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Panzer IV ausf A

History: The development contract for a Panzer in the 20 ton class was issued to Krupp in 1935.  Known originally as the 7,5cm Geschütz-Panzerwagen (Vs kfz 618) (7,5cm gun armoured vehicle; experimental vehicle no. 618), the Panzer IV started production in the autumn of 1937.  In April 1936, the name was changed from Geschütz-Panzerwagen to Panzer IV, and received the designation Vs kfz 622, which had previously been assigned to the Panzer II.  All of the original order of thirty-five Panzer IV ausf A were completed, and accepted for issue.
Specific features:  The suspension of the Panzer IV consisted of a forward-drive sprocket, four pairs of road wheels with leaf springs, a rear idler and four return rollers.  Power was provided by a 12 cylinder gasoline engine, through a five-speed transmission to the final drives, and an epicyclical clutch and brake steering system.  An auxiliary engine was provided to drive a generator which provided power for the electric turret traverse.  The 7,5cm KwK and a coaxial MG34 were mounted in an inner moving mantlet in the turret, and a second MG34 was mounted in front of the superstructure.  The 15mm armour was designed to prevent penetration by armour-piercing rounds from smallarms, and by shell fragments.  Numerous vision slits and pistol ports were provided for the crew, with observation provided for the commander by a drum cupola with 8 vision slits.  The driver's front plate was forward of the rest of the superstructure front, allowing the driver to see to his right front, and providing more room for internal ammunition storage.
Combat service: By January 1938, three Panzer IV had been issued to the troops, and this number had increased to thirty by 1 April 1938.  Seeing action in Poland, Norway and France, the ausf A were withdrawn from the Panzer regiments before the spring campaigns of 1941.

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