In the 1920s and early 1930s, the Germans, forbidden to have any tanks under the Treaty of Versailles, build a number of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) with cover names such as "large tractor" and "new model vehicle". These heavy vehicles had merit, but were too large for series production given the limited enginnering capacity in Germany at the time. What was needed was a light tank that would be cheaper and easy to build and could serve as a training vehicle until industry recover from the last war.
|A series of veicles followed, mostly having a crew of two men and a single machine gun in the turret. The Panzer II was a larger version of these early tanks with a 20mm (0.7in) cannon as the primary weapon.|
Introduced in the mid-1930's. Early production was limited as improvements were continually being added. The origional tank mounted a 20mm cannon, purely innefective by 1939 and 1940. Because of a shortage of production of the heavier Pz III and Pz IV, the Pz II was used in frontline units well into 1942, even 1943. With improved suspension and chassis and armor, it was very reliable and continued to be employed as a scout vehicle in armored reconnaissance units throughout the war.
The Panzer II was the most numerous tank in service during the Polish campaign and over 1200 were available by the Western campaign in 1940. In this time the Panzer IIs were used in reconnaissance and exploitation, caling the firepower by radio and leave the job for heavier tanks.
|A Panzer II column en route to Solluch, in Cyrenaica, april 1941|
|Main Armament:||One 20mm (0.7in) KwK 30 cannon|
|Secondary armament:||One co-axial 7.92mm (0.3in) MG 34 machine gun|
|Combat weight:||9.5 tons|
|Lenght:||4.81m (15ft 9.5in)|
|Width:||2.28m (7ft 6in)|
|Road speed:||40Km/h (24.8mph)|
|Road range:||200Km (125mls)|