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