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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's PzKpfw 38(t) tanks

Design

The PzKpfw 38(t) was originally the Czechoslovakian TNH P-S medium Tank.

In March 1939 there was only one TNH P-S that was completed, with eight others in production when Germany took over Czechoslovakia. In May 1939 the German Army extensively tested the TNH P-S. It was found that it was basically equivalent to the PzKpfw III. By then nine were completed and were designated the PzKpfw 38(t).

Main Armament

Originally the PzKpfw 38(t) had the Czechoslovakian 3.7 cm gun, but this was replaced by the German 3.7 cm KwK L/45.

Armor Upgrade

The Germans ordered that the armor be increased to 50 mm in front, the sides to 30 mm, and the turret had a total of 50 mm.

Production

In late May 1939 contracts were issued to CKD of Prague (renamed Böhmisch Mährische Maschinenfabrik AG or BMM) for 150 tanks. These would be the Ausf A.

The Germans wanted production to be at 40 per month.

  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf A: 150
    • Production: May 1939 - November 1939
    • Manufacturer: BMM
    • Chassis: 0001 - 0150
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf B: 110
    • Chassis: 0151 - 0260
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf C: 110
    • Chassis: 0261 - 0370
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf D: 105
    • Chassis: 0371 - 0475
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf B, PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf C, PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf D: 325
    • Production: January 1940 - November 1940
    • Manufacturer: BMM
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf E: 275
    • Chassis: 0476 - 0750
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf F: 250
    • Chassis: 0751 - 1000
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf E, PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf F: 275, 525
    • Production: November 1940 - October 1941
    • Manufacturer: BMM
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf G: 321, 500
    • Production: October 1940 - July 1942
    • Manufacturer: BMM
    • Chassis: 1101 - 1600
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf H:
    • Chassis: 1601 -
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf S: 90
    • Production: May 1941 - December 1941
    • Manufacturer: BMM
    • Chassis: 1001 - 1090
  • Total: 1,168, 1,400, > 1,400
    • 1940: 275
    • 1941: 698
    • 1942: 195
    • Production: 1939 - 1942
  • Aufklärungspanzer 38(t), SdKfz 140/1: 70
    • Manufacturer: BMM
    • Production: 1943, 1943 - 1944

Variants

  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf A: Original vehicle that was produced after Germany annexed Czechoslovakia. 59 served in the 67th Panzerabteilung of the 3rd Light Division in Poland. 15 were used in Norway. Used in all theaters except Africa.
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf B: Used in France with the 7th & 8th Panzer Divisions and the 8th Panzer Division in Greece.
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf C: Repeat order 1940. Used in France with the 7th & 8th Panzer Divisions and the 8th Panzer Division in Greece.
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf D: Simplified front plate, September 1940.
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf E: Added external armor plates, up to 50mm front, 30mm sides. Smoke emitters added.
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf F: Small changes and eliminated smoke emitters.
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf S: Was order to Sweden but impounded. These were fitted with extra radios and designated Panzerbefehlswagen 38(t). Some were exported to the Slovak Free State and served in southern Russia in 1941 and 1942.
  • PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf G: Late 1941 production model with extra plates.
  • Bison: Self propelled vehicle.
  • Marder III: 19 were converted from and carried the 7.62 cm Pak 36(r).
  • Hetzer: 2,396 chassis used in producing the Hetzer.
  • leichte Flakpanzer: 162 chassis were used to mount a 20 mm anti-aircraft gun.
  • Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) mit Nebel Ausrüstung: Had turret removed and used as smoke-screen layer. Conversions were done in 1943.
  • Waffenträger: Weapons carrier. It was to carry and then dismount various types of guns. Two prototypes were completed and production was to start in mid-1945. The engine was moved to the front near the driver. This made room in the rear for the carrying of additional ammunition. Two models were to be produced, one to carry the 88 mm PaK L/71 or the 105 mm light field howitzer. The other model was lengthened and was to cary the 128 mm K 81 gun or a heavy field howitzer. Also used as reconnaissance vehicle, ammunition carrier, and artillery prime mover.
  • Aufklärungspanzer 38(t), SdKfz 140/1: Reconnaissance tank. Had a 2 cm gun. Fitted the chassis with the same turret as used on the SdKfz 222. These were issued to reconnaissance battalions of elite panzer divisions.
  • Schützenpanzerwagen auf 38(t): Was to be a troop carrier made from a longer PzKpfw 38(t) chassis. Never built.
  • Munitionspanzer 38(t) SdKfz 38/1: 102 PzKpfw 38(t)s converted in 1943 to carry ammunition. Each could carry 40 rounds.
  • Munitionsfahrzeug auf Fahrgestell PzKpfw 38(t): PzKpfw 38(t) converted in 1943 to carry ammunition and server as an artillery tractor.

Usage

Invasion of Poland

80 Ausf As were with the 2nd and 3rd Light Divisions. 228 total were used.

Invasion of Normandy

15 participated.

Invasion of France

1/10 of the available tank strength was the PzKpfw 38(t). 228 in the 7th Panzer (132) and 8th Panzer (85) Divisions.

Invasion of Russia

There were 754 available at the start of Operation Barbarossa, which was about 1/4 of the total available tank strength. They were primarily deployed in the 7th, 8th, 12th, 19th, and 20th Panzer Divisions.

By July 1941 there were 763.

By April 1942, loses (even with increased production) had reduced this number down to 522.

Occupation

After most were withdrawn from frontline combat formations, 229 served throughout occupied Europe up until mid-1944.

Last Jobs

Some of the remaining PzKpfw 38(t)s were being used for artillery observation.

After World War II

After the war ended the Swiss Army took some of the vehicles and used them.

Specifications

  PzKpfw 38(t)
Crew 4
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 21,340 lb
9,700 kg
Length 14' 11"
4.546 m
Height 7' 7"
2.311 m
Width 7'
2.133 m
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: 37.2 mm Skoda A7
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.92 mm MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 25
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) 1: Praga EPA
Cylinders Inline 6
Cooling Water
Net HP 150
Transmission (Type)  
Fuel (Type) Petrol
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 26 mph
42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 125 miles
200 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth 3'
0.9 m
Trench crossing 6' 2"
1.879 m
Vertical Obstacle 2' 7"
0.787 m
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  
  PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf A
Crew 4
Radio FuG37 (t)
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 20,723 lb
9.25 tons, 9.4 tons, 9.7 tons
9,400 kg
Length w/ gun 15' 1", 16' 1"
4.6 m, 4.61 m, 4.9 m
Length w/o gun 16' 1"
4.9 m
Height 7' 9", 7' 10"
2.25 m, 2.37 m, 2.4 m
Width 6' 9", 6' 11"
2.06 m 2.12 m, 2.14 m
Ground clearance 0.4 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.57 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 37 mm
37 mm KwK L/40
37 mm L/48.7
37 mm KwK 38(t) L48.7
37 mm KwK A7(t) L/40
37 mm KwK L/45
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.92 mm MG
2: MGs
2: 7.92 mm MG37(t)
MG - coaxial 1: 7.92 mm MG 37(t)
MG - hull 1: 7.92 mm MG 37(t)
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 72, 90
Secondary  
MG 2,400 (including 900 AP)
2,700
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 25, 15 - 25
Hull Front, Upper 25, 25@17°, 25@80°
Hull Front, Lower 25@16°, 25@25°
Hull Sides, Upper 15, 15@0°. 17.5@90°
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 15, 10@60° & 15@12°, 10@80°
Hull Top 10, 8@90°
Hull Bottom 8, 8@90°
Turret Front 25, 25@10°, 25@84°
Turret Sides 15, 15@10°25@74°
Turret Rear 15, 15@10°, 25@86°
Turret Top 8, 10@90°, 10@0-4°
Engine (Make / Model) Praga EPA
TNHPS
Praga EPA TZ
Cylinders 6
Net HP 125, 125@2,200 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse.
Fuel type Gasoline
Octane  
Capacity 48 gallons
218 liters, 220 liters
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 26 mph
42 kph
Speed - Cross Country 9 mph
15 kph
Range - Road 143 miles, 155 miles 230 km, 250 km
Cross country: 103 miles, 160 km, 165 km
Turning Radius 8.7 m
Elevation Limits -10° to +25°
Fording depth 0.8 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 293 mm
Track centers/tread  
  PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf B
Crew 4
Radio FuG37 (t)
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 20,944 lb
9.5 tons, 9.7 tons
Length 15' 1", 14' 11"
4.9 m, 4.61 m
Height 2.25 m, 2.4
Width 2.14 m
Ground clearance 0.4 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.57 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 37 mm L/48.7
37 mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8
Secondary  
MG 2: MGs
2: 7.92 mm MG37(t)
MG - coaxial  
MG - hull  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 90
Secondary  
MG 2,700
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 25
Hull Front, Upper 25, 25@17°
Hull Front, Lower 25@16°
Hull Sides, Upper 15, 15@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 15, 10@60° & 15@12°
Hull Top 10, 8@90°
Hull Bottom 8, 8@90°
Turret Front 25, 25@10°
Mantlet: 25 round
Turret Sides 15, 15@10°
Turret Rear 15, 15@10°
Turret Top 8, 10@90°
Engine (Make / Model) Praga EPA
TNHPS
Cylinders 6
Net HP 125@2,200 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse.
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity 220 liters
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 250 km
Cross country: 160 km
Turning Radius 8.7 m
Elevation Limits -10° to +25°
Fording depth 0.8 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 293 mm
Track centers/tread  
  PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf C
Crew 4
Radio FuG37 (t)
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 20,944 lb
9.5 tons, 9.7 tons
Length 15' 1", 14' 11"
4.9 m, 4.61 m
Height 2.25 m, 2.4
Width 2.14 m
Ground clearance 0.4 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.57 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 37 mm L/48.7
37 mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8
Secondary  
MG 2: MGs
2: 7.92 mm MG37(t)
MG - coaxial  
MG - hull  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 90
Secondary  
MG 2,700
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 25
Hull Front, Upper 25, 25@17°
Hull Front, Lower 25@16°
Hull Sides, Upper 15, 15@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 15, 10@60° & 15@12°
Hull Top 10, 8@90°
Hull Bottom 8, 8@90°
Turret Front 25, 25@10°
Mantlet: 25 round
Turret Sides 15, 15@10°
Turret Rear 15, 15@10°
Turret Top 8, 10@90°
Engine (Make / Model) Praga EPA
TNHPS
Cylinders 6
Net HP 125@2,200 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse.
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity 220 liters
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 250 km
Cross country: 160 km
Turning Radius 8.7 m
Elevation Limits -10° to +25°
Fording depth 0.8 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 293 mm
Track centers/tread  
  PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf D
Crew 4
Radio FuG37 (t)
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 20,944 lb
9.5 tons, 9.7 tons
Length 15' 1", 14' 11"
4.9 m, 4.61 m
Height 2.25 m, 2.4
Width 2.14 m
Ground clearance 0.4 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.57 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 37 mm L/48.7
37 mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8
Secondary  
MG 2: MGs
2: 7.92 mm MG37(t)
MG - coaxial  
MG - hull  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 90
Secondary  
MG 2,700
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 25
Hull Front, Upper 25, 25@17°
Hull Front, Lower 25@16°
Hull Sides, Upper 15, 15@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 15, 10@60° & 15@12°
Hull Top 10, 8@90°
Hull Bottom 8, 8@90°
Turret Front 25, 25@10°
Mantlet: 25 round
Turret Sides 15, 15@10°
Turret Rear 15, 15@10°
Turret Top 8, 10@90°
Engine (Make / Model) Praga EPA
TNHPS
Cylinders 6
Net HP 125@2,200 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse.
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity 220 liters
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 250 km
Cross country: 160 km
Turning Radius 8.7 m
Elevation Limits -10° to +25°
Fording depth 0.8 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 293 mm
Track centers/tread  
  PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf E
Crew 4
Radio FuG5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 21,715 lb
9.85 tons
Length 15' 1", 14' 11"
4.9 m, 4.61 m
Height 2.25 m, 2.4 m
Width 2.14 m
Ground clearance 0.4 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.57 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 37 mm L/48.7
37 mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8
Secondary  
MG 2: MGs
2: 7.92 mm MG37(t)
MG - coaxial  
MG - hull  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 42 Pzgr & Sprgr, 90
Secondary  
MG 2,400
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 50, 50
Hull Front, Upper 50,
25+25@17°
Hull Front, Lower 25+25@16°
Hull Sides, Upper 15-30,
15+15@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 15,
10@60° & 15@12°
Hull Top 12,
8@90°
Hull Bottom 8,
8@90°
Turret Front 50, 25+25@10°
Mantlet: 25 round
Turret Sides 30, 30@10°
Turret Rear 22, 22@10°
Turret Top 1215@90°
Engine (Make / Model) Praga EPA
TNHPS
Cylinders 6
Net HP 125@2,200 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse.
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity 220 liters
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 250 km
Cross country: 160 km
Turning Radius 8.7 m
Elevation Limits -10° to +25°
Fording depth 0.8 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 293 mm
Track centers/tread  
  PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf F
Crew 4
Radio FuG5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 21,715 lb
9.85 tons
Length 15' 1", 14' 11"
4.9 m, 4.61 m
Height 2.25 m, 2.4 m
Width 2.14 m
Ground clearance 0.4 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.57 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 37 mm L/48.7
37 mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8
Secondary  
MG 2: MGs
2: 7.92 mm MG37(t)
MG - coaxial  
MG - hull  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 42 Pzgr & Sprgr, 90
Secondary  
MG 2,400
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 50
Hull Front, Upper 50,
25+25@17°
Hull Front, Lower 25+25@16°
Hull Sides, Upper 15-30,
15+15@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 15,
10@60° & 15@12°
Hull Top 12,
8@90°
Hull Bottom 8,
8@90°
Turret Front 50, 25+25@10°
Mantlet: 25 round
Turret Sides 30, 30@10°
Turret Rear 22, 22@10°
Turret Top 1215@90°
Engine (Make / Model) Praga EPA
TNHPS
Cylinders 6
Net HP 125@2,200 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse.
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity 220 liters
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 250 km
Cross country: 160 km
Turning Radius 8.7 m
Elevation Limits -10° to +25°
Fording depth 0.8 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 293 mm
Track centers/tread  
  PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf G
Crew 4
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 21,715 lb
9.85 tons
Length 15' 1", 14' 11"
4.9 m, 4.61 m
Height 2.25 m, 2.4 m
Width 2.14 m
Ground clearance 0.4 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.57 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 37 mm L/48.7
37 mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8
Secondary  
MG 2: MGs
2: 7.92 mm MG37(t)
MG - coaxial  
MG - hull  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 90
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 50
Hull Front, Upper 50
50@17°
Hull Front, Lower 50@16°
Hull Sides, Upper 15-30
15+15@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 15,
10 & 15@12°
Hull Top 12,
8@90°
Hull Bottom 8,
8@90°
Turret Front 50
50@10°
Mantlet: 25 round
Turret Sides 30
30@10°
Turret Rear 22
22@10°
Turret Top 12
15@90°
Engine (Make / Model) Praga EPA
TNHPS
Cylinders 6
Net HP 125@2,200 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse.
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity 220 liters
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 250 km
Cross country: 160 km
Turning Radius 8.7 m
Elevation Limits -10° to +25°
Fording depth 0.8 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 293 mm
Track centers/tread  
  PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf H
Crew  
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 9.7 tons
Length  
Height  
Width  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
MG - coaxial  
MG - hull  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) epa/AC Model IV
Cylinders 6
Net HP 150@2,600 rpm
Transmission  
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road  
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  2. Panzer Truppen The Complete Guide to the Creation and Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1933-1942, Thomas L. Jentz, 1996
  3. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  4. German Tanks of World War II, Dr. S. Hart & Dr. R. Hart, 1998
  5. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  6. Tanks - Over 250 of the World's Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles, Chris Chant, 2004
  7. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  8. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  9. Profile AFV Weapons #22 Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) & 35(t), John Milsom, 1970
  10. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site