Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf D

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf D was the fourth and final development version of the Panzer III, and saw a final attempt to improve the suspension system first adopted on the Ausf B. That version of the tank had introduced a system with eight road wheels on each side. The wheels were connected in pairs, which were then carried on two long leaf springs, with one pair of wheels at each end. On the Ausf C the first and last pairs of wheels were given their own short leaf spring, carried parallel to the ground, while the second and third pairs were carried on a long leaf spring.

On the Ausf D the second and third pairs of wheels remained unchanged, but the short leaf springs for the first and fourth pairs were mounted at an angle. This had the effect of increasing the amount of support their provided, but the suspension system was still not satisfactory, and would be replaced completely on the Ausf E.

The Ausf D also featured a new commander’s cupola, which would be used on the Panzer III Ausf D, E and F and on the Panzer IV Ausf B, C and D. This cupola was protected by 30mm armour and had five vision slits. Minor changes included the replacement of the louvers on the rear hull with hatches and changes to the sprocket, idler and transmission.

The first fifteen Ausf Ds carried the same 15mm main armour as the earlier versions. According to some sources the last fifteen were given thicker 30mm armour, but this is not at all certain.

The Panzer III Ausf D served with the Panzer regiments and divisions in Poland, but was officially withdrawn in February 1940 along with all earlier models, because of its thin armour and poor suspension. It briefly returned to the front line during the Norwegian campaign when it was issued to the snappily titled Pz Abt z b V40 (Tank Detachment for Special Employment 40).

Names
Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf D
Sd Kfz 141
3b Serie Zugführerwagen/ 3b Serie ZW

Stats
Number produced: 30
Produced: January-June 1938
Hull Length: 5.92m/
Hull Width: 2.82m/ 9ft 3in
Height: 2.42m/ 7ft 11in
Crew: 5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, radio operator)
Weight: 16 tons
Engine: Maybach HL108TR V-12
Max Speed: 40km/hr/ 24mph
Max Range: 165km/ 102 miles
Armament: One 3.7cm KwK L/46.5, plus two 7.92mm MG 34 in turret and one in front of superstructure

Armour


Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Turret

15mm/ .6in

15mm/ .6in

15mm/ .6in

10mm/ .4in

Superstructure

15mm/ .6in

15mm/ .6in

15mm/ .6in

10mm/ .4in

Hull

15mm/ .6in

15mm/ .6in

15mm/ .6in

5mm/ .2in

Gun mantlet

15mm/ .6in

 

 

 

Panzerkampfwagen III Medium Tank 1936-44, Bryan Perrett. A good introduction for anyone interesting in the Panzer III, this book covers the development of the tank, the structure of the German panzer forces, and its military career, which saw the Panzer III go from being the Third Reich's main battle tank to being under-gunned and under-armoured [see more]
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 April 2008), Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf D , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_panzer_III_ausf_D.html

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