Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|General Characteristics (Ausf H)|
|Speed:||38 km/h (road)|
16 km/h (off-road)
|Primary armament:||75 mm KwK 40 L/48 gun|
|Secondary armament:||Two 7.92 mm machine guns|
|Power plant:||224 kW (300 hp)|
|Crew:||5 (Commander, gunner, loader,|
driver and radio operator)
The Panzerkampfwagen IV (PzKpfw IV), more commonly referred to as the Panzer IV, was a tank developed by Nazi Germany and used extensively in World War II. It was designed initially as an infantry-support medium tank, to work in conjunction with the anti-tank Pzkpfw III. Later in the war, it was up-gunned and up-armored, and took over the tank-fighting role. The Panzer IV was the most common German tank of World War II, and was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles, such as tank destroyers and self-propelled antiaircraft guns.
The Panzer IV was the workhorse of the German tank corps, being produced and used in all theatres of combat throughout the war. The design was upgraded repeatedly to deal with the changing threats from enemy forces.
On January 11, 1934, following specifications laid down by Heinz Guderian, the Army Weapons Department drew up plans for a medium tank with a maximum weight of 24,000 kg and a top speed of 35 km/h. It was intended in a support and anti-infantry role, using a low-velocity, large-caliber gun firing high-explosive shells. It was not required to deal with enemy tanks on equal terms.
Krupp, Rheinmetall, and MAN all produced prototypes, which were tested in 1935. As a result of the trials, the Krupp design was selected for full-scale production. The first Panzer IV A came off the assembly line in October of 1937, with a total of 35 being produced over the next six months.
The Panzer IV was originally intended principally to deal with infantry and fortifications, while the Panzer III dealt with enemy armoured units. To this end it was equipped with the 75 mm KwK 37 L/24 gun, which was effective against soft targets but lacked much armour penetration. It had poor accuracy, because the barrel was very short (1800 mm), giving a low muzzle velocity. For comparison the L/48 Gun is 3600 mm long.
Combat experience showed that increasingly the 50 mm L/60 gun mounted on late-model Panzer III were unable to deal with enemy tanks at long range. Panzer IIIs struggled against Russian T-34s and American M4 Shermans, both of which had guns in the 75 or 76 mm calibre.
The Panzer IV's design already mounted a 75 mm gun and it was the natural model to develop the next medium tank model. As the Wehrmacht needed a tank with good Anti-Tank capabilities to deal with the T34 the production of the Panzer IV model F was changed to an improved model with a redesigned turret carrying a new, more powerful 75 mm L/43 anti-tank gun. Also, the sprocket and idler wheels were altered to take wider tracks better capable of supporting the increased weight of a larger gun. This required a change in naming conventions: the old 75 L24 equipped Pz-IV F was renamed to Pz-IV F1 and the new 75 L/43 equipped was named Pz-IV F2. The Pz-IV F2 was later renamed to Pz-IV G and production continued under this name with minor improvements. In late 1942 the Pz-IV G got another gun upgrade to the even longer 75 L/48 gun.
The Panzer IV G through J models were very capable and more than a match for Shermans and T-34s until the end of the War. Production continued and stepped up even while the more effective Panther medium tank was in service, because of the Panzer IV's low cost and greater reliability.
During the Continuation War Finland bought 15 Panzer IV Ausf Js which arrived too late to fight against the Soviets or against German troops in the Lapland War. After World War II the Panzer IVs were briefly used by the Finnish army for training. Syria continued to use several dozen Panzer IV's at least until the Six Days War.
Starting in 1943 surviving older Panzer IV model E/F and newer were often upgraded with additional armor and the 75 L48 gun to improve their combat efficiency .
The Panzer IV A had 15 mm of slightly sloped homogenous steel armor on all sides, with 10 mm of armor on the top and 5 mm on the bottom. This was deemed sufficient, as the Panzer IV was intended for anti-infantry work, while Panzer IIIs were to deal with opposing tanks. In practice, Panzer IVs would frequently face enemy tanks and anti-tank guns unsupported, and the armor was upgraded to 30 mm on the front hull of the Panzer IV B, 50 mm in the IV E, and 80 mm in the IV H, with armor on the sides and rear being increased as well. Further, Panzer IVs frequently had armor skirting or additional layers of armor added in the field.
As the Panzer IV was intended to fill an anti-infantry combat role, early models were fitted with a low-velocity 75 mm KwK37 L/24 gun, firing high-explosive shells. After the Germans encountered the Soviet T-34, the Panzer IV F2 and G were armed with the high-velocity 75 mm KwK40 L/43 anti-tank gun. Later IV G models, and all later Panzer IVs, were armed with the longer 75 mm KwK40 L/48 anti-tank gun.
All models of the Panzer IV had a 7.92 mm machine gun mounted coaxially with the turret, and all except the IV B and IV C had a second 7.92 mm gun in the hull.
The Panzer IV A was powered by a 230 hp (172 kW), 12-cylinder Maybach HL 108 TR engine, giving a top speed of 30 km/h (18 mph) and a range of 150 km (95 mi). All later models were powered by the 320 hp (239 kW), 12-cylinder Maybach HL 120 TRM engine. Top speed varied among models, depending on the transmission (which were made by ZF), armor, and gun, but was around 40 km/h (25mph). The range was generally around 200 km (125 mi).
Like all of Germany's World War II tanks, the Panzer IV was fueled by gasoline.
The Panzer IV had a crew of five. In the turret were the commander, gunner, and loader, while the driver and machine-gunner/radio operator sat in the forward hull.
The subject "Ausf" is the shortcut of "Ausführung", translated simply to "version".
- Ausf A (1937-38, 35 produced)
- Ausf B (1938, 42 produced): Thicker armor, larger engine.
- Ausf C (1938-39, 138 produced): Minor improvements.
- Ausf D (1939-40, 229 produced): Thicker side armor. First model intended for combat.
- Ausf E (1930-41, 223 produced): Thicker front and side armor.
- Ausf F1 (1941-42, 462 produced): Simplified construction.
- Ausf F2 (1942, 175 produced): Armed with a long (75mm/L43) anti-tank gun.
- Ausf G (1942-43, 1687 produced): Thicker turret armor, winter combat modifications.
- Ausf H (1943-44, 3774 produced): Longer, more powerful gun (75mm/L48) and thicker armor.
- Ausf J (1944-45, 1758 produced): Turret traverse engine replaced with an extra fuel tank
Designs based on chassis
- Wirbelwind - Quad 2 cm Flak.
- Möbelwagen - 3.7 cm Flak.
- Ostwind - 3.7 cm Flak.
- Kugelblitz - Twin 3 cm Flak
- Brummbär - Armed with a 15 cm gun.
- Jagdpanzer IV - 7.5 cm Pak
- StuG IV - Panzer IV with a StuG III superstructure.
- See also: List of common WWII combat vehicles
- "Panzerkampfwagen IV." Achtung Panzer!. Accessed on March 3, 2004.
- "Pz.Kpfw.IV." Panzerworld. Accessed on April 19, 2005.
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