Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A (Sd Kfz 101)

The Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A (Armoured Fighting Vehicle I version A, normally shortened to the Panzer I or Pz.Kpfw I Ausf A) was the first German tank to enter mass production. It was developed from the Krupp L.K.A.I prototype, itself designed to fulfil a War Ministry Specification issued in 1939 for a light training tank that could be produced quickly in large numbers.

The resulting tank was very lightly armed, carrying two 7.92mm machine guns, and very lightly armoured, with 13mm/ 0.5in armour all round. As with every German tank until the Panzer IV the turret was hand operated. In order to leave enough space for the driver’s access hatch, the turret was mounted on the right hand side of the vehicle.

Krupp received an initial order for 135 tanks in July 1933, and a second order for 450 in January 1934. The first tanks were issued in September 1934. Production was rapid, and by July 1935 475 Pz.Kpfw I Ausf As had been issued to the training schools. From there they moved on to the newly formed Panzer units. At the start of the Second World War 1,445 Panzer Is were in service with frontline units, from a total of 1,493 Ausf As and Bs produced, so at least 760 of this early model were still in service.

The Panzer I had been designed and produced as a training vehicle, to familiarize the new tank crews with tank tactics. However the ease of production became something of a trap, and at the start of the war it was the most common tank in German service. In use the Ausf A was discovered to be underpowered, and its engine prone to overheated. The second problem was partly solved by adding an air-scoop on the deck behind the turret. The first was solved with the introduction of the Pz.Kpfw I Ausf B, with a longer chassis and more powerful engine. 

Number produced




Hull Length

 4.02m/ 13.2ft

Hull Width

 2.06m/ 6.8ft


 1.72m/ 5.6ft






Krupp M305



Max Speed

23mph/ 37 km/h

Max Range

90 miles 145km


Two 7.92mm MG13 machine guns





Top/ Bottom


13mm/ 0.5in

13mm/ 0.5in

13mm/ 0.5in

8mm/ 0.31in


13mm/ 0.5in

13mm/ 0.5in

13mm/ 0.5in

6mm/ 0.23in


13mm/ 0.5in

13mm/ 0.5in

13mm/ 0.5in

6mm/ 0.23in

Gun mantlet

13mm/ 0.5in




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]
cover cover cover

WWII Home Page | WWII Subject Index | WWII Books | WWII Links | Day by Day

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 November 2007), Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A (Sd Kfz 101) ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy