Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf A

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The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf A was the first production version of the Panzer IV medium support tank, and shared many features with all of the over 8,000 tanks that followed. Krupp had been awarded the contract to produce a 20 ton tank in 1935 after a three way contest. In April 1936 the new tank was officially named the Panzerkampfwagen IV, having been developed under a number of code names, amongst them Bataillonsführerwagen or  battalion commander’s vehicle (BW), The first production vehicles were produced in October 1937, and five months later the last of 35 Ausf As was completed.

Many features of the Panzer IV remained the same throughout its production run. The tank had the engine at the rear, and the drive and the front. The suspension was provided by eight road wheels in four pairs supported by leaf springs. All of the standard tanks had a rear idler and four return rollers. They also all carried a crew of five – commander, loader and gunner in the turret and driver and radio operator in the forward superstructure.

The Panzer IV ausf A was powered by a 250hp 12-cylinder Maybach engine, connected to a five speed gearbox. A more powerful engine would be installed in later models. The Panzer IV also carried an auxiliary engine which could be used to charge the batteries used for the powered turret.

All early versions of the Panzer IV were built as support tanks. As a result they were armed with a short 75mm gun firing HE ammunition. It was expected that the Panzer III would deal with enemy tanks while the Panzer IV would be used for longer range attacks on anti-tank weapons. The Ausf A also carried two 7.92mm machine guns, one in a coaxial mounting in the turret and one in the right of the front superstructure, where it was operated by the radio operator.

The front of the superstructure was stepped, with the driver’s position on the left pushed further forward than the radio operator on the right. This was done in order to give the driver a view to the right. This feature was removed on the Ausf B, but would reappear on later models. The Ausf A had a simple drum cupola above the commander’s position, with 8 open vision slits.

Like all early German tanks the Panzer IV Ausf A was not well protected. Its armour was designed to be proof against shell fragments and armour-piercing rounds from small arms but in Poland it would prove to be very vulnerable to anti-tank fire.

Thirty of the thirty-five Ausf As had been issued by 1 April 1938. They fought in Poland, Norway and France but were withdrawn before the Balkan campaign in the spring of 1941.

Names
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf A
Sd Kfz 161
1 Serie BW (Bataillonsführerwagen or battalion commander’s vehicle)

Stats
Number produced:  35
Produced:  October 1937-March 1938
Length: 5.6m/ 18ft 4.5in
Hull Width: 2.9m/ 9ft 6in
Height: 2.65m/ 8ft 8in
Crew: 5
Weight: 18.4 tons  
Engine: 250hp 12-cylinder Maybach HL108TR
Max Speed: 31km/hr/19 mph
Max Range:  150km/ 93 miles
Armament: One 7.5cm KwK37 L/24 and two 7.92mm MG13s

Armour

Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Turret

 15mm/ 0.6in

 15mm/ 0.6in

 15mm/ 0.6in

 10mm/ 0.4in

Superstructure

 15mm/ 0.6in

 15mm/ 0.6in

 15mm/ 0.6in

 12mm/ 0.5in

Hull

 15mm/ 0.6in

 15mm/ 0.6in

 15mm/ 0.6in

 5mm/ 0.2in

Gun mantlet

 15mm/ 0.6in

 

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 July 2008), Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf A , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_panzer_IV_ausf_A.html

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