Panzer III L42 vs L60

Hitler often bypassed the normal channels of logistics and strategy, most times creating problems ranging from minor inconveiniences to major catastrophes. One of the larger ones regards the "upgrade" of the Panzer III series between the Spring campaigns of 1941 and 1942. Hitler had ordered that the Pz3 tank was to be upgraded from the standard 37mm armament of 1940 as seen on the PzIII F and 38T models to the 50mm L60 gun. (L in this case is the length of the barrel in diameters of the gunbore).

Because the normal channels for procurement were bypassed some unforseen errors occured, resulting in the first batch of Pz3s to be equipped with the 50mm L42. This significantly hampered the range and velocity (and as a corollary the penetration) of the gun, and it is interesting to think how much of an effect that had on the renewed German offensives of spring in 1942.

This was designed to be an intermediate step to prop up the Panzer divisions until enough of the Panzer IV G and later models could be produced in enough numbers and delivered to the front (IVg being armed with the excellent 75mm L43 and later models the L48 which were also mounted on the Stug IIIg).


Anonymous said...

Completely useless insight without a qty delivered for frontline service both in absolute value, but also as used and % of all Panzers.

So how many of these were supplied?
How many battalions? Out of?

What % of all Pz battaltions does that represent?

Don't mean to be mean.....

Chase Morrison said...

In the future not starting your comment with an insult will get your concerns address much more efficiently. Most blogs would delete such a comment.

The answer to your question is that the numbers are murky, as the Ausf (version) E&F models of the Panzer III were originally armed with the 37mm and later converted to the 50mm L42. The Ausf G was armed with both the 37mm and the 50mm L42.

The first production model to carry the 50mm L60 was the Ausf J/1, and the process was in motion to rearm the Ausf G forward to the L60. This was not completed totally until 1943.

At the beginning of 1942 the Panzer divisions were restructured, and the L60 represented a very small number (possibly as little as 100 tanks) of the overall strength. In most cases the redesigned divisions had less Pz3s than they had started with in the summer of 1941.

By the time the L60 was used in significant numbers the Pz3 had become an obsolete tank, and production focused on the Panzer 4 and 5(Panther).

I hope this answers your question.