Friday, March 18, 2011

The Panzers: part 1

I am going to write a series of posts about the German Panzers of World War Two, from the lowly Panzer I to the mammoth Panzer VIII Maus.  Our story begins in 1919, in the Palace of Versailles. One of the terms to the treaty that ended the Great War was that Germany could not have tanks. So, in the 1920s, the German Army came up with a loophole in the law. They used cars with cardboard armor, training for a time when they would be able to use real tanks. So, when the Nazis first came to power, one of their first acts after they declared the treaty of Versailles extinct was to send out a proposal for a new tank. The accepted proposal was a light tank armed with two machine-guns. The Panzerkampfwagen( armored vehicle) I had a two man crew and pitifully light armor. As shown by its weak armament, this tank was really only meant to be a training vehicle, but in the Spanish Civil War and the first stages of the Second World War it was forced to serve combat duty. The British and French armor used in the 1940 campaign far outclassed it, and once enough medium tanks were available, it was quickly phazed out of frontline service, although it was retained until about 1943 as a training tank. ( actually, the date is a guess. Also, some variants of Panzer I were used as infantry assault tanks until 1944!)

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