Panzer IV

The Panzerkampfwagen IV was the most powerful armoured vehicle of the Wehrmacht armoured divisions in the first three years of World War II, successfully taking part in the Polish Campaign and the invasion of France. By 1944, it made up 35 % of the German Army total tank strength. The emergence of the Russian T-34 tank at the end of Operation Barbarossa, in the Battle of Moscow, forced Krupp’s engineers to upgrade the Panzer IV with a more powerful gun and extra armour protection, manufacturing different variants as the war raged on. Thus, Panzer IV Ausf F2, G, H, and J versions were able to confront and destroy the Soviet T-34 tank, thanks to the new, long-barrelled, high-velocity guns, the 75mm KwK 40 L/43 and L/48, replacing the 75mm KwK 37 L/24 short-barrelled gun. The Panzer IV was in service throughout the entire war, from 1939 to 1945, being used on every Front.

Below: Panzer IV Ausf D, with the 75mm short-barrelled gun

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This German medium tank was developed in the 1930s and used extensively in every military campaign. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 161. It was designed by Krupp in 1936 as an infantry support tank, but, by mid 1939, it was assigned to armoured divisions as it assumed a tank-fighting role, replacing the Panzer III. The Panzer IV, or Panzerkampfwagen IV, was manufactured by Krupp and Steyr-Daimler-Puch from 1938 until 1945, entering service with the Wehrmacht in 1939. The Panzer IV Ausf B weighed 24 tons and was powered by a 12-cylinder, 300 hp, Maybach HL 120TRM engine, capable of reaching a maximum speed of 42 km/h on road and 20 km/h across country. The Panzerkampfwagen IV Auf H had a 80mm-thick armor on the turret and front hull, and 30mm on the sides, and was armed with a 75 mm KwK 40 L/48 gun and a 7.92 mm MG34 machine gun.

Panzer IV Ausf F2, featuring the new KwK 40 L/43 long-barrelled gun

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Specifications for the Panzer IV Ausf H

Type: medium tank
Weight: 25 tons
Hull length: 5.9 m
Width: 3.29 m
Height: 2.68 m
Armour: 88mm-thick at the front
Weapons: 7.5-cm KwK 40 L/48 gun, with a muzzle velocity of 790 m/s and maximum effective range 1,500 m; two 7.92mm MG 34 machine guns
Crew: 5

Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H, with the KwK 40 L/48 gun

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Tiger I Tank

The Panzerkampfwagen VI, commonly known as Tiger I, was a World War II German tank that entered service with the Wehrmacht in late 1942. It was the most feared and most lethal armoured vehicle of the war. Because of its powerful 88-mm, high-velocity gun and thick armor, it was deemed the best tank of this armed conflict. It took ten Sherman tanks to destroy a Tiger. Shells fired from 75mm artillery guns simply bounced off of the side of the tank, and, in the hands of German tank aces such as Michael Wittmann and Kurt “Panzer” Meyer, it was even more lethal, acquiring an aura of invincibility. This German tank saw combat action for the first time on September 23, 1942, in the Leningrad Campaign.

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The Tiger I tank was designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1942 to overcome the Soviet T-34 threat and manufactured by Henschel from 1942 to 1945, with 1,355 units produced in that period of time. It weighed 57 tons, measured 7.26 m in length, 3.75 m in width, and 3 m in height. It had a crew of 5 men; commander, gunner, loader, machine gun operator, and driver. The Tiger Ausf.E frontal hull armor was 100mm thick and the frontal turret armor 110-mm thick, as opposed to the 80 mm frontal hull and 50 mm frontal turret armor of the Panzer IV. On the sides and rear, the armor was 80-mm thick. At the beginning the top and bottom armor was 25mm thick, but later, it was thickened to 40 mm. The armor used was high-quality interlocking steel plates, which were stepped and welded rather than riveted.

Drawing showing the ammunition storage distribution in the Tiger I

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The Tiger tank was powered by a 12-cylinder, 641 hp, Maybach HL210 P45 engine, which could reach a maximum speed of 24 mph, and had an operational range of 120 miles. It had a Maybach-Olvar hydraulically-controlled gearbox. The Tiger I was armed with an 88 mm KwK gun, which had a flat trajectory and extremely accurate Zeiss Turmzielfernrohr TZF 9b sights and could hit a target at 2,000 m away, and two 7.92mm MG-34 machine guns. This 88mm gun used armor-piercing capped ballistic cap, armor-piercing composite rigid, and high explosive anti-tank amunition. The Soviet T-34 equipped with the 76.2 mm gun could not penetrate the Tiger frontally at any range, and could only achieve a side penetration at approximately 500 m firing the BR-350P APCR ammunition, but that rarely happened as the Tiger could knock out the T-34 tank at 1,000 m.

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Panzerkampfwagen VI, Tiger I, footage

Panther Tank

Officially designated Panzerkampfwagen V, the Panzer VPanther” was a German medium tank used by the Wehrmacht in World War II. The Panther was in service with the German Army from mid-1943 unti the end of the war. It was designed and developed to counter the Soviet tank T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and IV. It first saw combat action in July 1943, in the Battle of Kursk. The Panther had excellent combination of firepower, mobility, and protection as it is frequently regarded, along the Tiger tank, as the best tank design of World War II. The ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz 171.

Panther-tank

The Panther was designed in 1942 by Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG (MAN), based on a captured Soviet T-34. This new German tank was armed with a powerful, high-velocity 75mm gun, and a 7.92mm MG34 machine gun. This new high-velocity gun was capable of piercing both the Soviet and Allied tank armors at a distance of 1,000 meters (1,150 yards). The Panther Sd.Kfz weighed 45.5 tons and was powered by a V-12 petrol Maybach engine, which generated 700 hp. It was protected by a 100mm-thick steel armor on the front of the turret, which was made in the shape of a transverse half-cylinder; the frontal hull was made of an 80mm-thick steel glacis plate which sloped back at 55 degrees. The side armor was 50mm-thick.

The Panther tank saw action for the first time at Kursk on July 5, 1943. At the beginning it had some mechanical problems as the track and suspension often broke. Heinz Guderian stated, however, that the firepower and frontal armor were excellent. Although many of the Panthers used at Kursk were damaged or suffered from mechanical difficulties, this tank achieved success, with 263 Soviet tanks claimed destroyed in 1943. The Panthers which suffered from damage or mechanical breakdowns were repaired and the design problems of the early Ausf. D models were fixed, making the Panther a formidable tank.

Specifications

Type: heavy tank
Weight: 45.5 tons
Hull length: 6.88 m
Width: 3.43 m
Height: 3.1 m
Power plant: one Maybach HL 230 P 30,
12-cylinder, diesel engine
Maximum speed: 48 km/h

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Stridsvagn 74

The Stridsvagn 74 (Strv 74) was a medium tank in service with the Swedish Army during the Cold War. It was developed from the Stridsvagn M/42 chassis and was deployed to complement the batch of Centurion main battle tanks, which had been acquired by the Swedish government from Great Britain and known in Sweden as the Stridsvagn 101. More than 200 Strv 74 tanks were produced by the firm Landsverk at the end of the 1950s in two variants; the 74 H and the 74 V. They had the same armament, armor, and engine; they only had different transmission systems.

The Stridsvagn 74 was armed with a 75-mm gun, which had specifically been designed for this tank. It was powered by a 170-hp, Scania-Vabis 607, gasoline engine. Its armor protection consisted of 80-mm-thick steel plate on the front of the turret and 45-mm-thick on the hull front. Due to its underpowered gun and high profile turret, the Strv 74 was useless in tank against tank combat operations, specially against the Soviet tanks. Thus, it was relegated to infantry fire support role until it was phased out at the beginning of the 1980s.

Specifications

Type: medium tank

Hull length: 6 m

Width: 2.43 m

Height: 3 m

Weight: 22.5 tons

Maximum speed: 45 km/h

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Stridsvagn-74

K1 Tank

Also known as the Type 88, the K1 is a 51-ton, main battle tank of the South Korean Army, constituting, along with the new K2 Black Panther, the backbone of South Korea’s armored units. And the K1A1 and K1A2 versions is up-to-date in technology and armor, being as advanced as the American M1A1 Abrams. It was designed by a team of Chrysler Defense but is manufactured by Hyundai Rotem, entering service in 1987. As of 2014, approximately 1,500 Type 88 tanks had been delivered to the South Korean Army.

Like the Leopard 1, around 1,050 K1 tanks is armed with the KM68A1 (Royal Ordnance L7) 105mm gun, which was replaced with the KM256 (Rheinmetall L44-55) 120mm gun when it was upgraded into the K1A1 and K1A2 versions (approx 500) a few years ago. It is equipped with Chobham type composite armor, fitted on a titanium alloy plate, protecting the crew against extra-hardened, kinetic energy Sabot rounds fired by most modern main battle tanks. This South Korean tank also boasts a laser range-finder and computerized fire control system.

Specifications

Weight: 51 tons

Hull length: 7.48 m

Width: 3.6 m

Height: 2.25 m

Power plant: one 1,200 hp, 12-cyl, MTU Friedrichshafen diesel engine

Maximum speed: 65 km/h

Range: 500 km

Weapons: 105mm or 120mm gun; one 7.62mm co-axial machine gun; one 12.7mm machine gun on turret

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K2 Black Panther

The K2 Black Panther is one of the two main battle tanks in service with the South Korean Army, the other one being the K1. Although it was officially introduced in 2007, mass production began in 2013, with the first batch of 210 K2 tanks being delivered by 2015 to complete a total of 600 by 2018. Developed by the Korean firm Hyundai Rotem, it features composite armor, whose exact composition and material used is classified information, and a Rheinmetall L55, 120-mm, smooth bore gun, with an autoloader, thus reducing the crew from 4 to 3 men. The K2 is also equipped with a computerized, fire control system, a milimeter band radar, which works as an incoming missile warning system, a laser-rangefinder, infrared cameras, and a thermal imaging system. Since the first K2 tanks had technical problems with the Korean-designed power plant, 100 of them are presently being powered by German, 1,500-hp, MTU Friedrichshafen engines.

Capabilities

The armor of the K2 Black Panther is advanced enough to stop the APFSDS (Sabot) ammunition fired by most modern tank guns, without sustaining damage. Its L55 120-mm gun can fire the Korean Smart Top-Attack Munition, which is a fire-and-forget anti-tank shell, being able to destroy an enemy main battle tank at 6 miles away. It also fires High Explosive anti-tank munition. Using a snorkel, the K2 can wade across 5-m-deep rivers and lakes, climb up 25º slopes, and overcome 1.8-m-high obstacles. The tank can run at the maximum speed of 43 mph (70 km/h), with a range of 280 miles.

Specifications

Chassis Length: 24 ft 7 inch (7.5 m)

Width: 11 ft 10 inch (3.6 m)

Height: 7 ft 10 inch (2.4 m)

Weight: 55 tons

Crew: 3

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K2 Black Panther in action (video)