Bovington Tank Museum Part 13
3rd photo by Paul Mutton.
1 to 3) Pzkpfw. IV Ausf D. The Panzer IV could well be described as the workhorse of the German army. Classed originally as a close-support tank. Various improvements were introduced over the years but the most significant was the fitting of the much longer 75mm KwK 40 which, at a stroke, made the Panzer IV one of the most powerful tanks on the battlefield. This Panzer IV has some appliqué armor bolted to the front of the superstructure and the hull sides.
4) Pzkpfw III Ausf L. Work on the Panzer III began in 1934 and was first produced with 15mm armour and a 37mm gun, similar to contemporary British designs, but by 1938 armor thickness had been doubled and by 1940 the gun replaced by a 50mm weapon. By the time the Ausf L appeared, frontal armour was 50mm thick and the gun a long barreled 50mm. Thus the Panzer III was able to keep pace with developments, which similar British tanks were unable to do, without affecting performance in any way.
This tank fought in North Africa and was captured in 1942.
5 & 6) Pzkpfw II Ausf F. When they first appeared, in 1936, the Panzer IIs were regarded as platoon commander’s tanks. They were also employed to give fire support to the Panzer I in combat with enemy tanks. However by 1940 they had been outclassed and were relegated to the reconnaissance role. This exhibit features improved armour and was introduced in 1941.
It was captured by British forces in North Africa, from the 10th Panzer Division in 1943, but it is shown in the markings of 1st Panzer Division at the time of the invasion of France.
7 to 9) M22 Locust. Designed by Marmon-Herrington, this little tank was intended to be airportable in the C-54 Skymaster aircraft. The idea was to lift off the turret, load that into the plane and then clip the hull under the fuselage. The Locust was powered by a Lycoming, six-cylinder, air-cooled petrol engine which gave it an excellent top speed but by the time they started coming off the production line, in 1943, the tanks were out of date. None were ever used in combat by United States forces, though Britain received a few that were used for Operation Plunder in the crossing of the Rhine.
10) Pzkpfw I Ausf B “Kleine Panzerbefehlswagen”. The Panzer I was Germany’s first mass-produced tank. It entered service in 1934 and was often shown, in impressive numbers, at pre-war Nazi parades. Built ostensibly for training the little tank saw action during the Spanish Civil War and in the early years of World War II. However its thin amour and limited armament of two machine guns meant that it was easily outclassed by most Allied tanks (note the appliqué armor) The Kl.Pz.Bef.Wg. is the command variant.
This exhibit was captured in North Africa, probably in 1942. It has evidence of battle damage and served with the 5th Panzer Regiment of the 5th Light Division.