Panzer II Light Tank

Panzer II Light Tank

Panzer II Light Tank

IntroductionCombat RecordStandard VariantsReconnaissance TanksRelated DevelopmentsSelf Propelled GunsBooks

The Panzer II Light tank was the second German tank to enter mass production during the period of German rearmament in the 1930s. Unlike the Panzer I, it had always been intended to use the Panzer II in combat, but not to the extent that eventually happened. A combination of slow progress on the development of the Panzer III and Panzer IV and the unexpectedly rapid expansion of the Panzer forces from 1936 meant that the Panzer II was the most important German tank at the beginning of the Second World War, and still the most numerous at the start of the offensive in the west in May 1940. The Germans won their most significant victories with these generally un-regarded light tanks, and suffered their defeats with the more famous heavier tanks.

The full designation of the tank was the PanzerKampfWagen II or Armoured Fighting Vehicle II. This was abbreviated to Pk.Kpfw II, PzKw II or Panzer II. It also received the Ordnance Department designation Sd Kfz 121 and the codename LaS 100.

The Panzer II was similar in layout to the earlier Panzer I. Like all German tanks the engine was at the rear, with the drive wheels at the front. The turret was offset slightly to the left and carried one 20mm cannon and one 7.92mm machine gun. The 20mm gun could fire high explosive or armour piercing rounds, so the Panzer II did have a limited ability to fight other tanks.

Perhaps unsurprisingly different sources provide different accounts of the early development of the Panzer II (it was after all a top secret weapon at the time). However all accounts agree that development work on a tank in the 10 ton category had begun by the summer of 1934, when in July 1934 the Ordnance Department (Waffenamt) issued an order for the tank. MAN and Krupp both designed tanks to the Waffenamt specification, with MAN winning the contract. The first soft metal prototype was completed during 1935.

Combat Record

At the start of the Second World War the Panzer II was the most numerous of all German tanks. Of the 2,690 tanks then in service, 1,127 were Panzer IIs, and another 973 Panzer Is. The low number of heavier tanks available meant that the Panzer II would have to be used to combat any Polish tanks that were encountered. No major tank battles took place during the short Polish campaign, but despite this 259 Panzer IIs were lost, of which 83 became total write offs, while the rest were eventually repaired. The thin frontal armour of the Panzer II had turned out to be vulnerable to the Polish anti-tank rifle, and so during the winter of 1939-1940 an additional 20mm armoured plate was added to the front of the majority of Panzer IIs.

The Panzer II still made up close to 40% of the total armoured strength of the German army at the start of the offensive in the west in May 1940. They would have been of little or no use in a clash with strong British or French armoured forces, but one key element of the German “sickle cut” plan was that it would reduce the chance of any such clash taking place. The Panzer divisions were concentrated into armoured spearheads, while the theoretically stronger French tank forces were distributed evenly along the entire front. After Guderian’s strong armoured corps had broken through the French front line on the Meuse, his light tanks were perfectly capable of brushing aside the light resistance they encountered on the dash to the coast. In the first ten days of the campaign, from 10-20 May, only 45 Panzer IIs were reported to have been lost (this figure probably only includes tanks that were written off). This represents just under 5% of their original strength on 10 May. In comparison 7.4% of Panzer IIIs and 5% of Panzer IVs had been lost.

The next ten days were the most costly for the Panzer divisions. This period saw the one major British counterattack of the period, at Arras at 21 May, and the advance north along the coast towards Boulogne and Calais. In ten days the Germans lost 485 tanks, a quarter of their original strength, while on 23 May General Kleist, commanding the armoured spearhead, reported that half of his tanks were out of action. During this period 150 Panzer IIs were lost, 16% of the total available on 21 May. However, during the same period 26% of available Panzer IIIs (84) and 23% of Panzer IVs (63) were lost.

This reflects the changing nature of the fighting. In the first ten days of the campaign the German tanks were able to fan out behind the Allied front line, disrupting communications and generally causing chaos. During the second ten days the German spearhead had to turn north, where it encountered increasingly strong resistance from the trapped northern armies. The heavy losses amongst the Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs reflect their increasingly important role in the fighting. It is also important to remember that the versions of the Panzer III and Panzer IV in use in 1940 were not significantly better protected than the Panzer II. By the start of the campaign in the west, around 70% of Panzer IIs had had 20mm armour plates added to the front of the tank, giving them 34.5mm frontal armour and 14.5mm sided and rear armour. At this point the newest version of the Panzer IV, the Ausf D, had 30mm frontal armour and 20mm elsewhere, while the Panzer III was better armoured, with 30mm armour in most places. The Panzer II of limited use against enemy armour, but it was still a potent weapon when used against infantry.

The Panzer II was still present in large numbers at the start of Operation Barbarossa, serving in reconnaissance platoons at regiment, detachment and company level. One should remember that this was still a front line role – indeed the reconnaissance units would be expected to operate ahead of the rest of the unit. The Panzer II would soon prove to be too vulnerable to be used in this role, despite a number of attempts to produce specialised reconnaissance tanks, and would soon be withdrawn from the fighting on the Russian Front.

The Panzer II also saw action in North Africa. In February 1941, early in the German intervention in the desert, the 5th Light Division (the precursor of the 21st Panzer Division) had 25 Panzer Is, 45 Panzer IIs, 75 Panzer IIIs and 20 Panzer IVs. The Panzer II remained important throughout 1941, but in 1942 the numbers available began to fall off, and only 14 were still on the books on 15 August 1942. The rest had either been destroyed or withdrawn to Germany to be converted for other purposes.

Some parts of the Panzer II remained in use for the entire war, serving as the chassis for a number of self-propelling guns, the most successful of which was the Wespe, carrying a 10.5cm howitzer.

Standard Variants

Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf a/1 a/2 and a/3

These were the three earliest developmental versions of the Panzer II. The basic design of the tank was already in place, with the engine at the rear, drive wheels at the front, one 20mm cannon and 7.92mm machine gun in the turret and carrying a crew of three. Suspension was provided by six small paired road wheels, linked by a suspension bar (replaced by five larger wheels on the production models). All of the development versions of the Panzer II carried 13mm turret, superstructure and hull armour.

Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf b

The main change made to the second main development version for the Panzer II was the use of a more powerful engine. As a result the Ausf b was made

Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf c

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf c was the final development version of the Panzer II. The main change on this version saw the six small paired road wheels of the suspension replaced by five larger independently sprung road wheels. This form of suspension would be used on the majority of normal Panzer IIs, but on few of the more unusual types developed from the basic design.

Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf A, B and C

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf A, B and C were the three main production versions of the Panzer II light tank. Close to 1,100 of these three very similar variants were produced between July 1937 and April 1940, and it was this version of the tank that was used in 1939 and 1940. All three were similar to the Ausf c, but with slightly thicker 14.5mm armour and an improved transmission.

Panzerkampfwagen II F

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf F was the last standard version of the Panzer II to be produced. The main visual change was the replacement of the rounded front hull of earlier versions with a 35mm vertical front plate. At the top this joined up with the sloping armour plated originally retro-fitted to earlier models after the Polish campaign, giving the Ausf F an angled nose. Delays in the design process meant that the Ausf F did not enter production until March 1941, nearly a year after production of the last major variant ended. By this point the Panzer II had been withdrawn as a battle tank, but the Ausf F remained in use with reconnaissance companies in decreasing numbers until 1943.

Panzerkampfwagen II mit Schwimmkorper

The Panzerkampfwagen II mit Schwimmkorper was an amphibious version of the Panzer II, produced by adding flotation devices to the sides and front of a standard tank. They were produced for the planned invasion of Britain in the autumn of 1940. Like their Allied equivalents developed for the D-Day landings, these tanks would have been taken most of the way across the channel on larger ships and then released to make their way to shore. When the invasion was cancelled, they were issued to normal Panzer units, taking part in the invasion of the Soviet Union.

Reconnaissance Tanks

A series of complex inter-related attempts were made to produce a reconnaissance tank based on the Panzer II. These started in 1938 with the VK901/ Panzer II Ausf G. This featured a new suspension system, with five pairs of overlapping road wheels spring on torsion bars and no return rollers. 1939 saw work begin on the VK1601/ Ausf J, a heavy reconnaissance version of which 22 were built during 1942. These were followed by the VK903/ Ausf M, which was to have been the production version of the VK901. Closely related to this was the VK1301/ Ausf H, armed with a bigger main gun, and the VK1303/ Ausf L, the production version of the VK1301, armed with the standard 20mm gun. The last variant was the VK1602 Leopard, which would have resembled the Ausf H, but was never built.

Of all of these, only the Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf L/ VK1303/ Luchs (Lynx) actually entered production. 100 of these were produced between September 1943 and January 1944. They used the modified suspension first developed for the VK901, and were armed in the same way as the standard Panzer II. They served on both the western and eastern fronts until the end of the war.

Related Developments

Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf D and E

The Panzer II Ausf D and Ausf E were two very similar fast tanks, developed by Daimler Benz in 1938. They had very little in common with the normal Panzer II, only sharing the turret but having a different hull, superstructure and suspension. Only 43 were built, and they were withdrawn in 1940 and turned into Panzerkampfwagen II Flamm flamethrower tanks.

Panzerkampfwagen II Flamm Ausf A und B

The Panzerkampfwagen II Flamm Ausf A und B or Flammpanzer II was an unsuccessful attempt to mount flame throwers on a Panzer II fuselage. It was based on the Ausf D and E fuselage, with two flamethrowers mounted above the tracks. The type entered combat on the eastern front in June 1941, and was withdrawn early in 1942 after it proved to be too vulnerable to enemy fire. The surviving tanks were withdrawn and converted to carry captured Russian anti-tank guns.

Self Propelled Guns

15cm slG33 auf Fgst Panzerkampfwagen II

This was an attempt to mount the 15cm sIG33 infantry gun on a tank chassis. The normal Panzer II chassis proved to be too small, and so a wider version had to be produced, which delayed production. Eventually twelve were produced late in 1941. They were then shipped to North Africa, and remained there until the last example was destroyed early in 1943.

7.62cm PaK(r) auf Fgst Panzerkampfwagen II

201 of this self-propelled anti tank gun were produced between April 1942 and June 1943. A tall fighting compartment was built onto the fuselage of the Panzer II Ausf D and E and the Flammpanzer II, which was used to carry a captured Russian 7.62cm anti-tank gun. The 7.62cm PaK(r) (Sf) served on the eastern front from April 1942 until it was withdrawn early in 1944.

7.5cm Pak40/2 auf Fgst Panzerkampfwagen II/ Marder II

The Marder II was a self-propelled anti-tank gun producing by mounting a 7.5cm PaK40/2 anti tank gun on the chassis of the Panzer II Ausf F. It was so successful that it entirely replaced the standard Panzer II on the production line during 1942. 576 were built from new and another 75 by converting unwanted tanks. The Marder II remained in service from July 1942 until the end of the war.

Leichte Feldhaubitze 18/2 auf Fgst Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf)/ Wespe

The Wespe used the fuselage of the Panzer II to carry the German army’s standard 10.5cm howitzer (the leFH18M). A total of 676 armed versions and 159 unarmed ammunition carriers were produced between February 1943 and July 1944. The Wespe was a successful design, and remained in use on most main fronts until the end of the war.

Books


Spotlight: Panzer II Ausf. L Luchs (Lynx)

An introduction to what Warlord Games owner, John Stallard, considers one of the coolest light tanks of WWII – the Panzer II L “Luchs” by Sam Phillips. Tank painted by Neil Burt of Troop of Shewe.

The Panzer II Ausf. L Luchs (German for Lynx) was a heavily modified version of the previously obsolete Panzer II light tank, with better armour, speed and range, making it a potent armoured scout vehicle.

The Panzer II L “Luchs” (Lynx) was developed for light reconnaissance duties. It was produced from September 1943, although an order for 800 of this new light tank was made to MAN and Henschel, the war ended before that could be completed.

Based on the Panzer II design it featured the same sized gun now carrying more rounds, including more anti-tank rounds.

The Lynx was up-armoured and was the only Panzer II to feature the Schachtellaufwerk overlapping/interleaved road wheels and new tracks in the ‘slack track’ developed for the semi-experimental Ausf. G.

It also featured a new gearbox, making this tank more powerful, reaching a top speed of 37mph (60km/h) on road and 26mph (42km/h) off road. Due to its fast speed, the tanks hull was rearranged to accommodate bigger fuel tanks also meaning that its operational range was increased to 180 miles (290 km). Close to 12 tons, this was a simple light tank!

With the crew now upgraded to four and featuring a newly designed cupola, the commander could focus on his own business – that of reconnaissance.

The Ausf L Luchs was the final development of the panzer II series of light tanks, with only 100 produced before war’s end. The Luchs saw action until the end of the war on both the eastern and western fronts with the Panzeraufklarungs-Abteilung (armoured recon) of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS.

In Bolt Action

Cost: 115pts (Regular), 138pts (Veteran)
Weapons: 1 turret-mounted light autocannon with co-axial MMG
Damage value: 8+ light tank
Special Rules: Recce

Utilise this tank by taking out enemy light armour, with its Recce rule it should be able to re-position before any retaliation comes its way! In Tank War take three of these fast tanks, use them to harass enemy transports, artillery and other light tanks, using the rest of your force to take on the heavier armour.

In the Theatre selector section of the German book you can use these tanks in the following lists:

1942-Stalingrad, Death on the Volga

1944-45 Operation Watch on the Rhine,

1944-45 Holding the West Wall, 1945-Operation Spring Awakening

The Panzer II Ausf L. Luchs is just one of our fantastic range of high detail resin tanks Consider some of the following for further reconnaissance roles:


Early game [ edit | edit source ]

The Panzer II gives the OKW some badly needed bang for the buck and is an ideal early game rushing unit, it can be used to dominate infantry, its speed allows it to follow and wipe squads and to react to the enemy if they attack somewhere you weren't expecting. It can work well with Kubelwagens: the Panzer II clears out the area while Kubelwagen secures territory points. Watch out for AT guns as the Panzer II won't last long from them unless flanking. Even infantry AT weapons can be a significant threat and anti-tank snares from British Tank Hunters, USF Riflemen, or Soviet Conscripts can leave this tank easy prey for other dedicated AT units.

Late game [ edit | edit source ]

Later game the panzer II can still find use, its reconnaissance role can help spot enemy defenses and react to enemy infantry attacks, but beware of any enemy tank, the 2cm cannon has poor penetration value, even against light tanks. You can sometimes flank a SU-76 and you can penetrate it easy without having to deal with its gun but be wary of any supporting units and the SU-76 turning to bring its gun to bear. Like other light tanks, the Panzer II cannot hope to stand toe to toe with medium tanks or heavy armor.


Create Wishlist

Taking on a reconnaissance role by the time of Operation Barbarossa in mid 1941, the Panzer II played a significant role early in WWII, participating in campaigns in Poland, France, the Soviet Union, and North Africa. Armed with 20mm cannon and MG34 machine gun, production of the Panzer II began in 1935 when it became clear the Panzer III and IV would not be on schedule. Playing an especially important role in the Blitzkrieg, Panzer IIs brought upgraded firepower from the Panzer I while maintaining the tank&rsquos range and increasing its speed. With the arrival of the Ausf F, which was used mainly on the Eastern Front, more than 3,500 Panzer II tanks had been manufactured before being officially discontinued in 1942.

Specifications:

Crew: 3
Armament: 1x 20mm cannon, 1x 7.92mm MG
Speed: 40 kph (25 mph)
Range: 190 km (120 mi)

Additional information about this Brickmania® custom building kit:

Yet another Panzer model that flexes Brickmania&rsquos expanded printing department, the Panzer II features multiple printed wheels, hatches, and visors. The lone sticker sheet is for the leading wheels on either side. Play features include an easily removeable hull with a detailed and spacious interior, folding antenna, opening top and rear hatches, and an elevating/depressing gun. Also included is a custom Panzer II commander minifig.

Model Statistics:

Designed by Andrea Boninsegna
447 LEGO® & BrickArms® elements
1x custom minifigs designed by Drew
Additional custom printed elements
High-quality sticker sheet
Full-color printed building instructions
1/35th scale to match other Brickmania kits
Intermediate Skill Level (4-6 years building experience recommended)

All Brickmania® model kits are made of new-condition LEGO® bricks. This model comes disassembled and includes complete printed building instructions. This is a limited-edition kit and production may be discontinued at any time.

This is not a LEGO® Product. LEGO and the LEGO minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this product. The LEGO Group is not liable for any loss, injury or damage arising from the use or misuse of this product.


Light Tanks Panzer II

In July of 1934, the German army issued a set of requirements for a light tanks weighing about 10 tons. It had hoped to field a larger and more useful medium tank, but serious production problems removed this plan from consideration. The new light tanks was designated Panzer II.

The first prototype version of the Panzer II built by Henschel weighed 7.2 tons. Like most tank designs it would grow in weight as the design matured. The Panzer II three-man crew consisted of a driver in the front of the hull, and the vehicle commander and loader in the 360-degree rotating turret. A voice tube provided communication between the vehicle commander and the driver. The vehicle commander sat on a seat affixed to the turret while the loader stood on the floor of the turret basket.

Because of the very small size of the vehicle, the crew members of the Panzer II had dual roles. The loader also acted as the radio operator, and the vehicle commander also served as the gunner. The dual role of the tank commander/gunner was common to many other light tanks of the day. The British army, and later the German army, realized early on that saddling the vehicle commanders with the extra duties of a gunner was distracting them from the more important duties of commanding the tanks and coordinating with other vehicles on the battlefield. This fault would be rectified on German light tanks with the introduction of larger medium tanks, because a third man was added to the turret.

The armament of the Panzer II consisted of a turret-mounted 20-mm gun and a single coaxial 7.92-mm machine gun. The 360-degree rotating turret was turned by hand using a traverse wheel. There was storage space for 180 rounds of 20-mm ammunition and 2,550 rounds of 7.92-mm ammunition.

The first four versions of the Panzer II retained the same type of suspension system as fitted to the Panzer I. The only difference was the addition of an extra bogie wheel on either side of the vehicle's hull, making the Panzer II 2 feet 4 inches longer than the Panzer I.

To prevent expensive and time-consuming correction of inevitable problems during production, most vehicle programs enter an LRIP (Low Rate Initial Production) phase prior to full-scale production. The Panzer II was no exception.

The LRIP version of the Panzer II was designated Ausf C and entered LRIP in 1936. The vehicle sported a new German-designed suspension system better suited to the increased weight of the vehicle. It consisted of five slightly larger bogie wheels attached to quarter-elliptical leaf springs.

The success of the Ausf C LRIP version of the Panzer II led to approval for volume production. MAN and other German (army) firms started high-rate production in July of 1937. The production version was designated Panzer II Ausf A Minor improvements to the Ausf A production version that included a cupola (a small, one-man armored superstructure containing vision devices, which sits on top of the turret of the tank and allows the vehicle commander to observe what is going on around the tank without exposing his upper body to enemy fire) was designated Panzer II Ausf B. This was followed in turn by the Ausf С production version. The Ausf A, B, and С versions of the Panzer II had extra angled armor added to the front of the vehicle's hull. German army industry built 1,113 examples of the Ausf C, A, B, and С versions of the Panzer II between March 1937 and April 1940.

The Panzer II Ausf D and E versions were very similar to the Panzer II Ausf С except for the suspension system employed. Versions D and E used an unusual suspension system consisting of four large road wheels on either side of the hull. The road wheels were attached to torsion bars anchored to the hull at the side opposite the road wheel. (Torsion bars are long steel rods that act as torsional springs. A bearing at the road wheel end allows free rotation the far end is anchored to the hull so it cannot rotate.)

The new suspension gave the vehicle a top off-road speed of 36 miles per hour. There was no need for return rollers because the track was supported by the large road wheels. Only 43 examples of the Panzer II Ausf D and E versions were built, between May 1938 and August 1939.

The Germans learned from combat experience that they needed to increase the armor protection on the Panzer II Ausf С from 30 millimeters to 35 millimeters. This up-armored version was called Ausf F and entered service in early 1941. The added armor increased the weight of the vehicle to 9.35 tons and, as expected, resulted in lower vehicle agility and top vehicle speed. German documents indicate that the vehicle's top speed dropped to 15 miles per hour with the added armor weight. This extra armor still did not adequately protect the Ausf F on the battlefield. Nonetheless, German industry fielded 524 Panzer II Ausf F vehicles between March 1941 and December 1942.

By the time Germany invaded France in May 1941, Panzer II light tanks were seriously outmatched by French tanks with their larger guns, better armor protection, and higher mobility. Superior battlefield tactics and a highly motivated organization prevented the total destruction of the Panzer II and the older Panzer I force. The Panzer II was also employed in North Africa and the Soviet Union as a reconnaissance vehicle before being pulled from front-line service.


10 Tanks That Changed the History of Armored Warfare

The tank was introduced in World War I when Britain unveiled the then-secret weapon against German forces and were able to run these rolling fortresses right over German barbed wire and trenches, firing cannons and machine guns into German fortifications. Now, armored columns are a commander's fist, punching holes in enemy lines and then rushing through them to annihilate enemy formations.

Here are 10 tanks that shaped armored warfare, either by completely destroying their enemies or by introducing new design features that gave them the edge in combat:

10. British Centurion

Originally designed to give British tankers and edge against German Panthers and Tigers, the Centurion arrived months after the end of World War II and ended up being the greatest Cold War tank instead. It had plate armor while cast armor was still the norm, and its 105mm gun was beefy for the time.

The British never used it in combat, but it earned lasting acclaim fighting for India and Israel. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel sent its customized Centurions to secure the Golan Heights, slaughtering Syrian tanks. Centurions converted into armored personnel carriers and engineering vehicles are still in Israeli service, 70 years after the tank's debut.

9. Panzer Mark II

The Panzer Mark II was, to say the least, not a "Tanker's tank." It was a stopgap design to hold the line in the 1930s until the Panzer Mk. III and IV were ready. It was a light tank with limited range, an only 20mm gun, and thin armor.

But it made this list because it did perform well on the battlefield and changed future tank design for one reason: It had a dedicated gunner and a dedicated tank commander. Many tank designs, especially smaller ones with smaller crews, combined these two roles, forcing the commander to ignore the larger battlefield for crucial moments while firing. The Mark II broke from that tradition and essentially all modern tank designs have a commander and dedicated gunner.

8. British Whippet Tank

Whippets were British medium tanks in World War I that had decent armor and speed and were designed to exploit gaps in German lines created by heavier tanks. It had either three of four machine guns but no cannon, meaning that today it would've been known as an armored vehicle.

But the Whippet was one of the fastest tanks of World War I with a blistering speed of 8 mph. One upgraded Whippet could hit a much more respectable 30 mph thanks to a V-12 Rolls Royce Eagle engine. This allowed them to fly through German gaps and break up enemy formations attempting to regroup.

7. Panzer Mk. IV

The Panzer Mk. IV served for all of World War II, starting as a heavy hitter fighting next to Panzer IIIs and eventually giving way to the more powerful and better armed Panther. The base Panzer IV was adequate in the early months of the war, but required upgrades to armor and its main gun as Allied armor got stronger.

By 1945, this resulted in a Panzer IV with a longer 75mm gun, widened tracks, and thicker armor than most medium tanks. It even had armored skirts to protect against infantry anti-armored weapons. This allowed it to tackle the Allies most numerous tanks—such as the Sherman and the T-34—with relative ease. But larger tanks were able to shred it, hence Germany's growing reliance on the late-arriving Panther as those made it to the front.

6. Char B1

France's tanks saw limited fighting in World War II since, you know, France fell so early in the war. But a couple of French tanks made a real impact, including the Char B1 with its sloped armor, two large guns, and decent speed. Its smaller, 47mm gun could kill many tanks while its 75mm could slaughter nearly anything available in 1939.

But, you know, France still fell, so that part sucked.

5. British Mk. I

Look, to be honest, we're including this little fellow because, for a while, it was the only deployed tank in the world. The British Mk. I was the first tank, dreamed into existence by British Royal Navy engineers under the "Landship" concept that would see America's new tractors developed into weapons of war.

The Mk. 1 and its French and British descendants allowed the Allies to break the Central Power's lines and begin winning the bloody stalemate that World War I had descended into. But these tanks were far from perfect, requiring eight crew members to fight, and four to just get the massive engine started. But they carried up to two cannons and four machine guns and slowly, very slowly, 4 mph slowly, overwhelmed German forces nearly anywhere they fought.

4. Tiger Tank

Ah, the legendary Tiger, the tank so powerful that it immediately became the focus of any battle in which it fought. Its thick armor could shrug off 75mm rounds from most guns at 50 yards. But its 88mm gun could open most Allied tanks like a can opener.

The tank was terrifying for enemy crews, but did suffer from horrible logistics issues as it required lots of maintenance and guzzled fuel. But in defensive warfare, the fuel problem was less of an issue, and single crews could destroy a dozen or more oncoming Allied machines and crews. One Tiger destroyed 18 Russian tanks on the Eastern Front, and one commander in Normandy lost six Tiger tanks while killing 25 British tanks and another 28 vehicles.

3. M4 Sherman

The M4 Sherman was one of the most widely deployed weapons of the war, serving with British, Canadian, Free French, Russian, and U.S. forces. The plucky little tank was designed for speed and ease of maintenance, taking limited armor and using a low-velocity 75mm gun to cut down on weight. It, unfortunately, got a reputation after the war for being a death trap, but that wasn't the reputation during the fighting.

Russian crews often preferred the Sherman to the T-34, and they had good reason. The tank was easy to maintain and spare parts were almost always available, leading to an 80 percent rate of damaged Shermans returning to combat. In fights, the Sherman was able to kill Mk. IIs and Mk. IVs, but could only attack Tigers in desperation and Panthers in strength. It was a "commander's tank," great strategically but few tankers wanted to face a heavy tank in one.

2. T-34

The T-34 was technically a medium tank, but its sloped armor was fairly thick and could deflect rounds like a heavy, and its powerful engine could propel it to 35 mph while its 76mm high-velocity gun could kill any other tank in the world at the time. Its combat debut came when Germany invaded Russia in Operation Barbarossa.

The Germans were forced to call on any weapon they thought could pierce the armor, deploying anti-aircraft guns and infantrymen carrying shaped charges to try and take the T-34 down. It was a leading factor in the Russian victory at the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history, and it eventually became the most-produced tank of the war.

1. M1 Abrams Tank

The legendary M1 Abrams main battle tank is a gas-guzzling, sabot-throwing, and armor decimating beast. Its turbine engines produce massive amounts of power that allow it to hurtle across the battlefield at over 40 mph despite its 68-ton weight. And while it started life with a 105-mm gun, it was quickly upgraded to a 120mm smoothbore capable of firing a lot of different rounds including its deadly depleted-uranium sabot rounds.

During Desert Storm, Abrams tanks faced off against Soviet-made T-72s and were overwhelmingly powerful. At the Battle of 73 Easting, future-National Security Advisor Capt. H.R. McMaster took a single armored cavalry company against an Iraqi division and cut a "five-kilometer wide swath of destruction" while suffering zero losses. It's still in service with the U.S. and other forces, but America has started eyeing either a new light or main battle tank.

MORE POSTS FROM WE ARE THE MIGHTY:

We Are The Mighty (WATM) celebrates service with stories that inspire. WATM is made in Hollywood by veterans. It's military life presented like never before. Check it out at We Are the Mighty.


Catainium's Tanks

The Panzer II was the successor to the Panzer I. Most vehicles mounted the KwK 30 or the improved KwK 38 The Panzer II J, a scout vehicle had two companies working on it, MAN designed the turret and Daimler-Benz designed the Hull. The Panzer II Luchs was a late light tank used until the end of the war. Many other variants were made of the vehicle.
Variants:
1.
Name: Panzer II
Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1935
Produced: 25

Length: 4.38 Meters
Width: 2.14 Meters
Height: 1.945 Meters
Weight: 7600 Kilograms
Speed: 40 km/h

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 30 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG13

Gun Flexibility:
20° Elevation
9.5° Depression

Armor:
-Hull
13 mm Front
13 mm Side
13 mm Rear
8 mm Top
5 to 10 mm Bottom
-Turret
13 mm Front (15 mm Gun Shield)
13 mm Side
13 mm Rear
8 mm Top

2.
Name: Panzer II A [earlier Panzer II a. in brakets]
Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1937 [1935]
Produced: [75: a/1 had 10, a/2 had 25, a/3 had 50]

Length: 4.81 Meters [4.38 Meters]

Panzer I a.
Width: 2.28 Meters [2.14 Meters]
Height: 2.15 Meters [1.945 Meters]
Weight: 95 Kilograms [7600 Kilograms]
Speed: 48 km/h (24 km/h off-road) [40 km/h]

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 30 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34
[-7.92 mm MG13]

Gun Flexibility:
20° Elevation
9.5° Depression

Armor:
-Hull
14.5 mm Front [13 mm Front]
14.5 mm Side [13 mm Side]
14.5 mm Rear[13 mm Rear]
10 m Top [8 mm Top]
5 to 10 mm Bottom [5 to 10 mm Bottom]
-Turret
14.5 mm Front (16 mm Gun Shield) [13 mm Front (15 mm Gun Shield)]
14.5 mm Side [13 mm Side]
14.5 mm Rear [13 mm Rear]
10 mm Top [8 mm Top]

3.
Name: Panzer II B [earlier Panzer II b. in brakets]

Panzer II b.
Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1937 [1936]
Produced: [1 or more]

Length: 4.81 Meters [4.38 Meters]
Width: 2.28 Meters [2.14 Meters]
Height: 2.15 Meters [1.945 Meters]
Weight: 9500 Kilograms [7600 Kilograms]
Speed: 48 km/h (24 km/h off-road) [40 km/h]

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 30 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Gun Flexibility:
20° Elevation
9.5° Depression

Armor:
-Hull
14.5 mm Front [13 mm Front]
14.5 mm Side [13 mm Side]
14.5 mm Rear[13 mm Rear]
10 m Top [8 mm Top]
5 to 10 mm Bottom [5 to 10 mm Bottom]
-Turret
14.5 mm Front (16 mm Gun Shield) [13 mm Front (15 mm Gun Shield)]
14.5 mm Side [13 mm Side]
14.5 mm Rear [13 mm Rear]
10 mm Top [8 mm Top]

4.
Name: Panzer II C [earlier Panzer II c. in brakets]
Type: Light Tank

Panzer I c.
Origin: Germany
Year: 1937
Produced: .

Length: 4.81 Meters [4.38 Meters]
Width: 2.28 Meters [2.14 Meters]
Height: 2.15 Meters [1.945 Meters]
Weight: 9500 Kilograms
Speed: 48 km/h (24 km/h off-road)

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 30 L/55
Secondary Armament:

Armor:
-Hull
14.5 + 20 bolted mm Front
14.5 mm Side
14.5 mm Rear
10 m Top
5 to 10 mm Bottom
-Turret
14.5 + 20 bolted mm Front (16 + 14.5 bolted mm Gun Shield)
14.5 mm Side
14.5 mm Rear
10 mm Top

5.
Name: Panzer II D
Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1939
Produced: 43

Length: 4.64 Meters
Width: 2.3 Meters
Height: 2.02 Meters
Weight: 10000 Kilograms
Speed: 55 km/h

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 30 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Armor:
-Hull
14.5 mm Front
14.5 mm Side
14.5 mm Rear
10 mm Top
5 to 10 mm Bottom
-Turret
14.5 mm Front (16 mm Gun Shield)
14.5 mm Side
14. mm Rear
10 mm Top

6.
Name: Panzer II E
Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1939
Produced: 43

Length: 4.64 Meters
Width: 2.3 Meters
Height: 2.02 Meters
Weight: 10000 Kilograms
Speed: 55 km/h

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 30 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Armor:
-Hull
30 mm Front
14.5 mm Side
14.5 mm Rear
10 mm Top
5 to 10 mm Bottom
-Turret
14.5 mm Front (16 mm Gun Shield)
14.5 mm Side
14.5 mm Rear
10 mm Top

7.
Name: Panzer II F
Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1941
Produced: 533

Length: 4.81 Meters
Width: 2.28 Meters
Height: 2.15 Meters
Weight: 9500 Kilograms
Speed: 40 km/h

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 38 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Armor:
-Hull
35 mm Front
15 mm Side
15 mm Rear
15 mm Top
5 to 10 mm Bottom
-Turret
30 mm Front (30 mm Gun Shield)
15 mm Side
15 mm Rear
10 mm Top

8.
Name: Panzer II G/VK 9.01 (MAN)

Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1941
Produced: 12

Length: 4.24 Meters
Width: 2.34 Meters
Height: 2.05 Meters
Weight: 10500 Kilograms
Speed: 65 km/h (50 km/h off-road)

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 38 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Armor:
-Hull
30 mm Front
15 mm Side
15 mm Rear
20 mm Top
15 mm Bottom
-Turret
30 mm Front
15 mm Side
15 mm Rear
20 mm Top


9.
Name: Panzer II H/VK 9.03 (MAN)

Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1942
Produced:

Length: .
Width: .
Height: .
Weight: 10500 Kilograms
Speed: 65 km/h

Primary Armament:
20 mm KwK 38 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Armor:
-Hull
30 mm Front
20 mm Side
20 mm Rear
5 mm Top
10 mm Bottom
-Turret
30 mm Front
2 mm Side
20 mm Rear

10.
Name: Panzer II J/VK 16.01 (DB)/(MAN)
Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1939
Produced: 22

Length: 4.81 Meters
Width: 2.28 Meters
Height: 2.02 Meters
Weight: 18000 Kilograms
Speed: 28 km/h

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 38 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Armor:
-Hull
80 mm Front
50 mm Side
50 mm Rear
25 mm Top
10 mm Bottom
-Turret
80 mm Front
50 mm Side
50 mm Rear
25 mm Top

11.
Name: Panzer II L Luchs/ VK 13.03 (MAN)
Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1942
Produced: 136

Length: 4.63 Meters
Width: 2.48 Meters
Height: 2.21 Meters
Weight: 11800 Kilograms
Speed: 60 km/h (30 km/h off-road)

Crew: 4

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 38 L/55 OR
-50 mm KwK 39 L/60
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Gun Flexibility:
18° Elevation
9° Depression

50 mm KwK 39 L/60 in an open topped Luchs turret
Armor:
-Hull
30 mm Front
20 mm Side
20 mm Rear
10 mm Top
10 mm Bottom
-Turret
30 mm Front
20 mm Side
20 mm Rear

12.
Name: Panzer II M/VK 13.01 (MAN)

Type: Light Tank
Origin: Germany
Year: 1942
Produced: 4

Length: .
Width: .
Height: .
Weight: 10500 Kilograms
Speed: 65 km/h

Primary Armament:
-20 mm KwK 38 L/55
Secondary Armament:
-7.92 mm MG34

Armor:
-Hull
30 mm Front
20 mm Side
20 mm Rear
5 mm Top
10 mm Bottom
-Turret
30 mm Front
2 mm Side
20 mm Rear


World War II Database


ww2dbase In 1935, Czechoslovakian manufacturing firm Ceskomoravská Kolben-Danek began producing a new series of light tanks that the Czechoslovakian Army designated LT vz. 38. They were immediately exported to Iran (TNHP variant, 50 units), Peru (LTP variant, 24 units), Switzerland (LTH variant, 24 units), Lithuania (LTL variant, 21 units), and the United Kingdom (1 unit, for evaluation only). The Czechslovakian Army ordered 150 of them on 1 Jul 1938, but none were in service by the time of the German annexation. When the tanks came out of the production line, they went in service with the German Army as LTM 38 light tanks. On 16 Jan 1940, they were re-designated Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) light tanks, with official designation SdKfz. 140.

ww2dbase Panzer 38(t) light tanks were used by the German Army during the invasions of Poland in 1939 and France in 1940. Battle experiences revealed that they were better armed than the comparable Panzer I and Panzer II light tanks, thus the German Army placed further orders with Ceskomoravská Kolben-Danek. By 1941, however, they were considered obsolete as Russian tank and anti-tank weaponry could readily penetrate the armor of Panzer 38(t) light tanks. German tank commander Otto Carius recalled one incident where his Panzer 38(t) light tank was destroyed by Russian fire.

ww2dbase Production ceased in 1942. Between 1935 and 1942, about 1,400 units were built. Most of that number served with the German Army, but a number were exported to German-friendly nations such as Hungary (102 units), Slovakia (69 units), Romania (50 units), and Bulgaria (10 units). Additionally, Sweden was given a license to build tanks of this design, which Sweden designated Strv m/41 Strv m/41 light tanks remained in Swedish service until the 1970s. When they were considered obsolete in the face of better-armored Russian tanks, a large number of them were converted into self-propelled guns.

ww2dbase Several captured Panzer 38(t) light tanks were pressed into Russian service after being equipped with Russian DTM machine guns. They largely served in reconnaissance and anti-partisan roles.

ww2dbase After WW2, Czechoslovakia resumed production of the LT vz. 38 light tanks for a brief time.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jul 2009

TNH P-S

MachineryOne Praga EPA 6-cylinder inline water-cooled gasoline engine rated at 148hp
SuspensionLeaf Spring
Armament1x37.2mm Skoda A7 gun (90 rounds), 1x7.92mm coaxial ZB53 machine gun, 1x7.92mm bow ZB53 machine gun
Armor10-25mm
Crew4
Length4.55 m
Width2.13 m
Height2.31 m
Weight9.7 t
Speed15 km/h off-road 42 km/h on-road
Range200 km

PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. A-D

MachineryOne Praga EPA 6-cylinder inline water-cooled gasoline engine rated at 123hp
SuspensionLeaf Spring
Armament1x37.2mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8 gun (72 rounds), 1x7.92mm turret MG 37(t) machine gun, 1x7.92mm bow MG 37(t) machine gun
Armor25mm front, 15mm sides
Crew5
Length4.61 m
Width2.14 m
Height2.40 m
Weight9.5 t
Speed15 km/h off-road 56 km/h on-road
Range200 km

PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. E-G

MachineryOne Praga EPA 6-cylinder inline water-cooled gasoline engine rated at 123hp
SuspensionLeaf Spring
Armament1x37.2mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8 gun (72 rounds), 1x7.92mm turret MG 37(t) machine gun, 1x7.92mm bow MG 37(t) machine gun
Armor50mm front, 15mm sides
Crew5
Length4.61 m
Width2.14 m
Height2.40 m
Weight9.5 t
Speed15 km/h off-road 56 km/h on-road
Range200 km

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Bill says:
4 Nov 2009 11:30:33 AM

The LT38 was used by the German army and called the Panzer 38(t). A total of 1,500
vehicles were built, however after 1942 they were not used as battle tanks.
Many of these tanks, were given to Germany's allies. The germans modified many of the
Panzer 38(t) into self-propelled guns,support
vehicles like armored recovery vehicles known
as Bergepanzer and reconnaissance vehicle.
After World War II the Czech's continued to
re-built salvaged vehicles, for the Czech army.

2. Bill says:
16 Dec 2009 02:46:31 PM

Buried for over 40 years, a restored Panzer
PzKpfw 38(t) of Czech design, used by the
Germans during World War II has spent the last 5 years under restortion.
The tanks original marking on the turret show number 524,vehicle markings show,it was
with the 25th Panzer Regiment,7th Panzer Div.

3. Bill says:
31 Jan 2015 03:47:12 PM

The Hetzer was a small tank destroyer it had a low silhouette making it difficult to see. It was assigned to Panzerjagerabteilungen tank destroyer battalions) Because of its small size, it could get off the first round in an ambush position against much larger tanks. Hetzer's were known to have knock out IS-2 Stalin tanks. The Helzer was armed w/ 1 x 75mm KwK 47 L/70 W/40 to 45 rounds od ammo, Secondary weapon 1 x 7.92 MG34 or 42
machine gun w/1200 rounds.
Crew weapons MP40s, MP44s, pistols, hand grenades
armored fighting vehicle crews carried whatever
weapons were on hand and made sure they always had enough ammo.

The Hetzer was based on the Czech Skoda Light Tank 38(t) chassis, these tanks were rebuilt as tank destroyers, flamethrowers, recovery vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, self-propelled and anti-aircraft guns. Did you know the Helzer was produced up to war's end.

OPERATORS: AND CAPTURED VEHICLES

German Army, Hungary, Bulgaria. Captured USSR, Polish Home Army

After WWII Czechoslovakia rebuilt salvaged and
abandoned vehicles and continued to build new vehicles for the Czech Army, some of them served into the 1950s and 60s until replaced with Soviet equipment. Switzerland operated the Hetzer until the 1970s.

Today there are about nine surviving Hetzer's left world-wind

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.


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The Panzer II was German light tank of World War II. It was a stop-gap design, rushed into production just prior to the outbreak of fighting, while the more advanced Panzer III and Panzer IVs were still under development. Armed with a 20mm cannon and MG34 machine gun, the Panzer proved to be a competent design and played a significant role early in the war. It participated in such as the campaigns in Poland, France, Soviet Union, and North Africa. While it was a successful design, the Panzer II&rsquos light armor and weapons would be no match for heavier Allied equipment introduced later in the war. The Panzer II chassis was also used for several self-propelled guns, including the effective Mardar II tank destroyer and the Wespe 105mm howitzer.

The Brickmania Panzer II Ausf C was modeled after the tanks of the Deutsches Afrikakorps, who fought in the desert campaigns of North Africa in 1940-1942.

Additional information about this Brickmania custom Lego® kit:

Features of the Panzer II Ausf C kit include

  • Fully articulated Brickmania Track Links&trade tank treads
  • Custom pad-printed Deutsches Afrikakorps tank commander with BrickArms MP40
  • Turret fully rotates and main gun can be raised and lowered
  • 1/35 scale matches other Brickmania models
  • The over-all color scheme of this model is desert tan
  • Includes 402 genuine LEGO, Brickmania and BrickArms elements.

All Brickmania model kits are made of new-condition elements from LEGO, Brickarms and/or BrickArms. This model comes disassembled, includes printed building instructions, and comes packaged in a sealed box.


The M24 Chaffee Light Tank

During much of World War II, the U.S. Army relied on the M3/M5 Stuart series of light tanks for cavalry reconnaissance missions. While it was a mechanically reliable vehicle, and fairly fast and maneuverable, the Stuart‘s design dated back to the 1930s, and it was all but obsolete by late 1942 as its thin armor, high silhouette, and light 37mm main gun made it a liability to its crew. In 1943, the Army began developing a new light tank to replace the Stuart. The result was the M24 Chaffee, which entered service in late 1944.

The U.S. Army began development of the M24 Chaffee light tank in March 1943 in an effort to replace the M5 Stuart. This photograph shows an M24 (left) with an M29 Weasel tracked vehicle during a demonstration at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in 1944. (National Archives)

Recognizing the M3 design was almost obsolete in 1941, the Army began work on a replacement light tank designated the T7 in February 1941. Armored Force requirements necessitated the addition of increasingly heavier firepower (first a 57mm weapon, then a 75mm main gun) and increasingly larger engines for better performance. By August 1942, the T7’s weight had grown from fourteen tons to twenty-nine tons when combat loaded. When the T7 was standardized later in the year, it was redesignated as the M7 medium tank. Over the course of development, the T7 was transformed from a light tank to a poorly performing medium tank, and only seven production vehicles were accepted by the Army before it was canceled in March 1943.

Combat experience in North Africa in 1942-43 proved that the Army’s light tanks, even the improved M5A1s, had little value on the battlefield, even in a scouting role. Not only was the M5 outclassed by German tanks and unable to defend itself against them, it was also vulnerable to antitank guns and field artillery. Nevertheless, the Army still believed light tanks could fulfill a valuable role, particularly reconnaissance missions, as long as they avoided direct confrontations with enemy armor. As a result, M5s would remain in tank and cavalry reconnaissance units until the Army could replace them with an improved light tank.

Early experiments to simply mount a 75mm gun on an M5 chassis proved feasible, but the larger gun took up so much space within the tank and added such a significant amount of weight that machine guns and other features had to be eliminated, something the Armored Force was not willing to do. In March 1943, the Ordnance Department authorized development of a new light tank designated the T24. A month later, on 29 April, the Army approved the T24’s design and assigned the Cadillac Motor Car Company (which also produced the M5) of General Motors the task of developing the tank.

An officer from a tank battalion uses an M24 to familiarize riflemen of the 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, with the new Chaffee light tank, 31 January 1945. (National Archives)

To speed up development, Cadillac incorporated a hull design intended for a self-propelled artillery system. Cadillac modified the design by sloping the armor, a move that increased protection but kept weight in check. The T24 was equipped with a larger three-man turret (the M5 had a smaller two-man version) to mount a 75mm gun. A new torsion bar suspension replaced the older vertical volute system found on the M5 and gave the new tank a better ride and a more stable gun platform. Designers also incorporated wider tracks on the T24 to reduce ground pressure and improve cross-country mobility. The T24 was powered by the same dual Cadillac Series 42 V-8 gasoline engines as the M5, but Cadillac installed an improved transmission on the T24.

Work on the T24’s 75mm gun took place at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. The gun eventually mounted on the T24 was a derivative of the T13E1 lightweight 75mm gun used on the B-25H Mitchell medium bomber. Designated the M6, it shared the same ballistics and fired the same ammunition as the M3 75mm gun found on the M4 Sherman, but used a different recoil system that allowed for a shorter recoil when the gun was fired.

Cadillac delivered the first pilot vehicle to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, on 15 October 1943. Trials uncovered some problems with the new recoil system and some automotive components, but overall, the T24 performed well. All problems were largely rectified when the second pilot vehicle underwent Armored Board tests at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in December 1943. The board was pleased with the vehicle’s performance but requested some additional modifications, such as the use of wet storage for main gun ammunition and a vision cupola for the tank commander, before it went into production. The Ordnance Department’s initial orders for the tank, now designated the M24, were for 1,000 vehicles, but this was soon increased to 5,000. Production of the M24 began in April 1944, but it did not really begin to pick up until June after manufacture of the M5A1 ceased in May. In addition to Cadillac, the Army selected a second manufacturer, Massey-Harris (which had also produced M5s), to build M24s. A total of 4,731 tanks were manufactured by the time production ended in August 1945.

Troopers from the 18th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 14th Cavalry Group, man their M24 in Petit-Tier, Belgium, in early February 1945. (National Archives)

The M24, nicknamed the Chaffee in honor of Major General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr., the “Father of the Armored Force,” weighed in a little over nineteen tons (38,750 pounds). It had a length of 16 feet, 9 inches (18 feet with the main gun), a width of 9 feet, 4 inches, and a height of 8 feet, 1 inch. Since the M24 was a light tank, the armor was relatively thin, with a maximum thickness of 1.5 inches at the gun shield and 1 inch at front of the hull, turret, and sides, but it was sloped (particularly on the turret and the front of the hull), providing better overall protection than the slightly thicker (but largely flat) armor of the M5 Stuart. The M24’s dual V-8 engines gave it a top speed of thirty-five miles per hour on roads, and its 100-gallon fuel tank gave it a maximum range of 175 miles.

In addition to its 75mm main gun, the M24 was armed with an M2 .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a pintle at the rear of the turret for air defense an M1919A4 .30 caliber machine gun in the turret alongside the main gun and an M1919A4 in the bow. The Chaffee could carry forty-eight rounds of 75mm main-gun ammunition, 440 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition, and 3,750 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition. The M24 was also equipped with a 2-inch mortar in the turret for firing smoke rounds.

The Chaffee was operated by a crew of five: commander, gunner, loader, driver, and assistant driver/bow gunner. Original designs for the M24 called for a four-man crew the assistant driver was to serve as the loader when the main gun was in use, but this arrangement proved awkward, so a designated loader was added.

Soldiers from the 752d Tank Battalion cover their M24 with a tarp after a day of maneuvers in Cormons, Italy, 8 November 1946. After World War II, American forces in Italy, Germany, Austria, and Japan used the Chaffee to conduct security patrols in their zones of occupation. (National Archives)

Deliveries of the first M24s slowly began to reach U.S. forces in Europe in the late autumn of 1944. By this time, American armored officers had all but given up on the M5 light tank. An Armored Force observer visiting the 12th Armored Division was told that light tank companies equipped with M5s were so useless that they were often employed as “anti-tank gun bait” for the division’s M4 Shermans. Other units used M5s solely for resupply and evacuation vehicles for M4-equipped units, refusing to expose their Stuarts to direct combat.

Army planners called for two tank battalions equipped entirely with M5A1s, the 744th and 759th, to receive the first M24s, followed by the light tank units of the 2d and 3d Armored Divisions. However, these plans soon went awry shortly after the first M24s arrived in France. As the new tanks were being transported to the front in December 1944, the Wehrmacht launched its surprise offensive in the Ardennes. During the early confused fighting of what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge, two of the twenty M24s destined for the 744th Tank Battalion ended up with the 740th, which had just arrived in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) without tanks and was scrounging ordnance depots for vehicles. The two Chaffees were assigned to the 740th’s Company D on 20 December, and both took part in the fighting near Stoumont and La Gleize in Belgium that finally stopped Kampgruppe Peiper and its drive to the Meuse River. The 744th Tank Battalion received the remaining eighteen M24s on 24 December but was not fully equipped with Chaffees until 15 February 1945.

With the arrival of the M24 in the ETO, the Army started a program to train light tank crews on the M24. The Army also started a separate program to familiarize U.S. troops with the new light tank due to some concerns that the M24’s shape (from its sloped armor) and low silhouette could be confused for the German Mk. V Panther. This program soon led to a new nickname for the M24: “Panther Pup.”

Tank crews found the M24 possessed several advantages over the older M5s and even the heavier M4s. Tankers praised the Chaffee’s speed, maneuverability, mobility in mud and snow, low silhouette, and mechanical reliability. The M24 also earned high marks for its telescopic sights and ample room in the fighting compartment that improved crew efficiency and reduced fatigue. The M24’s 75mm main gun was a significant improvement over the 37mm gun on the M5, and while they were not designed for head-to-head battles with the heavier German tanks, a handful of Chaffees scored victories against enemy armor.

An M24 from the 24th Infantry Division passes by a group of Korean civilians as it heads to the front to combat North Korean forces, 8 July 1950. The light M24s were the only tanks available to the first Army forces deployed to Korea following the outbreak of war on 25 June 1950, and they fared poorly against the heavier North Korean T-34s. (National Archives)

Nevertheless, tank crews also found faults with M24, some of them inherent in any light tank design. A report from the 744th Tank Battalion claimed the Chaffee provided no appreciable improvement in armor protection and that its belly armor provided little protection against enemy mines. It also added that the 75mm main gun, while better than the M5’s 37mm, was still generally incapable of destroying enemy tanks except at very close ranges, and the amount of ammunition carried by the Chafee was insufficient—crews usually expended their full ammunition loads after brief periods of combat. Tank crews also complained about the awkward placement of the .50 caliber machine gun.

As more M24s began to arrive in Europe, the Army modified its original plan to reequip its light tank units in armored divisions and independent tank battalions with M24s. Instead, the Army prioritized the delivery of M24s to cavalry reconnaissance squadrons. While cavalry troopers had similar complaints about the M24, overall, they were much more satisfied with the Chaffee’s performance, especially its speed and mobility, than tank battalion crews. Once cavalry units were reequipped, armored divisions then began to switch out their M5s for M24s. The Army’s last four armored divisions to arrive in the ETO, the 8th, 15th, 16th, and 20th, were already equipped with Chaffees by the time they entered combat.

Most of the M24s deployed to Europe saw action in the Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, and Central Europe campaigns only a handful reached Italy for service with the 1st Armored Division’s 81st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. None saw action during the fighting in the Pacific. The Marine Corps received ten M24s for evaluation but rejected the Chaffee for service. The British Army received 302 M24s through Lend-Lease by the end of the war and was very pleased with the tank’s performance.

After World War II, the M24 equipped U.S. Constabulary units performing occupation duties in Germany and Austria. They also served with occupation troops in Japan—tanks such as the M4 were too heavy for Japanese roads and bridges. When war broke out in Korea on 25 June 1950, the Army rushed M24s to the fighting front in support of the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. During combat with the powerful North Korean T-34s, the Chaffees performed badly, partly because they had been poorly maintained during the occupation of Japan. Despite being overmatched, the outgunned M24s managed to destroy as many as eight T-34s before large numbers of M4E8 Sherman medium and M26 Pershing heavy tanks arrived in Korea and replaced them as front-line tanks in the fall of 1950. For the rest of the war, the M24 was assigned to divisional reconnaissance companies. By 1953, the Army had withdrawn the M24 from service and replaced it with the M41 Walker Bulldog light tank.

After World War II, the United States provided more than 3,300 surplus M24s to its allies, including this one that served with the Royal Netherlands Army until the early 1960s. (Nationaal Militair Museum)

The M24 chassis proved to be so reliable and adaptable that it was converted into several other systems, including the M37 105mm self-propelled howitzer, the M41 155mm self-propelled howitzer, and the M19 multiple gun motor carriage (armed with twin 40mm Bofor antiaircraft guns). Both the M37 and M41 saw action in the Korean War, while the M19 was used in World War II and the Korean War.

The United States supplied many of its allies with surplus M24s in the years following World War II. France was the largest recipient with 1,254 Chaffees. French M24s saw action in colonial wars in Indochina (including the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954) and Algeria. Other NATO allies, including Norway, Belgium, Turkey, and Italy were equipped with M24s. South Vietnam received 137 Chaffees from the United States, but South Vietnamese M24s saw more action in the coup attempts of 1963 and 1964 than against the Viet Cong before being replaced by the M41. In all, the armed forces of twenty-eight nations were equipped with the M24, and a handful of Chaffees currently remain in service.