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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's 8/ZW; Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf J; PzKpfw III Ausf J; SdKfz 141 medium tank

Photos

Early production version with a short 50 mm.
Germany's PzKpfw III Ausf J
Imperial War Museum

Russia, summer 1941. PzKpfw III Ausf H on left, PzKpfw III Ausf J on right.
German Pzkpfw III Ausf H and Ausf J
Imperial War Museum

Design

The initial order was for 900 but that was later increased to 2,700.

In February 1941, Hitler ordered that all PzKpfw IIIs were to have the 50 mm KwK 39 L/60 guns. There were difficulties in getting a supply of them so the army ordnance department continued to use the 50 mm KwK L/42 guns as they felt it would be enough to handle any enemy tank. Once Hitler learned that the shorter gun was being used, he ordered the long version installed and they were starting in December 1941.

Early production had the 50 mm KwK L/42 gun.

Hull

Hull was lengthened, and the engine deck received an extension to the rear. Smoke candles had armor added and were moved to below the tail pipe. The driver received a new visor. Hull machine gun mounted in ball-mount. The access hatches in the upper front hull were changed to single piece hatches. Air intakes for the brakes and final-drive cooling were mounted on the upper hull in the front.

Armor

From April 1942 there was 20 mm of spaced armor added to the gun mantlet and/or the front superstructure.

Production

The PzKpfw III series production figures.

  • Chassis Numbers: 68001 - 69100

Variants

  • Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf J SdKfz 141:
  • 8/ZW, Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf J SdKfz 141/1: The ammunition storage was reduced due to the longer shells. Used FuG5 radio.

Usage

Used by the 2nd and 5th Panzer divisions and an independent Panzer regiment in Russia in September 1941.

In early 1942 the 3rd, 16th, 29th, and 60th Motorized Infantry Division and the 5th SS Motorized Infantry Division received tank detachments. The rest were issued as replacements in Russia and North Africa. British called PzKpfw III Ausf J SdKfz 141/1 the "Mark 3 Special".

Specifications

  Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf J, SdKfz 141
Crew Commander, gunner, loader, driver, radio operator
5
Radio FuG5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 27,557 lb,
49,163 lb
21.5 tons, 21.6 tons, 21.95 tons, 22 tons, 22.3 tons
Length w/gun 20' 7", 21', 21' 1"
5.52 m, 6.41 m
Length w/o gun 17' 8", 18' 1"
5.52 m
Height 8' 2.5", 8' 3"
2.5 m, 2.51 m
Width 9' 8", 9' 8.25"
2.95 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 1' 2"
0.41 m, 0.38 m
Ground contact length 2.86 m
Ground pressure 13.5 psi
0.97 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 50 mm KwK 38 L/42
50 mm L/42
50 mm KwK L/42
50 mm KwK 39 L/60
Secondary  
MG 2: MGs
2: 7.92 mm MG34
MG - coaxial MG
7.92 mm MG34
MG - bow MG
7.92 mm MG34
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 99, 99 Pzgr & Sprgr
Secondary  
MG 2,700 Patr SmK, 3,750
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 18 - 50, 50, 50 (early), 50+20 (late)
Front: 50
Hull Front, Upper 50
50@9°
Hull Front, Lower 50@21°
Hull Sides, Upper 30
30@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 30@0°
Hull Rear 50
50@10° & 15°
Hull Top 16
17@75°-90°
Hull Bottom 15
16@90°
Turret Front 50
30@15°
Mantlet: 50@0°-45°
Turret Sides 30
30@25°
Turret Rear 30
30@12°
Turret Top 10
10@83°-90°
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach, Maybach HL 120 TRM
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP 300
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) ZF SSG 77, Synchromesh
6 forward, 1 reverse.
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity 320 liters
Road consumption 100 km/183 liters
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 24.9 mph, 25 mph
40 kph, 42 kph
Speed - Cross Country 11.2 mph
19 kph
Range - Road 93 miles, 109 miles, 124 miles
155 km, 175 km
Range - Cross Country 95 km
Turning radius 5.8 m
Elevation limits -10° to +20°
Fording depth 2' 8"
0.8 m
Trench crossing 8' 6"
2.59 m
Vertical obstacle 2'
0.60 m
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Torsion bar
Wheels each side 6x2
Return rollers each side 3
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 0.4 m
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 2.51 m
  Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf J, SdKfz 141/1
Crew Commander, gunner, loader, driver, radio operator
5
Radio FuG5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 27,557 lb,
49,163 lb
21.5 tons, 22 tons, 22.3 tons, 23.9 tons
Length w/gun 20' 7"
21' 1"
6.28 m, 6.41 m
Length w/o gun 17' 8"
5.52 m
Height 8' 2.5", 9' 8"
2.5 m, 2.51 m
Width 9' 8.25"
2.95 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 1' 2"
0.41 m, 0.38 m
Ground contact length 2.86 m
Ground pressure 0.94 kg/cm2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 50 mm KwK 39 L/60
Secondary  
MG  
MG - coaxial 7.92 mm MG34
MG - bow 7.92 mm MG34
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 84, 84 Pzgr & Sprgr
Secondary  
MG 2,700 Patr SmK
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 50@9°
Hull Front, Lower 50@21°
Hull Sides, Upper 30@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 30@0°
Hull Rear 50@10° & 15°
Hull Top 17@75°-90°
Hull Bottom 16@90°
Turret Front 30@15°
Mantlet: 50@0°-45°
Turret Sides 30@25°
Turret Rear 30@12°
Turret Top 10@83°-90°
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 120 TRM
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) ZF SSG 77, Synchromesh
6 forward, 1 reverse.
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity 320 liters
Road consumption 100 km/183 liters
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 24.9 mph
40 kph
Speed - Cross Country 11.2 mph
19 kph
Range - Road 93 miles, 109 miles
155 km, 175 km
Range - Cross Country 97 km
Turning radius 5.8 m
Elevation limits -10° to +20°
Fording depth 2' 8"
0.8 m
Trench crossing 8' 6"
2.59 m
Vertical obstacle 2'
0.60 m
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Torsion bar
Wheels each side 6x2
Return rollers each side 3
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 0.4 m
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 2.51 m

Sources:

  1. Panzer Truppen The Complete Guide to the Creation and Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1933-1942, Thomas L. Jentz, 1996
  2. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  3. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  4. German Tanks of World War II, Dr. S. Hart & Dr. R. Hart, 1998
  5. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  6. Panzers At War, Michael and Gladys Green, 2005
  7. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  8. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  9. AFV #2: Panzerkampfwagen III, Walter Spielberger
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site