Development contracts for a projected ten-ton tank were
issued in July1934. Three firms submitted prototypes which were tested
rigorously until the contract was given to MAN, and the first vehicles
were produced in 1935. These vehicles were used for development only, and
all had a 20 mm cannon mounted in the turret with a co-axial machine-gun.
As a result of this development, production vehicles had thicker armour
and a more powerful engine.
PzKpfw II Ausf A
First produced during 1937, this became one of the most widely used
vehicles in service during 1939 and 1940. It had an angled front hull.
PzKpfw II Ausf B and C
These two models were almost identical and differed from the Ausf A in
having a prominent turret cupola.
PzKpfw II Ausf D and E
The Ausf D and E were built by Daimler-Benz and differed from other models
by having a different Famo/Christie suspension. First produced in 1938,
they had larger road wheels but retained the earlier superstructure, and
were capable of speeds up to 55 kph. The conversion was not a success as
the suspension was too weak for prolonged crosscountry work, and the
variant was withdrawn in 1940. The chassis were then converted to other
PzKpfw II Ausf F
The Ausf F reverted to the earlier suspension of the Ausf A, B and C. It
had thicker armour and some detail changes but the armament remained
unchanged. A revised cupola was fitted.
PzKpfw II Ausf G and J
These two models were almost identical to the Ausf F but had a stowage bin
fitted to the back of the turret. Following on from the above models came
a series of vehicles based on the PzKpfw II but featuring heavier armour
and revised suspensions with interleaved road wheels. These prototypes
were not developed beyond the prototype stage until one, the VK 1303, was
selected as the basis for a light reconnaissance tank which emerged as the
PzKpfw II Ausf L (SdKfz 123)
This model was named the Luchs (Lynx) and was built in late 1942. It
entered service in early 1943. Despite the numerous improvements made to
the basic design, the armament remained the 20 mm cannon and one
machine-gun, but after 100 had been produced, a further 31 were fitted
with a 5 cm gun. Production ceased in May 1943. The Luchs was the last of
the German light tanks in production and service, for after 1943
production was switched to the heavier tanks. Exactly why this lightly
armed vehicle was kept in production at such a late stage of the war is
difficult to determine. Perhaps the answer was that the Luchs was intended
as a reconnaissance tank only, and can be regarded as a tracked armoured
Many of the PzKpfw II Ausf D and E vehicles withdrawn from service were
converted to flamethrower tanks by the addition of two flame projectors on
each front track cover. The crew was reduced to two, and the vehicle had a
flame throwing range of about 40 yards. One machine-gun was retained for
defence. About 95 were converted.
Geschutzwagen II fUr 15 cm sIG 33
There were two versions of this self-propelled artillery carriage. The
first was a simple conversion of an Ausf C to carry the standard infantry
heavy support weapon. It entered service in 1942, but it soon became
apparent that the chassis was overloaded, and a second version appeared
during 1943on which the chassis was lengthened by the addition of an extra
Geschiitzwagen II fur 7.5 cm Pak 40/2 (Marder II)
The Marder II (Martin II) entered service in 1942 and was one of the more
successful of the numerous Panzerjager vehicles. It mounted a special
version of the hard-hitting 7.5 cm Pak 40 anti-tank gun, and Ausf A, C,
and F chassis were used for the conversion. A total of 1,217 were made,
and the type served on many fronts.
PzJag 11 Ausf D, E fur 7.62 cm Pak36(r)
During the early stages of the Russian campaign the T-34 tank
was soon found to be invulnerable to most German weapons. As a result
large .numbers of captured Russian Model 1936 field guns were converted to
anti-tank guns and some were mounted on redundant Ausf D and E chassis.
These vehicles were rushed into action, despite their open fighting
compartments, and were used as tank-hunters.
Geschiitzwagen II fiir 10.5 cm 1eFH 18/1 Wespe
One of the most successful of all the mobile
field artillery pieces produced in Germany during 1939-1945 was the Wespe
(Wasp). It vas a conversion of the basic PzKpfw I chassis to carry a
standard field artillery piece, and the type was produced n large numbers
— 683 were in service in 1942. Normal crew was four men. Some were
produced minus the jun and were used for carrying ammunition.
Amphibious PzKpfw II Ausf A
A small number of vehicles were concerted for amphibious warfare in
preparation for Operation Seelowe Sea Lion) during 1940. Despite
successful trials the type was not used in action.