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"Crew and Communications of German Mark IV Tank" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on crew duties and communication methods for the German Panzer IV is reproduced from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 12, November 19, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The duties of the various crew members of the Mark IV tank are generally similar to those performed by the crews of our own medium M3 and M4 tanks. A German training pamphlet captured in Libya gives the following details on the crew duties and communications of the Mark IV.

a. Duties of the Crew

The crew consists of five men: a commander, gunner, loader, driver, and radio operator. The latter is also the hull machine-gunner.

(1) Tank Commander

The tank commander is an officer or senior NCO and is responsible for the vehicle and the crew. He indicates targets to the gunner, gives fire orders, and observes the effect. He keeps a constant watch for the enemy, observes the zone for which he is responsible, and watches for any orders from the commander's vehicle. In action, he gives his orders by intercommunication telephone to the driver and radio operator, and by speaking tube and touch signals to the gunner and loader. He receives orders by radio or flag, and reports to his commander by radio, signal pistol, or flag.

(2) Gunner

The gunner is the assistant tank commander. He fires the turret gun, the turret machine gun, or the submachine gun as ordered by the tank commander. He assists the tank commander in observation.

(3) Loader

This crew member loads and maintains the turret armament under the orders of the gunner. He is also responsible for care of ammunition, and when the cupola is closed, gives any necessary flag signals. He replaces the radio operator if the latter becomes a casualty.

(4) Driver

The driver operates the vehicle under the orders of the tank commander or in accordance with orders received by radio from the commander's vehicle. So far as possible he assists in observation, reporting through the intercommunication telephone the presence of the enemy or of any obstacles in the path of the tank. He watches the gasoline consumption and is responsible to the tank commander for the care and maintenance of the vehicle.

(5) Radio Operator

He operates the radio under the orders of the tank commander. In action, and when not actually transmitting, he always keeps the radio set to "receive." He operates the intercommunication telephone and takes down any useful messages he may intercept. He fires the machine gun mounted in the front superstructure. If the loader becomes a casualty, the radio operator takes over his duties.

b. Communications

The following means of communication may be used:

(1) External: radio, flag, hand signals, signal pistol, and flashlight.

(2) Internal: intercommunication telephone, speaking tube, and touch signals.

For the radio, the voice range between two moving vehicles is about 3 3/4 miles and CW about 6 1/4 miles.

The flag is used for short-range communications only, and the signal pistol for prearranged signals, chiefly to other arms.

The radio set, in conjunction with the intercommunication telephone, provides the tank commander, radio operator, and driver with a means for external and internal voice communication, the same throat microphones and telephone receiver headsets being used for both radio and telephone.

When the control switch on the radio is set at EMPFANG (receive) and that on the junction box of the intercommunication telephone at BORD UND FUNK (internal and radio), the commander, radio operator, and driver hear all incoming radio signals. Any one of them can also speak to the other two, after switching his microphone into circuit by means of the switch on his chest.

For radio transmission, the switch on the set is adjusted to TELEPHONIE. The telephone switch may be left at BORD UND FUNK. Either the tank commander or the radio operator can then transmit, and they and the driver will all hear the messages transmitted. Internal communication is also possible at the same time, but such conversation will also be transmitted by the radio.

If the radio set is disconnected or out of order, the telephone switch may be adjusted to BORD (internal). The tank commander and driver can then speak to one another, and the radio operator can speak to them, but cannot hear what they say. The same applies when a radio receiver is available but no transmitter, with the difference that incoming radio signals can then be heard by the radio operator.

The signal flags are normally carried in holders on the left of the driver's seat. When the cupola is open, flag signals are given by the tank commander, and when it is closed, the loader raises the circular flap in the left of the turret roof and signals with the appropriate flag through the port thus opened.

The signal pistol is fired either through the signal port in the turret roof, through the cupola, or through one of the vision openings in the turret wall. The signal pistol must not be cocked until the barrel is already projecting outside the tank. It is only used normally when the vehicle is stationary. Its main use is giving prearranged signals to the infantry or other troops.

When traveling by night with lights dimmed or switched off altogether, driving signals are given with the aid of a dimmed flashlight. The same method is also employed when tanks are in a position of readiness and when in bivouac.

Orders are transmitted from the tank commander to the gunner by speaking tube and by touch signals. The latter are also used for messages from the commander to the loader, and between the gunner and loader.


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