precision-panzer

Panzer 38(t) Ausf F, 7th Pz Div, near French coast early June 1940

Germany started the war with several thousand tanks, however only the PzIII was truly suitable for the battlefield. The PzI was tiny, inadequately armed with just 2 machine guns & horribly vulnerable to enemy fire. The PzII was better but again underarmed and armoured. The early PzIV was an infantry support tank with a low velocity gun, very thin armour (later models would nearly triple the armour of the 1939 versions) & some lacked even a hull machine gun. To make up for this this Germany deployed hundreds of a pre-war Czech design, the Panzer 38t. Equipped with 2 machine guns & a 37mm cannon it matched the PzIII for firepower & its robust suspension (which would be used right up until the end of the war on the Hetzer tank destroyer) gave it superb cross country performance. Its only real drawback was brittle steel armour riveted together. If hit by even a small (none penetrating) shell the armour could shatter and the rivet heads ricochet around the inside of the tank like bullets shredding the crew. Rivetted armour was not uncommon in early war tanks and was even used by the Americans for their M3 Lee up until 1942.

 

This model is based on Panda Models brand new static Pz38t kit. This is a superb build with metal gun barrel, plenty of PE, individually linked tracks & even some internal detail. The decal options are all for Eastern front tanks so I raided my decal stores & found some 7th Pz Div insignia. Commander by Erwin Rommel this unit stormed across France in the early summer of 1940. Rommel earned a reputation as a maverick during this campaign, deliberately 'losing radio contact with High command' & indeed was nearly court martialled for stealing another panzer divisions bridging equipment!

 

7th Pz Div suffered a reverse at Aras after encountering a handful of the slow but almost unstoppable British Matilda II tanks. As with the other panzer divisions no attempt was made to stop the retreating British & French forces at Dunkirk. Gorings promise that the Luftwaffe could do the job was one aspect of this decision, but in reality the Panzers were sorely in need of heavy maintenance after their advances across Europe, they'd out distanced their supporting infantry & some of the best units in the British army (including 51st Highland & the Guards division) were dug in behind wide canals with all the ammo left by the evacuated troops & under the guns of Royal Naval warships just off the coast. Any attempt to take light panzers onto the beaches would have been disastrous, especially as Paris hadn't fallen at this stage.