Construction details about some
of the features of the new German heavy tank have already been described in
Tactical and Technical Trends (see No. 24,
p. 6 and No. 20, p. 7).
The following report by an observer on the Tunisian front furnishes some
comments as a guide to training in antitank action against this tank.
It appears that the first of these tanks to be destroyed in this theater
were accounted for by British 6-pounders (57-mm). An account of this action,
as reported by a British Army Officer, follows:
"The emplaced 6-pounders opened
fire at an initial range of 680 yards. The
first rounds hit the upper side of the tank at very acute angles and merely
nicked the armor. As the tank moved nearer, it turned in such a manner that
the third and fourth shots gouged out scallops of armor, the fifth shot went
almost through and the next three rounds penetrated completely and stopped
the tank. The first complete penetration was at a range of 800 yards, at an
angle of impact of 30 degrees from normal, through homogeneous armor 82-mm
(approximately 3 1/3 inches) thick. Ammunition used was the 57-mm
"One element of this action contains an important lesson that
should be brought to the attention of all AT
elements and particularly tank destroyer units.
(a) "The British gunners did not
open until the enemy tank was well within effective range.
(b) "In addition to opening fire
with the primary weapon -- the 57-mm -- the AT unit also opened with intense light
which forced the tank to
button up and in effect blinded him.
His vision apparently became confused and he was actually traversing his gun away
from the AT guns when he was knocked out for good.
(c) "Once they opened fire, the
British gunners really poured it on and knocked out one more heavy tank and six
PzKw 3s. Also, for good measure, one armored car."
The conclusions to be drawn from this action, according to the British
officer quoted, are:
(a) "The unobstructed vision of
the gunner in a tank destroyer gives him a very real advantage over his
opponent squinting through the periscope or narrow vision slits of a tank.
(b) "The tank destroyer unit
must force the enemy tank to 'button up' by intense fire from every weapon he
has, including machine-guns, tommy guns, and rifles."
The size and weight of a tank
such as the PzKw 6 present many problems. It has been indicated from unofficial
enemy sources that extensive reconnaissance of terrain, bridges, etc., was
necessary before operations with this tank could be undertaken. Bridges have to be
reinforced in many cases, and soil conditions must be good for its effective
operation. It can therefore be assumed that its field of operation is limited.
Reports so far indicate that the
use of this tank is chiefly to support other armored units, including
employment as mobile artillery. As a support tank it is always in rear of
lighter units. In one reported skirmish in Tunisia, the lighter units formed
the spear-head; as soon as enemy tanks were decoyed into range the lighter
tanks fanned out, leaving the heavier tanks in the rear to engage the enemy
The PzKw 6 is now considered a
standard German tank. Present production figures are believed to be at a
maximum of 800 per month.