Military History blog

The best videos showing functioning tanks of the Second World War

Part 1: The armoured fist of the Wehrmacht

German tanks, despite serving terrible purposes, are considered to be one of the icons of World War II. These machines surpassed their time with technology, causing fear among enemies on the battlefields of all war fronts. Their greatest advantages were their accurate and powerful cannons, as well as thick armour. There are still well-preserved and efficient copies in the world; we thought it was worthwhile to collect the recordings showing them.

Panzerkampfwagen I

The first tank produced in series production in factories of the Third Reich. Panzer I was used during the campaign in Poland and the invasion of France, as well as during the civil war in Spain. This lightweight tank became the basis for the development of further armoured vehicles such as e. g. Panzerjäger I self-propelled anti-tank guns. In the years 1934-1939 about 2000 units were produced.

Panzerkampfwagen II

Having a rich history of modification, Panzer I’s successor served on all fronts until 1944. Due to the weak armour and vulnerability of the enemy’s guns and cannons, it was the main tank in the armoured divisions of the Third Reich until 1941. and then it was used to fight partisans or as a reconnaissance vehicle.

Panzerkampfwagen III

This medium tank was the most dynamically developed model serving in the army of the Third Reich. KPKpfw III was supposed to be the core of the Wehrmacht’s armoured divisions, but at the beginning of the war there were only 3% of all tanks, which curtailed plans based on these machines as the basic ones. They reached the front before the war with the Soviet Union in large numbers. For a few years they were modified and adapted to the ever new conditions of fighting, until in 1943 their production stopped, and before the end of next year they almost disappeared from the frontline troops.

Panzerkampfwagen IV

The basic tank, although modified several times, remained on the equipment of the army of the Third Reich and was used until the end of the war. It was called the “Wehrmacht armoured armoured horse”. As many as 8,500 units were produced in several variants, and on its basis were also created, among others, the destroyer of Jagdpanzer IV tanks and the armoured gun Sturmpanzer IV. Until the autumn of 1942, it was the heaviest tank in the German army. It was replaced by the Panther, mainly to equal opportunities against the Soviet T-34. Panzer IV was also used after the war, even in 1967 during the Six-Day War on the Syrian side.

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther

This tank was introduced to the service as a response to Soviet T-34s; however, the Panther surpassed them with much better armour (especially its front, inclined section) and gun (75mm). Panthers dominated over most of the allied tanks, but their serious disadvantage was the high cost and time consuming nature of production. For this reason, just like the Tigers and Tigers II, there has never been enough to eliminate the significant size advantage of the opponent’s vehicles. Despite this, many historians have identified Panther as the best tank of the Second World War – a perfect combination of fire, armor and mobility.

Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger

It is the first German tank to have installed the 88mm anti-aircraft gun, which turned out to be deadly for, among others, Russian T-34. Tigers possessed a terrible force of fire and a thick armour, which allowed these vehicles to dominate the battlefield so much that in order to destroy them, the allied tanks had to fight them with numerical advantage. However, Tigers were technically too complicated (although rather mechanically reliable), which made repairs expensive and problematic, and fuel-consuming so large that it was often a challenge for the weakening Reich to supply this monster. Either way, the Tiger has become one of the symbols of World War II and its only surviving copy is in the museum in Bovington (the tank appeared in the Fury movie in the scene of an attack on Shermans).

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B “Tiger II”  

Tiger II was the last German tank produced in series production during World War II and at the same time the heaviest and most powerful tank created by the Third Reich. Despite the deadly, sniper gun cannon and a thick front armour (which never penetrated the shell of an enemy tank), Tiger II did not manage to reverse the fate of the war for the Germans, additionally the tank proved itself to be not reliable on the field of battle. Nevertheless, properly used and efficient Tigers II could uniquely dominate the battlefield. More about Tiger II in our recent article.

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