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Weapons of World War Two

Panzerkampfwagen IV

Version depicted: Ausf E

Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf E

The history of this armored element, as the one of many German weapons from the Second World War, dates back to the mid 1930s, when the new Germany, raised by the National Socialism, was immerse in full armamentistic race. The technicians destined to the planification of armored forces considered that there was no tank able to accompany the lightest ones, with exception of those studied along with the Soviet technicians in the tank school of Kazan. This strange union had emerged due to the Russian necessity of learning about the technique and utilization of armored elements from someone who were already an expert in the field.

Their ex allies from the Great War disapproved the new revolutionary Communist government; England had delivered, besides, weapons to the "white ones", the counterrevolutionary, and there was not much to expect from their part. Germany, on the contrary, oppressed by the Versailles Treaty, which denied it the minimal autonomy, had the technology, but had forbidden the means to develop and maintain it. So it was born this semiclandestine school, which operated between the late 1920s and the early 1930s. In Kazan the Germans developed many projects, among which was the one for a heavy tank, but it did not give satisfactory results.

Finally, the technicians from Krupp, MAN and Rheinmetall started to search for a new formula, outside the outdated schemes, that were adequate to the necessities of the military. Among the projects ellaborated, in 1935 it was chosen the one from Krupp, which in 1936 was already able to deliver a first lot of tanks. At the outbreak of the war the Wehrmacht had a certain number of these tanks, denominated Panzerkampfwagen IV, which "tested" with optimal results in the campaign of Poland. This tank, which was like the "larger brother" of the Panzerkampfwagen III, would constitute the backbone of the Panzerwaffe until the last days of the war, even if later would enter action exceptional armored elements, such as the Tiger and the Panther.

It was a tank whose bodywork had been achieved by welding, and its armor, of up to 30 millimeters in the first models, would be increased to up to 80 millimeters, with 18 millimeters of additional armor in the last series. Also the armament would suffer a strong evolution, passing from the 75/24 cannon (still used in the version E) to the 75/48 of the last models. The engine was a Maybach HL 120 TRM of 12 cylinders in V, with a capacity of 11867 cubic centimeters and a driving power of 300 horsepower. The interior of the tank had been carefully designed: the seats were lined, every sharp edge was padded, there was enough space and the walls, painted in clear tones, contributed to reduce to the minimum the oppresive feeling that can transmit to someone who is inside a tank the idea of being in a steel coffin.

Of this tank would be produced about 9000 exemplars, of which more than 8000 would be of the most robust versions (F, G, H and J). The active life of this tank would have a curious appendix: in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, the Syrian Army used, seemingly with discreet results, some exemplars of the PzKpfw IV J, clear exponent of the validity and effectiveness of the German technicians who had projected it thirty years before.

Year: 1940

Weight: 23 tonnes

Length: 5.89 meters

Width: 2.86 meters

Height: 2.68 meters

Ground clearance: 40 centimeters

Maximum armor: 50 millimeters

Engine: Maybach HL 120 TRM of 300 horsepower

Maximum speed on road: 40 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed on countryside: 16 kilometers/hour

Operational range on road: 200 kilometers

Operational range on countryside: 150 kilometers

Crew: 5

Armament: One 75-millimeter cannon; two or three 7.92-millimeter machine guns

Ammunitions: 80 of 75 millimeters; 2700 of 7.92 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.45 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.60 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 30 degrees

Fording: 1.00 meters

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