Spanish Civil War
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), 120 / 122 LaS tanks were used by Colonel Ritter von Thoma's armored units. Some of these were modified by putting a 20 mm gun in the turret. If the PzKpfw I got within 165 yards / 150 m of a T-26 it could penetrate its armor with the machine gun. However, the Soviet crews quickly learned to keep their distance as in the autumn of 1936 a BA-10 armored car was able to destroy several PzKpfw Is from a safe distance.
It was clear that the tank was inadequate with a two man crew and its light armament. However, experience in Spain provided the proving grounds of later German combat. Towards the end of the Civil War units were moving 25 miles a day in the Aragon battle and faster in Catalonia.
Anschluss & Sudetenland
Defects were found during the Anschluss and were fixed by the time of the move into the Sudetenland.
The PzKpfw Is were used in the invasion of Poland.
|1st Panzer Division
|2nd Panzer Division
|3rd Panzer Division
|4th Panzer Division
|5th Panzer Division
A total of 1,445 were used during the invasion of Poland.
Even though it was light, the PzKpfw I still would bog down in the mud, as it did during the Polish counterattack along the River Bzura. A total of 89 PzKpfw Is were lost in Poland, almost 45% of the total German loses. Many of these were lost in Warsaw.
Two dozen were sent along with the 40th Panzer Battalion that were used in Norway.
Around 1,077 PzKpfw Is were still being used in the German Army, and of these, 619 (523) were used in the invasion, with the rest being converted, used for training, or used for garrison duties. They were primarily used for reconnaissance, but even then, there were heavy losses when meeting British or French armor. Because of this, the PzKpfw I weren't used as a front line combat tank.