PzKpfw I Light Tank

Last updated on March 14th, 2019 at 11:28 pm

The Treaty of Versailles, which was signed at the end of World War I, stated that Germany was not allowed to build tanks. The Nazis were able to get around this restriction by building an armored vehicle that didn’t have a turret or weapon system.

It was called the PzKpfw I Ohne Aufbau (Ohne Aufbau means without a turret). Two models of this vehicle, Ausf A and Ausf B, were built.  (Ausf is German for Model.) Ausf A was used for training and Ausf B was used for maintenance.

PzKpfw I Light Tank
Germany’s first mass produced tank, the PzKpfw Panzer I Light Tank, was based on the PzKpfw I Ausf A Ohne Aufbau, and used the same hull and the same suspension. (PzKpfw is an abbreviation of Panzerkampfwagen , which means armored fighting vehicle.)The first model of the PzKpfw I to be produced was the PzKpfw I Ausf A Light Tank, which weighed slightly more than five tons and carried two 0.312 inch (7.92mm) machine guns. It was crewed by two men.

Panzer I Iight tanks on a propanda Nazi parade in Kamenz, Saxony, Germany

A later model, the PzKpfw I Ausf B Light Tank, was larger than the Ausf A. It had a more powerful engine than the Ausf B and a chassis that was 8 inches longer than the Ausf B.

Some versions of the PzKpfw I Ausf B had an arm that was attached to a cable.  The arm could drop a remotely-activated demolition charge in back of the tank. The charge could be placed near obstacles and used to blow them up.

German 1936 cigarette card for people to collect and stick in albums, this one shows a Panzer I in action with will have helped spark interest in building the German war machine in the late 1930's

Both the Ausf A and the Ausf B were taken out of service in 1941.

A command version of the PzKpfw I Ausf B, which was known as the Kleinerbefelswagen I, had a radio transmitter. (The standard versions of the PzKpfw I only had a radio receiver). The command version had a higher superstructure so that the radio and the radio operator could fit in the tank.  The Kleinerbefelswagen I was used in the headquarters of panzer units from the mid-1930s through the beginning of World War II.

An infantry assault tank version of the PzKpfw I, which weighed 21 tons, was also produced by the Germans.  In 1942, thirty of these infantry assault tanks were built. Some were tested in Russia. After the tests were performed, orders to produce more of these tanks were canceled.

Nazi Germany

PzKpfw Panzer I Ausf B Light

Active: 1934
Crew: 2
Weight: 5.8 tons (5,893kg)
Length: 14ft 6in (4.42m)
Height: 5ft 8in (1.72m)
Width: 6ft 9in (2.06m)
Weapons: Main – 2 x 0.312in (7.92mm) machineguns
Armor Maximum – 0.51in (13mm)
Engine: Maybach NL38TR 6-cylinder gasoline, 100hp
Speed: 24.9mph (40kph)
Range: 95.1 miles (153 km)