Panzer III


 

Panzer III, German official designation Panzerkampfwagen III Sd Kfz. 141 (PzKpfw III), is a medium tank. It weighs 23 tons, and measures 6.41 m long, 2.9 m wide, and 2.5 m high. During the Second World War (WWII), 5774 Panzer III tanks were built.

Panzer III was designed to engage enemy tanks, alongside the infantry-supporting Panzer IV. However, the appearance of T-34 and KV-1 on the Eastern Front dwarfed Panzer III in both armor protection and gun power. Because Panzer IV had a bigger turret that could accommodate a more powerful main gun, the role was reversed: Panzer IV was upgraded with the long barrel 7.5 cm KwK 40 gun to engage enemy tanks, while Panzer III mounted the 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24, a low-velocity gun for infantry support.

Panzer III A, B, C, D were prototype, and only 95 tanks were built during 1937-1938. Mass production of Panzer III E and F began in 1939. The armor on the front, sides and rear was 30 mm. Panzer III H got a second 30-mm steel armor to the front and rear hull. Panzer III J had a 50-mm plate on the front and rear.

During the war with Poland and France, only a few hundred Panzer III A - F tanks were available, mostly armed with 3.7 cm KwK 36 L/46.5 main gun. They outclassed most Polish and French tanks at that time.

Around the time of Barbarossa, Panzer III had the 50 mm KwK 38 L/42, which could not penetrate T-34’s thick armor. Therefore, Panzer III J was upgraded with longer and more powerful 50 mm KwK 39 L/60 gun in 1942, which could penetrate T-34 front armor within 500 m.

Panzer III A-F had two 7.92-mm Maschinengewehr 34 machine guns mounted coaxially with the main gun, with another mahine gun in a hull mount. Panzer III G and later versions had a single coaxial MG34 and a hull MG34.

Panzer III tanks were powered by 300 PS (221 kW), Maybach HL 120 TRM engine. Top speed was 40 km/h. The operation range was 155 km.

In 1943, Panzer III was replaced by Panzer IV and Panther. The production of Panzer III ended. Panzer III's chassis was used for Sturmgeschütz III until the end of WWII.


 

The pictures below show that the main gun of Panzer III L, 50 mm KwK 39 L/60, which is capable of penatrting T34's front armor, is longer than the main gun of Panzer III H, 50 mm KwK 38 L/42.

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(Heng Long 1/16 scale Panzer III L RC tank model. This picture was taken by TankArmy.com in Australia)

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(Heng Long 1/16 scale Panzer III L RC tank model. This picture was taken by TankArmy.com in Australia)

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 (Heng Long 1/16 scale Panzer III H RC tank model. This picture was taken by TankArmy.com in Australia)

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 (Heng Long 1/16 scale Panzer III H RC tank model. This picture was taken by TankArmy.com in Australia)

 

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