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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Panzerkampfwagen II, SdKfz 121, light tank; Industrial Tractor 100; LaS 100


PzKpfw II, light tank:
Germany's PzKpfw II, light tank

PzKpfw II, light tank:
Germany's PzKpfw II, light tank


The Germany Army wanted the PzKpfw II to be a training tank, like the PzKpfw I. It was to be used until the PzKpfw III and PzKpfw IV became available in the late 1930s.

In 1932 / July 1934, the Army Weapons Department put out specifications for a 10 ton armored vehicle, that had a 20 mm gun in a fully revolving turret. Henschel, Krupp, and MAN worked on designs. Krupp used its PzKpfw I prototype and installed a 20 mm gun and a machine gun in the turret. The Henschel and MAN prototypes were similar but had different suspensions. The one by Augsburg-Nuremburg Machine Works (MAN) was selected for a pre-production run.


The hull was made from welded heat-treated steel.


The driver sat on the left side. The fighting compartment was also located on the left side.


The engine was mounted in the rear with the drive sprocket in the front.


The PzKpfw II's turret was constructed of welded steel. The turret was slightly set to the left.

Main Armament

The 20 mm KwK38 could fire 450 rounds/minute. The AP shell weighed 0.31 lbs and had a muzzle velocity of 2,559'/second. It was fed by 10 round magazines. Could penetrate 24 mm of armor at 500 yards. It's maximum effective range was 656 yards (600 m).

The PzKpfw II carried 180 rounds of 20 mm ammunition and 1,425 rounds of machine gun ammunition.


From 1935-1937 MAN completed several prototypes. These were designated the Landwirtschäftlicher Schlepper (LaS, industrial tractor) 100, as it was against the Treaty of Versailles for Germany to develop tanks. In 1938 they were designated the Panzer II.


MAN became responsible for chassis and Daimler-Benz for superstructure. It started being delivered in 1935 but it took 18 months for the design to be finalized and production could increase.

  • 1/La S 100: 25
    • Production: 1935
  • PzKpfw II:
    • Production: 1935 - ?, 1935 - 1942
    • Manufacturers: FAMO of Breslau (1936-43), MIAG in Brunswick (1936-40), Wegmann of Kassel (1935-41).
  • PzKpfw II Ausf L, Luchs: 131
  • Geschützwagen II für 15 cm sIG 33: 12
  • Panzerbefehlswagen II: 200
  • Marder II: 1,217, 1,983
    • Production: 1942 - 1943
  • Wespe: 683
    • Production: - 1942 , 1943 - 1944



Even with the experiences in France showing that the Pz II was obsolete, an Armor Committee on July 17, 1941, met to determine how to expand the number of panzer divisions to 36 as ordered by Hitler. It was decided that they would need 4,608 Pz IIs, and equally surprising is that production on Pz IIs continued.


Was used in the Spanish Civil War and it was found that it was outclassed, but the General Staff kept it in production into 1942.


1,223 were used in the invasion. 81 were destroyed by Polish forces. 32 loses were from the 4th Panzer Division that sent them into the suburbs of Warsaw on September 8-9.

After battle experience in Poland some tanks received 20 mm armor bolted onto the front.


16 PzKpfw IIs were with the 40th Panzer Battalion.


For the invasion of France in 1940 there were 955 / ~1,000 available.

Most PzKpfw IIs were used in areas that weren't critical. In the Ardennes, General Heinz Guderian's XIX Panzer Corps had 146 PzKpfw IIs.


By July 1, 1941 there were 1,067 and by April 1, 1942, this had gone down to 866.

North Africa

In May 1942, during the battle for Tobruk, there were 50 PzKpfw IIs out of a total of 560 tanks. There were still 31 at the battle of El Alamein in October 1942.

Taken off the Frontline

In early 1943, the remaining PzKpfw IIs were withdrawn from frontline units, and deployed in anti-partisan operations and garrison duties.


  Panzerkampfwagen II
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 22,046 lb
10,000 kg
Length 15' 3", 15.8'
4.64 m
Height 6' 6", 6' 7.5"
2.02 m
Width 7' 4", 7' 6.5"
2.3 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 13.6"
Ground contact length 94.5"
Ground pressure 8.8 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Main 20 mm KwK 30
20 mm
OR 20 mm KwK 38
MG - coaxial 7.9 mm MG34
7.92 mm MG
Side arms  
Main 180
MG 1,425
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) Front: 1.2"
Side: 0.6"
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front 1.2"
Turret Sides 0.6"
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 62 Tr
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water
Cylinders I-6, 6
Net HP 140, 140@2,600 rpm
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio 6.5:1
Transmission (Type) Synchromesh, 6 forward, 1 reverse
Steering Clutch brake
Steering ratio  
Starter Electric
Electrical system 12-volt
Ignition Magneto
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Quantity 45 gallons (27 in tank #1, 18 in tank #2)
Road consumption 3 mpg
Cross country consumption 2 mpg
Traverse Hand
Speed - Road 25 mph, 34 mph
55 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 125 miles, 130 miles
200 km
Range - Cross Country 99 miles
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 2' 10", 3' 0.4"
0.85 m
Trench crossing 5.9' , 5' 9"
1.75 m
Vertical obstacle 1' 4.5", 1' 5"
0.42 m
Climbing ability 37° (70%) slope
Suspension (Type) Quarter elliptic spring
Wheels each side 5
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type) Dry pin
Width 11.8"
Number of links 105
Pitch 3.6"
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.2'


  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. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  4. Tank Data, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, 1968?
  5. Panzers At War, Michael and Gladys Green, 2005
  6. Tanks - Over 250 of the World's Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles, Chris Chant, 2004
  7. Airfix Magazine Guide #8 German Tanks of World War 2, Terry Gande and Peter Chamberlain, 1975
  8. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  9. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  10. Profile, AFV Weapons #55, German Self-Propelled Weapons, Peter Chamberlain, H.L. Doyle, 1973
  11. AFV #15 Panzerkampfwagen I & II, Major-General N. W. Duncan
  12. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  13. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site