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Germany's Panzerkampfwagen II, SdKfz 121, light tank; Industrial Tractor 100; LaS 100

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PzKpfw II, light tank:
Germany's PzKpfw II, light tank


PzKpfw II, light tank:
Germany's PzKpfw II, light tank

Design

The Germany Army wanted the PzKpfw II to be a training tank, like the PzKpfw I.2 It was to be used until the PzKpfw III and PzKpfw IV became available in the late 1930s.2,11

In 19328 / July 1934, the Army Weapons Department put out specifications for a 10 ton armored vehicle, that had a 20 mm gun in a fully revolving turret.2,7,11 Henschel, Krupp, and MAN worked on designs.6,9,11 Krupp used its PzKpfw I prototype and installed a 20 mm gun and a machine gun in the turret.11 The Henschel and MAN prototypes were similar but had different suspensions.8 The one by Augsburg-Nuremburg Machine Works (MAN) was selected for a pre-production run.2,6,9

Hull

The hull was made from welded heat-treated steel.6,9

Crew

The driver sat on the left side.9 The fighting compartment was also located on the left side.6

Engine

The engine was mounted in the rear with the drive sprocket in the front.3,5,9

Turret

The PzKpfw II's turret was constructed of welded steel.9 The turret was slightly set to the left.9

Main Armament

The 20 mm KwK38 could fire 450 rounds/minute.4 The AP shell weighed 0.31 lbs and had a muzzle velocity of 2,559'/second.4 It was fed by 10 round magazines.4,5 Could penetrate 24 mm of armor at 500 yards. It's maximum effective range was 656 yards (600 m).

The PzKpfw II carried 180 rounds of 20 mm ammunition and 1,425 rounds of machine gun ammunition.9

Prototype

From 1935-1937 MAN completed several prototypes.2 These were designated the Landwirtschäftlicher Schlepper (LaS, industrial tractor) 100, as it was against the Treaty of Versailles for Germany to develop tanks.2,8,9,11 In 1938 they were designated the Panzer II.2

Production

MAN became responsible for chassis and Daimler-Benz for superstructure.6 It started being delivered in 1935 but it took 18 months for the design to be finalized and production could increase.

  • 1/La S 100: 2511
    • Production: 193511
  • PzKpfw II:
    • Production: 1935 - ?8, 1935 - 194211
    • Manufacturers: FAMO6,9 of Breslau (1936-43), MIAG6,9 in Brunswick (1936-40), Wegmann6,9 of Kassel (1935-41).
  • PzKpfw II Ausf L, Luchs: 1317
  • Geschützwagen II für 15 cm sIG 33: 12
  • Panzerbefehlswagen II: 200
  • Marder II: 1,2177, 1,9832
    • Production: 1942 - 19432
  • Wespe: 6832,7
    • Production: - 19427 , 1943 - 19442

Variants

  • L.K.A II: Krupp prototype.8,11 Adapted PzKpfw I chassis.8
  • La S 100: MAN prototype.11
  • 1/La S 100; PzKpfw II a1; SdKfz 121: Entered service in 1935.11
  • PzKpfw II Ausf a:
  • PzKpfw II Ausf b:
  • PzKpfw II Ausf c:
  • PzKpfw II Ausf A: Had an angled front hull plate.7 Periscope on the turret top.13
  • PzKpfw II Ausf B: Larger commander's cupola.7,13 Bolted extra armor.13
  • PzKpfw II Ausf C: Larger commander's cupola.7,13 Bolted extra armor.13
  • PzKpfw II Ausf D: The suspension was a modified Famo/Christie suspension.7 The road wheels were larger than previous models.7 The suspension turned out to be deficient when going cross country.7 They were withdrawn from use and converted to other uses.7
  • PzKpfw II Ausf E: The suspension was a modified Famo/Christie suspension.7 The road wheels were larger than previous models.7 The suspension turned out to be deficient when going cross country.7 They were withdrawn from use and converted to other uses.7
  • PzKpfw II Ausf F: Used the same suspension as the PzKpfw II Ausf A, PzKpfw II Ausf B, and PzKpfw II Ausf C.7 Armor was thicker.7 A revised cupola was installed.7
  • PzKpfw II Ausf G: Had a stowage bin installed on the rear of the turret.7
  • PzKpfw II Ausf H:
  • PzKpfw II Ausf J: Had a storage bin installed on the rear of the turret.7,8
  • VK1303 Prototype: Revised suspension, interleaved road wheels, and thicker armor.7 Was to become the Luchs.7
  • PzKpfw II Ausf L, SdKfz 123, Luchs (Lynx): Entered service in 1943.7 First 100 had 20 mm main armament and a coaxial machine gun.7 Next 31 had a 50 mm main gun.7
  • PzKpfw II Ausf M:
  • Flammpanzer II: "Flamingo."13 Two flamethrowers on the front corners.13
  • Panzerbefehlswagen II: Command version. 200 Ausf B chassis were modified. The turret was fixed and a small table was installed internally with Fu 2 and Fu 6 radios. 96 were available for the invasion of Poland.
  • 5 cm Pak 388, 5 cm PaK38 L/60 auf Fahrestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf), 5cm Pak 38 auf Fgst PzKpfw II: Self propelled gun, similar to Marder II, with 50 mm gun.1 Only prototypes made.8
  • Marder II, SdKfz 131, Geschützwagen II für 7.5 cm Pak 40/2, Marder II7, 7.5 cm Pak 40/2 L/46 on GW II (Ausf A, Ausf B, Ausf C, Ausf F) Marder II (Marten)8: From 1942-1943, 1,983 were produced.2 Mounted 7.5 cm Pak 40/2 anti-tank gun. 531 converted during 1942 and 1943. Entered service in 1943.7 The PzKpfw II Ausf A, Ausf C, and Ausf F were used for conversion.7
  • 7.62 cm Pak 36(r) L/54 on Gw II (Ausf A, Ausf B, Ausf C, Ausf F) Marder II, SdKfz 1318:
  • 7.5 cm Pak 40/2 L46 on Gw II (Ausf D, Ausf E), SdKfz 1328:
  • Marder I, SdKfz 132, PzJäg II Ausf D, für 7.62 cm Pak 36(r)7, PzJäg II Ausf E, für 7.62 cm Pak 36(r)7, 7.62 cm Pak 36(r) on Gw II (Ausf D, Ausf E) SdKfz 1328, 7.62 cm Pak 40(r) on Gw II (Ausf D, Ausf E) SdKfz 1328: Mounted captured Soviet 76.2 mm Model 1936 field guns.7,9 The compartment was open toppped.7 Some guns were fitted with muzzle brakes and all the later Pak40(r)s had muzzle brakes.8
  • Wespe, SdKfz 124, Geschützwagen II für 10.5 cm leFH 18/1 Wespe7, 10.5 cm le.F.H. 18/2 on Gw II, Wespe (Wasp) SdKfz 1248: From 1943-1944, 683 were produced.2 Mounted 10.5 cm le FH 18 M howitzer.7 Had a crew of 4.7 A few had no main armament and carried ammunition.7
  • 150 mm sIG33 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf), 15 cm s.I.G.33 on Sf II SdKfz 1218, Geschützwagen II für 15 cm sIG 337: 12 were produced from November to December 1941. PzKpfw II Ausf Cs were modified.7 Entered service in 1942.7 They were greatly overloaded and another model was produced that was slightly longer with another roadwheel.7
  • Schwimmpanzer II (Schwimmkörper), Amphibious PzKpfw II Ausf A: During the summer of 1940, 50 Schwimmpanzer IIs were converted from PzKpfw IIs.2 Was designed for Operation Sea Lion (Seelöwe), the invasion of England.2,7
    Flotation devices installed to sides and front. All openings were made water tight. In September and October 1940 Armored Battalion A of the 2nd Panzer Regiment in Putlos was used in the conversion. Alkett of Berlin, Bachmann of Ribnitz, and from Sachsenberg of Roslau were asked to design equipment that would allow the speed of 10 kph6/6 mph6 in water and be able to withstand seas in a wind of force 3-4. 52 of the kits were delivered. The hull was divided into 3 chambers with walls that were made from inflated celluloid bags. A marine propeller was added and was run off the engine via an extension sleeve, universal joint, and shaft. There was a rubber tire placed between the turret and hull. The vehicle would submerge to approximately the top of the track covers. The turret guns could be fired while in the water.
    Used by the 18th Panzer Regiment in the central sector in Russia in 1941.
  • Brükenleger: Had a 2 part pivoting bridge. Four were in service with the engineers of the 7th Panzer Division in Belgium and France.
  • Pionier-Kampfwagen II (ohne Aufbau): Carrier for engineers, which involved removing turret.
  • 5 cm Pak 38 auf Fgst PzKpfw II: Placed a 5 cm Pak 38 on a PzKpfw II chassis.10 2 prototypes were delivered in January 1942, but production was cancelled as the 50 mm gun was unsuitable to battle the tanks that were being faced in 1942.1
  • 5cm Pak 38 L/60 auf PzKpfw II n.A (Sd 7gst VK901); Pz Sfl Ic fur 5 cm Pak 38; Panzer Selbstfahrlafette 1c / 5cm PaK38 auf Panzerkampfwagen II (VK901): Two prototypes were used in the Soviet Union in early 1942.10 Had a crew of four and weighed 10.5 tons.10
  • Bergepanzer: Armored recovery.8

Usage

Even with the experiences in France showing that the Pz II was obsolete, an Armor Committee on July 17, 1941, met to determine how to expand the number of panzer divisions to 36 as ordered by Hitler. It was decided that they would need 4,608 Pz IIs, and equally surprising is that production on Pz IIs continued.

Spain

Was used in the Spanish Civil War and it was found that it was outclassed, but the General Staff kept it in production into 1942.11

Poland

1,223 were used in the invasion.2 81 were destroyed by Polish forces.2 32 loses were from the 4th Panzer Division that sent them into the suburbs of Warsaw on September 8-9.2

After battle experience in Poland some tanks received 20 mm armor bolted onto the front.2

Norway

16 PzKpfw IIs were with the 40th Panzer Battalion.2

France

For the invasion of France in 1940 there were 955 / ~1,00012 available.11

Most PzKpfw IIs were used in areas that weren't critical.2 In the Ardennes, General Heinz Guderian's XIX Panzer Corps had 146 PzKpfw IIs.2

Russia

By July 1, 1941 there were 1,067 and by April 1, 1942, this had gone down to 866.9

North Africa

In May 1942, during the battle for Tobruk, there were 50 PzKpfw IIs out of a total of 560 tanks.2 There were still 31 at the battle of El Alamein in October 1942.2

Taken off the Frontline

In early 1943, the remaining PzKpfw IIs were withdrawn from frontline units, and deployed in anti-partisan operations and garrison duties.2

Specifications

  Panzerkampfwagen II
Crew 34,12
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 22,046 lb12
10,000 kg12
Length 15' 3"12, 15.8'4
4.64 m12
Height 6' 6"4, 6' 7.5"12
2.02 m12
Width 7' 4"4, 7' 6.5"12
2.3 m12
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 13.6"4
Ground contact length 94.5"4
Ground pressure 8.8 psi4
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 20 mm KwK 304
20 mm6,12
OR 20 mm KwK 384
Secondary  
MG - coaxial 7.9 mm MG344,13
7.92 mm MG6,12
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 1809,11
Secondary  
MG 1,4259,11
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) Front: 1.2"4
Side: 0.6"4
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front 1.2"4
Turret Sides 0.6"4
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 62 Tr4
Maybach12
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water4
Cylinders I-64, 612
Capacity  
Net HP 14012, 140@2,600 rpm4
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio 6.5:14
Transmission (Type) Synchromesh, 6 forward, 1 reverse4
Steering Clutch brake4
Steering ratio  
Starter Electric4
Electrical system 12-volt4
Ignition Magneto4
Fuel (Type) Gasoline4,12
Octane  
Quantity 45 gallons (27 in tank #1, 18 in tank #2)4
Road consumption 3 mpg4
Cross country consumption 2 mpg4
Performance  
Traverse Hand4
Speed - Road 25 mph4, 34 mph12
55 kph12
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 125 miles12, 130 miles4
200 km12
Range - Cross Country 99 miles4
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 2' 10"12, 3' 0.4"4
0.85 m12
Trench crossing 5.9'4 , 5' 9"12
1.75 m12
Vertical obstacle 1' 4.5"4, 1' 5"12
0.42 m12
Climbing ability 37° (70%) slope4
Suspension (Type) Quarter elliptic spring4
Wheels each side 54
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type) Dry pin4
Length  
Width 11.8"4
Number of links 1054
Pitch 3.6"4
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.2'4

Sources:

  1. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  2. German Tanks of World War II, Dr. S. Hart & Dr. R. Hart, 1998
  3. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  4. Tank Data, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, 1968?
  5. Panzers At War, Michael and Gladys Green, 2005
  6. Tanks - Over 250 of the World's Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles, Chris Chant, 2004
  7. Airfix Magazine Guide #8 German Tanks of World War 2, Terry Gande and Peter Chamberlain, 1975
  8. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  9. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  10. Profile, AFV Weapons #55, German Self-Propelled Weapons, Peter Chamberlain, H.L. Doyle, 1973
  11. AFV #15 Panzerkampfwagen I & II, Major-General N. W. Duncan
  12. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  13. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site