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Mid-war Monsters

Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf F

Many of our Mid-war Monsters are actual vehicles that saw combat, either as experimental vehicles or limited production runs. One such vehicle is the Panzer I F infantry support tank.

The Panzer I Ausf F was the last development of the tiny Panzer I series. Following the 1939 Polish campaign the Germans decided they needed a well-armored infantry support tank. In September 1939 work started on designing a new heavily armored infantry assault tank based on the Panzer I. This new 21-ton tanks was originally given the prototype designation VK1801, but was later officially designated Panzer I Ausf F.

It varied from the early Panzer I design with increased armour and new suspension. The design brief called for the tank to mount the maximum armour protection possible. 

It has 80mm frontal armour, 50mm on the side and rear, and 25mm top and bottom. However, the armour had little or no slope. Interleaved wheels with torsion bar suspension and wide tracks were used to disperse the increase in weight. It was powered by a Maybach HL 45P engine giving a top speed of 25 kph and a range of up to 150 km.
Panzer I F tanks
Panzer I C tank

Some of the designs featured utilised early developments of the Panzer I, such as the interleaved wheels with torsion bar suspension, which first featured in the Panzer I C reconnaissance tank. It also used the same powerplant.

Due to its intended purpose as an infantry support tank, the turret was fitted with 5 periscopes in the turret roof to allow the tank’s command good vision to the front and sides while the hatch was closed. In addition a binocular telescope allowed for the sighting of the machine-guns.

The driver was well provided for with both a sliding shutter vision port and a roof mounted periscope.

It was armed with two MG-34 machine-guns mounted in the turret. It had just a crew of two, a driver and a turret commander.

While invulnerable to most anti-tank weapons of its time, its low speed and light armament limited it to expressly anti-infantry operations. Only thirty were produced by Krauss-Maffei from April through December 1942.

The Panzer I Ausf F saw action on the Eastern front with 1. Panzerdivision and 12. Panzerdivision in 1943. 

Panzer I F tank
Panzer I F tank Some were also used in anti-partisan duties in Yugoslavia and with training units.

Ammo: 2250 rounds
Armament: 2 x MG-34
Armour: 80mm
Crew: 2
Engine: Maybach HL45P 6 cylinder/100hp
Fuel Capacity: 146 litres
Height: 2.05m
Length: 4.38m
Range Road: 150km
Cross Country: 75km
Speed: 25kph
Weight: 21-tons
Width: 2.64m

12. Panzerdivision

The 12.Panzerdivision was formed from the 2. Infanteriedivision (mot) in October 1940.

The 12. Panzerdivision was transferred to Army Group Centre in November 1942. It was during this period, before entering action again in March 1943, that they were shipped a batch of the new Panzer I F infantry tanks. These innovative new tanks were likely attached to the Panzer regiment headquarters and allocated out to support the Panzergrenadiers as needed.

Panzer I F tank
Panzer I F tank From March to August 1943 the 12. Panzerdivision took part in operations in and around Orel, Bryansk, Gomel, and Zhlobin. In the Summer of 1943, they took part in the German offensive against the Kursk salient, and in the autumn of 1943 in defensive operations along the Dnieper River. During July they reported having seven Panzer I F tanks.
1. Panzerdivision

The 1. Panzerdivision was formed on 15 October 1935 from the 3. Kavalleriedivision.

The division fought in the Rzhev area of the Eastern Front until the end 1942, before being withdrawn to France for refitting in January to February 1943. It was during this time they got their batch of eight Panzer I F infantry tanks. They also received two Panzer I C reconnaissance tanks at the same time for testing.

Panzer I F tank
Panzer I F tank In June 1943 the division was deployed to the Balkans region, then to Greece for coastal defence duties. The division remained in Greece until October, before returning to the Eastern front in November 1943.

They then participated in the defence of the Ukraine. They fought in the desperate battles for the defence against the Soviet advance west of Kiev.

In Combat

So far little information has come to the surface as to how these two attachments were used by the two divisions. It is interesting to note, that what is an infantry support tank was issued to panzer divisions, rather than infantry divisions for testing.

Panzer I F Model Spotlight...

Mid-War Monsters....

Panzer I F tank

Last Updated On Friday, May 14, 2010 by Blake at Battlefront