Saturday, March 28, 2015
VK 2002 (MAN)
The Panzer IV was the brainchild of German general and innovative armored warfare theorist Heinz Guderian. In concept, it was intended to be a support tank for use against enemy anti-tank guns and fortifications. Ideally, the tank battalions of a panzer division were each to have three medium companies of Panzer IIIs and one heavy company of Panzer IVs.[On 11 January 1934, the German army wrote the specifications for a "medium tractor", and issued them to a number of defense companies. To support the Panzer III, which would be armed with a 37-millimetre (1.46 in) anti-tank gun, the new vehicle would have a short-barrelled 75-millimetre (2.95 in) howitzer as its main gun, and was allotted a weight limit of 24 tonnes (26.46 short tons). Development was carried out under the name Begleitwagen ("accompanying vehicle"), or BW, to disguise its actual purpose, given that Germany was still theoretically bound by the Treaty of Versailles. MAN, Krupp, and Rheinmetall-Borsig each developed prototypes, with Krupp's being selected for further development.
The design study for the BW vehicle made during 1935 by MAN (VK 2002/MAN) provided for an interleaved suspension. The overall height of this design was somewhat more than that of yet a third BW design which was submitted at the same time by Krupp. This Krupp design (VK 200I/K) included interleaved bogie suspension asked for originally by the Army Weapons Department but despite this the design did not· go into production. The turret, hull and superstructure already showed a certain similarity to what later became the production model, however Krupp's Heerlein division, by accepting the task of designing this turret, subsequently took over the responsibility for practically all further development work and retained this responsibility, with few exceptions (e.g. Panther), until the end of the war. Krupp used the experience of their design work on the Pz Kw II, and prototypes were produced and thoroughly tested during 1935-36. As a result of these trials Krupp were appointed as the main developer and manufacturer for the complete production of the BW design.