Saturday, March 28, 2015

PzKpfw.IV Ausf. F2 (Early G) and G

Ausf F1 and F2

History: In November 1941, plans were made to improve the armament of the Pz Kpfw IV by installing a long-barrelled 7.5cm KwK. This change was to have taken place with the Ausf G. Because of the superiority of the Russian KV-1 and T-34, an order was issued to mount the 7.5cm KwK40 as quickly as possible. This resulted in the loss of a month's production in March 1942, and the Ausf F series was completed with 7.5cm KwK40 L/43, and was designated Ausf F2. 

Specific features: The differences between the Ausf F1 and F2 related to the introduction of the new gun. Ammunition storage was modified to stow the larger rounds, the amount of ammunition carried was increased and the gunner's and commander's seats were changed to allow more room. The elevation mechanism was modified and an auxiliary hand traverse was installed for the loader. Because of the long barrel, a coil-spring counter-balance was installed for the 7.5cm KwK40. 

Combat service: While some Ausf F2 were issued to several newly-formed tank detachments and were given to the motorized infantry divisions, the majority went to front-line units to replace losses. This provided a Pz Kpfw which was superior to the Russian, British and American armour used at the fronts in the summer of 1942.

Ausf G

History: The 1,750 Ausf G were acquired by ten separate orders, issued to Krupp-Gruson, Vomag and Nibelungenwerke. Of this number, only 1,687 were completed as Pz Kpfw. The remainder were used as prototypes for the Hummel (bumble-bee) 10 chassis and the Brummbar( grizzly bear) 53 chassis. From late March 1943, the 7.5cm KwK40 L/48 was installed instead of the L/43, with a total of 1,275 Ausf G receiving the L/43. Delivery of Ausf G, with additional armour bolted or welded to the front of the hull and superstructure, began on 20 June 1942. Starting at 16 per month from July to November 1942, half of the Ausf G production were to be fitted with additional armour, from December 1942, resulting in approximately 700 Ausf G having the extra protection. 

Specific features: The early Ausf G were identical with the Ausf F2. This gradually changed throughout the production run as improvements were introduced. The first change entailed vision ports being eliminated from the turret sides and in the loader's side of the turret front. Other changes, in the summer of 1942, included a new style muzzle brake, installing a system which allowed the transfer of coolant to another Pz Kpfw to aid cold-weather starting, and smoke dischargers mounted on the turret side instead of the hull rear. In January 1943, the driver's episcope (KFF2) was eliminated. In March 1943, a new cupola with thicker armour and a single-piece hatch was introduced together with 'Schurzen', which were thin steel plates attached to the sides of the hull and which surrounded the turret sides and rear. The very late models of the Ausf G received a new type of drive sprocket, and the radio antenna was moved to the left hull rear, making' it almost impossible to distinguish a late Ausf G from an early Ausf H. 

Combat service: At the start of the summer offensive in Russia, late in June 1942, approximately 170 Ausf F2 and G were with units at the front. This number had increased to 841 Pz Kpfw IV (lang) with Army Groups Centre and South, at the start of the Kursk offensive. In 1943, the Pz Kpfw IV were extended from medium companies to every company in each detachment of Panzer regiments, each company having twenty-two Pz Kpfw IV.

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