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Panzer PzKpfw Mk I (SdKfz 101)


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                                                                                    Panzer Mk I History

The PzKfw I had its origins in the design of the Carden-Loyd machine-gun carrier, an example of which was obtained for study during 1932. Five German firms submitted designs and the Krupp entry was awarded the production contract. The Krupp entry was designated the LKA I, but was given the cover name of La S, which stood for agricultural tractor. Krupp was responsible for the hull and chassis, and Daimler-Benz built the superstructure, but the first prototypes were built by Henschel and delivered during December 1933.
PzKfw I Ausf A

The first production variant was the Ausf A and 150 were built by Henschel, starting in July 1934. Weight of the original PzKpfw I was 5.4 tons. It differed from the LKA I prototype in having smaller road wheels and an external beam supporting the suspension. Armour was 13 mm thick, and armament was two 7.92 mm machine-guns mounted side-by-side in the turret. The first Ausf A vehicles were delivered during 1935.

PzKpfw I Ausf B
The Ausf B formed the major type of the 1,500 PzKpfw Is built. It was longer than the Ausf A due to the addition of an extra road wheel to improve traction, and the engine was improved from a 60 hp model to a 100 hp petrol engine. The armament and armour remained the same but weight was increased to 5.8 tons. This was the variant which formed part of the panzer divisions during the invasions of Poland and France, and a few were left in service in 1941 when Russia was invaded.
In 1939, a proposal was made to develop the PzKpfw I as a small infantry support tank. A few prototypes were built which featured thicker armour and a redesigned suspension. On one design the twin machine-gunswere replaced by a 20 mm cannon with a co-axial machine-gun, but the project did not get beyond the prototype stage.

After 1940 the basic PzKpfw I was used as the basis for a series of special vehicles. The main variants were as follows:

Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen I (SdKfz 265)
On this variant the turret was replaced by a fixed box structure and the result was used as a mobile command post. One machine-gun was fitted.

Flammpanzer I
These were Ausf A field conversions made in North Africa to give the Afrika Korps a mobile flamethrower. Only a few were so converted.

PzKpfw I(A) Munitions-Schlepper (SdKfz 111)
This was a conversion of the Ausf A in which the turret and superstructure were removed to enable the open hull to be used for carrying ammunition for mobile columns.

15 cm sIG 33 auf Geschutzwagen I Ausf B (see below)
Produced in 1939, this carried a modified infantry gun in a high open box. It saw action in 1940 and 1941 but was withdrawn soon after as the gun was really too heavy for the chassis. This was the first German self-propelled gun.

Panzerjager I fur 4.7 cm Pak(t)
In order to give a degree of mobility to anti-tank units a number of Czech guns were placed on Ausf B chassis behind a shield installed in place of the turret. This variant became the first of the Panzerjager tank-hunting vehicles which were later produced in a wide variety of types and calibres. The PzJa'g I saw action in France and North Africa.

PzKpfw Ib Ladungswerfer 1
This was a specialised engineer vehicle used to carry demolition charges on a movable gantry. Not many were so converted.

Gutted hulls were often used as tractors or for driver training.

Technical Specification

  Variations & Plans  
Plans Geschutzwagen Mk I Ausf B Panzerjager Mk I
Specifications Ausf A Ausf B

Weight 6 Tons


Max Road Speed 40 kph / 24.9 mph  
Road range 140 km / 87 miles  
Cross Country Range 115 km / 71.4 miles  
Length Overall 4420 mm / 174 inches  
Width 2060 mm / 81.1 inches  
Height 1720 mm / 67.7 inches  
Engine 6 Cylinder Maybach NL38TR 100 hp  
Track Width 280 mm / 11 inches  
Wheel base 1670 mm / 65.75 inches  
Armament 1 2 x 7,92 mm machine gun  
Ammunition Carried 1 1525 rounds  
Bow Armour 13 mm / 0.51 inches  
Side Armour 13 mm / 0.51 inches  
Roof & Floor Armour 6 mm / 0.24 inches  
Turret Armour 13 mm / 0,51 inches  
Crew 2