Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf a/1 a/2 and a/3

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf a/1. a/2 and a/3 were the three earliest experimental development versions of the Panzer II. Design work for tanks in the 10 ton category began in January 1934. MAN and Krupp both produced designs. In July 1934 the MAN version was chosen, and in October 1935 the first complete soft steel prototype was complete.

By this point Hitler wanted a rapid expansion of the Panzer forces, and so it was decided to order an unusually large number of tanks in each of the development series – 25 each in the a/1, a/2, a/3 and b series. This was done in order to allow some of these experimental vehicles to be issued to the Panzer units to supplement the Panzer I.

Like in the Panzer I, the engine was at the rear of the tank, with the drive wheels at the front. Suspension was provided by six small paired road wheels, linked by a suspension beam, a system retained until the first production version. All of the Ausf a series used three return rollers. The turret was offset to the left, and carried one 20mm KwK30 L/55 cannon, capable of firing explosive or armour piercing rounds and one 7.92mm machine gun. The Panzer II carried a crew of three – commander/ gunner, loader and driver.

The first ten a/1s used a rubber-tyred cast rear idler. This was then replaced by a welded rear idler for the rest of the production run. As development machines, constant detailed changes were made to the design of the Panzer II at this point. On the a/2 the fireproof engine compartment wall was changed so that it could be removed from within the crew compartment, making it possible to do some work on the engine without having to leave the safety of the tank. Access to the fuel pump and oil filter was also improved by placing a large access port under the motor. The a/3 featured a larger radiator and improved suspension springs.

Number produced



May 1936-February 1937

Hull Length

4.38m/ 14.4ft

Hull Width

2.14m/ 7.0ft


1.95m/ 6.4ft




7.6 tons


Maybach HL57TR



Max Speed

40 km/hr/ 25 mph

Max Range

200km/ 124 miles


One 2cm KwK30 L/55
One 7.92mm MG 34





Top/ Bottom


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5mm/ 0.2in

Gun mantlet

15mm/ 0.6in




German Light Panzers, 1932-1942, Bryan Perrett. This is a well balanced book that combines a technical discussion of the various types of light tanks, a look at the Panzer divisions and their equipment and the battlefield tactics and experience of the German light tank forces. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 February 2008), Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf a/1 a/2 and a/3 ,

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