Archive Page 2

10
Jun
09

Tankograd – German Military Vehicle Rarities (1)

In the early years of the 20th century the development of automobiles In Germany reached its first peak. Many, often small, companies tried to provide the financially well settled and interested client their mostly handmade designs. Based on the fact, that these vehicles were technologically not yet fully developed, difficult to handle in the technical perspective and horribly expensive, they remained Items of luxury up to World War I. The common customer was unable to afford the automobiles of that time and their appearance was rare on the public roads. The Imperial German Army, very conservative in terms of technical innovations, remained hesitant to the new motor vehicles for quite a long time. As a result, when the war broke out in 1914 only a very limited quantity of military passenger cars were in active service. The following complete mobilisation made larger numbers of impressed civilian types – albeit of doubtful military use – available at short notice.

10
Jun
09

Panzers in The Balkans and Italy

German forces began assembling in Rumania in January 1941 and moved into Bulgaria in March after Hitler had forced the Bulgarian Government to join the Tripartite Pact on the 1st of that month. This put obvious strategic pressure on Yugoslavia, whose borders had become untenable as a result, and on March 20 Prince Paul’s government also decided to join the Pact. For once, however, matters did not proceed in the German favour for, a week later, a coup d’etat by General Simovic overthrew the Yugoslav Government and replaced it by an anti-Nazi regime in the name of King Peter. Hitler retaliated with Directive No 25 ordering the destruction of Yugoslavia as well as Greece. The operation against Yugoslavia, which involved the 5th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 14th Panzer Divisions, with the 16th held in reserve, as well as the 2nd SS Division ‘Reich’, was a virtual walkover since the country was divided into so many different ethnic groups, including the pro-German Croats and others of German or Italian extraction and sympathy. Simovic only succeeded in mobilising two-thirds of his 31 divisions (three of which were cavalry and none of which included any armour), and the Croatian troops surrendered in droves at the first opportunity.

10
Jun
09

Panzerkampfwagen III and IV 1939-45

Another Pz.Kptw.lll Ausf.E rolls through a war torn Polish town in 1939. The crew of this vehicle has prudently obscured the white Balkenkreuz with mud to make it less visible to Polish anti-tank gunners. A white outline cross can also be seen in the center of the glacis plate. There were 98 Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.E in the German Army inventory at the beginning of the Polish campaign. This battered Pz.Kpfw.lll Ausf.E or F is being transported to a repair depot on an Sd.Ah.116 trailer after the battle of France in 1940. Due to overlapping production schedules and the presence or absence of certain external features, it is often impossible to accurately determine the specific model, or Ausfuhrung of the vehicle. In such cases, the chassis number is the only accurate way to tell This vehicle displays features common with some Ausf.E and F such as the radio operator’s visor, but lacks the splash strip in front of the turret and the armored vents for brake cooling on the glacis that were introduced during Ausf.F production. After the Polish campaign, the German Army adopted a less conspicuous, smaller black Balkenkreuz with a white outline to mark their armored vehicles. It is most likely painted in the two color camouflage scheme of 2/3 dunkelgrau Nr.46 and 1/3 dunkelbraun Nr.45 ordered for armored vehicles on 7 November 1938- largely obscured by a heavy coat of dust.

10
Jun
09

Panzer IV – The Panzerkampfwagen IV Medium Tank 1939-1945

The Panzerkampfwagen IV was developed to serve in the role of a support tank to combat the rising use of anti-tank guns. The Pzkpfw TV had its origins in German weapons programs started during the early 1930s. In contrast to the earlier Panzer III — designed to combat tanks and armed at the time with higher velocity anti-tank guns — the Panzer IV was armed with a short-barreled, low velocity 75mm /L24 howitzer which had the ability to fire high explosive (HE), smoke, and armor piercing (AP) rounds. It could be argued that the operational concept of the Pzkpfw IV was remarkably similar to the later Sturmgeschutz III. In fact, both used the same 75mm L/24 weapon. During the late 1930s and first year of World War II, both the Panzer III and IV complemented each other and fit well within the German concepts of Blitzkrieg (lightning war). Once Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941, the need for increased armor protection and more powerful guns became readily apparent to the German army. Russian weaponry — tanks and anti-tank guns — came as shock to the German high command. The Germans immediately began to develop more powerful armored vehicles, which offered better mobility, protection, and gun power. The smaller Pzkpfw III chassis, often described as a better vehicle automo-tively, was continually upgunned and uparmored.

10
Jun
09

Magyar Steel – Hungarian Armour in WWII

The Hungarian light division mainly had ineffective 3.7 cm AT guns, and as a result suffered serious losses, although they destroyed a significant number of tanks with close combat weapons. For example 2nd Lieutenant Sandor Horvath, one of the bravest officers of the 35th Infantry Regiment, who was wounded four times in 1942 and in 1943 received the Hungarian Officers Gold Medal for Bravery, destroyed by himself in one combat on 12 July two Soviet tanks, a T-34 and a T-60, with magnetic anti-tank mines. In the attack launched to liquidate the Soviet bridgehead, the 30/I. Tank Battalion and the 51/3. Tank-Destroyer Squadron took part with the motorized and other infantry. When the Hungarian Armoured Division started its attack, the Soviet Tank Corps’ 4th Guards Tank Brigade and 54th Tank Brigade went to the eastern part of the Don and only Lieutenant Colonel S. K. Nesterov’s 130th Tank Brigade remained in the Uryw sector. However, the withdrawn Soviet Tank Brigades left their serviceable AFVs and Motorised Rifle Battalions in the bridgehead-area also and here stayed some remains of Soviet infantry units too.

09
Jun
09

Panzer in the Gunsights 2

Special attention is provided here to the war’s most powerful but most mysterious anti-tank guns, the 128mm guns. Some improvised 128mm guns based on surplus guns from the Jagdtiger program actually saw combat in the final weeks of the war. In addition, the Wehrmacht was developing a new 128mm gun which might have entered service in the summer of 1945 and both competitors in this program are depicted here. Another aspect of German anti-tank defense which has largely escaped attention among AFV hobbyists is the Rhine PaK Front. In the final months of the war, the German defense industry was approaching collapse. The Rhine river was the last major geographic barrier in the West protecting the German industrial heartland from American and British assault. A number of German ordnance plants had manufactured AFV guns including 50mm, 75mm and 88mm guns, but were either unable to deliver them, or the tank assembly plants were unable to complete the intended vehicles. As a result, early in 1945 the ordnance plants were instructed to manufacture elementary static mounts for these AFV weapons so that they could be employed to create an anti-tank defense belt along the Rhine, and especially along the autobahn. These weapons are shown here in detail for the first time, though they are often mentioned in US combat accounts of the time.

09
Jun
09

WW2 Fact Files – Light and Medium Field Artillery

In 1939 many elderly Krupp guns dating from just after the turn of the century were still in service with several armies. In Denmark, the Krupp 1903 75 mm gun was still in use as the 03 L/30, and the same type was in use in Rumania as the M.03. An even earlier variant of this gun was the M.02 which as the M.02/04 was sold to Holland. After 1918 the firm of Siderius extensively rebuilt these guns into three similar versions known as the 75 mm M.02/04 vd, vd OM and vd NM. By 1939 many of these Dutch guns were in use in the Dutch colonies. Another Krupp 75 mm gun was the M.06 which was licence built in Italy as the Cannone da 75/27 modello 06. This gun gave rise to a long string of similar variants. In Japan, another Krupp model, the 7.5 cm M.05 was closely copied and introduced into service as the 75 mm Type 38. It embodied some modifications introduced by General Arisaka, and the gun was built by the Osaka Arsenal. A later Krupp model, the M.08 was licence-built in Japan. The data refers to the Danish 03 L/30 which entered German service after 1940 as the 7.5 cm FK 240(d) and the information can be taken as typical for most of the early Krupp 7.5 cm models.