|A Panzer IV penetrating the Mersa Matrouh perimeter|
The Panzerkampfwagen IV (Pz.Kpfw. IV) was developed in the mid-1930s to fulfil German Army plans for the fourth "heavy" company in the Panzer Divisions then being secretly formed by the Nazis. In 1938, when the first examples were delivered, the only western tanks with firepower to match it obsolescent french models with tactically ineficient hull-mounted guns. Only 211 had been completed by the outbreak of war in September 1939. By May 1940, there were 280 of this first four models (Ausf A-D) available to poised to invade the Low Countries.
The Panzer IV (wich predated the Panzer III into prodution) set the pattern for battle tanks up to the present day, with a centrally mounted rotating turret mounting a heavy gun armament and a co-axial machine gun, a commander's cupola allowing 360 degree vision, a rear-mounted engine and a forward compartment for the driver and radio operator. Most of these features had appeared on variousearlier tanks, but the impact of the German medium panzers between 1939 and 1940 mean that almost all subsequent medium and heavy tanks have followed the same basic principles.
|A Panzer IV passing near a abandoned British Universal Carrier|
Early models were armed with the short-barrelled KwK 37 L/24 75mm (3in) gun, but this was outranged by the 76mm (2.9in) guns of the Soviet T-34s and later models of the Panzer IV Asuf F (usually know as the Ausf F2) were fitted with the long-barreled KwK 40 L/43 with a muzzle velocity of 700m/s (766yds/s). A total of 9.000 Panzers IV of all variants was produced and they served in North Africa, the Balkans and the Soviet Union. Between June 1942 and July 1943, Ausf F1 stength on the Eastern front dropped from 208 to 60, and before long it had faded from the scene.
|Some of the first units of Panzer's IV, sent to North Africa in Feb of 1941, was in the original Panzer Grey color|
|Manufacturer(s):||Krupp, Steyr, Vomag, Praga|
|Production date(s):||1942 (this version)|
|Armament:||1 x 75mm KwK L/43; 2 x 7.92mm MG|
|Weight in action:||23.6 tons|
|Maximum road speed:||40km/h|
|Engine type:||Maybach HL120 TRM V-12 petrol|
|Engine power:||300 bhp at 3,000 rpm|
|Engine capacity:||11,867 cc|
|Fuel capacity:||470 liters|
|Armor thickness:||turret 30-50mm; hull 20-50mm plus 30mm frontal armor|
|A Panzer IV from the 15th Panzer Division in a museum|