Panzer II & Luchs

In the first part of the 30s in the 20th century, the new chapter of the German history has opened – of the Germany that was facing more than only an economical crysis.

On 30th January 1933, the office of chancellor of the, at that time still, republic, was taken by the leader of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP) – Adolf Hitler. In a short time the supporters of the superpower politics, braking with the resolutions imposed on the Berlin on the strength of the Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, seized both power and control of the country. The birth of the Third Reich was proclaimed, with Hitler acting as the Leader (Führer), at the head of the state. Any restriction, supervised by the international community, was rejected and turned down, what clearly and unambiguosly led Germany on the path towards a new war.

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In those fervent and ardent times, even before announcing the restoration of the compulsory military service and setting up Wehrmacht in place of the Republican Armed Forces, a new armoured divisions development programme was launched in Berlin. Soon, the assembly lines began producing light tanks Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. A and the prolonged, developmental version – Ausf. B, which in larger and larger amounts joined the ranks of new Panzerwaffe sub-units, formed over and over again. Shortly afterwards it turned out, among others during field manoeuvres in various parts of the Third Reich, that in case of escalation of armed conflict with two basic enemies: Poland on the east and France on the west, these vehicles might turn out to be inefficient in combat. One of the main weaknesses and foibles of the Pz.Kpfw. I was the armament consisiting of only two 7,92 mm machine guns Maschinengewehr 13, which performed well against enemy infantry, but made quite a poor opponent for the enemy tanks.

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Front line tanks
In July 1934 the VI Department of the Army Weapons Agency (Heereswaffenamt) issued an order to create plans of a vehicle weighting approximately 10 000 kg – in the shortest period possible. This vehicle was meant to support the front line armoured troops. This project, just like all the previous military projects, was concealed and code-named “Farming tractor 100” (Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper 100 or LaS 100), marking it also as Versuchs Kraftfahrzeug 622 [German: Experimental vehicle 622]. The addressees of this directive were 4 companies: Friedrich Krupp AG with seat in Essen, Henschel und Söhn in Kassel, Nuremberg Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) and Daimler Benz AG at Berlin-Marienfeld. In October 1935 the first of the abovementioned factories presented a prototype marked as LKA II. It was the developmental version of Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. A with larger, manually turned turret, armed 7,92 mm MG 13 machine gun and with quick-firing cannon Kampfwagenkanone (KwK) 30 L/55, cal. 20 mm, which was a commonly used anti-aircraft cannon Flugabwehrkanone 30, cal. 20 mm, converted for use in armoured fighting vehicles. Soon the other companies – MAN and Henschel – presented their proposals, and this solution, consisting of three bogies, two road wheels [sometimes called also “suspension wheels”] each, was approved for production. The turret was taken from the Krupp company’s project.

 

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