Panzer 38(t)

Panzer 38(t)

Infobox Weapon

caption=Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) Ausf. S
origin= Czechoslovakia
type= Light tank
service= 1939 - 1944 (Nazi Germany)
used_by= Nazi Germany
wars= World War II
production_date= 1939 - 1942
number= over 1,400
length=4.61 m
width=2.14 m
height=2.40 m
weight=9.5 tonnes
suspension=Leaf spring
speed=42 km/h (road)
15 km/h (off-road)
vehicle_range=160 to 250 km
primary_armament=1x 3.7 cm KwK 38(t) L/47.8
secondary_armament=2x 7.92 mm ZB53 (Model 37) MG
armour=8-30 mm Ausf. A-D
8-50 mm Ausf. E and newer
engine=gasoline Praga EPA 6-cylinder
engine_power=125 PS (123.3 hp, 91.9 kW)
pw_ratio= 13.15 PS/tonne

The Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) was a Czechoslovakian tank used by Germany during World War II. (The Czechoslovak military designation was LT vz. 38. Manufacturer's designations included TNH series, TNHPS, LTP and LTH). The special vehicle designation for the tank in Germany was Sd.Kfz. 140.


The Panzer 38(t) was a conventional pre-World War II tank design, with riveted armor and rear engine. The riveted armor was not sloped, and varied in thickness from 10 mm to 25 mm in most versions. Later models (Ausf. E on) increased this to 50 mm.

The two-man turret was centrally located, and housed the tank's main armament, a 37 mm Skoda A7 gun with 90 rounds stored on board. It was equipped with a 7.92 mm machine gun to the right of the main ordnance. Interestingly, the turret machinegun was in a separate ball mount rather than a coaxial mount. This meant the machine-gun needed to be trained on targets independently, rather than being aimed with the main gun. The driver was in the front right of the hull, with the bow machine-gunner seated to the left, manning a 7.92 mm machine gun. As with many 1930s tanks, the bow gunner was also the radio operator. A total of 2,550 rounds were carried for the bow and turret machine guns.

The engine was mounted in the rear of the hull and drove the tank through a transmission with five forward gears and one reverse gear. It drove a forward drive sprocket, with the track running under four rubber-tired road wheels and back over a rear idler and two track return rollers. The wheels were mounted on a leaf-spring double-bogie mounted on two axles. Despite the large wheel size, the tank did not use a Christie suspension.


In 1935, the Czechoslovak tank manufacturer ČKD was looking for a replacement for the LT-35 tank they were jointly producing with Škoda Works. The LT-35 was complex and had shortcomings, and ČKD felt there would be orders both from the expanding Czechoslovak army and for export.

ČKD decided to use a suspension with four large wheels for their new tank. It resembled the Christie suspension outwardly, but was actually a conventional leaf spring unit. The resulting vehicle was reliable, and an export success: 50 were exported to Iran, 24 each to Peru and Switzerland. Latvia also ordered some. Britain evaluated one tank, but rejected it.

On July 1, 1938, Czechoslovakia ordered 150 of the TNHPS model, although none had entered service by the time of the German occupation. After the German takeover, Germany ordered continued production of the model, as it was considered an excellent tank, especially compared to the Panzer I and Panzer II tanks that were the Panzerwaffe's main tanks. It was first introduced into German service under the name LTM 38; this was changed on 16 January 1940 to Panzerkampfwagen 38(t). Production of tanks for Germany continued into 1942, and amounted to more than 1,400 examples. Examples were also sold to a number of German allies, including Hungary (102), Slovakia (69), Romania (50), and Bulgaria (10). In German service the 38(t) was used as a substitute for the Panzer III.

The Panzer 38(t) was manufactured up to the middle of World War II. The small turret wasn't capable of taking a weapon big enough to destroy the latest tanks and manufacturing ceased. However, because the chassis was mechanically reliable, turretless versions were built with a weapon mounted on the superstructure. Assault guns, anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft guns were mounted on the chassis. A Swedish variant, the Sav m/43, remained in use until 1970, which is probably a longevity record for a pre-WW2 tank.


* TNHP Initial export version to Iran (50 ordered in 1935) (Iran was the first customer)
* LTP export version to Peru
* LTH export version to Switzerland
* LTL export version to Lithuania (21 ordered)
* LT vz. 38 Czechoslovak Army designation (none entered service)
* Strv m/41 version built under license in Sweden, as compensation for the seized Ausf. S tanks
* Sav m/43 assault gun on TNH hull, built by Sweden
* PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. A-D TNH tank in German manufacture
* PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. E-G Pz 38(t) with frontal armour increased to 50 mm
* PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. S Ordered by Sweden but seized by Germany

Designs based on chassis

* SdKfz 138 Marder III carried German 75 mm gun in open-top superstructure
* SdKfz 139 Marder III carried Soviet 76.2 mm gun in open-top superstructure
* SdKfz 138/1 Grille carried German 150 mm infantry gun; also munition variant which carried ammunition
* SdKfz 140 Flakpanzer 38(t) carried a 20 mm anti-aircraft gun
* SdKfz 140/1 reconnaissance tank
* SdKfz 141/1 reconnaissance version with 20 mm turret from a SdKfz.222 armored car
* Jagdpanzer 38(t) (unofficially known as the Hetzer) a tank destroyer carrying a 75 mm L/48 anti-tank gun
* G-13 Swiss designation for postwar-built Jagdpanzer 38(t) sold by Czechoslovakia

Operational history

The Panzer 38(t) performed well in the Polish campaign in 1939 and the Battle of France in 1940. It was also used in the German invasion of the Soviet Union from 1941 onwards in German and Romanian units, but was outclassed by Soviet tanks such as the T-34. Several captured examples were refitted with Soviet DTM machineguns and employed by the Red Army. The vehicle continued to serve after 1941 as a reconnaissance vehicle and in anti-partisan units for some time.

The Flakpanzer 38(t) was not a success as it was too poorly armed. In fact, it often became the target of allied fighter-bombers.Fact|date=February 2007 Its armour was too thin to prevent damage from heavy aircraft machine guns.

The Hetzer and Marder models of tank destroyers were very successful, in particular the Hetzer. With 2,584 Hetzers produced during the war, it became one of the most common German AFVs in the last year of the war. Production continued for the Czechoslovak Army after the war. Switzerland purchased 158 examples, which served into the 1960s.

Removal of turrets from Panzer 38(t) tanks for conversion of the chassis to tank destroyer and other uses freed 351 turrets for use in fortifications in various locations. Almost half of these (150) were used in Southwest Europe, while 78 went to the Eastern Front, 75 to Norway, 25 in Italy, 20 in Denmark, and 9 in the Atlantic Wall. The small-bore armament and thin armor of the turrets made them insignificant as an anti-tank pillbox by the later stages of the war, but they were still useful in combating infantry attacks.


* Invasion of Poland with the German 3rd Light Division
* Operation Weserübung (Norway) with the German 31st Army Corps
* Battle of France with the 7th Panzer, and 8th Panzer Divisions
* Operation Barbarossa with the German 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, 19th, 20th and 22nd Panzer Divisions
* Eastern Front operations with the Romanian forces.

Technical Data


* General
** Role: Light/medium tank
** Manufacturer: ČKD
** Crew: Commander, gunner, driver, bow machine gunner-operator of radio
* Armament and armor
** Main armament: 37.2 mm Skoda A7 gun
** Coaxial armament: 7.92 mm machine gun
** Bow armament: 7.92 mm machine gun
** Ammunition: 90 rounds of 37.2 mm and 2,550 rounds of 7.92 mm
** Armor: 10 mm to 25 mm
* Power and weight
** Engine: Praga EPA six-cylinder inline water-cooled petrol
** Transmission: 5 forward, 1 reverse
** Power: 110,3 kW (148 hp)
** Weight: 9,700 kg (21,400 lb)
** Power/Weight: 11.5 kW/metric ton (14.0 hp/short ton)
* Performance
** Max road speed: 42 km/h
** Max range: 200 km
** Fording: 0.9 m
** Gradient: 60%
** Vertical obstacle: 0.8 m
** Trench: 1.9 m
* Dimensions
** Length: 4.55 m
** Width: 2.13 m
** Height: 2.31 m

Panzer 38(t) Aus. A-C

* General
** Role: Medium tank
** Crew: 4
* Armament and armor
** Main armament: 37.2 mm Skoda A7 (L/47.8) gun with 90 rounds
** Secondary armament: 2 x 7.92 mm MG 37(t) (Model 37) machine gun with 2,550 rounds.
** Armour: front 25 mm, side 15 mm
* Power and weight
** Engine: Praga EPA Model I inline six-cylinder, liquid cooled, petrol
** Bore: 110 mm (~ 4.331 in)
** Stroke: 136 mm (~ 5.354 in)
** Displacement: 7754,7 cc (~ 473.22 cu in)
** Power: 91,9 kW (123.3 hp, 125 PS)
** Transmission: 5 forward, 1 reverse
** Weight: combat: 9.5 tonnes, dry: 8.5 tonnes
** Power/Weight: 10 kW/metric ton (13.0 hp/short ton)
* Performance
** Speed: 56 km/h (35 mph)
** Range: 200 km (125 miles)
* Dimensions
** Length: 4.61 m
** Width: 2.14 m
** Height: 2.40 m

See also

* Comparison of early World War II tanks
* German armored fighting vehicle production during World War II
* Tank classification
* List of military vehicles



External links

* [ Information about the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) at Panzerworld]
* [ WWII Vehicles]
* Photo galleries at Tanxheaven: [] , [] .
* [ Panzerkampfwagen 38(t)] at Achtung Panzer!
* [ Captured German vehicles] - A PDF file presenting the German vehicles based on captured and modified foreign equipment (PzKpfw. 35(t), PzKpfw 38(t), 10.5 cm leFH 18(Sf) auf Geschützwagen, Marder I, Panzerjäger I, Marder III, Grille, Munitionspanzer 38(t)) still existing in the world

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