Monday, March 23, 2015

Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf F

Heavily armoured VK1801 infantry assault tank (machine-gun armed)

Further development of the Pz Kpfw I, with the heaviest possible armour as the main design feature. The initial order of 30, given on 22 December 1939, was filled, but an additional order for 100 was cancelled before production began. The final development vehicle, the VK1802, was built with the VG15319 pre-selector gearbox. 

The Ausf F had a 'Schachtellaufwerk' (interleaved suspension) with overlapping road wheels and a torsion bar suspension. Its 80mm frontal armour was impenetrable by most anti-tank guns of the period. The commander had 5 periscopes set in the turret roof for vision to the front and sides, plus a binocular telescope for sighting the machine-guns. Vision for the driver was provided by a sliding shutter visor in the superstructure front, and a periscope mounted in the hull roof, on the driver's left side. 

The vehicle had numerous features very advanced for its day. Visibility for the commander was provided via five periscopes in the turret roof. The driver was provided with a vision slit much like the one used later on the Tiger I. Entry and exit from the hull of the vehicle was provided via two circular doors cut into the side of the hull. This position necessitated deletion of a fender for that section of the hull.

Eight were issued to the 1st Panzer Division early in 1943 and taken to Russia for combat evaluation in the summer of 1943. Some were also issued to 12th Panzer division as well. Photographic evidence of at least one in use by Polizei-Panzer-Kompanie (neu) and 1./Pz.Abt.z.b.V.66, a unit originally formed to storm the Island of Malta. Three of the vehicles survived the war. One was captured by U.S. forces in German and taken to Aberdeen Proving Ground. Two other Panzer I Ausf. F still survive in the former Eastern Bloc. One resides in an outdoor museum in Belgrade while the other is in the Russian Armor Museum at Kubinka.

Manufacturer: Krauss-Maffei
Chassis Nos.: 150301-150330
30 produced from April to December 1942
Crew: 2 Engine: Maybach HL45P
Gearbox: 4 forward, 1 reverse
Speed (km/hr): 25
Range (km): 150
Weight (tons): 21.0
Radio: FuG5
Length (metres): 4.38
Width (metres): 2.64
Height (metres): 2.05
Armament: Two 7.92mm MG34
Traverse: 360 ° (hand)
Elevation: -10° +20°
Sight: TZF8
Armour: 80mm—25mm

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