

Vickers 6-ton Mark E in Kuomintang service in 1938. (Source: Tank Archives)

The first Soviet tanks were captured Mark IVs and Renault FTs from the White Army during the Russian Civil War. Later, the Soviet Union purchased new tanks from the United Kingdom, such as the Vickers Mark E and Carden-Loyd Mk. IV. The T-26, the most mass-produced Soviet tank in 1940, was based around the Mark E and was later the Soviet Union’s export tank. Being sold to the Republic during the Spanish Civil War and to the Chinese during the Japanese Invasion, it also saw wide use in foreign armies and could effectively stand its ground against most enemy tanks at that time.

T-26 during the Winter War against Finland. (Source: Wiki)

Only becoming independent after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the end of the Russian Civil War, the Czechoslovak Republic started to invest in the development of tanks for its army, which would later also become export tanks. The leading tank manufacturing companies, such as Praga and ČKD-Škoda, were especially interested in providing tanks for foreign countries, as well as for the Czechoslovak Army. One of the first countries to buy Czech tanks was the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which showed great interest in acquiring light tanks. Furthermore, many other Balkan countries, such as Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, sought to buy the Czech LT vz. 35. Countries outside of Europe also showed interest in Czech tanks, with both Peru and Iran buying CKD TNH light tanks that proved to be very effective for their small armies.

Iranian Praga TNH. (Source: War spot)

Export Tanks Made in Germany

During the time of the Weimar Republic (1920-1933), Germany was restrained from building and therefore also exporting tanks due to the Treaty of Versailles. After 1933, when the Nazis took over, the restrictions of Versailles started being ignored by Germany (although some development had taken place beforehand as well). As a result, the German company Krupp started to invest in the idea of export tanks. Krupp was one of the first German companies to be involved in tank development. In 1930, Krupp was tasked with creating a new light tank for the German Army, known as the Kleintraktor (ENG: small tractor), and later developed the 1. Serie/La. S. (abbreviation for Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper, ENG: agricultural tractor). This tank was based on the Vickers Carden Loyd suspension, of which one vehicle was exported from the UK to Germany. Both tanks would later lead to the creation of the Panzer I.

L.K.A.

The first concept for an export tank made by Krupp was discussed in a meeting in 1935. It was made as a counterpart to the La. S., later known as the Panzer I Ausf. A. Krupp chose to develop a light tank because the restrictions of the Versailles Treaty made it very hard to export heavy and medium tanks. In 1936, the first concept drawings were discussed by Krupp, which showed that the tank could only weigh up to 4 tonnes and, therefore, the dimensions had to be as small as possible. The L.K.A. is often confused with Krupp’s prototype for the Panzer I competition. It is believed that Krupp made this tank during the development of the La.S. (later known as the Panzer I). However, this is not the case, since Krupp’s Panzer I prototype differed greatly from the L.K.A.. Furthermore, the L.K.A. entered development years after the La.S. project was finished and hundreds of Panzer I tanks were already completed. It is, however, true that the L.K.A. was influenced by the Panzer I.

Name

L.K.A. is an abbreviation for the German words Leichter Kampfwagen Ausland, which would translate to Light Tank for Export. Later, the name would change to MG K.A. which would translate to Machine Gun Tank for Export.

Restrictions from the German Design Office

To prevent the copying of components of the tank by other countries, Wa. Prüf. 6 (German Tank Design Office) restricted the use of any modern German components in the tank. In 1937, when the first plans were completed by Krupp, the Waffenamt (Weapons Ordnance Department) sent a list of these restrictions to Krupp.

1. The tank can only mount a straight fixed telescope and non-removable periscope.
2. The turret can use slip rings for electricity.
3. Visors cannot have overlapping edges and additional locks.
4. Protective glass for vision slits can only be 12 mm thick and 5.5 mm wide.
5. The use of armor plates for vision slits is prohibited.
6. The design of the gun mantlet can be copied from the Panzer I but must be shown for approval and only be used on a case-by-case basis.
7. The tank can use simple rod antennas, without frame antennas.
8. A radio can use expanding rubber strips.
9. Hinges are to be made out of normal steel not armor.
10. The tank can use the traversing gear of the Panzer I with steel cables as connecting linkage for the machine guns.
11. The turret can only be mounted on a ball-bearing race.
12. The usage of any type of bolts except normal-headed and countersunk bolts is prohibited.
13. The design of the turret can only be rounded at a 10 degrees angle or a truncated pyramid shape.
14. The usage of the German mounting for an anti-aircraft machine gun is not allowed.

L.K.A. undergoing trials. Note the open visor and visible driver. During the trials, the machine guns were removed. (Source: Panzer Tracts)

Production

Production of the first and only prototype began in February 1937, when Krupp promised a complete first model by April the same year. The tank was to be able to fit a water-cooled engine, instead of an air-cooled engine, if requested by the customer. Due to problems with the engine not being able to fit inside the compartment, the first vehicle, named L.K.A. 1 Versuchsfahrzeug (Eng: test vehicle), was completed a year later, in February 1938. After a series of test trials taking place over a range of 6,000 meters, the L.K.A. 1 would officially be up for commercial use and was demonstrated to multiple representatives of other countries.

The only L.K.A. during trials. It was created with Krupp’s own funds. (Source: Panzer Tracts)

Design

In July 1936, the design deadline of the L.K.A. was set to October 1936, though, by this point, the design was almost completely finished. Already during the development, great importance had to be laid on the limitations imposed by Wa. Prüf. 6, because even the smallest factor could lead to the entire project being aborted and the tank not being available for export. The tank would weigh (with equipment and crew) only 4.5 tonnes, making it an exceptionally light vehicle. The initial design was highly influenced by the Panzer I Ausf. A. Similarities included the same steering, suspension system, turret, superstructure and tracks.

L.K.A. in Krupp´s testing facility in Essen. (Source: Armed Conflicts)

Superstructure

The chassis was made out of multiple steel plates welded together, with an extra firewall protecting the crew. The superstructure was the connector between the chassis and turret. It had an octagonal shape with a removable armored engine cover on the back. Over the tracks, track guards were built. Exhaust pipes and air intakes were placed on the rear mudguards. On the front side was one vision port and also two on the diagonal sides. Additional equipment on the tank consisted of two lights on the track guards and the standard German tools, such as a hatchet and shovel. Furthermore, towing hooks were located at the back and front for towing the vehicle. On top of the superstructure was a driver’s hatch and, on the back, a hatch to access the engine.

Panzer I Ausf. A.
L.K.A. from the rear. Note the difference in the heavily modified rear deck (Source: Armed Conflicts)

Suspension

The drive train was located in the hull, with a forward steering unit connected to the engine, transmission, and a clutch-brake steering system. The L.K.A. had front drive sprockets and an external suspension, similar to the Panzer I. Four rubber tire road wheels with two return rollers were located on each side, connected in pairs to a leaf spring suspension. The drive sprocket was at the front, while a pretty low idler was present at the rear. On a good hard road, the idler did not touch the ground. The transmission had two reverse and five forward gears. Furthermore, it was supposedly easy to use, so crews with next to no training could successfully drive the tank.

Comparison between the suspension of a Panzer I Ausf. A (top) and L.K.A.(bottom). (Source: Panzer Tracts)

Engine

The engine was a Krupp M311 V8 air-cooled motor running on gasoline. With 85 hp at 2,500 rpm, the L.K.A. could achieve a maximum speed of 50 km/h, making it faster than all German fully tracked vehicles at that time. It was cooled through an external bulletproof air intake on the rear side and started by an electric motor. Since the tank was made for export purposes and some of the countries that were potentially interested were located in hot climates, the cooling fan was able to work in high temperatures. 160 liters of gasoline were stored in two fuel tanks at the back and could be refilled from outside.

Armor

Next to no information is available about the L.K.A.’s armor protection. Test results showed that it was bulletproof at a range of 30 m against 7.92 mm steel cored armor-piercing bullets. However, it is very likely that the armor was not thicker than the Panzer I, presumably even thinner due to the lighter weight. In that case, the armor would be below 13 mm.

Armament

The L.K.A. mounted 2 machine guns which, due to the restrictions of Wa. Prüf. 6, had to originate from a foreign country. However, this could never be achieved and the only prototype ever completed of the L.K.A. mounted two M.G. 13s with 2,000 rounds of 7.92 mm bullets in 25 magazines. The MG 13 was the standard machine gun of the Reichswehr (ENG: Empire protection force) during the time of the Weimar Republic. Although outdated, it continued to see service throughout the first years of the Second World War, being mounted on early Panzer I variants and Kfz. 13 armored cars. Additionally, the MG 13 was also issued to some German infantry platoons.

M.G. 13, like the ones mounted in the L.K.A. and L.K.B. (Source: Wiki)

Crew

The L.K.A. had a crew of 2. This included the driver, who sat on the left side in the hull, and the commander, located in the turret. The driver had two vision ports (one to the front and one to the left) that could be opened. Whilst driving in combat, the driver could observe the battlefield through an optical device. The commander would operate the machine guns and if requested by the customer, a radio. Three vision ports were allocated for him, with one on each side and one on the back. Furthermore, a telescope was available to view the front. The commander could access the tank through the commander’s hatch on top of the turret, while the driver could enter through a hatch on the superstructure.

The driver coming out of his hatch on the superstructure. Note the two vision ports for the commander (Source: Panzer Tracts)

L.K.A. 2cm

There is also a common misconception around the L.K.A. 2cm. Similar to the L.K.A., it is believed that the L.K.A. 2cm was Krupp´s proposal for the next generation of light tanks, the Panzer II. This was not the case, since the Panzer II had already gone into production by the time the L.K.A. 2cm was designed in 1936. The L.K.A. 2cm was designed after Krupp had planned to produce a M.K.A. (medium tank for export) with a 2cm gun. Krupp saw that the L.K.A.´s armament was weak compared to the rival export tanks, the Vickers 6-ton and Czech export tanks. As a solution, Krupp proposed arming the L.K.A. with a 2 cm fully automatic gun. Wa. Prüf. 6 did not object, with the exception that a periscopic sight had to be used and not a telescope. Of course, all restrictions placed on the L.K.A. were also applied to the L.K.A. 2cm. After trying to find a good periscope, which eventually failed, a much simpler version was mounted.

The gun was the 2 cm KwK 30 which would also be mounted in the Panzer II series. In order to fit this gun, the turret had to be changed a little. Due to the small turret, no ammunition could be fitted inside, and all 150 rounds had to be stored in the hull. In order for the tank to be able to engage in tank combat, armor-piercing shells were needed. Additionally, Krupp decided to use the self-loading 2 cm KwK 30, which is the one used in the Panzer II. The Pz. Gra. mit Leuchtspur (tank shell with tracer) 0.145 kg round, with a muzzle velocity of 850 m/s, was the main ammunition type. During development, extra attention had to be paid to the stabilization of the gun, since an electric stabilization system could not be fitted inside the tank.

In May 1938, the first and only prototype was completed and demonstrated for sales. The only existing photo was destroyed by British intelligence after they created an illustration of the L.K.A. 2cm which was mentioned in a report. The report falsely stated that the presented tank was the first prototype for the Panzer II, hence the misconception.

The only known image of L.K.A. 2 cm was destroyed by British Intelligence and this illustration was created. (Source: Panzer Tracts)

K.A.v. 2cm

Later, in 1937, there was a sub-proposal for the L.K.A. 2cm named K.A.v. 2cm (Eng: Export Tank Upgraded). Krupp wanted to upgrade the armor of the L.K.A. 2cm, resulting in the development of the K.A.v. 2cm. The weight would increase up to 7 tons and the frontal armor up to 30 mm. In the end, the project was abandoned and the development of the M.K.A. (medium tank for export) was started out of the idea of having a much heavier and better-armored vehicle.

L.K.B.

Almost simultaneously with the development of the L.K.A., Krupp started working on a new export light tank, specifically made for Bulgaria, named L.K.B. (abbreviation for the German words Leichter Kampfwagen Bulgarien, Light tank for Bulgaria). Although next to no information is available, it is highly likely that Bulgaria showed great interest in the development of German light tanks, as it was looking to acquire light tanks for its forces. However, the L.K.B. was available for any other interested customers as well.

Krupp completed the first drawings of the L.K.B., which used the suspension of the Panzer I Ausf. B and a new Krupp 8-cylinder engine. One test vehicle featuring this new engine was made available by Krupp in the Kummersdorf testing facility. The vehicle was sent into test trials with a similar tank featuring the 6-cylinder Maybach engine. However, this test vehicle was not a L.K.B., but rather a test vehicle to investigate if the Panzer I chassis would be able to fit a Krupp 6-cylinder engine. Wa. Prüf. 6 took the test vehicle and compared it to a Panzer I using the normal Maybach engine. The vehicle was then returned to Krupp and could be used again.

Krupp´s advertisement for the L.K.B. in a brochure. (Source. Panzer Tracts)

Three Different Prototypes

In total, 3 prototypes were built, with one of them incomplete. Although not differing greatly, each tank had changes made to either the superstructure or the suspension system.

After Krupp had seen the results from the test vehicle fitted with the Krupp engine competing against the Panzer I with the Maybach engine, it was decided to start the construction of the first L.K.B., called L.K.B.1. In November 1936, Krupp asked for a single chassis from the old La.S. (Panzer I Ausf. B) and a turret from the current production line, to finish the prototype. Wa. Prüf. 6 could only provide a turret initially. Later, in December, a chassis could be spared. This chassis was a Panzer I Ausf. A with four roadwheels. This was not planned by Krupp, as it originally wanted a Panzer I Ausf. B featuring 5 road wheels. The turret and superstructure were both taken from a Panzer I Ausf. B. In order for the new air-cooled Krupp M311 V-8 gasoline engine to fit, the rear deck had to be modified. In March 1937, the vehicle was completed and, after being sent to Grusonwerk and Altengrabow (both testing facilities in eastern Germany), the vehicle was sent to Essen, where it was presented and offered for export.

L.K.B.1 with the suspension of the Panzer I Ausf. A. Note the idler wheel touching the ground. (Source: Panzer Tracts)

Already in February 1937, Krupp had planned the construction of a second vehicle. L.K.B.2 would have the lengthened suspension of the Panzer I Ausf. B, as originally intended by Krupp. Additionally, the new suspension would have the idler wheel raised and not touching the ground. This was to improve mobility and help stabilize the tank whilst firing. After showing the plans for this vehicle to Wa. Prüf. 6, it was decided to use the L.K.B.2 for export purposes at a price of 6,100 RM (Reichsmark). In order to fit the new suspension and new Krupp engine, modifications had to be made, such as the addition of an oil cooler and the exchange of different engine components. In March 1937, Wa. Prüf. 6 gave permission for the creation of an advertising brochure for foreign countries. The United Kingdom, France, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, and the Soviet Union were excluded from this advertisement campaign, as they were either potential threats or rivals which also exported tanks. In February 1938, Krupp reported the status of L.K.B.2. The vehicle was completed with the exception of the engine, superstructure and turret. Therefore, L.K.B.1 was scrapped and the turret, superstructure and engine were used for the completion of L.K.B.2, which was later photographed and advertised.

L.K.B.2 photographed with the superstructure and turret of L.K.B.1. (Source: Panzer Tracts)

The last version, the L.K.B.3, was created when Sweden requested a single Panzer I Schulfahrzeug (training vehicle) for their troops. Wa. Prüf. 6 requested from Krupp a calculation of cost for converting a normal Panzer I Ausf. B Schulfahrzeug into a L.K.B. without the superstructure and turret and the cost of replacing this vehicle. Construction of the L.K.B.3 for Sweden was to be completed in September 1937. For the conversion, Krupp was allowed to use a single Panzer I Ausf. B Schulfahrzeug located in Kummersdorf, with the only objection that Krupp had to provide a replacement Panzer I Schulfahrzeug with the Maybach engine. After the completed conversion of the Panzer I Schulfahrzeug into the L.K.B.3 Schulfahrzeug, Sweden rejected the deal and Krupp sent the vehicle to the Waffenamt. Since the vehicle was never exported, Krupp did not have to produce a replacement vehicle. Similar to the other L.K.Bs, this tank featured the air-cooled Krupp M311 engine.

L.K.B.3 being tested in Kummersdorf testing facility (Source: Panzer Tracts)

L.K.B. 2cm

Similar to the L.K.A. 2cm, the L.K.B. 2cm was an additional option for customers that wanted their tanks to have better anti-tank capability. The turret that mounted the 2 cm KwK was identical to that of the L.K.A. 2cm. Therefore, the same 2 cm KwK 30 would have been used. As no photographic evidence or documents exist that prove the existence of this vehicle, it is unclear if it was ever completed.

Potential Export Countries

In 1941, a list showing potential trading partners for German tanks was prepared by Krupp, but it is unclear if any of the German export tanks were ever sold. However, this is highly unlikely due to the fact that only 5 prototypes were ever built.

Representatives of Siam (nowadays Thailand) were the first that saw the L.K.A. in October 1936. However, this offer failed because the representatives were not pleased with the results.

During the same year, Switzerland was looking for new tanks to replace their old Vickers 4 tons. Representatives visited Landsverk in Sweden and Krupp in Germany, but were displeased with the capabilities of the German tanks, as they were looking for a tank mounting a more powerful gun. As a solution, they bought the Czech CKD LTL.

Turkey was the third country to which Krupp tried to sell their tanks. However, the sale failed and Turkey turned to the Soviet Union, which sold them the T-26 light tanks, which were clearly superior to the L.K.A.. Later, during the Second World War, Germany would export around 100 Panzer III and IVs to Turkey in the hopes that they would join the war on their side.

The newly formed Kingdom of Afghanistan was looking to buy tanks for their new army. In 1936, they showed interest in buying the German tanks, however, the transaction failed because Krupp could not provide the tanks. As a result, Afghanistan bought the Italian CV-35.

Bulgaria was the country that showed the most interest in the German export tanks. Being a small country surrounded by hostile Balkan neighbors, Bulgaria also wanted to acquire tanks. The L.K.B. was specially designed for Bulgaria, as the L.K.A. was not available at that time. In the end, none were exported to Bulgaria.

In early 1937, Uruguay showed interest in buying German tanks. Some sources claim they wanted to buy 36 L.K.B. tanks at a price of 82,689 Reichsmark each.

As a large trading partner, it is no surprise that Sweden would eventually gain an interest in buying German tanks. 50 tanks and 1 prototype, at a price of 82,689 Reichsmark each, were promised to the Swedes. However, since Krupp could not provide any tanks, Sweden turned to Czechoslovakia.

After a great defeat during the Leticia Incident (Peru-Colombia War) in 1933, Peru sought to upgrade its army. Peru realized that tanks were needed by its armored forces. Furthermore, Brazil and Bolivia, both neighboring countries, had at that time the biggest tank arms on the continent. In 1937, Peruvian government representatives visited Europe with the goal of acquiring new tanks. They also turned to Germany, where they saw an advertisement for the new L.K.B. for a similar price as the Uruguayans were offered. They were never bought because Krupp could not provide any and the Peruvians were not satisfied with them. As a result, they later bought 12 CKD LTPs from Czechoslovakia.

Although victorious during the Gran Chaco War (Bolivia-Paraguay War 1932-1934), Paraguay sought to acquire their first tanks, mainly due to the Bolivians using a small number of Vickers 6-ton tanks. In the end, only some Italian CV-35s were bought.

One of the last nations to show interest in German export tanks was Japan, around the time when the export tank project was being canceled. As an ally of Germany, Japan looked at Germany’s export tanks but was dissatisfied with the results.

Conclusion

In the end, the project failed due to Germany needing the tanks themselves, even though the advertisement for German tanks was still present until 1941. Krupp was not given a contract to produce any more of the export tanks. As a replacement for the L.K.A. and B, Germany sold numerous Panzer Is to China and Nationalist Spain instead. Although a well thought out first attempt by Krupp to invest in the global market, Germany was not able to spare any tanks for export, as they were all badly needed in the army, even the Panzer I tanks. If any tanks had been exported, they would have been inferior to most other export tanks, such as the Vickers 6-ton, Renault R35 or CKD LTLs.

Krupp’s L.K.A. in 1938.
Panzer I Ausf. A as a comparison. Libya, January 1941

Specifications L.K.A. and L.K.B.

Dimensions L.K.A. (L-W-H) 3.80 x 1.90 x 1.65 m
Dimensions L.K.B. (L-W-H) 4.40 x 2 x 1.72 m
Total Weight L.K.A. 4.5 tonnes
Total Weight L.K.B. 5.4 tonnes
Crew 2 (commander, driver)
Engine air-cooled Krupp M311 V8 gasoline engine
Speed L.K.A. 50 km/h
Speed L.K.B. 43 km/h
Range Unknown
Armament 2x 7.92 mm MG 13
Armor 16 mm
Elevation -10° +20°
Traverse Turret 360°
Gunsight straight telescope
Ammunition 2,000 rounds
Power-to-weight ratio L.K.A 18.9 hp/ton
Power-to-weight ratio L.K.B 15.2 hp/ton
Communication L.K.A.: none, L.K.B.: receiver set
Total Production 1x L.K.A., 1x L.K.A. 2cm, 3x L.K.B. built with one incomplete

Sources

Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle, Panzer Tracts No. 1-2 Panzerkampfwagen I, Kl. Pz. Bef. Wg. to VK. 18.01

Walter J.Spielberger, Panzerkampfwagen I und II und Ihre Abarten, Einschließlich der Panzerentwicklungen der Reichswehr

Article on the CKD Czech export tank https://warspot.net/70-ckd-export-tanks-an-offer-you-can-t-refuse

Article on the Vickers 6-ton and other export tanks http://www.tankarchives.ca/2016/11/vickers-e-bestselling-export.html

Photos:

https://www.armedconflicts.com/L-K-A-1-t169047

Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle, Panzer Tracts No. 1-2 Panzerkampfwagen I, Kl. Pz. Bef. Wg. to VK. 18.01