Monday, December 13, 2010

DAK GUNS - Panzer II - Light Tank

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.
Despite their obsolescence in the face of improved Allied tanks, prodution of new versions, including flame-thrower tanks and conversions of others into gun carriages, continued into 1943 and 1944. One of the more famous vehicles based on the Panzer II was the Wespe (wasp) self-propelled howitzer, also used in the North Africa campaign.

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)


  1. I have found no evidence (despite the Matchbox model) that the Wespe was ever used in the North African Campaign.

  2. Hello,

    I agree with you. But I see one model of Revel here:

    As far as I know, the Wespe was first used in the eastern front, Kursk - Jully 1943. The Afrikakorps ended in May 1943.

  3. Hi, Same here, re Wespe. "Armour, Camouflage and Markings North Africa 40-43" by G.R.Radford lists ;- PzJag 1 47MM SdKfz 101, SP 150MM Howitzer SdKfz 121, Lorraine Shlepper 150mm, Marders 2 & 3, a few Stugs but it misses the Dianas although they are strictly speaking not Armoured... Airfix had me thinking Panthers fought in the Desert until I was 13!!! Resin kit makers would have you believe that the DAK used Beetles.. and how many DAK pak40s are sold in kit and diecast form? I am learning that photos are the most trustworthy source even if a black and white pic of Russia in the summer can be miscredited as North Africa occasionally..