Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A

Panzerkampfwagen I ausf A (abbreviated PzKpfw I: armored combat vehicle, version A) also known as Sonderkraftfahrzeug 101 (abbreviated SdKfz: Special Ordnance Vehicle) on Heer (Army) ordinance records, was the first tank mass manufactured for the reemerging Wehrmacht (armed forces). Designed in 1932 under the direction of Inspector of Motor Transport Chief of Staff Heinz Guderian, the tank was based on secret cooperation with the Soviets, who were also basing their designs on British Carden Lloyd tankettes. The vehicle entered production in April 1934, and was presented to Reichchancellor Adolf Hitler. The tank mounted two MG13 7.92mm machine guns that could be fired separately or together. Exported to Spain to equip both the Germans and the Spanish Nationalists, the Panzer I was found to be inferior to the Soviet T-26 tanks it encountered. Privately many German officers were critical of its design, which had many joints and viewports that weakened the tank's already light armor. The Ausf A was manufactured through June 1936, by which time it became a mainstay of the Nazi Party demonstrations. While the tank was never intended for heavy combat, it served in Poland, France, and North Africa, making up half of the strength of the armored formations in 1940. It was soon pulled from the front lines and replaced by more capable tanks. The Panzer I chassis was used as the basis for command tanks, flamethrower tanks, assault guns, anti-tank destroyers, bridging tanks, and towing wreckers. The type served throughout the war, despite its shortcomings. Date estimated.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Sunday, April 1, 1934