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Panzerkampfwagen III Tank



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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)


1) 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:

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)


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

Number of Photos:
12
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.

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.

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).

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)


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

Number of Photos:
17
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).

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.

4) Auto und Technik Museum, Sinsheim, Germany

Number of Photos:
0
Sample Photo from Album Number 113

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

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).

5) 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).

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