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"Further Information About German Tanks" from Intelligence Bulletin, Sep. 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Additional information on German tanks including armor thickness and modifications for submersibility, from Intelligence Bulletin, September 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy equipment and tactics published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on German weapons and tactics is available in postwar publications.]




The sketches on the next three pages show the armor arrangement and armor thicknesses of the Pz. Kw. 3, Pz. Kw. 4, and Pz. Kw. 6. A question mark following a figure indicates that definite information regarding the thickness of a certain plate is not yet available. Two figures enclosed in parentheses indicate the presence of two plates, which are separated to form "spaced armor"; this arrangement occurs only twice, and only in the case of the Pz. Kw. 3.

[Pz. Kw. 3]
Figure 1
[This figure caption was corrected in a footnote of a later issue of
Intelligence Bulletin to: "Pz. Kw. 3 with 50-mm gun (Kw. K. 39)".]


The delays and difficulties that the Germans have encountered in transporting tanks across the rivers of Eastern Europe have increased the enemy's interest in all possible devices which might enable standard Pz. Kw. to cross streams and rivers under their own power.

By the summer of 1941, the weight of the Pz. Kw. 3 had already been increased by additional armor, and it must have been clear to the Germans that future developments in armor and armament would necessarily involve still further increases in the weight of this tank. While the trend toward increased weight was a disadvantage in many ways, it was definitely helpful in overcoming one of the biggest difficulties that the Germans had previously encountered in adapting standard tanks for submersion--namely, the difficulty of getting enough track adhesion.

It therefore is not surprising that the Germans, in the early stages of their campaign in Russia, were actively experimenting with standard Pz. Kw. 3's modified for submersion. It is reported that these experiments met with a certain amount of success, and that the modified tanks made underwater river crossings under combat conditions. The measures employed are said to have included the sealing of all joints and openings in the tank with rubber and the introduction of a flexible air pipe, the free end of which was attached to a float. The supply of air for the crew, as well as for the engine, was provided by this flexible pipe, which permitted submersion to a maximum depth of 16 feet. It took trained crews 24 hours to prepare the tanks for submersion.

[Pz. Kw. 4]
Figure 2

In April 1943, a Pz. Kw. 3 (Model M) examined in North Africa was found to have been permanently modified for immersion, if not for submersion. Although reports on this tank did not mention a flexible pipe with float, such a pipe may have existed and have been destroyed by fire. The air louvres for the engine were provided with cover plates having rubber sealing strips round their edges. These cover plates, which were normally held open by strong springs, could be locked in the closed position by hooks before submersion. After submersion, the springs could be released by controls inside the tank. When the tank submerged, air for the carburetor and cooling fans was apparently drawn from the fighting compartment. Therefore, if a flexible pipe was used with this tank, no doubt its purpose was to supply "replacement" air to the fighting compartment. The two exhaust pipes led to a single silencer mounted high on the tail plate, with its outlet at the top. This outlet was fitted with a spring-controlled, one-way valve, which could be kept in the fully open position during normal operation on land.

More recently, documents and reports from Russia have shown that the standard Pz. Kw. 6 (Tiger) is equipped for submersion to depths of as much as 16 feet. In this tank there is provision for hermetic sealing of all joints and openings. The doors and covers are provided with suitable rubber seals. The radiators are separated from the engine by a watertight partition so that, when the tank is submerged, they can be cooled by water from outside the tank, after the cooling fans have been switched off. In this case carburetor air is drawn through a flexible pipe, the free end of which is supported by a float, but there appears to be no additional supply of air for the crew. A small bilge pump is also fitted to dispose of any water which may leak into the hull.

[Pz. Kw. 6]
Figure 3

It is clear that the Pz. Kw. 6 requires only a slight amount of preparation by its crew before submersion, and that its design must have been influenced by the requirement that it quickly be made submersible. It is quite possible that the Pz. Kw. 3 could be submerged to a depth of more than 16 feet if it were fitted with a longer air pipe. Although the Pz. Kw. 6 is not much larger than the Pz. Kw. 3, it is nearly three times as heavy, and track adhesion is therefore not likely to be a serious problem.

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