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Two Panzer IV H advancing.

The Panzerkampfwagen IV (PzKpfw IV), commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a German medium tank developed in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 161. The Panzer IV was the most numerous German tank and the second-most numerous German armored fighting vehicle of the Second World War, with some 8,500 built.


Background[]

The workhorse of the Nazi war machine, Panzer IV started its long service in 1936 as a fire support tank, equipped with a short-barreled 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 howitzer. In this role, Panzer IV would focus on taking out enemy fortifications, anti-tank emplacements, and infantry from a long range, protecting the lighter, faster Panzer III tanks focusing on taking out enemy armor. However, following Fall Barbarossa and the shock of fighting against superior Soviet tanks, it quickly displaced Panzer III as the primary battle tank. Krupp's design was larger, sturdier, and could readily accept significant armor upgrades and long-barreled guns capable of defeating Soviet armor. The Panzer IV chassis was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles. 8,553 Panzer IVs of all versions were built during World War II, a production run in Axis forces only exceeded by the StuG III assault gun with 10,086 vehicles. A significant number of these tanks was also transferred to Axis allies and continued to used in various militaries worldwide after the War ended.

Models[]

Ausf. C[]

A Panzer IV C.

October 1938 - August 1939

Panzer IV Ausf. C was the third variant in service, introduced in 1938. As an infantry support tank, it mounted the short-barreled 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 and offered limited protection with a maximum of 30mm of armor. Although the variant was discontinued after 140 tanks rolled off the lines, a number of these vehicles remained in Wehrmacht service, including 21. Panzer in Normandy.

Ausf. F1[]

A Panzer IV F1 in the armory.

April 1941 - March 1942

Panzer IV F1 was the last of the Panzer IV series to be equipped with 7.5 cm KwK L/24. This tank was originally designed to take out fortification and anti-tank guns. The latter marks were equipped with 7.5 cm KwK L/43 or 7.5 cm KwK 40 L/48 to take out tanks.

Ausf. G[]

A Panzer IV G in the armory.

March 1942 - June 1943.

The Panzer IV Ausf. G was an iterative development of Ausf. F2 introduced in June 1941, developed in response to the challenges of the Soviet campaign. Apart from further improving the design to accommodate the long-barreled 7.5 cm KwK, it removed a number of extraneous features to simplify manufacture and maintenance. 1687 Panzer IV Gs were produced before Panzer IV H replaced them, but a number of these tanks remained in service long after their younger brethren appeared.

Ausf. H[]

June 1943 - February 1944

Helmut Harth's Panzer IV H on the move.

The Panzer IV Ausf. H entered production in June 1943 and featured several upgrades, including a single plate glacis, reinforced final drive with higher gear rations, factory-applied Zimmerit magnetic coating, and pre-mounted Schurzen on the turret and sides of the vehicle to act as protection against HEAT warheads and anti-tank rifles. A total of 3774 Panzer IV H tanks were produced, seeing combat on all fronts of the war.

Variants

Ausf. J[]

February 1944 - April 1945
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The Panzer IV Ausf. J was the last production model of the Panzer IV, produced exclusively by Nibelungenwerke. The final modifications included the replacement of the electric traverse with a two-gear manual traverse, with the resulting space used for additional fuel storage. The turret received additional roof armor and auxiliary smoke projectors. This last production version was not so much an improvement as it was a last-ditch effort to ramp up Panzer IV production and replace tank losses. In fact, the Panzer IV J was considered a retrograde from the Panzer IV H.

Variants

Conversions[]

Sturmgeschütz IV[]

A StuG IV in the armory.

StuG IV was German assault gun variant of the Panzer IV. Created by Krupp which did not build Panzer III chassis of the StuG III instead used Panzer IV chassis in combination with a slightly modified Sturmgeschütz III superstructure. Production of StuG IV started because Allied Bombing disruptioned production of StuG III. Unlike Jagdpanzer IV which was designed to be a Tank Hunter, StuG IV was based of the StuG III superstructure on a Panzer IV so StuG IV was a assault gun that became a tank destroyer that was easier and cheaper to produce then Jagdpanzer IV counterparts.

Variants

Sturmpanzer IV[]

A Brummbär in the armory.

Entering service in 1943, Sturmpanzer was an assault tank designed by Alkett at Hitler's behest. Combining a 15 cm Sturmhaubitze 43 L/12 in a thickly armored casemate with the versatile Panzer IV chassis, the Stupa was used against fortifications and soft targets, delivering devastating strikes. The heavy gun and armor resulted in an overloaded chassis, making it prone to breakdowns, leading to a modification in the form of a lighter StuH 43/1 L/12 replacing the original gun. Though only built in small numbers (around 300 were produced), Stupas served reliably until the end of the war.

Brummbär was a reporting name used by Allied intelligence services. Germans did not use it, preferring to call it Stupa - a contraction of Sturmpanzer. The first name was originally used in the game on release, before being corrected in subsequent patches.

Jagdpanzer IV[]

A Jagdpanzer IV in the armory.

The StuG III, based on the Panzer III chassis, was the main German tank destroyer in service during the early years of the war. However, plans were drawn in late 1942 to develop a new tank destroyer and in 1943, a steel prototype was presented to Hitler, after which he approved production. The Panzer IV chassis was chosen as the basis for the new tank hunter, although this turned out to partially upset Panzer IV production and was against the wishes of general Guderian, who had preferred to continue using the cheaper StuG III. Production started in January 1944, but only in the summer of 1944 did production of the tank really get underway. Allied air raids during this period continually hampered German tank manufacturing and severely limited Germany’s industrial capacity. In total, over 2000 Jagdpanzer IVs were built, including short-barrel versions as well as long-barrel versions.

The tank destroyer saw service in Normandy, the battle of the Bulge and the eastern front. The Jagdpanzer IV, also known as Guderian’s duck, had an extremely low profile and it was a difficult target to hit. Its 80mm sloped armour gave it protection against most Allied anti-tank fire and its gun was capable of taking on nearly all Allied tanks. It excelled in a defensive war, which was the kind of war the Germans were fighting in 1944 and 1945, but underperformed when used as an ad-hoc assault gun. Despite this, acute tank shortages meant that Jagdpanzer IVs were sometimes used in an attacking role.

Variants

Nashorn tank destroyer[]

Ludwig Neigl's Nashorn.

The Nashorn (Rhino) was a German tank destroyer designed to counter the Soviet T-34 and KV series tanks. Alkett (Apoltmärkische Kettenwerke GmbH) placed a 8,8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43/1 L/71 in a Geschützwagen III/IV, creating the new destroyer in February 1942. The powerful gun gave it immense firepower, but the Nashorn was poorly protected: The crew compartment was defended only by a gun shield and superstructure, only enough for small arms and shrapnel. As such, these tank destroyers were not designed to fight it out with tanks, but use its gun to engage enemy targets at long range.

Presented to Hitler in October 1942, the Nashorn - then called Hornisse or Hornet - entered production in early 1943 and distinguished itself as a lethal ambusher, capable of penetrating the front armor of any vehicle from well outside their maximum range. It performed best on the open steppes of Eastern Europe. The hills of Italy, its other major area of operations, hampered the Nashorn's long range effectiveness. As such, it was replaced in its role by the considerably better armored Jagdpanzer IV and the Jagdpanther. Only a total of 473 were produced, only slightly more than the Jagdpanthers.

Variants

Hummel[]

A Hummel in the armory.

Designed in 1942, to provide mobile artillery support for German divisions operating in the Soviet Union, the Hummel was a purpose-built vehicle. After the initial proposal of mounting a 105mm howitzer on a Panzer III chassis fell through, Alkett designed Geschützwagen III/IV bearing the 15 cm sFH 18 L/30 howitzer. The vehicle combined the driving and steering system of a Panzer III with the suspension and engine of a Panzer IV, creating a rugged, reliable chassis that would later be used in the Nashorn tank destroyer.

The Hummel entered service in 1943, during Operation Zitadelle and remained in use until the end of the war, providing the Reich with much-needed mobile artillery support, capable of keeping pace with Panzer IV and heavier tanks. A total of 714 Hummels were produced (sources also cite a number of 930), together with 157 Munitionsträger Hummel, which used the exact same chassis and superstructure as the Hummel, except with a 10mm steel plate bolted where the gun would be. These carried ammunition to supplement the Hummel's incredibly limited own supply (just 18 rounds). The shared chassis also meant that a munitions carrier could be converted to a fully functional self-propelled gun in short order.

Of note is the fact that Hitler apparently did not share Alkett's sense of humor. On February 27, 1944, he ordered the Hummel designation to be dropped. Apparently, Bumblebees were not vicious enough for the Fuhrer's liking.

Most Panzer Divisions was planned to have a battery of six Hummels in the Self propelled Abteilung of the Panzer Artillerie regiment with usually two more batteries of Wespe.

Flakpanzer IV[]

Flakpanzer IV "Möbelwagen"[]

A Möbelwagen in the field.

One of the first self-propelled anti-aircraft platforms in German service, the Möbelwagen entered service in April 1944. A modified Panzer IV tank mounting the powerful 3.7 cm Flak 43 L/89, it was intended as a stop-gap model before purpose-designed Flakpanzers entered service. However, 240 Möbelwagens were built and served with distinction over the course of the war. Its principal flaw was the lack of protection for the gun-crew, as the armored screens had to be lowered in order for the weapon to be used.

These were used in the Regimental Flakzuegen with eight issued.

The name literally means Furniture Van, a nickname given to it due to the distinct shape of its superstructure, resembling contemporary moving vans.

Flakpanzer IV "Wirbelwind"[]

A Wirbelwind in the armory.

Developed as a successor to the Möbelwagen, the Wirbelwind (Whirlwind) was the brainchild of SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Wilhelm Krause of the 12. SS-Panzer, who came up with the idea in summery of 1944. After his commanding officer forwarded the idea up the chain of command and it was approved by Hitler, the Ostbau Werke in Sagan, Silesia, started converting Panzer IVs by fitting it with an open-topped, nonagonal turret with a 2 cm Flakvierling 38. Although it proved to be a terrifying weapon against light vehicles and infantry, it had insufficient firepower for use against contemporary aircraft, and was soon replaced by the Ostwind, a variant with a single 3.7 cm Flak 43 mounted in the same turret. Between 87 and 105 Wirbelwinds left Sagan, the exact number unknown due to discrepancies in recordkeeping between the factory and the Wehrmacht.

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