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Panzerkampfwagen III Tank



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The Heereswaffenamt issued development contracts in 1935 to MAN, Daimler-Benz, Rheinmetall-Borsig and Krupp. These were for a vehicle in the 15-ton class armed with a 37mm gun. General Guderian had planned two types of tank for Germany’s new armoured divisions, one with an armour piercing gun as well as bow and turret machine guns; and the other a support vehicle, mounting a larger calibre cannon. The first of these was to become the PzKpfw III.
The Weapons Department and Artillery Inspectorate had considered the 37mm gun to be sufficient for the new vehicle, while the Inspectorate for Mechanised Troops demanded a 50mm gun. The infantry already had the 37mm anti-tank gun so this was chosen for the sake of standardisation. However, it was decided that the PzKpfw III’s turret ring would be made large enough to take a larger calibre weapon in the future.
The first PzKpfw III model was the Ausf A or 1/ZW of which ten were built in 1936. The suspension each side included five large roadwheels supported by coil springs, plus two return rollers. This changed to eight roadwheels supported by two leaf springs, plus three return rollers, in the Ausf B (2/ZW). Fifteen of these were built in 1937. Fifteen examples of the Ausf C (3a/ZW) were also completed and differed only in the suspension, in having three leaf springs per side. The Ausf D (3b/ZW) was almost identical to the Ausf C but the basic armour was increased to 30mm and the turret was fitted with a new pattern of armoured cupola that had sliding shutters over its five vision ports. All of these vehicles were in effect only development models and so were produced in limited numbers.

Ausf E

The Ausf E was the first full production model of the PzKpfw III. Its suspension had six roadwheels each side mounted on torsion bars fitted across the hull, plus three return rollers. This arrangement was to remain largely unchanged until the end of production of the PzKpfw III. Other changes on this model included an improved driver’s visor with double sliding shutters and a new hull machine-gun ball mount (Kugelblende 30). Two-piece side hatches were also introduced on the turret. About 100 examples of the Ausf E were built during 1939 and 1940.

Model Id:
144
Manufacture:Daimler-Benz AG, Marienfelde, Berlin, Germany (Primary manufacturer)
Henschel und Sohn, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) AG, Nürnberg, Bavaria, Middle Franconia, Germany (Additional manufacturer)


1) Motor Technica Museum, Bad Oeynhausen, Germany

Number of Photos:
0
Sample Photo from Album Number 103

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Unique ID: 103
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

This Ausf E was recovered from a river near Saint Petersburg in Russia and is planned to be restored in the future (source: F. Derom).

Ausf F

On the Ausf F new ventilation ducts for the track brakes were installed and the covers for these were visible on the glacis plate, also improved ventilators on the turret distinguished its exterior from that of the Ausf E. Ausf E and most Ausf F, and even early production Ausf G vehicles, were fitted with the standard 37mm KwK L/45 in an internal mantlet with two coaxial machine-guns. These were subsequently rearmed with the 50mm KwK L/42 in an external mantlet, with one coaxial machine-gun, from late 1940.

Model Id:
145
Manufacture:Daimler-Benz AG, Marienfelde, Berlin, Germany (Primary manufacturer)
Henschel und Sohn, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) AG, Nürnberg, Bavaria, Middle Franconia, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Altmärkische Kettenfabrik (Alkett) GmbH, Berlin-Spandau, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Fahrzeug- und Motoren-Werke (FAMO) GmbH, Stare Miasto, Wrocław, Dolnośląskie, Poland (Additional manufacturer)


2) Museé Des Blindés, Saumur, France

Number of Photos:
4
Sample Photo from Album Number 104

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Unique ID: 104
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification: “125” painted on turret sides.

This is an Ausf F that has been largely brought up to Ausf H standard, apart from its old-style idler wheels and cupola. It is armed with a 50mm KwK L/42 gun and is fitted with appliqué armour on the hull and superstructure front. It carries the turret number “125”. [Preserved Tanks in France: Number 68].

3) Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor, Fort Knox, USA

Number of Photos:
12
Sample Photo from Album Number 105

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Unique ID: 105
Serial Number: 61007 (source: D. Moriarty)
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

Text in original Preserved German Tanks publication:


This Ausf F was refitted during the War with 30mm spaced armour added to the front plate and appliqué armour bolted to the glacis and nose. It mounts a 50mm KwK L/42 gun. Its right-hand front return roller only has been moved forward to the standard Ausf H position. It is now missing both its tracks and nearly all of its roadwheels.

Text in Preserved German Tanks Update:


Its tracks were removed and put on the Patton Museum’s other Pz III (source: G. Redmon).

4) Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor, Fort Knox, USA

Number of Photos:
3
Sample Photo from Album Number 106

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Unique ID: 106
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

Text in original Preserved German Tanks publication:


This is an Ausf F, fitted with an Ausf G turret that has been rearmed with the long-barrelled 50mm L/60 gun of the later production Ausf J. It is believed to have been captured by the Third US Army from the 116th Panzer Division in Normandy during World War II, along with the other PzKpfw III and the StuG III at Fort Knox. Its left-hand sprocket is an early type but the rest of the suspension has been brought up to Ausf H standard (the right-hand sprocket and both idler wheels are of the late type, the front return rollers have been moved forward, and so on).
This PzKpfw III has been returned to running order after extensive restoration. It has Schürzen on the turret and 20mm appliqué armour on the front plate, as well as appliqué armour on the glacis and nose. The armour on the front plate is unusual, however, in not being spaced. It has been welded directly to the superstructure and this has required large openings to be cut from it to prevent obstruction of the driver’s vision block and hull machine-gun.

Text in Preserved German Tanks Update:


It is fitted with tracks removed from the Patton Museum’s other Pz III (source: G. Redmon).

Ausf G and H

The Ausf G appeared in 1940 and all but the earliest examples were equipped with the 50mm KwK L/42. The turret had a new commander’s cupola with narrow twin covers over each of its five vision ports that could be operated independently. The Ausf G was also fitted with a new driver’s visor with a single hinged shutter to offer better protection against bullet splash. Total Ausf G production was 450.
The Ausf H saw the introduction of major changes to the suspension system. The track width was increased from 360mm to 400mm and the front return roller each side was moved further forward to give better support to the heavier track. Also fitted were new sprocket wheels with six apertures instead of eight circular holes, and new spoked idler wheels. Existing stocks of the old sprockets and idlers were also used in conjunction with spacer rings.
Experience in battle resulted in a demand to increase the relatively thin armour of the PzKpfw III. Ausf H vehicles leaving the production lines in 1941 were therefore fitted with additional 30mm armour plates bolted to the front faces of the hull and superstructure.

Ausf J

The Ausf J represents a major point in the development history of the PzKpfw III with its heavier armour and, in the second production run, its more powerful armament. In its complete form it was superior to any tank available to the Western Allies and in the Western Desert it was known to the British as the ‘Mark 3 Special’ or ‘J Special’. However, as the Ausf J went into production the German Army advanced into Russia and there met the superior T-34 with its 76.2mm gun and sloped armour.
When the Ausf J appeared in 1941 its basic armour was 50mm thick, causing an increase in the total weight of the vehicle. Ground pressure was kept low by the wider tracks of the Ausf H while the Ausf J was kept in balance by increasing the rear armour as well as the frontal plates. The torsion bars were strengthened because of this increased load.
With the thicker armour the driver’s vision slot was changed to a Fahrersehklappe 50, and a new ball mounting was introduced for the hull machine-gun, known as a Kugelblende 50. The hull itself was simplified with the towing lugs now formed from extensions of the hull side armour. Single forward-opening maintenance/escape hatches replaced the double-flap types fitted in the glacis plate.
From late 1941 the longer-barrelled 50mm KwK L/60 began to be fitted to Ausf J vehicles, though the L/42 was still fitted in some until about February 1942. Late production models had the right front and side vision slots on the turret omitted. Earlier models that were returned to Germany for refit were rearmed with the longer gun.

Model Id:
148
Manufacture:Daimler-Benz AG, Marienfelde, Berlin, Germany (Primary manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) AG, Nürnberg, Bavaria, Middle Franconia, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Altmärkische Kettenfabrik (Alkett) GmbH, Berlin-Spandau, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Henschel und Sohn, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Wegmann & Co, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Mühlenbau-Industrie AG (MIAG), Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) GmbH, Linden, Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany (Additional manufacturer)


5) U.S. Army Ordnance Museum, Aberdeen Proving Ground, USA

Number of Photos:
4
Sample Photo from Album Number 107

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Unique ID: 107
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

This Ausf J is unusual in having smoke grenade dischargers fitted on its turret as though it were an Ausf M. The engine decking is not original and it is missing part of its left-hand suspension. Its main armament is fake and probably indicates that it was missing or severely damaged when the vehicle was captured.

6) Kubinka NIIBT Research Collection - Foreign Vehicles, Kubinka, Russia

Number of Photos:
1
Sample Photo from Album Number 108

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Unique ID: 108
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

This appears to be a standard production Ausf J.

7) Muzeum Wojska Polskiego, Powiśle, Poland

Number of Photos:
0
Sample Photo from Album Number 2230

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Unique ID: 2230
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

Text in Preserved German Tanks Update:


New entry. This is a wreck and consists of the lower half of the chassis of a PzKpfw III. It is missing its turret, the top of the hull, its tracks and many other parts. Its gun is displayed on a mounting above the hull. It has single hatches in the glacis indicating that it is at least an Ausf J.

Ausf L

The Ausf L came off the assembly lines from the end of 1941 until mid-1942 and had serial numbers between 74101 and 76000. The fighting compartment was protected by a 20mm thick armour plate fixed 100mm in front of the driver’s plate, and provision was also made for the fitting of a similar plate in front of the gun mantlet. Many of the early production vehicles, however, went into battle without this additional mantlet plate. The Ausf L saw the introduction of new one-piece engine inspection hatches on the rear decks, with their rectangular air intakes arranged parallel to the hull sides rather than running across the hatches.
All but the earliest Ausf Ls had the loader’s vision port in the mantlet and the ports in the turret sides deleted. An Ausf L with chassis number 74375, now at the Bovington Tank Museum, was examined by British Intelligence and noted to still have hull escape hatches. However, an Ausf L with serial number 74400 had these omitted, as did all later examples. Many Ausf L’s were specially prepared for operations in dusty and desert conditions and these were designated Ausf L (Tp), where ‘Tp’ indicates tropisch (tropical). The first Ausf L with spaced armour was captured in North Africa in mid-July 1942, though these tanks had already seen use in most of the major tank battles fought in Russia and North Africa that year.

Model Id:
149
Manufacture:Henschel und Sohn, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Primary manufacturer)
Wegmann & Co, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Altmärkische Kettenfabrik (Alkett) GmbH, Berlin-Spandau, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) GmbH, Linden, Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Mühlenbau-Industrie AG (MIAG), Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) AG, Nürnberg, Bavaria, Middle Franconia, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Daimler-Benz AG, Marienfelde, Berlin, Germany (Additional manufacturer)


8) The Tank Museum - Public Areas, Bovington, Britain

Number of Photos:
14
Sample Photo from Album Number 109

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Unique ID: 109
Serial Number: 74375: chassis number.
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification: “7” painted on turret sides. German crosses painted on hull sides. Painted overall sand.

Text in original Preserved German Tanks publication:


This Ausf L was built by MAN in June 1942. It was sent by rail direct from Nürnberg to Naples and was then shipped aboard the SS Lerica to Benghazi. There it was issued to 7 Kompanie 8th Panzer Regiment, 15th Panzer Division, and probably fought at Alam Halfa. After capture it was shipped to the School of Tank Technology at Chobham Lane, Chertsey, Surrey, before being moved to Bovington. It is a mid-production model and still retains hull escape hatches, though it is missing the vision slots from the right turret front and the turret sides. It is missing the spaced armour plate from its mantlet though it has the mounting for it. It has recently been restored to running order and has taken part in Bovington Battle Day displays.

Text in Preserved German Tanks Update:


This is an early production Ausf L, modified for ‘tropical’ use. It arrived in Benghazi on 18 July 1942. It arrived at the front between 28 and 31 July 1942. It was put on the museum books in 1951. It has been repainted in its original colouring and markings. It took part in Tankfests 2009 and 2011.

9) U.S. Army Ordnance Museum, Aberdeen Proving Ground, USA

Number of Photos:
4
Sample Photo from Album Number 110

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Unique ID: 110
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

This Ausf L is unusual in having smoke grenade dischargers fitted on its turret as though it were an Ausf M. The left sides of its turret and superstructure have been replaced by wire mesh to allow the interior to be seen.

Ausf M

The Ausf M (which had chassis numbers 76101-77800) was an improvement on the Ausf L but differed only in details. The most significant development was the introduction of facilities to allow deep wading to at least 1.3m, including a new type of exhaust silencer mounted high up on the upper tail plate. The headlights were of a new pattern and were detachable, and they were now mounted high up on the front mudguards instead of on the glacis plate. The smoke dispensers that were previously fitted beneath the upper tail plate were replaced by smoke grenade dischargers on the turret sides. In 1942 one hundred Ausf M vehicles were converted to Flammpanzer III flame-throwing tanks (see page 6).

Model Id:
150
Manufacture:Wegmann & Co, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Primary manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) AG, Nürnberg, Bavaria, Middle Franconia, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Mühlenbau-Industrie AG (MIAG), Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) GmbH, Linden, Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany (Additional manufacturer)


10) Panzermuseum, Munster, Germany

Number of Photos:
0
Sample Photo from Album Number 111

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Unique ID: 111
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

This Ausf L was acquired from Tunisia some years ago in a very bad condition. When it arrived at the museum it was missing many fixtures including its tracks and some of its roadwheels. It has since been fully restored and is in running order. It is now on display in the museum and carries the turret number “860”.

Ausf N

As early as July 1942 Hitler had ordered that 75mm L/24 guns should be fitted in the PzKpfw III and a proportion of the Ausf L production appears to have been allocated for this purpose. By late 1942, 75mm armed Ausf L’s were in action as support tanks for Tiger tank companies under the designation Ausf N. Such units operated with the Tiger company sent to Tunisia in early 1943. Tanks returned to workshops for major overhaul were also similarly modified, the 75mm guns used being those that had been removed from the early models of the Panzerkampfwagen IV.
The Ausf N was also manufactured as an official model and was the final version of the PzKpfw III. It remained in production in small numbers until 1943 and was exclusively armed with the 75mm KwK L/24. During this series, facilities were gradually changed over to production of the Sturmgeschütz III assault gun. The Ausf N was essentially similar to the Ausf M though the final drive and steering brake hatches were now completely removable when unlocked from the inside as they were no longer hinged. The split hatches of the commander’s cupola were replaced by a single piece hatch as used on the PzKpfw IV Ausf G. No vehicles armed with the 75mm KwK had spaced armour fitted on the mantlet. Final models of the Ausf N received extra protection in the form of Schürzen (apron) armour - 5mm spaced armour around the turret and 8mm plates hung from the sides of the hull. They were also coated with Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine paste.

Model Id:
151
Manufacture:Henschel und Sohn, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Primary manufacturer)
Wegmann & Co, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Primary manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) GmbH, Linden, Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Mühlenbau-Industrie AG (MIAG), Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany (Additional manufacturer)
Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) AG, Nürnberg, Bavaria, Middle Franconia, Germany (Additional manufacturer)


11) The Tank Museum - Public Areas, Bovington, Britain

Number of Photos:
18
Sample Photo from Album Number 112

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Unique ID: 112
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification: “832” painted on turret sides. ‘Stalking Tiger’ insignia painted on hull front and rear. German crosses painted on hull sides. Painted overall pale green (previously painted overall in a green and sand camouflage scheme).

Text in original Preserved German Tanks publication:


This example of the Ausf N was a conversion from an Ausf L, as indicated by its split cupola hatch and its lack of deep wading equipment. It was part of the Light Platoon of sPzAbt 501 during the fighting in North Africa. It was captured in Tunisia during 1943 and shipped to the School of Tank Technology in Chertsey later the same year. When captured it had the distinctive ‘stalking tiger’ flash and red heavy tank rhombus symbol of the battalion. sPzAbt 501 was largely equipped with Tigers, and one of these was captured and can now be seen at the Sinsheim Auto und Technik Museum in Germany. This PzKpfw III was acquired by the Bovington Museum from the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham in May 1969. It has its turret side cut away to display the interior, and it is missing its right-hand track.

Text in Preserved German Tanks Update:


This Ausf N was manufactured in 1942 by MNH of Hannover. It was issued to sPzAbt 501, the same battalion as the Museum’s Tiger I, and shipped to Bizerte, Tunisia, in January 1943. This unit became Abteilung 3 of 7th Panzer Regiment, part of 10th Panzer Division, on 26 February 1943. The tactical number ‘832’ was painted on the turret at this time. 10th PzDiv took part in the attack towards Medenine on 6 March 1943 and continued to use small numbers of tanks until its surrender on 11 May 1943, so this tank must have been captured between these dates. It was cut open for display while at Shrivenham. It shows signs of having been fitted with Schürzen side skirts, but did not have them at the time of capture. It is missing both tracks.

12) Auto und Technik Museum, Sinsheim, Germany

Number of Photos:
1
Sample Photo from Album Number 113

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Unique ID: 113
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

Text in original Preserved German Tanks publication:


This Ausf N was restored by the Museum after being discovered at Wrack in Norway. It appears to have been built as an Ausf N but it is missing the spaced armour on the front of the superstructure and the armoured cover on the hull machine-gun mount. It is also missing its right-hand track.

Text in Preserved German Tanks Update:


This Ausf N was recovered from a military range in Norway, the exact location is unconfirmed (the location Wrack is likely to be a mis-translation of the German word for wreck).

13) Tøjhusmuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark

Number of Photos:
2
Sample Photo from Album Number 114

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Unique ID: 114
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification: “222” originally painted on rear of turret stowage box (currently has “832” painted on turret sides but this is not authentic).

Text in original Preserved German Tanks publication:


This Ausf N is based on an Ausf L chassis.

Text in Preserved German Tanks Update:


This tank was part of ‘Minenkommando Dänemark’ (source: F. von Forhud). It is currently stored away from the museum.

14) Military Museum, Oslo, Norway

Number of Photos:
0
Sample Photo from Album Number 115

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Unique ID: 115
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

This was one of a number of vehicles left behind after the German occupation of Norway during the Second World War. It is not currently on display.

15) U.S. Army Ordnance Museum, Aberdeen Proving Ground, USA

Number of Photos:
4
Sample Photo from Album Number 116

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Unique ID: 116
Serial Number:
Registration:
Name:
Other Identification:

This Ausf N is based on an Ausf L chassis. It was captured in Germany and shipped to the US shortly after World War II. It has incomplete Schürzen on its turret.