Sunday, March 29, 2015

Panzer IV in Afrika

Panzer IV D, E, F1, F2 and G models [1] were present. As the campaign went on the later models started arriving like the Pz IV specials with long barrels, version F2 and G's.

  Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf D
  Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. D/E Composite Variant
  Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. E
  Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. F1 Early, Middle, and Late 'Typs'
  Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. F2 Early, Middle, and Late 'Typs'
  Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. G Early and Middle 'Typs'

The German Afrika Korps only started to receive Panzer IV with the L/48 75mm gun, arriving in front line units (in small numbers) for the battle of Alam Halfa 30 August 1942 (although by 1st Alamein their numbers had increased dramatically).

From early 1941, when the embryonic DAK armoured units first arrived in North Africa, they were equipped with the Panzer IV, Ausf C and D and then later, the Ausf E and F1, which were equipped with the 75mm KwK L/24 gun, which fired exactly the same HE projectile as the Panzer IV, Ausf F2, (referred to as the "special" by the British) which was equipped with the 75mm L/43.

Panzerkampfwagen IVs, which were sent to North Africa (1941-43), were equipped with additional tropical filters (Tp) and improved ventilation system.

Actually there weren't that many Pz IVs with the DAK, short-barrelled or otherwise. The four Panzer Abteilungen with the DAK's two Panzer Regiments were organized along traditional mid-war lines, with one medium company (usually with L24 equipped Pz IVs) and three light companies with Pz III (either L42 or L60) At theoretical max strength - never attained for the DAK as far as I know - and allowing all DAK Pz IVs as F1s, that would still only account for a max of 88 Pz IVs with the DAK.

Chamberlain and Doyle state in their much-maligned book that the majority of Pz IV F1s were used to re-equip the 2nd and 5th Panzer Divisions, units which were never sent to North Africa.

However, additional L24 equipped Pz IVs formed part of the 10th Panzer Division shipped to Tunis as part of 5th Panzer Army. It's more probable that these tanks were F1s because the DAK was in North Africa before the first Pz IV F1s rolled off the production lines. All told, theoretical max Pz IV F1 strength of the 5th Panzer Army comes up to 45 tanks with the 10th PD, Pz. Abt. 190 and s. Pz. Abts. 501 and 504, not counting tanks which ended at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

I can trace 45 PzKpfw IV armed with KwK 7.5cm L/24 in North Africa in 1941. Most of these were Ausf D & E.

10 Pz.IV F2 delivered May 1942 actually 9, one broke down in Italy and came later.
18 More arrived in January 1942, these would have been of a higher proportion of Ausf F than in 1941.
22 Arrived in February 1942.
9 in April, but some would have been Ausf G
10 in May, but some/most/all would have been Ausf G
20 Arrived in Tripoli in August 1942.
12 Arrived in Tripoli in September 1942.

DAK Panzerlage 1941-42

In April 1941 the 5. leichte Division had 25 Pz I, 45 Pz II, 71 Pz III (mostly Ausf G), 20 Pz IV and 7 PzBefWg

The 15. Pz.Div had 45 Pz II, 71 Pz III (mostly Ausf G), 20 Pz IV and 10 PzBefWg

Totally 297 tanks and 17 command tanks.

On May 25, 1942 the 15. Pz.Div had 29 Pz II, 134 Pz III (3 with L/60 gun), 22 Pz IV (L/24) and 4 PzBefWg

At the same date the 21. Pz.Div (former 5. le.Div) had 29 Pz II, 122 Pz III (15 with L/60), 19 Pz IV (L/24) and 4 PzBefWg

Total strength: 355 tanks and 8 command tanks.

[1]Was there any difference between Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. F2 and Ausf. G

The F2 and the G were basically the same - the designation for the 7. Serie Pzkpfw IV with 7.5cm L/43 changed from F2 to G on 5th June 1942. From 1st July 1942, Wa Pruef 6 decreed that the old F1 was to be called the F and the old F2 was to be called the G.

The muzzle brake was just one of many non-diagnostic changes in production, like hull side doors in Pzkpfw III.

The F2 is basically an early G, so to speak. The F2 only existed from March 1942 until July 1942 when all F2's were renamed G's, from then on it was known as a G model. There really is no difference between an F2 and a G, since they are the same tank. The thing is, that there were modifications made during the production run.

The muzzle brakes are NOT how you tell the difference, since the G models had the single chamber muzzle brake until September 1942, when it was replaced by the double chamber muzzle brake. Likewise, the L/43 and L/48 guns are NOT how you tell the difference either, since the G model did not get the L/48 gun until April 1943.

Best way to look at it, is that the F2 and early G's are the same (since the F2 was renamed G anyways), then you have a line of G's with several modifications added, then in May of 1943, the H model comes out.

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