Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Einheitsfahrgestell (Standard Vehicle Chassis) III/IV

Panzer IV projekt W 1466

Panzer III/IV Einheitsfahrgestell

There were two attempts at developing a Panzer IV with sloped armour:

1. A Krupp project from late 1942/early 1943 (probably the one mentioned) which was basically a Panzer IV with sloped armour.

2. An early 1944 Panzer III/IV Einheitsfahrgestell project, which combined automotive parts of the Panzer III into a Panzer IV with improved running gear (6 larger roadwheels on each side).

The Vorläufige Richtwertprogramm (provisional optimum value programme) IV of 14th July 1944 postulated the multiple use of the Pz Kw III/IV chassis. It was intended, after certain alterations, to adopt this chassis as a standard vehicle chassis. DEW produced a superstructure during September 1944 for the leichte Panzerjäger (light anti-tank vehicle) III/IV and delivered it to MIAG in Brunswick. It was never assembled however as the project had already been abandoned by the Army Weapons Department. In the above programme this vehicle appears as the 7.5 cm Sturmgeschütz III/IV L/70. AIkett and MIAG planned to start mass production during November 1944, Krupp-Gruson in January, Nibelungen in February and Vomag in March 1945. The output per month was expected to be 800 vehicles as from May 1945. AIkett proposed using the same chassis for the 10.5 cm Sturmhaubltze III/IV when production of the 10.5 cm Sturmhaubitze 42 was stopped after April 1945. The anticipated monthly output was 125 vehicles, Stahlindustrie contracted to supply Artillery SP carriages on this chassis to the Army authorities. A "schwere Panzerhaubitze" (heavy tank howitzer) with an accompanying carrier was planned. The monthly output was to be 25 and four vehicles respectively. In addition a "leichte Panzerhaubitze" (light tank howitzer) and munition carrier for this vehicle were planned. Total production figures for this were 45 and six vehicles respectively per month. As well as these the programme provided for a Sturmpanzer III/IV to be produced, from January 1945 onwards. Twenty of these vehicles per month were to be constructed. The final version was the Flakpanzer "Kugelblitz" (Fireball) III/IV, of which 30 machines were expected to be completed each month.

To sum up it can be said that the Pz Kw IV formed the backbone of the German Tank Arm until the end of the war. At the beginning of 1943 there was a General Staff proposal to halt the production of all Pz Kw IVs. The proposal was not however carried out as the Panther was not yet ready and the output would have been reduced to 25 Tigers a month. Despite the obvious weaknesses in shape and armour thickness and despite the technical defects resulting from shortages of raw materials, the Pz Kw IV was the most reliable of the German AFVs and was, particularly after 1943, when better armament was available, the equal of nearly all enemy tanks.

No comments:

Post a Comment