Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J/ Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK L/42

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The Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J or Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK L/42 was the first in the series of command tanks based on the Panzer III to retain the tank’s main gun. The lack of anything more potent than a machine gun had been a major drawback in the earlier models, and in October 1941 an order was placed for 200 Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf Ks, armed with the long 5cm KwK39 L/60 gun introduced in the Panzer III Ausf J2.

Production of this version of the Panzerbefehlswagen was delayed twice. In October 1941 an order was placed for thirty extra Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf Hs, and as all of the command tanks were produced by Daimler-Benz work on the Ausf H was put back. The second delay came when Daimler-Benz was given a contract to convert 81 new Panzer III Ausf Js to act as command tanks.

This order produced the Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK L/42 (also referred to as the Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J). This tank was virtually identical to the standard short gunned Panzer III Ausf J, but with one ammunition rack removed to make space for the extra radio equipment.

The first 81 Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf Js were followed on the production lines by the custom-built Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf K, but at the start of 1943 it was decided to abandon this model, and revert to the process of converting existing Panzer IIIs. A total of 104 Panzer IIIs were converted to the Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J standard between March and September 1943. The sources disagree as to the gun used on these command tanks, with some giving then the short 5cm L/42 and some the longer 5cm L/60. A mix seems most likely.

The Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J was used to equip the newly formed SS Panzer Divisions, and to replace the very large number of tanks destroyed on the Eastern Front. The Ausf J was also used by Sturmpanzer and assault gun detachments.

Names
Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J
Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK L/42
Sd Kfz 141

Stats
81 produced August-November 1942,
104 converted March-September 1943
Hull Length: 6.28m/
Hull Width: 2.95m/ 9ft 8in
Height: 2.50m/ 8ft 2in
Crew: 5
Weight: 21.5 tons
Engine: Maybach HL120TRM
Max Speed: 40km/hr/ 24mph
Max Range: 155km/ 96 miles
Armament: One 5cm KwK L/42, plus one 7.92mm MG 34 in turret and one in front of superstructure
Radio: FuG5 with either FuG7 or FuG8

Armour


Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Turret

30mm/ 1.2in

30mm/ 1.2in

30mm/ 1.2in

10mm/ 0.4in

Superstructure

20+50mm/ 0.8+2in

30mm/ 1.2in

50mm/ 2 in

17mm/ 0.66in

Hull

50mm/ 2 in

30mm/ 1.2in

50mm/ 2 in

16mm/ 0.62in

Gun mantlet

20+50mm/ 0.8+2in

 

 

 

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 (25 April 2008), Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J/ Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK L/42 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_panzerbefehlswagen_III_ausf_J.html.html

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