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Panzer I file photo [7448]

PzKpfw I

Primary RoleLight Tank


ww2dbaseThe Panzerkampfwagen I, PzKpfw I, or Panzer I light tanks were developed in 1932 and entered production in 1934. Due to restrictions from the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was not to develop and not to own any tanks; Germany developed such plans in secret, and the Panzer I's simpler design was approved first so that it would gear the German industry and train tank crews for future developments of heavier tanks. The firm Krupp designed the original prototype which was armed with only two 7.92-millimeter MG-13 Dreyse machine guns and very thinly armored; though weakly armed, the choice was weapons was considered adequate since the primary goal of the design was to develop training tanks. Soon after, a collaborative team from Daimler-Benz, Henschel, Krupp, MAN, and Rheinmetall improved the design with a rotating turret. Production lasted from 1934 to 1937; during that time, 818 Ausf. A and 675 Ausf. B were built. The design would not officially be designated Panzerkampfwagen I until 1938.

ww2dbaseDuring the Spanish Civil War, Germany sent a total of 122 Panzer I light tanks to Spain under Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm von Thoma to support the Nationalists. Panzer I light tanks were involved in many of the major Nationalists offensives during the war. Results were not always favorable, but the Germans learned much from the combat experience for the development of future tanks.

ww2dbaseDuring the first phases of the European War, Panzer I light tanks and other light tanks formed the numerical majority of the German Army's armored strength. Germany's mobile warfare tactics were proven during the Polish campaign, but it was also discovered that German logistical support for armored units was much less than desired, with Panzer I light tanks being the most vulnerable to breakdowns and enemy attacks. Panzer I tanks also participated in the invasion of Denmark, Norway, the Low Countries, and France months later, and at the time the German armored strength still consisted mainly of light tanks. In North Africa, under Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel, Panzer I light tanks initially played a role in the Desert War, but they were slowly being replaced due to their ineffectiveness against stronger British tanks. In the 1941 invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece, they were the main tank type used.

ww2dbaseAlthough Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks were of a significant number by the time of the invasion of the Soviet Union, Panzer I light tanks still formed a large portion of the invasion force; 410 tanks out of a total of 3,300 tanks deployed for Operation Barbarossa were Panzer I light tanks. As they became more and more useless in the face of better armored Russian tanks, they slowly served more so as armored towing vehicles rather than combat vehicles. After being withdraw from the front lines, many Panzer I light tanks were converted to carriers for self-propelled guns.

ww2dbaseAbout 10 Panzer I light tanks were sold to China in 1937. They were used against Japanese forces at the Battle of Nanjing by the Nationalist Chinese 3rd Armored Battalion. Spain continued to use the Panzer I light tanks until 1954.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jun 2009


MachineryKrupp M 305 Boxer 4-cylinder air-cooled gasoline engine rated at 59hp
Armament2x7.92mm MG13 Dreyse machine guns
Armor13mm front, 13mm sides, 13mm rear, 6mm hull top, 8mm turret top, 6mm bottom
Length4.02 m
Width2.06 m
Height1.72 m
Weight5.0 t
Speed37 km/h
Range145 km

MachineryMaybach NL 38 TR water-cooled 6-cylinder engine rated at 98hp
Armament2x7.92mm MG13 Dreyse machine guns
Armor13mm front, 13mm sides, 13mm rear, 6mm hull top, 8mm turret top, 6mm bottom
Length4.42 m
Width2.06 m
Height1.72 m
Weight5.0 t
Speed40 km/h
Range170 km


15-cm sIG 33 close infantry support gun mounted on Panzer I chassis, Germany, circa mid-1930sJapanese troops with a captured German-built Chinese Army Panzer I tank, possibly near Nanjing, China, 9 Dec 1937
See all 19 photographs of PzKpfw I Light Tank

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
30 Oct 2009 05:42:11 PM

The Panzerkampfwagen I was tested as early as 1934 the vehicle was armed with two (7.92mm) machine guns mounted in a turret.
The tank fought in the Polish and French
Campaigns. It was withdrawn after the Battle
of France from front-line service, but was
used as a training tank, special variant one of a kind vehicle, or self-propelled gun
Production was about 2,800.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
30 Oct 2009 06:35:47 PM

Lost Tank Found:
In 1984 a Panzer I Ausf.B, was found buried
in Southern Germany,the vehicle was restored
back to running condition.
The tank is painted panzer grey with white
national cross markings to duplicate a tank,
that would have taken part in the invasion
of Poland in September 1939.
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 Nov 2009 04:55:05 PM

Guderian's Panzers came into view, Hitler
watching them at a demostration in 1933 the machines moving,and holding their formations
turning and moveing in tactical precision.
"Turning to Guderian, his face aglow, with
the words.
"That's what I want. That's what I mean to
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
26 Nov 2011 04:51:40 PM


The Neubaufahrzeug Nr3-5 or (New Construction
Vehicle) was Germany's attempt to build a heavy tank.
Its main armament was a 7.5cm/3in L/24 gun
with a coaxial 3.7cm/1.5in L/45 gun in the main turret.
Three other smaller turrets were armed with 7.92mm machine guns one off set to the right of the hull, and two on each side of the hull behind the main turret. The Nr3-5 had a crew of six men, and found it wasn't very effective.

Five were built three saw service in Norway 1940 one was lost getting stuck in a swamp the Nr3-5 was found too slow for Blitzkrieg tactics, and was more of a propaganda value than a fighting vehicle.
By 1942 the tanks were scrapped and it was back to the drawing board.

The Russians also developed multi-turret heavy tanks like the T-35 and the T-28
5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
17 Sep 2016 06:09:43 PM


The Treaty of Versailles prevented Germany from building, operating and maintaining an armored force. However, the Germans got around this by building (15) open top hulls without superstructures, turrets or armament.


Armor in disguise enter the Pz. Kpfw.1 Ausf A. Ohne Aufbau the official German designation for this type was "Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper" or Agricultural Tractor it was used for crew training and powered by 1 x Krupp 4 cylinder gas engine of 60hp. Follow on vehicle was the Pz. Kpfw 1 Light Tank armed w/2 x 7.92mm machine guns

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PzKpfw I Light Tank Photo Gallery
15-cm sIG 33 close infantry support gun mounted on Panzer I chassis, Germany, circa mid-1930sJapanese troops with a captured German-built Chinese Army Panzer I tank, possibly near Nanjing, China, 9 Dec 1937
See all 19 photographs of PzKpfw I Light Tank

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