The SdKfz 161 Panzerkampfwagen IV (PzKpfw IV) commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a German medium tank developed in the late 1930s and used extensively during WW2. The Panzer IV was the most numerous German tank and the second-most numerous German armored fighting vehicle of the war with over 8,500 built. The Panzer IV chassis was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles, including the Sturmgeschütz IV assault gun, Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer, the Wirbelwind self-propelled anti-aircraft gun and the Brummbär self-propelled gun.
The Panzer IV saw service in all combat theaters involving Germany and was the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the war. It received various upgrades and design modifications intended to counter new threats extending its service life. Generally, these involved increasing the Panzer IV’s armor protection or upgrading its weapons although during the last months of the war, with Germany’s pressing need for rapid replacement of losses design changes also included simplifications to speed up the manufacturing process.
The Panzer IV was partially succeeded by the Panther medium tank, which was introduced to counter the Soviet T-34. Although the Panzer IV continued as a significant component of German armoured formations to the end of the war. A total of 8,553 Panzer IVs of all versions were built during World War Two, with only the StuG III assault-gun / tank destroyer’s 10,086 vehicle production run exceeding the Panzer IV’s total among Axis armored forces.
The Panzer IV Ausf D & E
As the German invasion of Poland in Sept 1939 came to an end, it was decided to scale up production of the Panzer IV which was adopted for general use on Sept 27 1939. Panzer IV production changed to the Ausf D. This variant, of which 248 vehicles were produced, reintroduced the hull machine gun and changed the turret’s internal gun mantlet to a 35mm thick external mantlet. Again, protection was upgraded, this time by increasing side armor to 20mm.
In response to the difficulty of penetrating the armor of British infantry tanks (Matilda and Matilda II) during the Battle of France, the Germans had tested a 50mm gun (based on the 5cm Pak 38 anti-tank gun) on a Panzer IV Ausf D. However, with the rapid German victory in France, the original order of 80 tanks was canceled before they entered production.
In Oct 1940, the Ausf E was introduced. This had 30mm of armor on the bow plate; while a 30mm appliqué steel plate was added to the glacis as an interim measure. A new driver’s visor, adopted from the Sturmgeschütz III was installed on the hull front plate. A new commander’s cupola, adopted from the Panzer III Ausf G, was relocated forward on the turret eliminating the bulge underneath the cupola. Older model Panzer IV tanks were retrofitted with these features when returned to the manufacturer for servicing. A total of 206 Ausf Es were produced between Oct 1940 and Apr 1941.
Product Highlights: - Option to build an Ausf D or E variant - All hatches can be open or closed - Extra stowage options included - Two tank crew figures included