[Lone Sentry: WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
  [Lone Sentry: Photographs, Documents and Research on World War II]
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Intel Articles by Subject

"German Tanks for Use as Amphibians" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on German tanks modified for amphibious use was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 6, August 27, 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 German army, during 1940 and 1941, stressed interest in a smooth and steadily increased rate of tank production. Immediately after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the decision was taken to continue production of the light tank Panzerkampfwagen 38/T, manufactured by the C.K.D. (Ceskomoravska Kolben-Danek) metal-works factory in Prague.

In projecting the possibilities for future use of the 38/T tank (German military marking PzKw 38/T) for amphibian operation, certain new improvements over the older model were to be incorporated into the later type. For example, the Prague manufacturers were told that these tanks must be made waterproof, and provision made for mounting the tank on a floating device to enable the vehicle to surmount waves as high as 13 feet. The maximum seagoing speed was to be 8 miles per hour at least and the tank must be capable of running at this speed for 10 hours. Furthermore, it was to be required that, even while navigating the gun (in a revolving turret) should be able to fire.

Ability to climb twenty-degree beach slopes was another specification to be met. There was also the question of finding a way to discard the floating mechanism upon reaching land so that the crew need not dismount. The floating device was to consist of two floats made of balsa wood. The drive afloat was to be provided by two propellers driven by the tank motor through the medium of the track drive sprocket.

A prototype of this amphibian tank, delivered in January 1941, had the following characteristics:

Weight     5.5 tons (approx.)
Maximum land speed25 - 30 m.p.h.
Speed in still water7 - 9 m.p.h.
Angle of climb (land)45° slope.
Angle of climb (beach)30° slope.
Crossing ditch5 ft. 4 in. wide, 60° - 80° slope on far side.
Armor thickness0.3 - 0.6 in.
Armamentone 7.92-mm. m.g. in revolving turret.
Powerone 4-cylinder Flatwine motor 135 h.p., rear drive.

There have also been reports that the Germans have been experimenting with a tank capable of crossing the bed of a river. One version is that rubber covers for the turret and guns are fitted for water-tightness, air is supplied to the engine from oxygen bottles, and the crew is provided with oxygen breathing apparatus.

Another version is that the tanks, while under water, obtain their air supply through inlet and outlet tubes connected to a float which is towed by the tank.

Both these methods may be practicable for short river crossings. To travel long distances under water the problem might be solved as in a submarine, but practical difficulties of construction would be considerable if the tanks were required to withstand pressure at more than moderate depths. Also, batteries necessary for long under-water endurance would be very cumbersome and heavy.


[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page

Web LoneSentry.com