Know your Panzers - The Panzer III
The poster child of the Blitzkrieg, the Panzer III was designed to be the backbone of the German Armored Divisions. Though at the beginning its design process was plagued with problems and set backs, it was instrumental to much of the Germans success as well as frustrations of the early part of the war. Originally designed with a 5cm cannon in mind, it became clear arming the tanks with the gun would have lead to yet another set back. Because of this, designers settled on a smaller 3.7cm cannon, which while effective against the early western Allied tanks ran into problems when put up against Soviet armor. This lead to the Germans rushing to up gun to its original designed 5cm cannon, and up armor from 15mm to 30 mm. With additional armament of 2 (with an optional third) MG34s on the bow, turret, and commanders hatch its armament was impressive for the early war, despite having issues when running up against later Soviet armor. Despite its weight being almost as twice as much as the Panzer II it still maintained around the same top speed, making it quick for its size at the time. Its crew size was upgraded to 5 (Commander, Gunner, Radio Operator/Bow Gunner, Loader, and Driver) this proved to be one of the tanks strongest points and became standard for later Panzer designs. The chassis also served to become the basis of the Stug III tank destroyer which was the most produced armored vehicle of the German army. While the tanks design and early years had teething issues, the Panzer IIIs design proved to be solid enough to become the basis of future Panzer layouts. With setups like a 5 man crew and spacey 3 man turret became common place in both German and Allied designs.
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