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Production Modifications

Panzerkampfwagen Panzer IV Sd Kfz 161

For most German tanks during World War II, modifications to the initial design were frequently introduced during production runs to improve overall performance, simpify manufaturing, or in response to material shortages. The aim of this page is to provide useful information to tank modellers and enthusiasts, on key official changes that affected its external appearance. Illustrations wll be provided where available. It is not intended to be exhaustive and does not include the numerous changes to the interior and internal components as well as unofficial modifications made by crews in the field. The modifications are listed roughly in the order in which they occurred headed by the component most affected. Approximate dates are given where they are known.

General Guderian, who was the major authority on German tank design at the time, conceived two basic types of main battle tanks for the German Army. The first to carry a high velocity gun for anti-tank work - the Panzer III, backed up by a support tank carrying a larger-calibre gun capable of firing a destructive high explosive shell. The second tank went on to become the Panzer IV.

The Panzer IV was the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the war years. It's sound design, with the wide superstructure which overhung the hull sides, allow it to be progressively up-gunned and up-armoured throughout the war in respond to changing combat conditions. Though originally conceived as a support vehicle to the Panzer III, it was a reliable workhorse and remained in first line combat service throughout World War II. It became the main stay of the Panzer force and the most numerous of all the German wartime tanks in many variants.

Panzer IV Ausf A (1936)

The Ausf A was used primarily for trials and training. It weighed 17 tons and could reach a speed of 30kph (18mph). It's armour was relatively light with 14.5mm (0.6") thick armour plate on the hull and 20mm (0.8") on the turret. 122 rounds was carried for the main gun. Only 35 was produced in 1936.

The suspension of the Ausf A which became standard throughout all Panzer IV variants consisted of 8 roadwheels and 4 return rollers on each side with a pair of drive sprockets at the front and a pair of idlers at the rear. The 8 roadwheels were arranged in pairs on 4 bogies each side supported by leaf springs.

The Ausf A can be identified both by the internal mantlet and the uneven front plate with the radio operator/machinegunner plate set further back than the driver's plate.

Panzer IV Ausf B (1937)

The Ausf B frontal armour was increased to 30mm (1.2") which raised the weight to 17.4 tons. A more powerful engine was fitted and a reduced load of 80 main gun rounds carried to compensate for the increased weight. 45 was produced in 1937. These saw action in Poland in 1939.

Panzer IV Ausf C (1938-1939)

The Ausf C was the first prodction model but due to production dificulties, only 140 was produced. They provided the bulk of the Panzer IV force deployed to Poland in 1939.

The Ausf C can be identified by the single sheet frontal hull plate replacing the staggered arrangement on both the Ausf A and Ausf B.

Panzer IV Ausf D (1940)

The Ausf D incorporated a number of minor modifications including increased rear and side armour to 20mm (0.8") which raised the weight to 17.7 tons. The staggered driver's hull plate was reintroduced. A total of 248 was produced during 1940.

Panzer IV Ausf E (1940-1941)

On the Ausf E, the nose armour plate was increased to 50mm (2") and extra applique armour plate was bolted to the sides as well as the driver's plate. A new cupola and new type of visor was fitted to this model. A total of 223 Ausf E was produced during 1940 and 1941.

Panzer IV Ausf F1 (1941)

Ausf F1 was the definitive model of the Panzer IV. Introduced in June 1942, it was the first model of this tank to be produced in large numbers. It incorporated modifications from cambat experience. All frontal armour was increased to 50mm (2") and side armour increased to 30mm (1.2") made from single steel plate. A new ball mount was introduced for the hull machinegun to improve local defence. The driver's visor was also revised. The weight increased to 21.9 tons which required the fitting of wider tracks from 380mm to 400mm. A total of 975 Ausf F1 was produced during 1941.

This is the version depicted by the standard Heng Long 1/16 Panzer IV model. It has the short-barrelled 7.5cm kwK37 L/24 main gun.

Panzer IV Ausf F2 (1942)

The main difference between Ausf F2 and Ausf F1 is the introduction of the new long-barrelled 7.5cm KwK40 L/43 main gun and related changes to counter the more powerful T-34 and KV-1 encountered on the Eastern Front during 1941. This new gun was fitted with a single-baffle, globular muzzle brake.

Some examples were sent to North Africa where it was known by the British as the Mark IV Special.

Panzer IV Ausf G (1942)

The main difference between Ausf G and Ausf F2 is the introduction of a new slightly longer-barrelled 7.5cm KwK40 L/48 main gun instead of the L/43 on the Ausf F2. This new gun was also fitted with a new double-baffle muzzle brake similar to those found on the later Tiger and Panther tanks.

The Ausf G also has additional armour bolted or welded to the front of the hull and superstructure. Schurzen or side armour skirting was also fitted on later models to the side of the hull and around the turret to counter hallow charged anti-tank projectile weapons. Vision ports were eliminated from the turret sides and the loader's side of the turret front as economy measures. A new cupola with thicker armour was also introduced. The aerial was moved from mid hull right to left hull rear. Very late Ausf Gs received a new type of drive sprockets.

A total of 1724 Ausf F and Ausf G was produced during 1942.

Panzer IV Ausf H (1943)

Apart from thicker armour, the main visible differences between Ausf H and Ausf G is the introduction of a new type of idlers, all-steel return rollers, a cupola mount for an anti-aircraft machinegun and side vision ports for the driver and radio operator/gunner were deleted to simplify production. It was also the first model to have zimmerit, an uneven cement-like paste designed to foil magnetic anti-tank mines, applied at the factory.

A total of 3073 Panzer IVs were produced during 1943.

Panzer IV Ausf J (1944-1945)

The Ausf J was the last series of the Panzer IV. The main visible changes introduced with this series was the elimination of the pistol and vision ports from the turret rear and side doors. Wire mesh side-skirts were fitted on the side of the hull instead of thin steel plates to save material. Return rollers were reduced from four to three each side and steel-tyred roadwheels were fitted as supply of rubber ceased due to allied bombing. A new exhaust system with two vertical exhaust mufflers at the rear were fitted. The thickness of the turret roof was increased and a projector weapon fitted for launching smoke and for anti-personnel close defence.

The suspension of the Ausf J was modified to allow for the fitting of wider tracks (Ostkette) for winter combat in ice and snow. The Ostkette was also retro-fitted to earlier models to improve traction in winter conditions.

As is usual practice at the time, many of the new features introduced in later models were also retrofitted to earlier models resulting in some earlier models with features found on later models. Non-standard modifications were also often made by tank crews in the field.

A total of 3161 Panzer IVs were produced in 1944-1945.

In total, over 10,000 Panzer IV and variants were produced by German during he war years.

Panzer IV Variants

Jagdpanzer IV Sd Kfz 162/1 (anuary to November 1944)

Also known as "Guderian's Duck", he Jagdpanzer IV was developed as a replacement for the StuG III as a tank-destroyer. It was based on the Panzer IV chassis but the front of the hull was replace with a sharped nose front consisting of two plates to give it its distinct sloped low profile. Main armament was a 7.5cm Pak39 L/48 gun.

Jagdpanzer IV/70(A) (August 1944 to March 1945)

The Jagdpanzer IV/70(A) was an interim version of the Jagdpanzer IV. It utilises a new box-like upper superstructure on a standard panzer IV chassis. Instead of the usual sloped low silhouette of the Jagdpnzer IV/70(V) with the sharp nose, this version has a simpler superstructure with vertical lower plates fitted onto a normal Panzer IV Ausf J chassis. The gun mount arrangement was the same as on the Jagdpanzer IV/70(V).

Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) (August 1944 to March 1945)

The Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) was an improved version of the Jagdpanther IV with the longer Pak42 L/70 mounted in place of the shorter Pak39 L/48. The long and heavy gun made the tank nose-heavy and resulted in failure of the rubber-tyred roadwheels and later models were fitted with all-steel roadwheels at the first four stations each side. Late models also has three instead of the usual four return rollers and some were fitted with Schurzen or armour side skirts. This arrangement was also found on the Jagdpanzer IV/70(A).

See also SPGs based on the Panzer IV chassis e.g. Hornisse, Nashorn, Hummel & Flakpanzer IV variants.

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