Latest WW2 German prototypes

Panzer II Ausf. H & Ausf. M (VK9.03)

At first of World Struggle II, the Panzer I and Panzer II mild tanks have been rather more than some other tanks in the German warehouse. The flippantly armed and armored machines have been already approaching the obsolescence by the time Poland attacked in September 1939. Being aware that these tanks wanted modernization if they have been to outlive in the future, in the late 1930s, German engineers began quite a few tasks on Panzer I and Panzer II to improve. One of many first corporations was VK 9.01, which started in 1938 to enhance Panzer II mobility by introducing technically advanced auto elements and new suspension design. VK 9.03, born in July 1940, was the subsequent nice iteration of this collection, with a slightly thicker armor and a stronger engine than its predecessor. Regardless of these restricted enhancements, VK 9.03 was near accepting mass production and Panzer II Neuer Artwork (new model) Ausf. H and Panzer II Ausf. M.

Like other VK 9 tank households, the design of VK 9.03 was intently related to the philosophy of Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp, ​​an influential engineer and Heeres Waffenamt (Ordnance of the Army). ). When Kniepkamp believed that velocity and firepower have been of paramount importance in tank design, the VK 9 collection was designed to incorporate the newest automotive know-how developed by German engineers, comparable to new gearboxes and control techniques. Theoretically, this refined know-how creates a extra cellular platform that the crew can be easier to function. In actuality, immature, temperamental automotive elements turned out to be the infinite nightmare of the tank crew.

Even before the appearance of technical problems, VK 9.03 was uncertain. Proper from the very beginning of July 1940 it was just one undertaking that contained contradictory and seemingly mutually unique designs designed to create a brand new model of Panzer II. Whereas VK 9.03 struggled to draw a drawing, several promising new models for Panzer II tasks, such as the VK 13 collection, had a extra spacious interior and a four-man crew. In addition, the operational expertise of the Polish and French campaigns had raised questions concerning the usefulness of such calmly armed and armored tanks outdoors the intelligence space. Within the mild of those information, it appears marvelous that the VK 9.03 venture was permitted, to not point out mass manufacturing, whether it was an easy and irrational state of German tank acquisition; in circumstances the place tasks comparable to VK 9.03 obtained their own pace from broader financial issues and the needs of the sector forces

The castles of heaven: the change within the acquisition of the German tank

Early Conflict The Nazi financial system was burdened by problems and inefficiencies resulting from contradictory "weapons and butter" , overlapping administrative jurisdictions and poor resource management. These structural points that plagued the Nazi state are reflected within the obscure nature of the German reservoir acquisition system in 1940. In this context, visionary and gifted engineer Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp appeared.

Head of Waffen, Prüfen 6 (Wa Prüf 6), Department of Heeres Waffenamt, liable for designing new tanks and different motor automobiles, Kniepkamp participated in virtually all major German WWII AFV tasks. Underneath his administration, this engineering division visited Inspektorat 6 (In 6), an army procurement company for armored automobiles and comparable gear. When within the 6th century it was previously determined which varieties of tanks Heer wanted and Wa Prüf 6 had only translated these laws into engineer specs, Wa Prüf 6 started within the late 1930s to exercise higher management over the varieties of tanks to be manufactured. This oversized impact led to a state of affairs where the tanks have been designed much less in accordance with military necessities than the rebel and hopes of Wa Prüf 6 engineers and engineering corporations. Thus, the doors have been opened to challenge smorgasbord, lots of which have been technically superior, but in addition in many instances impractical, pointless, and undesirable.

As a typical instance of this design race by the top of 1939, the engineering firm Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nuremberg (MAN) worked on three separate tasks to enhance Panzer II: VK 9.01 (upcoming Panzer II Ausf. G), VK 13.01 (later developed by VK 13.03) , extra generally referred to as Panzer II Ausf. L & # 39; Luchs & # 39;), and extra closely armored VK 16.01 (later accepted by Ausf. J). This reflects a scarcity of management and course during German tanker procurement; The German engineers couldn’t determine whether the improved Panzer II ought to be extra cellular or if it should have larger armored protection and could not decide whether it will have a three-man or crew crew. As an alternative of deciding on a specific strategy, they merely destroyed assets to realize all three objectives, regardless of the inherent overlaps and contradictions of these models.

Though it can be assumed that the start of the warfare would have paid for this free for all. For a more rational production schedule, chaos worsened if something obtained worse. VK 9.03 was born from this more and more complicated network of slicing fashions and competing procurement initiatives that resulted from this example.

Notice to the reader: A lot of the tasks to enhance Panzer II have been named within the VK index. The index created by Kniepkamp categorised the car configuration (VK / HK – Vollketten / Halbketten – full monitor / half monitor), its predicted weight and its place within the improvement spherical. Thus, VK 9.03 referred to the design of a third-model (projected) nine-tonne full-armored armored car. For consistency and clarity, I made a decision to make use of the format X.0X VK or VK XX.0X, when reference is made to this text VK-index numbers. Publications and seasonal paperwork confer with the VK designations in many various ways, so both might be thought-about as VK 901 or VKK 901 as the right options to VK 9.01

Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp in unity. When Kniepkamp was chargeable for overseeing the creation of latest tank models in 1936, it turned some of the influential figures in the improvement of armored battleships in World Conflict II in Germany. Beneath the leadership of Kniepkamp, ​​German engineers started designing several well-known tanks, resembling Panther, Tigers and E-series tasks. VK 9.01 and VK 9.03 epitomized Kniepkamp's concept of ​​a great mild container, despite the fact that they’re never near their surroundings. Supply: Wikimedia Commons

More from: VK 9.03 Design

In June 1940, when Heeres Waffenamt had delivered its disappointment to In 6, mass manufacturing of VK 9.01 wouldn’t be attainable until November 1941, Wa Prüf 6 was referred to as in the 6th century. a begin the work of VK 9.03. The planned design weight of the new design was 10.5 tonnes of thicker armor and extra highly effective engine than VK 9.01. Nevertheless, in virtually all different features, the properties and elements remained exactly the identical as their predecessors to the extent that the differences are quicker to listing than the similarities.

Although higher safety for cures has been identified as one of many priorities of this venture, delicate weight achieve didn’t permit for a big improve in the thickness of the armor at VK 9.01. The truth is, solely the edges of the physique and the back have been meant to develop from 14.5 mm to 20 mm, whereas the opposite armor remained the identical, as much as 30 mm at the front of the body. Although the expansion of the edges of the body and the thickness of the back might have made VK 9.03 extra immune to the rifles towards the tanks that had dropped most of the Polish Panner II, this was hardly an enormous improve that might sharply improve survival

Another most vital VK 9.03 The change made in Might was the set up of a extra highly effective Maybach HL 66 P engine. Initially developed in 1938 for HK (ie Halbketten – "Half-tracked") 9.01 half-track design, Maybach had made five of these engines by the top of 1940, after which one other 14 in 1941. The nominal value of 200 hp, this engine was calculated to be capable of providing enough power to allow the VK 9.03 to realize the very best street velocity of 65 km / h, which is a powerful velocity for the monitor machine in that period. As a result of the lighter VK 9.01 might reach 67 km / h with a much less environment friendly 150 hp HL 45 engine, this actually didn't assist; As an alternative, it solely ensured that VK 9.03 retained its predecessor's mobility

Actually, on June 22, 1940, engineers attempted to acquire the traits of the VK 9.03 automotive business by calculating the consequences of installing Maybach HL 66 and strengthened VG 15319 capable of withstanding greater torque. the heavier however otherwise unchanged VK 9.01 frame. In these initial studies, the VK 9.01 suspension was not altered in any approach, Kgs. The VK 9.01 61/300/10 songs have been ultimately exchanged for bigger Kgs. The 63/360/90 thus increases the car spacing from 2.00 to 2.08 m

Along with these changed options, VK 9.03 remained nearly similar to VK 9.01 whereas maintaining the crew (crew). / Gunner, radio operator and driver) and a couple of cm Kw.Okay. 38 and M.G.34 (Pz.) Armament. As a result of the variety of remaining paperwork differs from M.A.N. (body designer) and Daimler-Benz (tower and bodywork designer), detailed info on the preliminary construction of the tower and bodywork for VK 9.03 are minor. Nevertheless, given the good similarities between VK 9.01 and VK 9.03, it is doubtless that the tower and the Bodywork would have resembled VK 9.01, however that is simply hypothesis.

Though VK 9.03 doesn’t seem to have provided vital improvements to the already delayed VK 9.01, Wa Prüf 6 had made agreements with MAN to design and build 5 Versuchs-Fahrgestell (check instances) and Daimler-Benz designed by Aufbau (turrets and superstructures) by the top of 1940.

Ordered as early as June 1940, the primary of those VK 9.03 Versuchs-Fahrgestell will probably be outfitted with Maybach VG 20417 and LG 45 L management unit, the latter of which was already proposed for suspended VK 9.02. These elements have been thought-about to be top-notch in the German automotive business, in order that they have been specifically selected for the VK 9 collection to ensure wonderful mobility and ease of use, which Kniepkamp attaches nice importance to. These recent immature components had proven to be a continuing supply of interference when examined in VK 9.01, and at the moment was an ironic twist unknown to engineers.

0-Serie VK 9.01 (authorised to Panzer II Ausf. G) by Wa Prüf 6 in 1941. with overlapping wheels. Though it is unclear whether VK 9.03 was originally meant to use the identical bodywork and tower as VK 9.01, it’s probably that it will have been comparable when the overall orientation of VK 9.03 for VK 9.01 is probably going. Source:

Excessive Expectations: Plans for Mass Manufacturing

The quite a few similarities within the design of VK 9.01 and VK 9.03 have been likened to equally formidable mass production plans. Earlier than the technically advanced automotive elements utilized by VK 9.01 and VK 9.03 have been even completely tested, these lofty methods designed hundreds of tanks to equip combat models within the Panzer divisions and the motorized infantry division. 19659003] Immediately on January 8, 1941, when a lot of the design drawings of the VK 9.03 frame have been completed, Waffenamt signed a contract with MAN for the manufacturing of 500 VK 9.03 chassis. Presumably, Daimler-Benz, whose activity was to design Aufbau on September 23, 1940, additionally acquired a manufacturing contract of 500 turrets and superstructures hooked up to those hulls. This agreement implies that VK 9.03 had transferred VK 9.01 as a major candidate to Panzer II's mass manufacturing mannequin, while the mass production of VK 9.01 was typically discussed, a serial manufacturing settlement that exceeded 75 0 trials

observe that when this deal was awarded, MAN was solely just earlier than the first VK 9.01 Zero-Serie shells that had been ordered greater than a yr in the past have been crammed. The good vulnerability between the needs of the VK 9 venture and its concrete results was revealed within the comical a part of the assembly on improvement standing held on 23 Might 1941 between MAN's employees and Basic Radlmeier, a consultant of Reichsministerium für Bewaffnung. and ammunition (Reich Military and Ammunition Ministry). Perhaps understandably, Radlmeier had visited M.A.N. with the impression that VK 9.03 was able to proceed to serial production; Based on the knowledge obtainable to the Ministry, mass production of VK 9.03 was on account of begin in January 1942. It fell to M.A.N. The employees should clarify that Radlmeier is extremely stunned that the primary 5 Versuchs-Fahrgestell production had simply begun, and that M.A.N. had planned the manufacturing of the first collection of production VK 9.03 for April 1942. In a press release that was not good for progressive and untested VK 9.03, this phase of the report ended with Radlmeier's brutal declaration that future Panzer production will concentrate on mass production

. monetary administration pressures began to argue for brand spanking new and technically complicated models, akin to VK 9.03, this new Panzer II mannequin remained firmly on Heer's long-distance planning. On Might 30, 1941, a document generally known as the Schwerpunktprogramm (main program – Schwerpunkt, a German time period typically used along side Blitzkrieg), which refers to the middle of a specific effort, described the manufacturing volumes of all required automobiles. meets the requirements of Heeres Panzerprogramm 41 (Military Tank Program 1941). A complete of 20 new Panzer divisions and 10 new motor infantry divisions Waffenamt declined that Heer needed 2 922 VK 9,03 tanks for battle flight in Panzer models, and another 8111 VK 9,03 tanks for headquarters, infantry, motorized infantry, Panzer, pioneer , intelligence and tank hunters. In addition, 1 483 VK 9.03 tanks have been for use for tanker hunter control and artillery detection in artillery models, to not point out 1028 tanker jets, 5 cm tank gun and 360 platform self-propelled 15 cm s.I.G. 33 Weapons

Such big calls for required a corresponding high production. To realize these objectives, the document said that 300 Panzer II must be completed by April 1942, 1,380 by 1 April 1943, 4,980, 1 April 1944 and 13,980 by April 1, 1945. it was accepted that the production of Panzer II (Ausf. F) will continue till VK 9.03 production can start significantly, anytime. Sadly, these more cautious designers such targets would require that in the event that they have been by no means attainable, require a point of economic rationalization, which at the very least no less than Panzer II in the improvement of a robust lacked each business and Waffenamtin among [19659003WaffenamtjatkoiuseidenhankkeidentoteuttamistasensijaanettäpriorisoitaisiinponnistelujayhdensellaisenmallintäydentämiseksijokaolisiollutsopivasellaistenmassatuotantoavartenjoitataloustieteilijäthalusivatSitenelokuussa1941500VK903:nsopimusolihajaantunut250VK903:nja250VK1303:nsopimukseenjokaolivieläyksiraskaampiPanzerII-varianttijonkatarkoituksenaolikäyttääsamaaautotekniikkaakuinVK9-sarjamuttajokaasettitilavampikahdenmiehentorniKuudesVK903Versuchs-Fahrgestellolimyöstilattujaensimmäinenjokaolitilattukesäkuussa1940odotetaanvalmistuvansyyskuuhun1941mennessä[19659003] The VK 9.03 challenge was solely shredding for a couple of months because new recommendations have been added and a number of other modifications have been launched. In consequence, the bark, which resigned from the wants of the forces on the battlefield of the German tank design and the necessity of economic rationalization, turned a murmur.

Photograph of Maybach's HL 66 P engine guide revealed in Might 1942. It is able to producing 200 hp at three,00Zero rpm, this engine was proposed to be put in on VK 9.03. The same engine was later utilized in VK 13.03, a new Panzer II mannequin developed by M.A.N. Source:

Dissolution of VK 9.03

Again in Might 1940, M.A.N. and Waffenamt officers assured each other that Panzer II Neuer Artwork's mass manufacturing, then beneath the guise of VK 9.01, would start by November 1941. Since November approached, the potential for mass manufacturing was not even on the horizon, to not point out within the close to future. Although the full of 75 VK 9.01 0-Serie was delivered to Heer by the top of August 1941, their efficiency within the exams at Berka's check website was not removed from encouraging. new auto elements. In any case, VK 9.01 had already been replaced by a candidate for mass manufacturing with VK 9.03, which was additionally in competition with the brand new VK 13.03

The unsure future of VK 9.03 was further mitigated by the sudden introduction of latest members of the VK 9 household. After Basic Radlmeier's second go to on August 15, 1941, M.A.N. introduced that he was notably enthusiastic about new tankers, specifically VK 9.04 and VK 9.05. In accordance with the report, these fashions weren’t meant to be produced in separate tons, but as part of 250 VK 9.03 ordered on August 1, 1941. As VK 9.01 was transferred to VK 9.03, VK 9.03

Sadly, not much is understood about VK 9.04 and VK 9.05 besides that they existed. Along with the above-mentioned Radlmeier visit report, the one info on VK 9.05 comes from Maybach's March 31, 1942 report on engine improvement. This report mentions VK 9.05 with a 400 hp Maybach HL 100 petrol engine and a Lenkkupplung control unit. Since there are not any other details, it is extremely probably that VK 9.04 and VK 9.05 have been only conceptual.

If these questions with know-how, manufacturing and competing fashions didn’t put VK 9.03 at risk, the nature of the East Entrance Struggle additionally began to question the good effort and assets of an enormous tank. The experience of preventing Soviet tanks accelerated the plans to take care of the current Panzer III and Panzer IV platforms, and so more emphasis was put on creating new fashions of firepower and extra armored protection. One of the producers of German armored automobiles, vans and heavy industrial gear M.A.N. pressured to give attention to Panzer III and afterward the well-known Panther manufacturing. Subsequently, this changing context of warfare left little room for mass production of a weak, undeveloped, untested and sophisticated mild container reminiscent of VK 9.03.

The results of this example have been mirrored in the report of the M.A.N. In response to this report, the requirement to supply 20 Panzer III and 50 VK 9.03 per 30 days would require the extension of the meeting room to the introduction of 125 new machine tools and new compartments. gears. This latter provision was notably essential as a result of the ending of the gears was one of many largest bottlenecks in Panzer's production of M.A.N. meeting hall. Because the arrival of drugs ending crops at M.A.N had been delayed, the mill needed to subcontract to other factories, comparable to Zahnräderfabriken Augsburg, and could not improve its personal production over the subsequent two years. Since VK 9.03 would have wanted 3 times extra gear than Panzer III, this installation is more likely to significantly hinder the mass production of VK 9.03.

The report also states that the gadget used for machining the holes within the frame holes ought to be reshaped to VK 9.03, which slows down the start of mass production. This report, which provides an fascinating overview of a number of the earthly elements that have influenced tank production, was not created nicely for VK 9.03. When these obstacles should be resolved and the need to improve production of allegedly extra relevant models, it has requested the question: was VK 9.03 well worth the effort?

These troublesome questions have been very minor for these involved in the planning course of. , who continued to make big proposals for brand spanking new additions to VK 9.03. One such example of this was the thought of ​​replacing 2 cm Kw.Okay. 38 VK 9.03 principal arm with 2.Eight cm sPzB 41 heavy anti-tank rifle. Recognized by a number of names, including Geschütz 8202, Wg 8202 SLMG, 2.8 cm Kw.Okay. 41, and after manufacturing delay 2.8 cm Kw.Okay. 42, this weapon was outfitted with a Mauser-designed fuel strain washer. It was supposed to have the ability to shoot 15-20 revolutions per minute and was supposed to be able to penetrate the 60 mm armor at a distance of 30 degrees from a distance of 100 meters when shot at 2.Eight cm Pzgr. 41 Round

Hitler's choice to install this weapon on VK 9.03, which started work on this path, led to the breakdown of the German procurement system. September 11, 1941 Heeres Waffenamt was requested to supply 200 Geschütz 8202 for supply between April 1942 and April 1943. It’s clear that progress was not so speedy. The July 1942 report, which gave an summary of the state of Heer's gear improvement, revealed that ten 2.Eight cm Kw.Okay. 42 was out there from Versuchs-Serie (check collection), and the rest of the contract was accomplished by 1 October 1942, which was in all probability a reference to the 200 orders positioned in September 1941. the weapon merely disappears and there’s no evidence that any of the mass production contracts would have been manufactured or put in on the VK 9.03 roll.

2.Eight cm sPzB 41-heavy anti-tank rifle 2.Eight cm Kw.Okay. 42 is derived. Outfitted with a progressively tapered barrel to extend the snout velocity, this weapon operated on a press drilling principle. This weapon was put in for regular area transport and can also be put in on semi-skid and four-wheeled Sd.Kfz.221 armored automobiles. Source:

At about the identical time as these efforts to repair VK 9.03 have been investigated, engineers are additionally making an attempt to put in the M.A.N. designed HWA 1038 GL V8 diesel engine on VK 9.03. Though there’s little background behind the thought process behind this engine improvement history and VK 9.03 set up choice, its relationship with VK 9.03 is briefly mentioned. A delegation from M.A.N. on 20 August 1941 met with Herr Strunze, engineer at Wa Prüf 6. To make it easier for the engine to start out in winter circumstances, Strunze steered that the engine be installed on the flange of the engine suction line and the gasoline injection system so that the gasoline is already in use, the suction line might be easily ignited. In contrast to 2.Eight cm Kw.Okay.42, this engine was tested a minimum of in VK 9.01 and VK 9.03 (in all probability one among six experiments). Like M.A.N. a report on the development of diesel engines from February 1942, the V8's power was 185 hp at 2600 rpm, and the work was operating at 200 hp, growing engine velocity.

Like many other German production tanks on the end of 1941, it was additionally taken under consideration that the difference of VK 9.03 to scorching, humid and dusty environments, such as the deserts of North Africa in Libya and Egypt, or in the south of the Soviet Union. Modifications referred to as Tropen (literally "tropical") are meant to improve cooling and limit dust and sand entry. Sometimes, such modifications included increasing the cooling air inlet, putting in a extra environment friendly fan and extra filters, sealing exposed openings to mud, protecting electrical units, and giving the carriage and wider shovel to the crew. All these measures have been talked about within the Waffenamt Tropen Modifications Report dated December 13, 1941, which concluded that testing of VK 9.03 was carried out. This isn’t shocking because the first VK 9.01 was meant to be given to the 15th Panzer Division (a part of Rommel Afrika Korpsia), though there isn’t any proof that these plans have been ever realized. If VK 9.03 was also meant to be used by comparable models, the modifications of Tropen can be justified.

Despite these many setbacks and deviations, the VK 9.03 challenge refused to die. December three, 1941 Panzer II n.A. (VK 9.03) was included for the first time in monthly reviews compiled by Amtsgruppe für Industrielle Rüstung (Wa J Rü, in German-language data) for the subsequent six months. Based on this report, the first VK 9.03 can be accomplished in Might 1942. This evaluation was later revised within the January 1942 report, which predicted the development of one VK 9.03 in April, three in Might and five in June 1942.

Apparently the financial and technological constraints on VK 9.03 production weren’t taken under consideration

Presentation of what Panzerspähwagen II Ausführung M may need seemed to have come into use in 1942 It’s painted with a grey RAL 7021 Dunkelgrau, an ordinary camouflage system for German containers. venture improvement. Photograph by Alexe Pavel, funded by Patreon's campaign.

VK 9.03 for Four: The Panzerspähwagen II Ausf. M

The exact function of VK 9.03 and its place within the German army additional difficult the division of the venture into two separate tanks, which only further increased the strains between the totally different MAN models for improved Panzer. II

Waffenamt refers to the summary of the Tropen Modification revealed on December 13, 1941, "Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. H and M (VK 9.03)." II Ausf M (VK 9.03), Panzerkampfwagen II Neuer Art (VK 9.03) Aufbau VK 13.03, Panzerspähwagen II Ausf. M and Panzerspähwagen II Ausf. 13.03 (later generally known as "Luchs").

Sadly, there’s little info on how this idea is created, as little documentation on its improvement is understood to exist. ] Nevertheless, Pz.Sp.Wg. II Ausf M merely doesn't get out of ether. In Might 1941, the Schwerpunktprogramm, by which Heereswaffenamt had prepared giant plans for the long-range production of VK 9.03, talked about various totally different variants based mostly on the VK 9.03 platform. Amongst them was VK 9.03 Pz.Sp.Wg., of which 8111 have been thought-about crucial for intelligence in numerous infantry, motorized, Panzer, pioneer and Panzer-Jäger models. These would substitute the less cellular wheeled armored automobiles that presently fulfill these duties. Subsequently, it is doubtless that Pz.Sp.Wg. II Ausf.

Sarcastically, this rugged historic document is compensated to some extent by Pz.Sp.Wg. II Ausf. M was released on March 5, 1942, which allows us to use numerous Ausf technical specs. M; even more than Ausf. H. These particulars give an concept of ​​what Ausf is.

The first distinction between the Ausf. H and the Ausf. M was the superstructure and turret. Of the Ausf. H would in all probability have used a one-man turret just like that designed for the VK 9.01, the Ausf. The life-style of the superstructure and turret instantly from the VK 13.03.

Asides from different minor modifications to the specifications, in the different respects the Ausf. M is identical as the Ausf. H. It retained all the similar main elements, including the 200 hp Maybach HL 66 P engine, the distinctive VK 9 collection suspension, and the wider Kgs 63/360/90 tracks. By preserving the identical suspension and 36 cm extensive tracks, the VK 9.03 maintained wonderful flotation, having a floor strain of 0.81 kg/sq cm. The proposed transmission and steering system, maybe crucial elements in the VK 9 collection given the headaches they triggered for his or her engineers, was not specified. Armor thicknesses also remained fixed, with 30 mm on the front, 20 mm on the edges and rear, 10 mm on the deck, and 5 mm on the stomach, as did the overall fight weight at 10.5 tonnes.

The armament remained unchanged too. Identical to the Ausf. H, the Ausf. M would have had a 2 cm Kw.Okay.38 cannon and M.G.34 (Pz.) machine gun fitted to a stabilised mount in the turret. 400 rounds of 2 cm Pz.Gr.Patr. (armor piercing) ammunition and a couple of,100 rounds of seven.92 mm M.G.34 ammunition can be stowed inside the car, as well as 192 rounds of 9 mm parabellum ammunition for an M.P.38 submachine gun. Initially, a T.Z.F.6 monocular gunsight can be employed by the gunner to sight these weapons, however later this is able to have been changed by a T.Z.F.12b. Rotating periscopes within the turret roof would offer visibility for the crew members in the turret, while the driving force employed Okay.F.F.2 periscopes to see out when his armored visor was closed.

As a reconnaissance tank, among the many most necessary pieces of kit carried onboard the Ausf. M would have been the radios. An Fu 5 set was listed on the info sheet, although Doyle and Jentz state that this might have been supplemented by an Fu 12 with a star aerial when it was issued to a Panzer Aufklärungs Abteilung (Armored Reconnaissance Battalion). This latter radio had a longer vary and was subsequently crucial for communicating with parts greater in the command chain.

Outfitted with the 200 hp Maybach HL 66 P, the Ausf. M had a power-to-weight ratio of 19 hp/tonne and could attain a most velocity of 60 km/hr on roads or 30 km/hr cross-country. With enough space for 235 litres of petrol, it might cowl 290 km on roads or 175 km cross-country, impressive figures for the requirements of the time that may have been well-suited for a reconnaissance car. It was also expected that the tank would be capable of scale a vertical obstacle of 30 cm, climb a 30% gradient, cross a 60 cm large trench and ford 1.4 metres of water without preparation.

Whilst these estimated specs promised to end in a powerful reconnaissance car that might have been cellular and maneuverable, it is very important word that these are merely projections. No examples are recognized to have been produced and it’s possible that the Ausf. M would have suffered from the identical reliability problems as its counterparts if it used the identical troublesome transmissions and steering models. There are additionally some contradictions within the figures as reported within the books Panzer Tracts 2-2 and Panzer Tracts 20-2, both of which have sections on the Ausf. M. The figures used right here have been chosen by the writer on the idea of what look to be the right specs.

Finally then, the Ausf. M was simply another lifeless end within the convoluted VK 9.03 improvement course of. The truth that it used the superstructure and turret of the VK 13.03 was particularly revealing in that it pointed to the inescapable reality that the VK 9 was dropping traction in the face of competitors from different designs. Although its designers could not have recognized at the time, the Ausf. M foreshadowed the outright alternative of the VK 9.03 by the VK 13.03.

A surviving VK 13.03, which acquired the official designation Panzer II Ausf. L, on show at The Tank Museum, Bovington, UK. Nicknamed the ‘Luchs’ (Lynx) by the Heer, 100 of these tanks can be produced between 1942 and 1943. Capable of carrying a four-man crew and fitted with easier, confirmed automotive elements, the VK 13.03 replaced the VK 9.03 in the search for a new mannequin Panzer II after a interval of uneasy coexistence between the two designs. By the way, the raised bracket situated at the front-middle of the turret roof is for an Orterkompaß, a navigation system later proposed for the VK 9.03 Panzerbeobachtungswagen. Supply: The Tank Museum

Dashed Hopes: The Cancellation of the VK 9.03

Regardless of these quite a few distractions and diversions, M.A.N. continued to push on with the development of the six VK 9.03 Versuchs-Fahrgestell in preparation for an indication to be held in February 1942. Nevertheless, even before these Versuchs-Fahrgestell had been accomplished, problems started to come up with the steering models. This was not an encouraging improvement, particularly contemplating that using a complicated transmission and steering system to create a more cellular Panzer II was arguably the elemental raison d’être for the VK 9 collection. Indeed, comparable issues with fickle three-stage steering models would additionally cripple the VK 9.01 challenge.

The influence of those difficulties in perfecting a working steering system have been exposed in a meeting held on 27 December 1941 between M.A.N. employees and Common Radlmeier. Herr Garnjost of M.A.N. knowledgeable Radlmeier that it was merely inconceivable to finish the three Versuchs-Fahrgestell in time for the February demonstration. In an effort to permit for some testing to be carried out as shortly as potential, an expedient answer involving the set up of a Kolben-Danek steering unit from the Panzer 38 (t) was proposed for the second Versuchs-Fahrgestell. All going nicely, this might permit for its completion by the top of January.

Meanwhile, the third Versuchs-Fahrgestell would await the arrival of a Maybach steering unit, which was anticipated to delay its completion until the top of February. It isn’t specified precisely which sort of Maybach steering unit was earmarked for this third trial chassis, however it’s attainable it might have been the LGL 15319 that was also fitted to nearly all of the VK 9.01 and contracted for set up within the first VK 9.03 Versuchs-Fahrgestell ordered in 1940.

Put simply, this meeting revealed that VK 9.03 manufacturing was dependent upon the resolution of the difficulties producing and using the steering models. This impression is strengthened by an M.A.N. assembly held on 10 January 1942, the place officers brazenly questioned the potential of mass producing the VK 9.03 with a three-stage steering unit and broached various options. The answer they proposed was replacing the steering unit with an M.A.N. design, presumably of more typical operation. It was hoped that this may permit for the assembly of the first VK 9.03 hull in June 1942 and the production of the primary complete collection production tank at the start of August that same yr.

Along with the steering unit fiasco, this assembly additionally supplies a glimpse right into a much less well-covered facet of the VK 9 household’s history. Because of the lack of Daimler-Benz data after the struggle, virtually nothing remains in regards to the design, improvement, and production of the VK 9.01 and VK 9.03 superstructures and turrets. However, it appears from M.A.N. stories that the corporate struggled to supply a workable design in time, as there are allusions to delayed supply of blueprints and drawings in surviving M.A.N. data. In accordance with this report, missing turret flooring and turret gear schematics had pushed manufacturing back by four months and meant that M.A.N. can be unable to finish the primary Aufbau until July 1942. In fact, without Daimler-Benz studies, it isn’t attainable to guage the reasons behind these delays.

However, the outcomes of a trial carried out with one of the VK 9.03 Versuchs-Fahrgestell in January 1942 steered that there were more pressing points with the automotive elements. In a frustratingly enigmatic report of a gathering held between all the most important M.A.N. and Wa Prüf 6 figures concerned with the VK 9.03 (together with Kniepkamp), the results of a 530 km check drive of a VK 9.03 Versuchs-Fahrgestell have been discussed. It isn’t totally clear what the exact automotive configuration of this VK 9.03 trial chassis was, however the minutes point out that it was not thought-about enough proof to make a judgment on the three-stage steering models earlier than comparative trials have been carried out in February. Even so, the curious notice that ‘in no case should the remarks from Blank [a mechanic involved with the trial] be allowed to fall into outside hands’ seems to suggest that the results have been less than stellar. Definitely, much to Kniepkamp’s dismay, M.A.N. representatives introduced up the thought of changing the steering models with a standard clutch-brake system as installed on other Panzers.

Unable to stave off the inevitable any longer, M.A.N. and Wa Prüf 6 agreed on three February 1942 that the primary 15 VK 9.03 collection manufacturing hulls would use a easy clutch-brake steering system and a standard Z.F. guide transmission. This was a far cry from Kniepkamp’s vision of a revolutionary mobility upgrade for the Panzer II and a stark indication that the VK 9.03 had reached a technological cul-de-sac.

The subsequent point out of the VK 9.03 comes from a conference between Albert Speer and Hitler on 22 March 1942. Throughout this assembly, Hitler agreed that the VK 9.03 could possibly be fitted with an HL 66 engine, SSG 48 transmission and a multiple-stage steering unit derived from B.M.M.’s design for the Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) n.A. mild tank. It was estimated that this mix of automotive elements might end in speeds of up to 60 km/hr being obtained.

Amazingly, just 5 days afterward 27 March 1942, your complete VK 9.03 venture was canceled in a sudden and abrupt volte-face. Within the new production programme issued by the Heeres Waffenamt, M.A.N. was to dispense with the production of 250 VK 9.03 and 250 VK 13.03 in favor of manufacturing 500 VK 13.03 as an alternative. In a context of larger financial rationalisation presided over by Speer, who had been appointed Minister of Armaments following the dying of Fritz Todt in a aircraft crash on 8 February 1942, there was merely no room for the experimental and wasteful VK 9.03.

A Failed Resurrection: The VK 9.03 after March 1942 and the VK 9.03 Panzerbeobachtungswagen

At the time of the cancellation of the VK 9.03 in March 1942, it is unclear how most of the Versuchs-Fahrgestell had been completed. It is recognized that at one level as many as six have been underneath contract, though later reviews from 1942 solely point out three beneath development. Furthermore, a minimum of certainly one of these hulls was used in trials and check drives, together with the one mentioned in January 1942 and the aforementioned trials with an M.A.N. diesel engine mentioned in February 1942.

The history of German trials automobiles is understandably shadowy and obscure. Spared from preventing on the front, these automobiles have been not often photographed and only sometimes mentioned in studies. Even so, they have been typically retained by the factories or by the Heereswaffenamt as testbeds for trialling new gear. Such was the case with the VK 9.03, one among which was reportedly being used by Maybach as late as 1945 for testing a brand new HL 90 engine (14 of these have been produced between 1941 and 1944), a preselective Olvar transmission and a Bauart Renk hydraulic steering unit; a fitting finish for a design defined by its relationship to experimental automotive elements. Sadly, no pictures of those trial chassis are recognized to have survived and particulars remain scarce.

Extra puzzlingly, work on an artillery remark variant of the VK 9.03 appears to have continued after March 1942. In line with a Wa Prüf 6 report released on 1 July 1942, work was ongoing on designing a VK 9.03 Panzerbeobachtungswagen (armored artillery statement car) for motorised artillery and Panzer Regiments, with the production of 30 contracted automobiles anticipated to start out in 1943. Just like the VK 9.03 Ausf. M, the impetus for this design in all probability dated back to the 1941 Panzerprogramm, which stipulated the supply of VK 9.03 for artillery statement purposes. Nevertheless, this doesn’t explain why the Waffenamt had elected to proceed work on this specific variant, because it makes little sense to continue engaged on a design for such a specialised model, provided that such automobiles have been often converted from commonplace mass-produced automobiles. This can be a prime example of how the various gaps in the documentary document render it troublesome for contemporary researchers to piece collectively the logic (or lack thereof) behind armored car improvement.

Regardless of the story behind the VK 9.03 Panzerbeobachtungswagen, a single Versuchsgerät VK 9.03 mit Kuppel 1303 B (trial gear with the cupola 1303 B) was reported as having been completed by September 1941. Often translated as ‘device’ or ‘equipment’, it is unclear exactly what ‘gerät’ refers to. Attainable answers embrace a bit of specialized gear or, noting the reference to a cupola, a turret design, but this is simply speculation.

In an effort to fulfill its function, the VK 9.03 Panzerbeobachtungswagen was to be fitted with a rangefinder, Orterkompaß (a sort of orientation compass that might be put in on prime of the turret of the Luchs, Panzer IV, Panther and Tiger), statement gear and applicable radio sets.

Whilst it might have succeeded in briefly outlasting its mother or father tank design, the VK 9.03 Panzerbeobachtungswagen virtually definitely suffered the identical destiny as its relations. Asides from this temporary reference, there are not any additional recognized references to this car out there.

The Orterkompaß 38 (OKo.38) displaying the compass itself, its special 300 mm long help, and its base. This gadget, or one just like it, was earmarked for the VK 9.03 Panzerbeobachtungswagen. Derived from a kind of compass developed for the Luftwaffe in the 1930s, the Oko.38 was meant to help with driving at night time or in dangerous climate. These would have been mounted on small rectangular plates welded to the highest of tank turrets. The cylindrical help was designed to extend the space between the compass and the tank, thereby decreasing magnetic interference from the steel. Though a number of examples survive till this present day, there’s little evidence that these have been ever mass produced or extensively used. Source:

Doomed to Die?: The VK 9.03 in Retrospect

The VK 9.03 was a flawed design that may have been unsuitable for mass manufacturing and out of its depth on the battlefields from 1942 onwards. Though the new automotive elements envisaged for this tank might have resulted in a more cellular Panzer II, the complexity and unreliability of those numerous transmissions and steering models finally proved to be a essential challenge.

Worse still, the VK 9.03 didn’t supply another adequate enhancements over the VK 9.01 and the Panzer II Ausf. F then in manufacturing, specifically in the realms of firepower and safety. Consequently, the failure of the transmissions and steering models undercut the complete function of the VK 9.03 since, without those features, there was nothing left to justify its existence. This unlucky reality was made all the extra obvious by the emergence of the VK 13.03, which offered all the benefits of the VK 9.03 in a tank capable of accommodate a four-man crew.

But, in the chaotic and irrational German tank procurement system of the mid-war period, the existence of deep flaws did not all the time routinely end in cancellation of your complete undertaking. As an alternative, designs typically gained a momentum of their very own and have been capable of devour funds, assets, and time, even when the Heer had no particular need or want for them. Such was the case with the VK 9.01, which outlasted its successor and continued in restricted production until 1943 despite affected by the identical issues because the VK 9.03. Evaluated with this in mind, the VK 9.03 was additionally the victim of circumstance.

At the time when the essential selections have been being made concerning the VK 9.03 production schedule, Albert Speer, the brand new Minister for Armaments Production, was trying to rationalise the Nazi financial system and push it in the direction of a complete struggle footing. Sarcastically, the thought expressed within the Panzerprogramm 41 to mass produce a whole family of armored automobiles on the VK 9.03 hull represented a uncommon instance of smart joined-up considering in the procurement course of, but given the doubts amongst M.A.N. officials that mass production of the VK 9.03 might ever be achieved within the near future, this was little greater than a pipe dream. While the cancellation of the VK 9.03 was not a foregone conclusion, these production obstacles and its growing redundancy in the face of superior options and changing economic circumstances conspired to kill the challenge in 1942.

However, whilst this represented the top of the VK 9 collection of armored automobiles, efforts to enhance the Panzer II endured. These would culminate in the VK 13.03 or Panzer II Ausf. L, higher referred to as the ‘Luchs’ (Lynx), which constructed upon some parts of the VK 9.01 and VK 9.03 whilst dishing out with a number of the extra problematic features of those designs.

Specifications (Ausf. H & M)*

Dimensions (L-W-H) M: 4.63 x 2.48 x 2.05 metres Complete Weight 10.5 tonnes Crew H:three Men (Commander/Gunner, Radio Operator, and Driver)
M:four (Driver, Radio Operator, Commander, Gunner) Propulsion Maybach HL 66P producing 200 hp at three,200 rpm Transmission H: Maybach 8-speed preselective VG20417 transmission LG 45L (LGL 15319) steering unit (these elements for the primary Versuchs-Fahrgestell) Most velocity H: 65 km/h on roads
M: 60 km/h (street), 30 km/h (off-road) Range M: 290 km (street), 175 km (off-road) Suspensions Torsion bar, 30 cm floor clearanc e Armament H: 1x 2 cm Kw.Okay.38 cannon, 1 x M.G.34 (P)
M: 1x 2 cm Kw.Okay.38 cannon (400 rounds), 1 x M.G.34 (P) (400 rounds), 1 x M.P.38 (192 rounds) Armor (hull/turret front) 30 mm frontal hull and turret
20 mm sides and rear
10 mm deck
5.5 mm stomach Manufacturing No less than 1 hull

*Word that these are projected specifications as no collection manufacturing VK 9.03 are recognized to have been completed.

Sources and Further Studying

Doyle, H.L., and Jentz, T.L., Panzer Tracts No.2-2 Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. G, H, J, L, and M: Improvement and Manufacturing from 1938 to 1943 (Maryland: Panzer Tracts, 2007).
Doyle, H.L., and Jentz, T.L., Panzer Tracts No.20-2 Paper Panzers: Aufklaerungs-, Beobachtungs-, and Flak Panzer (Reconnaissance, Statement, and Anti-Aircraft) (Maryland, Panzer Tracts, 2002).
Doyle, H.L., and Jentz, H.L., Panzer Tracts No.23 Panzer Production from 1933 to 1945 (Maryland: Panzer Tracts, 2011).
Spielberger, W.J., Der Panzer-Kampfwagen I und II und ihre Abarten: Einschließlich der Panzerentwicklungen der Reichswehr (Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag, 1974). Translated into English as Panzer I and II and their Variants: From Reichswehr to Wehrmacht (Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing US, 2007).
Antonov, V., ‘Schwere Panzerbüchse 41’ (Russian). English version HERE.
Jairo, ‘Orterkompass en el Panther Ausf. G’
Pasholok, Y., ‘Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. G: The Fruit of Unending Labour’ (Russian). English model HERE.

Bibliographical Comment

Unsurprisingly for such an obscure and poorly documented tank, little has been written on the VK 9.03. Though the VK 9 collection was talked about within the older, basic reference books concerning Second World Warfare German armored preventing automobiles, a lot of the info introduced in these works is predicated on faulty post-war Allied intelligence reviews or assumptions, contributing to many errors and deceptive statements. This has contributed to the proliferation of confusion and confusion regarding this collection of tanks in print and online media, with one salient instance being the mislabelling of the Pz.Sfl.Ic tank destroyer (based mostly on the VK 9.01 chassis) as the Panzer II Ausf. H (VK 9.03) in the common on-line recreation Warfare Thunder.

An important and dependable work of reference on the VK 9.03 is Panzer Tracts 2-2 written by the doyens of German Second World Warfare AFV historical past, Jentz and Doyle. This ebook offers a wealth of data derived from main source materials, helping to set the report straight without indulging in in depth speculation. An earlier work by the identical authors, Panzer Tracts 20-2, provides a much less comprehensive abstract of the VK 9.03, although readers ought to word that there is some minor contradictions between the two, probably the result of typos within the text.

An in depth account of the VK 9 collection based mostly on the work of Jentz and Doyle can also be provided in an article by Russian historian Yuri Pasholok that has been translated into English. This article, in addition to the others within the Panzer II collection, are notably helpful for contextualising the VK 9.03 and investigating its links to modern designs.
Asides from the works talked about above, all other sources of data in regards to the VK 9.03 ought to be handled with warning given their tendency to depend on outdated reference material or other confused commentators. Until any new info surfaces regarding these machines, Panzer Tracts 2-2 will remain the definitive source of data on the VK 9.03.

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