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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A; PzKpfw I (MG) (SdKfz 101) Ausf A, light tank

Design

Suspension

The road wheels of the PzKpfw I Ausf A were smaller than the prototypes.

The drive sprocket was located in the front, and the transmission ran along the floor to the differential beside the driver.

Five rubber tired road wheels with the last pair being the idler. The front wheels were sprung on coil springs. These were secured to the hull by bolts and quarter elliptic springs. There was also a large idler wheel in the rear trailing on the ground. A steel girder was a reinforcing beam between the last four wheels.

Engine

The air-cooled Krupp M 305 engine, and oil cooler were in the rear of the tank. The drive was through a dry 2-disc main clutch to the ZF Aphon FG 35 5-speed gearbox. A few prototypes were tested with the Krupp M 601 diesel engine but it only produced 45 hp at 2,200 rpm and was insufficient.

Main Armament

The welded turret had two 7.92 mm machine guns. The machine guns could be fired separately or together. There was a 2.5 power TZF2 optical site located between the machine guns.

The turret had four vision ports that were covered by armored flaps.

Crew

The Ausf A was a fully tracked vehicle with a 2 man crew. The fighting compartment was shared by the commander and the driver. They communicated via a voice tube. There was a door in the left side of the hull for the driver to enter, and the commander entered through the turret hatch. The commander had very limited vision and often stood up, which exposed his upper half of his body. The commander's seat was suspended from the turret.

Inadequacies

In early 1933 an anonymous German officer wrote in a military magazine that the PzKpfw I Ausf. A had many problems that it was unusable in combat, and was only useful in parades.

Production

  • PzKpfw I Ausf A: 150, 477, 500, 818, 833, 1,000
    • Production: 1933 - 1934, 1934 - 1936, July 1934 - ?, July 1934 - June 1936, 1935 - 1936
    • Manufacturers: Henschel, Maschinenfabrik Augsburn Nürnberg ( MAN), Krupp, Krupp-Gruson, Daimler-Benz

Usage

The first PzKpfw I Ausf As were received in 1935.

In 1936 the Ausf A was first used in large scale maneuvers that had 160,000 men and 830 tanks.

In 1936 some were sent to Spain and partook in the Spanish Civil War. It was found that the firepower was very weak and the Russian supplied T-26 light tanks outclassed it. Some were up gunned to have a 20 mm cannon in the turret.

It's final use was in Finland in 1941 and in North Africa, as the rest of the vehicles were withdrawn from the main combat areas.

Specifications

  Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A
Crew Commander, driver
2
Radio FuG2
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 11,900 lb
5.3 tons, 5.4 tons, 5.9 tons
5,400 kg
Length 13', 13' 2", 13' 2.5"
4 m, 4.02 m
Height 5.6', 5' 7", 5' 8"
1.72 m
Width 6' 7", 6.8', 6' 9", 6' 10"
2 m, 2.06 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 9.75"
0.29 m, 0.3 m
Ground contact length 2.47 m
Ground pressure 5.71 psi
0.4 (kg/cm2), 0.39 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 2: 7.92 mm MG 13
2: MG
2: 7.92 mm MG
OR 2: 7.92 MG 34
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 1,525, 2,250, 3,125
2,250 Patr SmK
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 7 - 13, 13, 15
0.52"
Hull Front, Upper 13, 13@22°, 13@63°
Hull Front, Lower 13@27°, 13@68°
Hull Sides, Upper 13, 13@22°, 13@73°
Hull Sides, Lower 13@0°
Hull Rear 13, 13@17° & 13@15°, 13@50-75°
Hull Top 5, 6@82-90°
Hull Bottom 5, 6@90°
Turret Front 15, 13@10°, 13@80°
Mantlet: 13 round
Turret Sides 13, 13@22°, 13@68°
Turret Rear 13, 13@22°, 13@68°
Turret Top 8, 8@82-90°, 8@0-18°
Engine (Make / Model) KruppM 105
Krupp M 305
Krupp
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Air
Cylinders 4
Capacity  
Net HP 57, 60
57@2,500 rpm, 60@2,500 rpm
Power to weight ratio 11.1 HP/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 5 forward, 1 reverse
Steering Clutch and brake
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity 32 gallons
140 liters, 144 liters (2 tanks), 145 liters
Road consumption 100 liters per 100 km of road
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand
Speed - Road 23 mph, 24 mph, 25 mph
37 kph, 40 kph, 50 kph
Speed - Cross Country 6-8 mph
37 kph
Range - Road 90 miles, 125 miles
140 km, 145 km, 200 km
Range - Cross Country 60 miles
93 km, 97 km, 145 km
Turning radius 2.1 m
Elevation limits +18° to -12°
Fording depth 1' 11"
0.58 m, 0.6 m, 0.7 m
Trench crossing 4' 7"
1.4 m
Vertical obstacle 1' 2"
0.36 m
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Leaf/Coil Spring
Front pair of road wheels sprung on coil springs.
Other wheels connected in parallel with springs.
Wheels each side 4
4 + 1 idler
Return rollers each side 3
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 10"
280 mm
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 1.67 m

Sources:

  1. Panzers At War, Michael and Gladys Green, 2005
  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. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Airfix Magazine Guide #8 German Tanks of World War 2, Terry Gande and Peter Chamberlain, 1975
  7. German Tanks of World War II, Dr. S. Hart & Dr. R. Hart, 1998
  8. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  9. AFV Collection No. 1 Panzer I The Beginning of a Dynasty, Lucas Molina Franco, 2005
  10. Tanks - Over 250 of the World's Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles, Chris Chant, 2004
  11. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  12. AFV #15 Panzerkampfwagen I & II, Major-General N. W. Duncan
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site