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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's 3c/ZW; Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf D1 command tank

Design

Thirty Panzerbefehlswagen were built between June 1938 and March 1939 and were based on the PzKpfw III Ausf D chassis.3 There was a frame aerial for the FuG 8 (radio) installed above the engine compartment, however in 1943 this was replaced by pole type aerials. Thirty nine of these were available in the Panzer divisions in 1940. These were designated SdKfz 266 and FuG 6 and 2 were installed, SdKfz 267 had the FuG 6 and 8 sets installed, and SdKfz 268 had the FuG 6 and 7 sets installed. It did have a MG34 mounted in the mantlet.

Turret

The turret didn't rotate and had a dummy gun placed in it so it would be less likely to be recognized as a command tank which would make it a primary target on the battlefield.3

There were tables added that were used for maps.3 Without the gun it allowed for the additional radio equipment to be installed.3

Crew

There was the commander, adjutant, driver and two soldiers to operate the radios.3

Production

The PzKpfw III series production figures.

  • Panzer III Ausführung E:
    • Chassis Numbers: 60501 - 605453
    • Production: March 19403

Variants

  • 4a/ZW;Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf E: Sometimes used by Luftwaffe forward air controllers. First used in France. The turret was fixed in place and there additional vision and pistol ports. The FuG 6, FuG 7, and FuG 8 or FuG 13 were installed. Used same SdKfz designations as PzBefWg Ausf D1.
    SdKfz 266 used the FuG6 and FuG2 radios.1 SdKfz 267 used the FuG6 and FuG8 radios.1 SdKfz 268 used the FuG6 and FuG7 radios.1
    Used throughout war and were phased out due to attrition.
  • 7a/ZW; Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf H: Had 30 mm armor plates bolted to the bow and front superstructure. Early vehicles had a dummy "37 mm" gun, and later vehicles had a dummy "50 mm" gun installed. The last models had dummy gun removed. It did have a MG34 mounted in the mantlet. A circular hatch was installed in turret room and an observation sight was installed.
  • Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J, Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK L/42: 81 were produced from August to November 1942, and 104 were converted from March to September 1943 by Daimler-Benz. The hull MG was removed and the number of rounds was reduced to 75 50 mm and 1,500 MG. Used FuG5 and FuG7, also FuG5 and FuG8.1
    It was issued to newly formed Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, Das Reich, Tötenkopf, and Wiking SS Panzer Divisions. It was also issued as replacements to other units. Starting in 1943 they were issued to Sturmpanzer, assault gun, and armored radio-control detachments.
  • 7/ZW; Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf K, Panzerbefehlswagen MIT 5cm KwK 39 L/60: 50 were produced from December 1942 to February 1943. Based on the PzKpfw III Ausf L. Had a smaller MG mount in the hull. Additional vision and pistol ports were added to the superstructure. The coaxial machine-gun was removed. Had 50 mm L/42 or 50 mm L/60 gun installed into a PzKpfw IV Ausf F turret that was modified. It had a smaller mantlet installed to the left of the turret and an armored vision port installed to the right. 2 triple smoke mortars were mounted on the turret sides. A FuG8 radio was installed and a 2 meter "star" antenna was placed in an armored socket between the 2 inspection hatches over the engine compartment. Some had Seitenschürzen (armored side skirts) installed. 331 were available in July 1943.
    The SdKfz 268 used the FuG5 and FuG7, and the SdKfz 267 used the FuG5 and FuG8.1
    331 were available in July 1943.

Usage

From 1938 to 1939 the Stab (headquarters) of each Panzer detachment, regiment, and brigades each got Panzerbefehlswagen. Only 38 were available at the start of the invasion of Poland and some units did not receive any.

They were retired in early 1941 due to inadequate suspension.

Specifications

  PzBefWg Ausf D
Crew 51
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 18.2 tons1
Length 5.98 m1
Height 2.42 m1
Width 2.87 m1
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 7.92 mm MG341
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 1,500 Patr SmK1
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 30@11°1
Hull Front, Lower 30@21°1
Hull Sides, Upper 30@0°1
Hull Sides, Lower 30@0°1
Hull Rear 30@9°1 & 30@37°1
Hull Top 18@78-90°1
Hull Bottom 17@78-90°1
Turret Front 30@15°1
Mantlet: 30 round1
Turret Sides 30@21°1
Turret Rear 30@0-21°1
Turret Top 12@83-90°1
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 120 TRM1
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 6 forward, 1 reverse.1
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 60°, hand.1
Speed - Road 40 kph1
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 165 km1
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -15° to +35°1
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  PzBefWg Ausf E
Crew 51
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 19.5 tons1
Length 5.38 m1
Height 2.44 m1
Width 2.91 m1
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 7.92 mm MG341
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 1,500 Patr SmK1
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 30@9°1
Hull Front, Lower 30@21°1
Hull Sides, Upper 30@0°1
Hull Sides, Lower 30@0°1
Hull Rear 21@29°1 & 21@10°1
Hull Top 17@77-90°1
Hull Bottom 16@90°1
Turret Front 30@15°1
Mantlet: 30 round1
Turret Sides 30@25°1
Turret Rear 30@0°1 & 30@21°1
Turret Top 12@89-90°1
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 120 TR1
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 10 forward, 1 reverse.1
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 60°, hand.1
Speed - Road 40 kph1
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 165 km1
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -15° to +35°1
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  PzBefWg Ausf H
Crew 51
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 21.8 tons1
Length 5.4 m1
Height 2.44 m1
Width 2.95 m1
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 7.92 mm MG341
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 2,5001
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 30+30@9°1
Hull Front, Lower 30+30@23°1
Hull Sides, Upper 30@0°1
Hull Sides, Lower 30@0°1
Hull Rear 30@30°1 & 30+30@8°1
Hull Top 17@77-90°1
Hull Bottom 16@90°1
Turret Front 30@15°1
Mantlet: 30 round1
Turret Sides 30@25°1
Turret Rear 30@13°1
Turret Top 10@85-90°1
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 120 TRM1
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 6 forward, 1 reverse.1
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 60°, hand.1
Speed - Road 40 kph1
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 165 km1
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -15° to +35°1
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  PzBefWg mit 50 mm L/42
Crew 51
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 21.5 tons1
Length 6.28 m1
Height 2.5 m1
Width 2.95 m1
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 50 mm KwK L/42
Secondary  
MG 7.92 mm MG341
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 75 Pzgr & Spgr1
Secondary  
MG 1,500 Patr SmK1
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 20+50@9°1
Hull Front, Lower 50@21°1
Hull Sides, Upper 30@0°1
Hull Sides, Lower 30@0°1
Hull Rear 50@15°1 & 50@10°1
Hull Top 17@75-90°1
Hull Bottom 16@90°1
Turret Front 30@15°1
Mantlet: 20+50@0-45°1
Turret Sides 30@25°1
Turret Rear 30@12°1
Turret Top 10@83-90°1
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 120 TRM1
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 6 forward, 1 reverse.1
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.1
Speed - Road 40 kph1
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 155 km1
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -10° to +20°1
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  PzBefWg mit 50 mm L/60
Crew 51
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 23 tons1
Length 6.41 m1
Height 2.51 m1
Width 2.95 m1
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 50 mm KwK39 L/601
Secondary  
MG 7.92 mm MG341
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 65 Pzgr & Sprgr1
Secondary  
MG 1,500 Patr SmK1
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 50+20@9°1
Hull Front, Lower 50@21°1
Hull Sides, Upper 30@0°1
Hull Sides, Lower 30@0°1
Hull Rear 50@9°1 & 50@12°1
Hull Top 18@79-90°1
Hull Bottom 16@90°1
Turret Front 57@15°1
Mantlet: 50@0-45°1
Turret Sides 30@25°1
Turret Rear 30@12°1
Turret Top 10@83-90°1
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 120 TRM1
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 6 forward, 1 reverse.1
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.1
Speed - Road 40 kph1
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 155 km1
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -10° to +20°1
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  2. German Tanks of World War II, Dr. S. Hart & Dr. R. Hart, 1998
  3. AFV #2: Panzerkampfwagen III, Walter Spielberger
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site