GD Logo small.gif (6909 bytes) Panzer 38(t)

Historical Information for Panzer 38(t)

The Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) was a Czechoslovakian tank used by Germany during World War 2. (The Czechoslovak military designation was LT vz. 38. Manufacturer's designations included TNH series, TNHPS, LTP and LTH). The special vehicle designation for the tank in Germany was Sd.Kfz. 140.

The Panzer 38(t) was a conventional pre-World War II tank design, with riveted armor and rear engine. The riveted armor was not sloped, and varied in thickness from 10 mm to 25 mm in most versions. Later models (Ausf. E on) increased this to 50 mm. The two-man turret was centrally located, and housed the tank's main armament, a 37 mm Skoda A7 gun with 90 rounds stored on board. It was equipped with a 7.92 mm machine gun to the right of the main ordnance. Interestingly, the turret machinegun was in a separate ball mount rather than a coaxial mount. This meant the machine-gun needed to be trained on targets independently, rather than being aimed with the main gun. The driver was in the front right of the hull, with the bow machine-gunner seated to the left, manning a 7.92 mm machine gun. As with many 1930s tanks, the bow gunner was also the radio operator. A total of 2,550 rounds were carried for the bow and turret machine guns.

The engine was mounted in the rear of the hull and drove the tank through a transmission with five forward gears and one reverse gear. It drove a forward drive sprocket, with the track running under four rubber-tired road wheels and back over a rear idler and two track return rollers. The wheels were mounted on a leaf-spring double-bogie mounted on two axles. Despite the large wheel size, the tank did not use a Christie Suspention. In 1935, the Czechoslovak tank manufacturer CKD was looking for a replacement for the LT - 35 tank they were jointly producing with Skoda Works. The LT-35 was complex and had shortcomings, and ČKD felt there would be orders both from the expanding Czechoslovak army and for export.

ČKD decided to use a suspension with four large wheels for their new tank. It resembled the Christie Suspension outwardly, but was actually a conventional leaf spring unit. The resulting vehicle was reliable, and an export success: 50 were exported to Iran, 24 each to Peru and Switzerland. Latvia also ordered some. Britain evaluated one tank, but rejected it.

On July 1st, 1938, Czechoslovakia ordered 150 of the TNHPS model, although none had entered service by the time of the German occupation. After the German takeover, Germany ordered continued production of the model, as it was considered an excellent tank, especially compared to the Panzer I and Panzer II tanks that were the Panzerwaffe's main tanks. It was first introduced into German service under the name LTM 38; this was changed on 16th january 1940 to Panzerkampfwagen 38(t). Production of tanks for Germany continued into 1942, and amounted to more than 1,400 examples. Examples were also sold to a number of German allies, including Hungary (102), Slovakia (69), Romania (50), and Bulgaria (10). In German service the 38(t) was used as a substitute for the Panzer III.
The Panzer 38(t) was manufactured up to the middle of World War II. The small turret wasn't capable of taking a weapon big enough to destroy the latest tanks and manufacturing ceased. However, because the chassis was mechanically reliable, turretless versions were built with a weapon mounted on the superstructure. Assault guns, anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft guns were mounted on the chassis. A Swedish variant, the Sav m/43, remained in use until 1970, which is probably a longevity record for a pre-WW2 tank.

The Panzer 38(t) performed well in the Polish campaign in 1939 and the Battle of France in 1940. It was also used in the german invasion of the Soviet Union from 1941 onwards in German and Romanian units, but was outclassed by Soviet tanks such as the T 34. Several captured examples were refitted with Soviet DTM machine guns and employed by the Red Army. The vehicle continued to serve after 1941 as a reconnaisance vehicle and in anti-partisan units for some time.

The Flakpanzer 38(t) was not a success as it was too poorly armed. In fact, it often became the target of allied fighter-bombers. Its armour was too thin to prevent damage from heavy aircraft machine guns.

The Hetzer and Marder models of tank destroyers were very successful, in particular the Hetzer. With 2,584 Hetzers produced during the war, it became one of the most common German AFVs in the last year of the war. Production continued for the Czechoslovak Army after the war. Switzerland purchased 158 examples, which served into the 1960s. Removal of turrets from Panzer 38(t) tanks for conversion of the chassis to tank destroyer and other uses freed 351 turrets for use in fortifications in various locations. Almost half of these (150) were used in Southwest Europe, while 78 went to the Eastern Front, 75 to Norway, 25 in Italy, 20 in Denmark, and 9 in the Atlantic Wall. The small-bore armament and thin armor of the turrets made them insignificant as an anti-tank pillbox by the later stages of the war, but they were still useful in combating infantry attacks

Technical Information


     PzKfW 38(t) or TNH P-S (Czechoslovakia)



Primary Armament

1 x 3.7 cm KwK 38(t) L/47.8


     9,700kg (21,385lbs)


Length (including armament):

     4.546m (14ft 11in)


     2.133m (7ft 0in)


     2.311m (7ft 7in)


one Praga EPA 6-cylinder water-cooled petrol engine @ 112kW (150hp)


maximum road speed:

     42km/h (26mph)

maximum road range:

     200km (125miles)


     0.90m (3ft)



vertical obstacle:

     0.787m (2ft 7in)


     1.879m (6ft 2in)