Panzerkampfwagen III – Sd.Kfz. 141, With technical data on Ausf. J


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Panzerkampfwagen III ausf M – Sd Kfz 141/1 – Panzermuseum Munster

The development of the panzerkampfwagen III started in 1935. Daimler Benz produced 10 vehicles of 15 ton with a 3,7cm gun in the turret.
In 1937 the Panzerkampfwagen III version A (Ausfuhrung A) went into production. They added a third machinegun. Next to the two coaxial guns in the turret a third was at the disposal of the radio operator in the hull. The machine was powered by a V12 gasoline engine with a 5 speed gearbox.

The 15mm armour was designed to withstand armour piercing rounds form rifles or small calibre machine guns only. The need for a better armed and armoured machines was evident, especially when Russia was to be invaded. The encounters with the Russian KV1 and T34 made tank development improve rapidly.

The panzerkampfwagen III was upgraded multiple times, from version A to N, and it was assigned to all battlefields throughout the war. After version F it lost the 2nd coaxial machinegun in the turret.

The J and M versions seen on the pictures were better armed and armoured. Both carried a 5cm main gun, a 5cm KwK L/42 on the J and a 5cm KwK L/60 on the M. The ausfuhrung J was the first panzerkampfwagen III with the 5cm gun, all versions before that carried the 3.7cm gun.

One thousand type M’s where ordered back in July 1942. First this order was cut back to 775 shortly afterwards, and they decided to use the Panzerkampfwagen III chassis for the succesful StuG. 165 chassis where used for the StuG, some converted to Flammpanzer, a flamethrowing tank.
Only 250 type M’s where built in the end, one of them is on display in the Panzermuseum in Munster, Germany (seen on the picture above).

Panzerkampfwagen III ausf J – Sd. Kfz. 141 – Victory park Poklonnaya Gora Moscow

 

Panzerkampfwagen III variants

As seen with both predecessors the panzerkampfwagen III had a lot of different uses as well.
A Panzerbefehlswagen (command tank), a Tauchpanzer (submersible tank), an artillerie panzerbeobachtungswagen (armoured observation post), Bergepanzer III (recovery vehicle), a Minenraumpanzer (mine destroyer), a battle tank with rail suspension, a munitionspanzer (ammunition carrier), and of course the Sturmgeschütz the StuG an assault gun / tank destroyer. The 10.5cm Sturmhaubitze 42 a motorised assault howitzer, the sturminfanteriegeschütz 33B (assault infantry gun).

The first panzerbefehlswagens III, Sd Kfz 266 to sd Kfz 268 got a dummy Gun, to mislead the enemy. They didn’t stand out on the battlefield for the lack of a main gun. It carried a rack on the rear deck, which still gave it an outstanding feature. The later Panzerbefehlswagens III, Sd Kfz141 got a real 5cm gun, and lost the rack therefore it looked like a normal panzerkampfwagen III.

Even the Russians found use for them and converted them to the SU-76i assault guns. With a fixed superstructure and a Russian gun they put them into action against their former owners.

The panzerkampfwagen III was the first real battle tank for the Wehrmacht. Alltogether they produced, including all types and variants, about 17.300 of these vehicles. More than any other type of German panzer.

Panzerkampfwagen III ausf M – Sd Kfz 141/1 – Panzermuseum Munster

 

Visit

On our visits we encountered more than one panzerkampfwagen III. We saw a Panzerkampwagen III auf J in Moscow together with an L (wreck) in Moscow, the M in Munster, and an “N” version in Sinsheim, Germany. Some StuG variants and a 10.5cm sturmhaubitze 42 as well.

Panzerkampfwagen III ausf M – Sd Kfz 141/1 – Panzermuseum Munster

Technical Data

Name:                         Panzerkampfwagen III ausf J (Sd. Kfz. 141) Victory park
Other designation:    8 Serie ZW
Type:                           Medium tank

Manufacturer:           Daimler-Benz, MAN, Alkett, Henschel, Wegman, MIAG, MN/H
Chasis numbers:       68001-69000, 72001-74100
Number produced:   1549
Production:                From March 1941 to july 1942

Crew:                           5
Weight (tonnes):       21,5
Lenght (metres):       5,52
Width (metres):        2,95
Height  (metres):      2,50

Engine:                        Maybach HL120TRM
Gearbox:                     6 forward, 1 reverse
Speed (km/h):           40
Range (km):               155
Radio:                          FuG5

Armament:                 One 5 cm gun KWwK/L42
Two 7,92mm MG34

Traverse:                     360° (by hand)
Elevation:                   -10° to +20°
Sigths:                         TZF5d / KgZF2 on MG34

Ammunition:             99 Pzgr
2700 patr SmK

Armour  (mm/angle)
Turret front:                   30/15°
Superstructure front:   50/9°
Hull front:                      50/21°
Gun mantlet front:       50/0°

Panzerkampfwagen III ausf M – Sd Kfz 141/1 – Panzermuseum Munster

Link to the photo sets

Panzerkampwagen III auf  N Technik museum Sinsheim

Panzerkampwagen III auf M panzermuseum Munster

Panzerkampwagen III auf  J and ausf. L wreck in Victory park, Poklonnaya Gora, Moscow

StuG III Sinsheim

StuG III Munster

StuG III  Moscow

10.5cm Sturmhaubitze 42

SU-76i





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