October 6, 2014

Panzer III in North Africa

Panzer III
A Panzer III exploding near El Alamein on 5 October 1942.

Between 8 and 10 March 1941 the first 61 Panzer IIIs arrived in North Africa. They belonged to Panzer-Regiment 5 and were armed with the 5 cm canon. Most of them were of Ausf. G type and a few of them were of Ausf. F and H types. Panzer-Regiment 8 arrived in North Africa between April 25 and May 6. At full strength Panzer-Regiments 5 and 8 had 71 Panzer IIIs each.


Just before the decisive battle at El Alamein the Afrika Korps had a total of 183 Pz IIIs of which 87 were of the Ausf. J version with the 50mm  L/60 main gun.


SPECIFICATIONS (Ausf. H)
Weight:
21,800 kgr
Length:
5,38 m
Height:
2,50 m
Armor:
30+30 mm (max)
Engine:
Maybach HL 120 TRM – 12-cylinder, 265 HP
Max Speed:
42/15 km/h (road/off-road)
Range:
155/95 km (road/off-road)
Fuel
320 ltr
Crew:
5
Armament:
Main gun: 50mm KwK 38 L/42, Secondary Armament: 2 X 7.92mm MG34
Ammunition:
Main gun: 99 rounds, Machine guns: 3,750 rounds belted in 150-round sacks



Bibliography
Culver, Bruce. PzKpfw III in Action. Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1988.
Jentz, Thomas L. Tank Combat in North Africa. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1998.
Spielberger, Walter J. and Uwe Feist. Armor in the Western Desert. Aero Publishers, Inc.


Photo attribution
Frank Hurley, Australian armed forces, via Wikimedia Commons