Panzerkampfwagen II

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Panzerkampfwagen II (Ausf. A – C)
Panzer II Ausf. F

Panzer II Ausf. F

General properties
crew 3 (commander, driver, judge / loader)
length 4.81 m
width 2.22 m
height 1.99 m
Dimensions 8.9 t
Armor and armament
Armor 5-15 mm
Main armament 2 cm KwK 30 L / 55
Secondary armament 7.92mm MG 34
drive Maybach six-cylinder
gasoline engine 140 PS (103 kW)
suspension Leaf spring
Top speed 40 km / h
Power / weight 15 hp / t
Range 200/130 km (road / terrain)

The Panzerkampfwagen II (also PzKpfw II or Panzer II ) was a light tank of the Wehrmacht , which was developed by MAN in the mid-1930s . The vehicle, which was actually only designed as a temporary solution in 1934, represented the backbone of the army's armored divisions at the beginning of the Second World War . As a combat vehicle only limited use due to the inadequate armor and armament, the type was gradually decommissioned until 1943, but its chassis was the basis in use for numerous self-propelled guns until the end of the war. From 1935 to the end of 1942 around 1900 Panzer II were manufactured.



When it was recognized that the production of the two main types, Panzer III and Panzer IV, intended for equipping the Panzer divisions, would take longer than expected, the Army Ordnance Office decided in July 1934, as an interim solution, a combat vehicle in the 10-ton class to be manufactured quickly To give an order which should close the gap by the appearance of Panzer III and IV. Development contracts were then awarded to the following companies:

The vehicle presented by Krupp was based on the "LKA 1" prototype for the Panzerkampfwagen I and was named "LKA 2". With the exception of the drive, the proposals submitted by the other two companies hardly differed from the Krupp prototype. After testing in the test center for motor vehicles in Kummersdorf , MAN was chosen to build the chassis; As with the Panzer I, Daimler-Benz was responsible for the tower and the superstructure . The vehicle was given the camouflage designation "Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper 100" (LaS 100) due to the Versailles Treaty, which was still valid as a Reich law . Mainly Famo in Breslau, Wegmann in Kassel and MIAG in Braunschweig were intended for the replica .


Not to be confused with the later version A, the Ausf. A1 manufactured in 1935 was the first production vehicle that was delivered to the troops under the name "Panzerkampfwagen II (2cm) (Sd.Kfz. 121)". It weighed 7.2 tons, had a six-cylinder gasoline engine of the Maybach with 130 hp and had a countershaft transmission without reduction. In the case of the 25 a2 models produced in the same year, improvements were made to the engine compartment and the cooling system. The last variant of the pilot series were 25 pieces of the a3 version, in which changes were made in the area of ​​cooling, chains and suspension. The versions were manufactured by MAN and Daimler-Benz from May 1936 to February 1937.

Since the engine output was not considered sufficient, a 140-hp Maybach engine was installed in Ausf. B. The 100 vehicles in this series had a new reduction gear and the final tracks of the Panzer II series. The weight increased to 7.9 tons.

The version c, which appeared in 1937, had the final Panzer II running gear with five rollers suspended from quarter springs . Development ended with the 75 vehicles of this version and series production began.

Serial production

Series production started in 1937 with the Ausf. A manufactured by MAN, followed by the only minimally changed versions B and C. A total of 210 Ausf. A, 384 Ausf. B and 364 Ausf. C were built by 1939, with the addition of those already mentioned five manufacturers still Alkett and Henschel were involved.


The weak Pz II bore the brunt of the fighting in France and Poland

In 1939/40, the Panzerkampfwagen II, which is considered to be reliable, provided the majority of a tank division comprising around 300 combat vehicles with 160 vehicles . During the restructuring in 1940/41, the vehicle was no longer used as a battle tank , but as a reconnaissance tank . Due to the simultaneous reduction, there were 65 Type II tanks with a target stock of 200 tanks per division. In 1942, with a target stock of 164 tanks in total, only 28 Panzer II were planned. The following year the type was finally retired.

Since the German armaments industry did not succeed in providing the Wehrmacht with the intended standard tanks of the types Panzer III and Panzer IV in significant numbers, the Panzer II with almost 1,100 operational vehicles formed the backbone of the German in the first two years of World War II Armored weapon . At the beginning of the western campaign , the divisions deployed there had 955 Panzer II at their disposal. At the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union in June 1941 there were just under 1200 vehicles; in May of the following year this number fell to 860 vehicles. The Panzer II bore the brunt of the fighting in Poland and France and it became apparent relatively quickly that, like its predecessor, it was too weakly armed and armored and could only be viewed as a makeshift tank. It only offered advantages in street fighting because of its small size. Panzer II were also used to fight partisans. The total losses can be quantified as follows:

  • 1939: 83 pieces
  • 1940: 240 pieces
  • 1941: 460 pieces

By April 1942 a total of 921 Panzer IIs had been recorded as total losses.


Further development

Version D / E (8./LaS 138)
Panzer II Ausf. C in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.

In 1938 Daimler-Benz received the order to redesign the Panzerkampfwagen II with the aim of increasing speed and mobility. The result was the "Panzer II Ausf. D / E", which was assigned to the light divisions as a high-speed combat vehicle and was mostly loaded onto low-bed trailers for road transport. The biggest changes concerned the hull and running gear: the engine and gearbox were moved from the right-hand side to the center of the vehicle, the running gear was converted to torsion bar suspension with four large double-wheeled rollers on each side, the armor on the turret and hull front was now 30 mm instead of 15 mm. Despite the increase in weight to 10 tons, the maximum speed was 55 km / h due to the improved drive. From October 1938 to April 1939 43 Ausf. D were produced, in April 1940 these were recalled for conversion as flame tanks and from 1942 rebuilt to Marder II . The Ausf. E differed from the Ausf. D by the lubricated chains, only 7 chassis were made.

Version F (9./LaS 100)
An “Ausf. F “with reinforced armor and blind visor

Based on the combat experience, it was considered necessary to reinforce the armor. Going back to the chassis of the AC versions, these considerations resulted in the "version F", in which the front armor of the hull was reinforced to 35 mm, the front armor of the turret to 30 mm and the side armor to 20 mm. The other changes consisted of a new cone-shaped idler wheel and a blind visor attached next to the driver's viewing flap, which was probably intended to make the driver's sight less subject to enemy fire. From March 1941 to July 1942, FAMO in Breslau and FAMO-Ursus in Warsaw produced 509 vehicles, which also marked the end of regular series production. The cost of building the tank without armament and radio equipment was 50,000 Reichsmarks .

Other designs

Execution G

As early as June 1938, an order was placed with MAN and Daimler-Benz to develop a high-speed reconnaissance tank from the Panzer II. The result was the VK 9.01 with a box drive, which, with a 145 HP engine and a total weight of 9.2 t, reached a speed of 50 km / h. The target speed of 60 km / h was achieved with a later 200 hp engine. It is unlikely that the zero series of 45 units delivered from October 1940 onwards was given to the fighting force. The armament consisted of an MG 141 (or an EW 141 built-in weapon) in caliber 7.92 × 94 mm and a coaxially mounted MG 34 in caliber 7.92 × 57 mm .

Version H with 2 cm KwK 38 L / 55

A kind of successor was the VK 9.03, of which only a prototype was built. As recently as 1941, the General Army Office demanded an armored fighting vehicle in the 10 t class, which should have increased speed and improved armor. A development chassis was delivered by MAN in September 1941. The 10.5 t vehicle reached a speed of 65 km / h with a 200 hp six-cylinder Maybach gasoline engine. The vehicle was 30 mm thick at the front and 20 mm thick at the sides and rear. Otherwise the vehicle called "Version H" did not differ externally from Version G. The armament consisted of the 2 cm KwK 38 L / 55 and a MG 34 . As the vehicle was already outdated by the time production was expected to start in mid-1942, the project was discontinued.

Execution J

At the end of 1939 another development order was placed with the focus on the strongest armor, which resulted in the VK 16.01. The 80 mm thick front armor and 50 mm thick side armor increased the total weight to almost 18 tons. With a 150 hp engine, a top speed of 30 km / h was achieved. Like the "Version G", the tank had a box drive and was armed with the 2 cm KwK 38 L / 55 and a MG 34. The first test chassis was completed by MAN in June 1940, the pilot series of 30 pieces was delivered in 1941-42, with only a small number used in combat. Six of these vehicles were demonstrably in use by the Ordnungspolizei, including the 13th (reinforced) police tank company. The production order for 100 pieces has been canceled. Individual copies were converted into armored recovery vehicles.

Version L "Lynx"
"Luchs" with a 2-cm-KwK 38 (pure reconnaissance tank)

Since the nature of the terrain made the use of wheeled reconnaissance vehicles difficult, especially on the Eastern Front , a request was made by the Army Weapons Office for the first time in September 1939 to create a reconnaissance tank as a full-track vehicle. Based on the experience gained with versions G and J, the VK 13.01 was then created, of which a prototype was produced. After minor changes, the vehicle, now known as VK 13.03, went into series production in September 1942. The front armor was 30 mm, while the side armor was 20 mm thick. The crew consisted of four men. The twelve-ton vehicle with a 180 hp petrol engine reached a top speed of 60 km / h, which is advantageous for a reconnaissance tank. Due to the exclusive use as a reconnaissance vehicle, the official name was "Panzer-Spähwagen II (Sd.Kfz. 123 with 2-cm-KwK 38) Luchs". The large-scale order comprised 800 pieces, but production was discontinued in January 1944. Up until then, 100 vehicles had been manufactured and handed over to the reconnaissance units of the armored divisions .


Despite the weak combat strength, the development of the series was still not completed, because the Army Weapons Office awarded MIAG (chassis) and Daimler-Benz (body and tower) the order to create a heavy full-track reconnaissance vehicle. As a result, the Leopard, officially known as the "Battlefield Reconnaissance VK 16.02", was developed, which had turret armor from 50 to 80 mm and hull armor from 20 to 60 mm. With a weight of around 26 tons, a 550 hp petrol engine should give the tank a top speed of 60 km / h. The vehicle did not go into production, but the fully constructed tower for the Sd.Kfz. 234/2 used.


Tank destroyer Marder II
The Marder II was a successful interim solution

Since the weak points of the series came to light very quickly, part of the chassis was used for various self-propelled guns, which for the most part proved better than the actual armored car. At the end of 1941, in view of the identified deficits in motorized anti-tank defense, the order was issued to convert the Panzer II chassis to create a tank destroyer that was to be equipped with the 7.62 cm anti-tank guns of the Red Army , which had been captured in large numbers. 150 of the Marder II vehicles had been delivered by May 1942; 51 more Sd.Kfz. 132 were to follow as soon as repaired chassis were available again. The designation Sd.Kfz. The vehicles that were delivered from June 1942 and equipped with the German PaK 40 received 131 . Of this type, 576 were newly built and another 75 converted from Panzer II. Trials with the 5-cm-PaK 38 , with which two converted vehicles reached the front in January 1942, were not continued because of the insufficient penetration power compared to the T-34 . Although the tank destroyer was only weakly armored by the 15 mm thick protective shields and had an open combat compartment, it provided valuable help with the anti-tank defense on the eastern theater of war.

Gun car II

Another self-propelled gun was the Sd.Kfz, which was only built in a few copies. 121, which was also called Gun Car II . The vehicle was armed with the heavy infantry gun 33 and weighed twelve tons. Despite the relatively low elevator in contrast to the Gun Car I , the chassis was overloaded and did not prove itself. All vehicles built were assigned to the Africa Corps .

Self-propelled howitzer wasp

The best-known self-propelled gun on the Panzer II chassis was the Wespe self-propelled howitzer, which was first used by the Citadel company . The vehicle was equipped with the light field howitzer 10.5 cm , for which 32 rounds of ammunition were carried. The combat area, open at the top, was armored all around by 10 mm thick shields. The combat weight was 11.5 t and the crew consisted of five men. In addition to the 683 copies, there were 158 ammunition transporters, the structure of which was similar to the Wasp in that only the gun was removed from them. Equipped with 90 rounds of ammunition, they could follow the self-propelled howitzers into battle. It was also possible to convert the ammunition transporter into a self-propelled howitzer by installing the gun from a damaged wasp. This conversion could even be carried out in the field.

Flamingo II "Flamingo"

In January 1939, MAN and Wegmann received a development order for a light flame throwing tank. In April 1942 there were a total of 95 units of the officially designated "PzKpfw II (Fl) (Sd.Kfz. 122)" in the special tank formations, some of them from the "Ausf. D / E ”was rebuilt. The Flammpanzer II was armed with a MG 34 in a much smaller turret and two lightly armored flamethrowers , each located at the front end of the chain cover plates. The flamethrowers, housed in a mini-tower, could be rotated by 180 ° and height-adjustable up to 20 °. They were fed by an armored external fuel tank with a capacity of 160 liters each. This enabled around 80 bursts of fire lasting two to three seconds to be fired at a range of 35 meters. Petroleum , mostly used as a flame agent , was expelled using compressed nitrogen and ignited with an acetylene flame. The flamethrowers were controlled by the commander using two cranks on the dashboard in the tower, which individually aligned the spray heads via chains. To set up a fog bank, there was a group of three fog pots in the rear area of ​​the chain cover. Because of its light armor, the vehicle was susceptible to fire, but the flamethrower system was simple and reliable, so that the Panzerkampfwagen II has proven itself as a flame tank.


technical description

The standard version had five castors suspended from quarter springs and a straight front plate

The standard version had a weight of 8.9 tons and armor around 15 mm. The 140 hp water-cooled gasoline engine was offset to the right in the rear and acted via a cardan shaft and a disc clutch on the non-synchronized six-speed thrust transmission from ZF, which was also offset to the right and located in the driver's area . From there, the power flow was via a clutch steering gear to the chain drive wheels at the front. The drive consisted of five rollers suspended on quarter springs and four support rollers.

The three-person crew consisted of the commander, a driver and a radio operator. The driver sat in the front left and could look out through a viewing flap in front of him, which was protected by a removable glass block. In addition, there was a viewing slit on the left and right that could be closed with a protective flap. The radio operator, who sat on the fuselage floor in the rear part of the interior, had a viewing slot on the stern structure. Its hatch was behind the turret next to the engine. The commandant sat in the bottomless tower on a suspended seat that followed the movement of the tower. He had two viewing slits on the left, one on the right and one at the rear. The two-part entry hatch was replaced from 1940 by a commanders dome with eight corner mirrors and a one-part flap. The welded tower was swiveled manually by means of a claw coupling. The 2 cm KwK 30 on the left was operated by a trigger on the leveling wheel (left) and the MG 34 by a trigger on the swivel wheel (right). For the 63 kg automatic cannon, 18 magazines were carried, each holding ten projectiles. The 11.6 kg machine gun was loaded with a 150 round metal cartridge belt, 17 of which were on board. A TZF-4 telescopic sight with 2.5x magnification was available for aiming, whereby the weapons could possibly also be temporarily aimed by means of a recess in the gun mantlet. To create a smoke screen, there were five smoke candles on the rear of the tank, which were catapulted out by means of a tensioned spring. The interference-suppressed radio system consisted of two receivers, a transmitter and a 2-meter-long rod antenna located on the rear left of the structure and retractable from the inside. All three crew members had a microphone and headphones. However, the system could not be used for internal communication, so that communication between the driver and the commander had to take place via an ear tube.

Technical specifications

Technical data of the versions of the Panzerkampfwagen II
Version a1 / a2 / a3 Versions A, B, C Execution D / E Ausf. F lynx
0 General characteristics
Weight 7.6 t 8.9 t 10 t 9.5 t 11.8 t
length 4.38 m 4.81 m 4.63 m 4.81 m 4.63 m
width 2.14 m 2.22 m 2.30 m 2.28 m 2.49 m
height 1.95 m 1.99 m 2.02 m 2.13 m
crew 3 4th
Construction year 1935-1937 1937-1940 1938-1939 1941-1942 1942-1943
number of pieces 100 1113 50 525 131
Armament 1 × MG 34 (7.92 mm)
1 × 2 cm KwK 30 L / 55
1 × MG 34 (7.92 mm)
1 × 2 cm KwK 38 L / 55
Rounds / min (KwK) 600/280 680/480
V 0 m / s (KwK) 800-900
Ammunition supply MG = 2550 rounds
KwK = 180 rounds
MG = 1425 rounds
KwK = 180 rounds
MG = 2550 rounds
KwK = 180 rounds
MG = 2550 rounds,
KwK = 330 rounds
Tub front 13 mm / arched 14.5 mm / 58 or 90 ° 30 mm / 58 or 90 ° 35 or 30 mm
77 or 80 °
30 or 20 mm
65 or 80 °
Tub side 13 mm / 90 ° 14.5 mm / 90 ° 20 mm / 90 °
Tub stern 13 mm / 90 ° 14.5 mm / 90 ° 20 mm / 60 °
Tub ceiling 10 mm 14.5 mm 13 mm
Tub floor 5 mm 10 mm
Tower front 15 mm / arched 30 mm / arched 30 mm / 80 °
Tower side 13 mm / 67 ° 14.5 mm / 67 ° 15 mm / 68 ° 15 mm / 70 °
Turret stern 13 mm / 70 ° 14.5 mm / 70 ° 20 mm / 70 °
Tower ceiling 8 mm 10 mm 13 mm
engine Maybach HL 57 TR
six-cylinder gasoline engine,
Maybach HL 62 TRM
six-cylinder gasoline engine,
Maybach HL 66 P
six-cylinder gasoline engine,
power 130 hp (96 kW) at 2600 rpm 140 hp (103 kW) at 2600 rpm 180 hp (132 kW) at 3200 rpm
Displacement 5698 cc 6191 cc 6750 cc
Aisles (F / R) 6/1
Weight related performance 17.1 hp / t 15.7 hp / t 14.0 hp / t 14.7 hp / t 15.2 hp / t
Top speed 40 km / h 55 km / h 40 km / h 60 km / h
Fuel supply 170 l 200 l 170 l 236 l
Driving range 200 km (road)
130 (terrain)
200 km (road)
100 (terrain)
150 km (road)
150 (terrain)
Chain width 30 cm 36 cm
Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. C


Web links

Commons : Panzerkampfwagen II  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
  • Panzer II on (English); with pictures of the "Ausf. J “(VK 1601) and lynx with a 5 cm tower
  • PDF with pictures of still existing museum vehicles of the type Panzerkampfwagen II (2.91 MB)

Individual evidence

  1. Figures at the beginning of the war → MGFA : The German Reich and the Second World War. Volume 5/1, ISBN 3-421-06232-3 , interpolation of the tables p. 554 a. P. 636.
    Figures in the western campaign and 1941/42 → FM von Senger and Etterlin: The German tanks. ISBN 3-7637-5988-3 , pp. 25 and 346.
  2. ^ MGFA: The German Empire and the Second World War . Volume 5/1, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1988, ISBN 3-421-06232-3 , p. 636.
  3. Thomas L.Jentz, Hillary Louis Doyle: Panzer Tracts No. 2-3 - Panzer II Ausf D-F. .
  4. George Forty: The German tank weapon in World War II. ISBN 3-8289-5327-1 , p. 40.
  5. Bob Carruthers: Panzers I & II: Germany's Light Tanks (=  Hitler's War Machine ). Pen and Sword, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4738-4523-7 , pp. 37 ( limited preview in Google Book Search - American English: Panzers I & II: Germany's Light Tanks .).
  6. MG 141 and MG 131/8 in WW2?, accessed March 1, 2018 .
  7. Dr. Werner Regenberg: Armored vehicles and armored units of the Ordnungspolizei 1936–1945 . Podzun-Pallas, Wölfersheim-Berstadt 1999, ISBN 3-7909-0593-3 .
  8. S. Hart, R. Hart: German tanks in World War II. Gondolino, 1998, ISBN 3-8112-1667-8 .
  9. Forty, Die deutsche Panzerwaffe , speaks on p. 36 of 10 magazines with 18 rounds each, but note no. 18 speaks of a reduced 10-round magazine for use in the tank. The data table for Singer and Etterlin, Die Deutschen Panzer , also mentions a 10-round magazine.