Saturday, March 28, 2015
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf F (Sd Kfz 161)
The major improvement with the Ausf F was the increase of the armour thickness on most surfaces. Minor improvements included 40cm wide tracks with the accompanying dished sprocket and tubular idler, air-intake cowl on the glacis hatches to cool the steering brakes, and new muffler designs for the main and auxiliary engines. The vision ports, pistol ports, driver's visor, hull machine-gun mount and turret doors were all changed from previous models because of the increased armour thicknesses.
The Ausf F1, which equipped several new units and refitted the 2nd and 5th Panzer Divisions, was mainly issued piecemeal to units at the front, to replace losses. About 208 Ausf B to F1 were available with units in Russia when the summer offensive started in June 1942. This was reduced to 60 available on the entire Eastern front at the time of the offensive at Kursk in July 1943.