As Germany designed their future tank force during the thirties, it was found that a tank with a large-caliber weapon was needed against fortifications and anti-tank guns. The resulting design, the Panzerkampfwagen IV, mouonted a 75 mm howitzer on an 18-ton vehicle.
Initial production of the Pz Kpfw IV was slow. Only 198 of the 2690 German tanks participating in the invasion of Poland in 1939 were Pz Kpfw IV's. As heavier Allied armor was encounted, and the design of the Panzerkampfwagen III reached its limits, the Pz Kpfw IV became the most common tank of the German army.
The design was upgraded throughout the war. This included increasing the frontal armor from a maximum of 20 mm on the Ausf. A, to a maximum of 80 mm on the Ausf. H. The side armor remained relatively weak at 30 mm, however. The most important update was the replacement of the short 75 mm howitzer with the long 75 mm tank gun, allowing it to deal with the Russian T-34 and the US Medium Tank, M4.
While the Pz Kpfw IV was intended to be replaced by the Pz Kpfw Panther, Panther production was too low to allow for Pz Kpfw IV production to cease, and it remained in production until the end of the war. A total of 8440 Pz Kpfw IV's were built from 1937 to 1945.
Being the most numerous tank of the German army, the Pz Kpfw IV chassis was used for a large number of variants, such as:
The Pz Kpfw IV served on all fronts during the war, and served in limited numbers with the Bulgarian and Romanian armied. After the war, up-armed Bulgarian Pz Kpfw IV were used as stationary defences along the Turkish border until the fall of communism. A number of Pz Kpfw IV's were also used by Syria during the 1965 Water War, where they engaged Israeli Centurions, and 1967 Six-Day War, where they engaged Israli Super Shermans.
|Ausf. D||Ausf. G|
|Weight||20 t||23.6 t|
|Length||5.92 m||2.63 m|
|Width||2.84 m||2.88 m|
|Speed (road)||25 km/h|
|Speed (cross-country)||20 km/h|
|Engine||Maybach HL 120 TRM|
|Primary weapon||7,5 cm Kw K (L/24) (1)||7,5 cm Kw K 40 (L/48) (1)|
|Secondary weapon||7,92 mm MG 34 (2)|