The Panzer II is the common name used for a family of German tanks used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen II (abbreviated PzKpfw II).
Although the vehicle had originally been designed as a stopgap while
larger, more advanced tanks were developed, it nonetheless went on to
play an important role in the early years of World War II, during the Polish and French campaigns.
The Panzer II was the most numerous tank in the German Panzer divisions
beginning with the invasion of France. It was used in both North Africa against the British and on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union.
The Panzer II was supplemented by the Panzer III and IV in 1940/41. Thereafter, it was used to great effect as a reconnaissance
tank. By the end of 1942 it had been largely removed from front line
service and it was used for training and on secondary fronts. Production
of the tank itself ceased by 1943 but its chassis remained in use as
the basis of several other armored vehicles, chiefly self-propelled
artillery such as the Wespe and Marder II.
Continuing the conventional design of the Ausf. C, the Ausf. F was
designed as a reconnaissance tank and served in the same role as the
earlier models. The superstructure front was made from a single piece
armor plate with a redesigned visor. Also a dummy visor was placed next
to it to reduce anti-tank rifle bullets hitting the real visor. The hull
was redesigned with a flat 35 mm plate on its front, and armor of the
superstructure and turret were built up to 30 mm on the front with 15 mm
to the sides and rear. There was some minor alteration of the
suspension and a new commander's cupola as well. Weight was increased to
9.5 tonnes. 524 were built from March 1941 to December 1942 as the
final major tank version of the Panzer II series.
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