The ‘Panzer Evolution’ design looks at the development of Germany’s main battle tank - the Panzerkampfwagen - during the time of the Third Reich 1933 - 1945.
Born during the static trench stalemate of the First World War, the tank was to go on to play a crucial role in the way in which any future conflict was to be waged. With speed, mobility and manoeuvrability at its very core, the tank become an ever present feature of the battlefields of the Second World War.
The Panzerkampfwagen had some very humble and clandestine beginnings in the form of the Mk I Light Tank in 1933-34. With a two-man crew, armed with twin machine-guns and weighing 5-6 tonnes it was originally designated as an industrial tractor to hoodwink the Allies about its true purpose. The PzKpfw I, saw active service in the Spanish Civil War and during the invasion of Poland, France and the Low Countries before slowly being phased out.
As the Third Reich geared up for war, its armament programme accelerated, the war progressed and technologies rapidly developed, so too did the size, scale and weaponry of the Panzerkampfwagen with the introduction of the Mk II Light, Mk III Medium and also Mk IV Medium Battle Tank, which was to go on to form the very core of Germany’s armoured backbone.
The Panzerkamfwagens took their final gigantic form in the shapes of the Panther (Mk V), Tiger (Mk VI) and King-Tiger (Mk VII) as they became known. These colossal tanks weighed anywhere from 45 to 70 tonnes, were heavily armoured (with up to 150 mm armour on the front hull in the case of the King-Tiger) and packed an incredible punch with their 75mm and 88mm guns. Although limited in their numbers by contrast to the Panzer Mk IV, the heavy Panzerkampfwagens were a potent and fierce combination. It took a lot to put these monstrous armoured vehicles out of action, and was later estimated that it took on average four Sherman tanks to knock out just one Tiger Tank. It is therefore understandable how this weapon was feared by any soldier who came face-to-face against it on the battlefield during the Second World War.