Panzer II Ausf B

Blitzkreig was a new and shocking type of warfare practiced by the Germans at the start of World War Two.

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This light tank was the most numerous of the German made vehicles serving in the Wermacht at that time.  Yet it was clearly a transitionary type, and the German high command never wanted it to be a main battle tank.

Going back to the early 1930s the German Army was reinventing itself.  The first German tank of this period, appropriately the Panzer I, was seen as more of training and development tool than a main battle tank.  It’s total armament was two light machine guns mounted together in a small turret.  The long range plan called for two battle tanks; one that would be for use against other tanks, the other was optimized for infantry support work.  But both of these designs, true tanks, would require a lot of growth in German heavy industry to build.

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This small tank had a three crew; a driver in the forward hull, a commander/gunner in the turret and a loader in the rear of the turret.

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So a transitionary design was conceived.  The Panzer I would be enlarged slightly so it could mount a 20 mm cannon.  The rate of fire for this main gun was very high. But this is still pretty light firepower, and the Panzer II was lightly armored as well.  The tank was reasonably fast with a top speed over 30 mph and had decent reliability.  All in all an acceptable tank in the early war years, especially if it had heavier support near by.

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The next generation of tanks were still immature when WWII started.  So the Panzer II, and Panzer 38t built by Skoda in Czechoslovakia would be Germany’s main tanks.  No doubt this type remained in service far too long.  There were significant numbers deployed with the famous Afrika Korps, and it was even still in use when Germany attacked the Soviet Union.  It may be obvious to say a Panzer II was no match for a T-34; but everyone knew this.  The type was useful against enemy light and recon forces.

Another example of a Panzer II with camouflage

Three main German tanks from the early World War II years. The Panzer II at left was most numerous. The Panzer III in the middle was meant to be the main anti-tank weapon. The Panzer IV at right was meant to be the main infantry support tank. But both of the later models were in short supply at first.

Three main German tanks from the early World War II years.
The Panzer II at left was most numerous.
The Panzer III in the middle was meant to be the main anti-tank weapon.
The Panzer IV at right was meant to be the main infantry support tank.
But both of the later models were in short supply at first.

Some efforts were made to improve the design with better suspension, armor and a bigger gun.  But since much bigger tanks ruled the battlefield from 1942 on the Panzer II was finally dropped from production.  Its chassis would however form the basis of next generation tank destroyers such as the Wespe and Marder.

The whole range of German made tanks in World War II, from Panzer II (the smallest) to Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panzer V (Panther), Panzer VI (Tiger), Panzer VIB (King Tiger)

The whole range of German made tanks in World War II, counter clockwise from Panzer II (the smallest) to Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panzer V (Panther), Panzer VI (Tiger), Panzer VIB (King Tiger). The growth in size is breathtaking.

This subject is from the Tamiya kit and represents a unit that fought in the Battle of France.

Early War opponents. The Panzer II would have regularly faced off against the British Matilda in France and North Africa.

Early War opponents. The Panzer II would have regularly faced off against the British Matilda in France and North Africa.

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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2 Responses to Panzer II Ausf B

  1. jfwknifton says:

    Some great models here!

  2. Pingback: Panzer 38(t) | Plane Dave

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