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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Panzerkampfwagen IV; PzKpfw IV; SdKfz 161 medium tank


PzKpfw IV medium tank captured by the allies in North Africa:
Germany's PzKpfw IV medium tank captured by the allies in North Africa
United States Army in World War II, Pictorial Record, The War Against Germany and Italy: Mediterranean and Adjacent Areas, 1951, pg 50


On January 11, 1934, the Army Weapons Department drew up specifications for a mitteren Traktor (medium tractor). It was to be a maximum of 24,000 kg / 24 tons as it had to be able to cross most of the bridges in Europe. These were to equip the fourth company of each battalion. Its roll was originally intended to be artillery support and was designed with a low velocity, large caliber gun for HE.

To disguise their development they were given the code name Batailonsführerwagen (BW) (battalion commander's vehicles). It's original designation was Begleitwagen (BW) (escort tank).

On May 26, 1941, in a conference with Hitler at the Berghof, it was decided to investigate the possibility of up gunning the PzKpfw IVs with 50 mm PaK 38s. They were wanting about 20 tanks per armored division to act as a spearhead with better guns to penetrate enemy tanks, have heavier armor, and have speeds no less than 40 kph. Krupp received a contract to introduce a prototype by November 15, 1941. The 50 mm L/42 gun was to go into proof testing on August 1, 1941. However, after the invasion of Russia, the plan was dropped as being unworkable as the 50 mm L/42 was useless against the heavier Russian tanks.


The electricity to traverse the turret was provided by a shunt motor. This was a type P/6 DKW 2 cylinder, 2 stroke engine which produced 15 hp at 2,800 rpm, and had a capacity of 585 cc.

The engine exhausts were fitted on the right side of the engine compartment which sucked in the air and this was expelled out the left side after passing through the radiator. The fans were driven by belts and double V-belts from the crankshaft.


There were eight road wheels on each side suspended in pairs from leaf springs. The suspension was 4 pairs of bogies on each side that were size 470x75-660 and mounted on longitudinal twin quarter elliptic springs, with 4 return rollers. The sprocket wheel was in the front with the idler in the rear.


The welded turret had seats for the commander, gunner, and loader. The loader was on the left, and gunner on the right.

The cupola was towards the rear of the turret and had 5 ports. The commander's cupola was centered in the rear of the turret.

There was a hatch in the turret sides.


The joints were austenitic steel welds and the plates were made of chromium-molybdenum steel. The hull was separated by 2 bulkheads into the driving, fighting, and engine compartment.

The transmission and the final drive assemblies were housed in the driving compartment. The driver and hull gunner / radio operator had their seats located in the front. The driver was on the left and the radio operator/machine gunner was on the right.


The welded superstructure was bolted to the top of the hull. The superstructure extended out over the sides of the hull to make room for a large turret.

Hatches for the driver and hull gunner were in the roof.

Comparison of Main Tank Armament Performance


During 1934, Rheinmetall-Borsig, Krupp, and MAN each submitted a prototype design. Rheinmetall-Borsig had created a wooden mock up by the end of 1934. These were designated the VK 2001(Rh), VK 2002 (MAN), and VK 2001(K). The first prototype that was completed, VK2001 (Rh), was sent to Kummersdorf for trials in 1935. MAN, in 1935, developed a prototype that had interleaved suspension. Krupp designed a vehicle that had interleaved bogie suspension. Rheinmetall-Borsig's and MAN's designs used overlapping road wheels. The Weapons Department thought they were all unsuitable and rejected them.

After intensive trials the Krupp design was accepted in 1936.


The Krupp-Grusonwerke plant in Magdeburg received the contract. At this point it was designated the Versuchskraftfahrzeug 622 (VsKfz 622).

Krupp's Heerlein division was given the responsibility for designing the turret and further development.

On August 20, 1940, Hitler issued a Führerbefehl to make PzKpfw III and PzKpfw IV production a priority.

When the tanks would come back to the factory for overhauls they usually had the latest improvements in armor, engines, turrets, installed.

The PzKpfw IV was the only German tank to be produced through the whole duration of World War II.

Production figures of the PzKpfw IV.


  • Krupp-Gruson AG: main assembly
    • Krupp of Essen: produced hulls and turrets
    • Eisen-und-Huettenwerke of Bochum: produced hulls and turrets
  • Nibelungenwerke at St. Valentin: from 1943 most PzKpfw IVs were assembled here
    • Hermann Goering steel mills at Linz: produced hulls and turrets
    • Gebr. Koehler & Co of Kapfenberg: produced hulls and turrets
    • Eisenwerke Oberdonau of Linz: produced hulls and turrets
  • Volkswagen produced bogies

Raw Materials

  • Steel (Fe): 39,000 kg
  • Tin (Sn): 1.2 kg
  • Copper (Cu): 195.1 kg
  • Aluminum (Al): 238 kg
  • Lead (Pb): 63.3 kg
  • Zing (Zn): 66.4 kg
  • Magnesium (Mg): 0.15 kg
  • Rubber: 116.3 kg

Comparison of Main Tank Production

Comparison of Main Tank Production



Outfitting the Panzer Divisions

It was intended that three companies of tanks were to be PzKpfw IIIs while the fourth was to be the PzKpfw IV used in a support role.


211 PzKpfw IVs saw action in Poland, of which 19 were lost.

Due to the success of the PzKpfw IV it was accepted as standard issue on September 27, 1939 and received its ordnance number Sonderkraftfahrzeug 161 (SdKfz).


278 PzKpfw IVs were available for the invasion of France.


548 PzKpfw IVs were available for the invasion of Russia.

During the invasion of Russia, many of the tanks had two wheeled trailers that had two 200 liter gas tanks. Some also had a supply of 20 liter gas cans on the turret roof. Many vehicles carried twice the normal ammunition supply inside their tanks. This helped them be relatively independent from the trailing supply columns early on in the invasion.

From 1943, it was intended to have Panzer regiments to be equipped with one battalion of PzKpfw III Ausf Hs and one of PzKpfw V.


  Panzerkampfwagen IV
Crew 5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 55,000 lb
25,000 kg
Length 23'
7.02 m
Height 8' 9.5"
2.68 m
Width 10' 9.5"
3.29 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Side arms  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 50 - 60
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Maybach HL 120 TRM
Bore / stroke  
Cylinders 12
Net HP 300
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering ratio  
Electrical system  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Speed - Road 24 mph
38 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 125 miles
200 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 3' 3"
1 m
Trench crossing 7' 3"
2.2 m
Vertical obstacle 2'
0.6 m
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Number of links  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  


  1. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  2. Panzers At War, Michael and Gladys Green, 2005
  3. New Vanguard 88 mm FlaK 18/36/37/41 and PaK 43 1936-45, John Norris, 2002
  4. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  5. Tanks - Over 250 of the World's Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles, Chris Chant, 2004
  6. Armour in Profile #8: PanzerKampfwagen IV (F2), Walter Spielberger, 1967
  7. Airfix Magazine Guide #8 German Tanks of World War 2, Terry Gande and Peter Chamberlain, 1975
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  9. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  10. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  11. Profile AFV Weapons #43 PanzerKampfwagen IV, Walter Spielberger, 1972
  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
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