Panzer IV ausf J
History: The ausf J was the last series of the Panzer IV and was
produced solely by Nibelungenwerke after Krupp had been switched to the StuG IV, and Vomag
to the Jgdpanzer IV. In addition to the 1,758 Panzer IV, 278 ausf J chassis were
used for Panzer IV/70(A) and 142 chassis were built for conversion to Brummbär.
Specific features: The main change introduced with the ausf J was the
elimination of the electric traverse and its associated auxiliary engine. A dual
gear-ratio hand-traverse was fitted in its place, and the space previously occupied by the
auxiliary engine was used to increase the fuel capacity. The armour thickness of the
turret roof was increased and a "Nahverteidigungswaffe' added as a smoke-projector
and for close defence. Minor improvements introduced during the ausf J production
run included the deletion of pistol ports and vision ports from the turret rear and side
doors, wire-mesh skirting on the hull sides, 3 instead of 4 return rollers, steel-tyred
road wheels, vertical exhaust mufflers, and the hull sides extended beyond the front hull
plate, and drilled to provide holes for towing shackles.
Combat service: As a result of combat attrition and loss of production through
bombing, the number of Panzer IV per Company by official organization was cut back to 17,
14 or 10 in November 1944. Thus the Panzer Divisions taking part in the Ardennes
Offensive had only 26 to 42 Panzer IV. A totally of only 259 were on hand with eight
Panzer Divisions taking part in the offensive. During the war, Panzer IV had been
furnished to Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Italy, Spain, Rumania, Turkey and Hungary.