The Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) neuer Art (abbreviated as Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) n.A.) is a light tank developed by BMM as a tracked reconnaissance vehicle for the German Army during the second world war.
The vehicle competed with the Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. L and the T 15 for the role of Panzerspähwagen II (armoured scout tank II).
2 March 1942: Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) neuer Art | Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) n.A.
5 March 1942: Panzerspähwagen II Ausf. B.M.M. | Pz.Sp.Wg. II Ausf. B.M.M.
The Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) n.A. began development in early 1942 according to surviving records. The first mention of the vehicle is in data sheet from Wa Prüf 6 dated 2 March 1942, entitled "38 t n.A.". BMM had completed an experimental chassis and turret by April 1942, so development must have been initiated much earlier.
There is no record as to who initiated the development of the vehicle. There are three likely possibilities as given by Panzer Tracts No. 11-2;
Wa Prüf 6 initiated the programme for the Panzerspähwagen II, which was given to MAN. BMM could have also been included in this programme, developing their own model.
BMM may have initiated development of the vehicle themselves, in order to extend the life of the Pz.Kpfw. 38(t).
On 2 March 1942, Wa Prüf 6 recorded limited details about the vehicle, with further details yet to be determined.
V-8, four-cycle, gasoline, 220 hp
40 - 50 km/h
20 - 30 km/h
260 - 270 L
Water Fording Depth
Specifications found the vehicle too narrow for a crew of 4, and it affected the steering ratio negatively. Armour consisted of 30mm plates on the front, 25mm plates on the sides, and 20mm plates on the rear. The turret had 20mm plates capable of effective protection against armour-piercing rounds of anti-tank weapons of up to 25mm at ranges over 600 meters. The turret roof was 12mm thick, the hull roof was 10mm, and the hull bottom 8mm. The vehicle met the specifications of protection for its purpose at the time.
The turret was planned to fit a 5cm KwK-Turm that was being designed by Daimler-Benz, and the turret designed for the 3,7cm KwK 38(t) was not mentioned. The turret was to fit a 5cm KwK 39/1 L/60 gun.
On 5 March 1942, additional information was added to the data sheet by hand, including a name change to Panzerspähwagen II Ausf. B.M.M.. An MG 34 and an MP 40 were added to the vehicle outfitting in addition to the planned 5cm Kw.K. gun. Ammo stowage made for 60 rounds for the 5cm gun, 2100 rounds for the MG, and 192 rounds for the MP 40. The dimensions changed too, with the overall length increasing to 4.70 meters and the width to 2.225 meters. An articulated Turmzielfernrohr 12 b telescope was to be mounted for use with the 5cm gun and the coaxial machine gun. The driver was provided with twin K.F.F. 2 periscopes. An intercom system was introduced, and FuG 5 send/receive radio, and a FuG 2 receiver radio were to be fitted. A gyroscopic compass was included to aid the driver in maintaining direction.
In April 1942, an experimental version of the Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) n.A. was demonstrated to Hitler. The vehicle had a turret mounting a 3,7cm gun with a cupola extending across the width of the turret, as seen in all known photographs of the vehicle. No documentation has been found showing BMM attempting to design the 38(t) n.A. with a 5cm gun, although it was originally planned to be fitted with one.
Between April and late June 1942, a Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) n.A. was sent to the Kraftfahrversuchsstelle (automotive testing station) in Kummersdorf for comparative testing against the ŠkodaT 15 and the MANVK13.03. The test findings were dated 29 June 1942.
The commander at Kummersdorf, Oberst Esser, stated that the drive train in the Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) series was impressive, and that after 3,886 kilometers driven in the n.A., the only comment on any engine component problems was the failure of the rivets holding the fan wheel. The steering was good, with exception of a leaking gasket. Brakes and transmission were exceptional, however the leaf spring suspension had frequently broken during trials, and the track pins were excessively worn, but in all the suspension performed quite well. If the issues mentioned were corrected then the vehicle would perform well in itself, however in comparison to its competition it had some flaws.
Comparison between the n.A., T-15, and VK13.03
Oberst Esser of Kummersdorf stated the following on the Panzerspähwagen II competition
The weight of all three vehicles is close together. Attention should be paid to the fact that a 3,7cm gun is planned for the T 15 and the 38(t) and the free space in the turret is very restricted. A 2cm is the basic gun mounted in the VK13.03, resulting in significantly more favourable space in the turret than in both other vehicles. At 33cm, the ground clearance of the T 15 is the lowest, at 36cm for the 38(t) somewhat more favourable, and most favourable at 42.5cm with the VK13.03. The ground clearance of the VK13.03 is significantly better than the T 15. Fuel consumption of the VK13.03 couldn't be determined because of converting the suspension and work on the superstructure. Fuel consumption of the T 15 and 38(t) is about 20 percent higher than that experienced in German Pz.Kpfw. It is expected that the VK13.03 will achieve the same favourable results as achieved previously in other German Pz.Kpfw. The range of the T 15, only 170 kilometres on the road and 100 kilometres cross country, is not acceptable. The range of the 38(t) is better at 202 kilometres on the road and 124 kilometres cross country.
On 15 June 1942, in a report detailing the extensive modifications recommended for the Versuchs-Serie (experimental series), a total of five Pz.Kpfw.38(t) n.A. were produced and identified as Nr. 1 through Nr. 5.
On 19 January 1943, Kummersdorf was advised that a production series of the n.A. will not be be ordered and that the five trial vehicles should finish testing and be set aside.
Fgst.Nr. 3 was used post-war as a test bed for the Tatra Typ 103 engine.
Germany (Deutsches Reich) Land Vehicles 1919 - 1945