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Panzer I

General Characteristics (Ausf B)
Length: 4.4 m
Width: 2.0 m
Height: 1.7 m
Weight: 6 tons
Speed: 40 km/h (road)
- (off-road)
Range: 140 km
Primary armament: Two 7.92 mm machine guns
Secondary armament: -
Power plant: 100hp, six-cylinder Maybach engine
Crew: 2 (Commander and Driver)

The Panzer I is a German tank used in the Spanish Civil War and World War II.



The Panzer I was first of Germany's post World War I tanks. In 1932, specifications for light (5-ton) tank were made and issued to Rheinmetall, Krupp, Henschel, MAN and Daimler Benz. In 1933, Krupp's design was selected. It was based on the British Carden-Lloyd Mk. IV , two of which had been secretly purchased from the Soviet Union. Since the Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany to produce any tanks, these versions were referred to as "Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper" (agricultural tractors). The design was modified in late 1933 to combine the Krupp chassis with the Daimler Benz turret. In 1934, the resulting tank was designated the Panzer I Ausf A, and in July, production began.

The Panzer I first saw combat in the Spanish Civil War, in 1936, as part of the German forces sent to assist General Franco and the Nationalists. The Panzer I turned out to be underpowered, under-gunned, and outclassed by the Soviet T-26 and BT-5 tanks used by the Republican forces. A number of Panzer Is were captured by the Republican forces, and re-gunned with a variety 20mm or 25mm anti-tank guns.

The Panzer I was intended as a training tank, to be replaced by the Panzer III in actual combat. However, because of delays in the production of Panzer IIIs, the Panzer I was the main tank used in the invasion of Poland and was used extensively in the invasions of France, Denmark, and Norway.

Fifteen Panzer IAs were purchased by Nationalist China, and saw combat in the Chinese Civil War.

After Germany removed the Panzer I from combat they were used extensively for patrolling in the conquered territories and for the training of new panzertruppen.


The Panzer I had 13mm of unsloped or slightly sloped homogenous steel armor on all side surfaces, with 8mm of armor on the top of the turret, and 6mm on the top and bottom of the hull. The armor was sufficient to stop rifle bullets and most machine-gun bullets, but could not stop anything heavier, such as anti-tank rifles and anti-tank guns. Even though the armour was relatively thin, it was face-hardened, which also suggests that was not merely intended as a training tank, since the process of face-hardening the steel plates was quite expensive.


The Panzer I was armed with a pair of 7.92mm machine guns in the turret. These guns could be independently elevated, but both turned with the turret. This made the Panzer I a good tank against infantry and soft vehicles, but completely impotent against anything with armor.


The Panzer IA had a 57hp Krupp M305 4-cylinder engine, capable of propelling it at 37km/h (23 mph) on good terrain, and a range of 145km (90 miles) on-road. The IB had a 100hp, six-cylinder Maybach NL38TR engine giving it a top speed of 40km/h (25mph), and a range of 170km (105 miles) on-road. Like all the German tanks of WWII, the Panzer I was gasoline-fueled.


The Panzer I had a crew of two. The driver sat in the forward hull, while the commander sat in the turret and operated the guns.


  • Panzer I Ausf A - First production model. 818 produced
  • Panzer I Ausf B - New improved engine. 675 produced.
  • Panzer I Ausf C - Reconnaissance variant. 40 produced.
  • Panzer I Ausf D - One machine gun replaced with 20mm cannon. Never got beyond prototype stage.
  • Panzer I Ausf F - Thicker armour. 30 produced.
  • Panzer-Befehlswagen I Ausf B - Command tank, with extra radios. 190 produced.

Designs based on chassis

  • 15cm sIG33(Sf) auf Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf B - Self-propelled 150 mm howitzer. 38 converted from existing tanks.
  • Panzerjäger I - Self-propelled 47 mm anti-tank gun. 202 converted from existing tanks.
  • Flammenwerfer auf Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A - Flamethrower tank. Field conversion of the Panzer IA using an infantry flamethrower.
  • Ladungsleger auf Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A - Minelayer tank. 100 converted from existing tanks.
  • Munitionsschlepper Auf Panzerkampfwagen Ia und Ib - Ammunition carrier. In 1942-43, all Panzer Is still in service were converted to this.
  • Flakpanzer I - anti-aircraft tank. 24 converted from Munitionsschlepper I Ausf As.

See also:

External links

  • AFV Database
  • Pictures of Panzer I at

Last updated: 02-26-2005 20:28:43