A brief word is needed to explain what would seem at first
sight to be a rather complex method of designating vehicles used by the
To begin with, all vehicles were prefixed by their purpose. For tanks this
was the word 'Panzerkampfwagen' which translates literally as 'armoured
fighting vehicle'. This was usually abbreviated in practise to 'PzKpfw'.
Other examples of this system were Panzerbeobachtungswagen (PzBeobWg),
which was an armoured observation vehicle; Fiakpanzer (FlakPz), which was
an anti-aircraft tank; and Panzerbefehlwagen (PzBefWg), which was an
armoured command vehicle.
In addition to the purpose prefix each type of vehicle was given an
ordnance inventory number. This was the number used for labelling all
drawings and spare parts lists peculiar to that particular type of
vehicle. This ordnance number was known as the 'sonderkraftfahrzeug'
number, or SdKfz, and was usually included in brackets at the end of a
vehicle designation. (SdKfz literally translated indicates 'special
purpose motor vehicle'). An example would be PzKpfw I Ausf B (SdKfz 101).
The word 'Ausf means Mark, being short for 'Ausfuhrung', and could be
found written either as Ausf or ausf. The different marks were written as
letters of the alphabet. Thus for example, different marks of the Panther
were described as the Ausf A, D or G.
The SdKfz numbers for each vehicle type are given in the data tables.
Captured vehicles were not normally given an SdKfz number, exceptions
being made for Czech vehicles that remained in production for the
Wehr-macht, and for certain conversions such as those utilising the
Lorraine tractor chassis as a self-propelled gun mounting.
The Wehr-macht designated their weapons in mm up to 20 mm and in cm
thereafter, eg 8.8 cm, and this system has been followed in classifying
all German weapons.
As well as the designations listed below,
many had names such as "Tiger", King Tiger", "Panther", "JagPanther" as
||Anti Aircraft Tank
||Armoured Command Vehicle
||Mark or Model
||Ausf (A,B,C,D,E,F etc)
|PkZpfw M4 -748(a)
||Converted American Tank
||Converted Czech Tank (t)
||Converted Russian T34
|PkZpfw MKII 748(e)
Matilda Tank (e)