Panzer IV ausf D
History: In January 1938, Krupp-Gruson received an order to produce 200 in the
4th series BW and 48 in the 5th series. Of this total, only 229 were completed as
gun-armed Panzer. The other 19 chassis were utilized to produce 16 bridge-laying
tank, 2 self-propelled guns and a Munitionsschlepper for Karl. Later in 1941, in an
endeavour to seek a more powerful armament, an ausf D was rebuilt with a 5cm KwK39 L/60.
Specific features: The main improvements incorporated in the ausf D were the
increase in the side and rear armour from 15 to 20mm, and provision of an external mantlet
for the 7,5cm KwK. The superstructure front was stepped so that the plate in front
of the radio-operator was farther back than that in front of the driver. The driver
had a pistol port to the right front, and the hull MG was reintroduced in front of the
radio-operator. Ausf D, produced late in the series, had additional 30mm plates
bolted and welded to the hull and superstructure sides. Later, in 1943, several ausf
D were refitted with the 7,5cm KwK L/48 for use with training and replacement units.
Combat service: By May 1940, Panzer production had been sufficient for every
tank detachment to have a medium tank company of from six to eleven Panzer IV. On 10
May 1940, at the start of the campaign in France, there were 280 ausf A, B, C and D in the
Panzer divisions. The ausf D saw service in France, the Balkans, Africa and
Russia. The last few were phased out by attrition early in 1944.