Some questions about the Panzer IV

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CheeseMerchant
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Some questions about the Panzer IV

Post by CheeseMerchant » 13 Jul 2021 11:45

I always wondered why the armor design on the later Panzer IV models is just so inconsistent and weird. i am primarly talking about the models F2 all the way up until the last J variant.

Like why did they only upgrade the vehicle frontal hull armor to 80mm but kept the frontal turret at 50mm. which could easely be penetrated already in early-mid war by most AT guns from medium range? Also the turret is one of the most targeted areas in a tank because it is the part where the big scary gun sticks out of so logically it would receive the most attention from the enemy. thus more reason to keep it well armored. But only the glacis plate was upgraded to 80mm while the turret face stayed 50mm. Creating a huge weakspot. especially late war.

For some reason the only part of the turret that got uparmored significantly in the later models was the commander cupola. Which reached a thickness of 80 mm. But seeing the small overall target size of the cupola i think the armor put there would have found much more use on the frontal turret. giving that 80mm, leaving the cupola at 50mm instead. Which will give the tank consistent protection from the frontal arc.

Sure the commander is less protected but this is compensated for by the cupola being a smaller target.

Could the germans not bring turret protection to a higher level because of technical limitations? Or was there any other reason for not improving the turret protection to a more significant level?

ThatZenoGuy
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Re: Some questions about the Panzer IV

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 15 Jul 2021 02:27

CheeseMerchant wrote:
13 Jul 2021 11:45
I always wondered why the armor design on the later Panzer IV models is just so inconsistent and weird. i am primarly talking about the models F2 all the way up until the last J variant.

Like why did they only upgrade the vehicle frontal hull armor to 80mm but kept the frontal turret at 50mm. which could easely be penetrated already in early-mid war by most AT guns from medium range? Also the turret is one of the most targeted areas in a tank because it is the part where the big scary gun sticks out of so logically it would receive the most attention from the enemy. thus more reason to keep it well armored. But only the glacis plate was upgraded to 80mm while the turret face stayed 50mm. Creating a huge weakspot. especially late war.

For some reason the only part of the turret that got uparmored significantly in the later models was the commander cupola. Which reached a thickness of 80 mm. But seeing the small overall target size of the cupola i think the armor put there would have found much more use on the frontal turret. giving that 80mm, leaving the cupola at 50mm instead. Which will give the tank consistent protection from the frontal arc.

Sure the commander is less protected but this is compensated for by the cupola being a smaller target.

Could the germans not bring turret protection to a higher level because of technical limitations? Or was there any other reason for not improving the turret protection to a more significant level?
German armor layout doctrine focused on front hull armor over turret armor for the most part. Panther had 130-140mm hull and 100-110 turret armor. King tiger had over 200mm hull armor and 180mm turret armor, etc. The largest exception I can think of is the Tiger, 100mm hull and 120+ turret armor.

The Panzer 4 was already overweight and adding front turret armor would unbalance the turret, resulting in severe ergonomic issues.

Additionally it could be argued that a new turret design would be a smarter idea than just slapping more armor onto the original design, but this would've taken too long so its obvious why they didn't do that.

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Contender
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Re: Some questions about the Panzer IV

Post by Contender » 15 Jul 2021 03:17

CheeseMerchant wrote:
13 Jul 2021 11:45
I always wondered why the armor design on the later Panzer IV models is just so inconsistent and weird.Like why did they only upgrade the vehicle frontal hull armor to 80mm but kept the frontal turret at 50mm... so logically it would receive the most attention from the enemy. thus more reason to keep it well armored
IS-2 turret:
Image

T-34 turrets were not well armored until the 85 mm series (75 mm & then 90 mm cast). Even this thicker turret has exploitable weak spots:
Image
The hull of course by that point had become obsolete to most anti-tank weapons making the thicker turret useful only for long range hull down situations.
CheeseMerchant wrote:
13 Jul 2021 11:45
For some reason the only part of the turret that got uparmored significantly in the later models was the commander cupola. Which reached a thickness of 80 mm.

The 80 mm thickness Panzer IV copula was specifically for the B-D variants (barring later upgrades). The E,F, & G variants were thickened to 95 mm and finally the H & J’s cupolas where thickened to 100 mm you can see the visible differences between the cupolas here:

Image

Image

The Panzer IV’s turret front & mantlet was a small target, smaller in fact than its Allied and soviet contemporaries:

Image

The cupola however protrudes more than the other vehicles and the turret roof slopes upwards potentially channeling rounds into the cupola which justifies its thicker armor. There is also some evidence that parts of the front turret & mantlet might have been thicker than 50 mm:

Image

Image

In case you are interested in this:
Earlier Panzer IV's armed with the KwK 37 were outfitted with Vorpanzer bring the front to ~70 mm (50 mm + 20 mm).

Image

Image
CheeseMerchant wrote:
13 Jul 2021 11:45
Was there any other reason for not improving the turret protection to a more significant level?
The Panzer IV had many revisions some were implemented others were cancelled due to the decision to end Panzer IV production in favor of the Panther & Sturmgeschütz based off the Panzer IV's chassis. A revised simplified thicker turret was cancelled for this reason:

Image
Last edited by Contender on 15 Jul 2021 20:39, edited 2 times in total.

ThatZenoGuy
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Re: Some questions about the Panzer IV

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 15 Jul 2021 12:30

The PZ4's mantlet was 80mm? That's news to me! Any images depicting it?

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Алексей
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Re: Some questions about the Panzer IV

Post by Алексей » 15 Jul 2021 18:35

Толщина брони_112543_129.jpg
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CheeseMerchant
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Re: Some questions about the Panzer IV

Post by CheeseMerchant » 15 Jul 2021 22:38

Contender wrote:
15 Jul 2021 03:17
CheeseMerchant wrote:
13 Jul 2021 11:45
I always wondered why the armor design on the later Panzer IV models is just so inconsistent and weird.Like why did they only upgrade the vehicle frontal hull armor to 80mm but kept the frontal turret at 50mm... so logically it would receive the most attention from the enemy. thus more reason to keep it well armored
IS-2 turret:
Image

T-34 turrets were not well armored until the 85 mm series (75 mm & then 90 mm cast). Even this thicker turret has exploitable weak spots:
Image
The hull of course by that point had become obsolete to most anti-tank weapons making the thicker turret useful only for long range hull down situations.
CheeseMerchant wrote:
13 Jul 2021 11:45
For some reason the only part of the turret that got uparmored significantly in the later models was the commander cupola. Which reached a thickness of 80 mm.

The 80 mm thickness Panzer IV copula was specifically for the B-D variants (barring later upgrades). The E,F, & G variants were thickened to 95 mm and finally the H & J’s cupolas where thickened to 100 mm you can see the visible differences between the cupolas here:

Image

Image

The Panzer IV’s turret front & mantlet was a small target, smaller in fact than its Allied and soviet contemporaries:

Image

The cupola however protrudes more than the other vehicles and the turret roof slopes upwards potentially channeling rounds into the cupola which justifies its thicker armor. There is also some evidence that parts of the front turret & mantlet might have been thicker than 50 mm:

Image

Image

In case you are interested in this:
Earlier Panzer IV's armed with the KwK 37 were outfitted with Vorpanzer bring the front to ~70 mm (50 mm + 20 mm).

Image

Image
CheeseMerchant wrote:
13 Jul 2021 11:45
Was there any other reason for not improving the turret protection to a more significant level?
The Panzer IV had many revisions some were implemented others were cancelled due to the decision to end Panzer IV production in favor of the Panther & Sturmgeschütz based off the Panzer IV's chassis. A revised simplified thicker turret was cancelled for this reason:

Image
Thank you for this very in depth answer.

I am surpsied that the commanders cupola is 100mm on the later Panzer IV variants. it really shows that the Germans out of all positions wanted to protect the commander the most. which is logical ofcourse since has the leadership position in the tank.

It is true that the early war t-34,s had weak turret protection. but in the case of the M4 sherman this was different. its armor profile was just overall superior to that of the Panzer IV. especially the rounded turret combined with the thicker armor made the M4 superior in the armor department. so the panzer IV was already outclassed with turret armor in 1942. since that was when M4,s started to get delivered to the frontline.

Later with the introduction of the T-34-85 The Panzer IV,s turret armor was clearly underwhelming. i am very suprised the Germans did not continue with bolting more armor to the turret of the Panzer IV to even the playing field a little.

Yoozername
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Re: Some questions about the Panzer IV

Post by Yoozername » 16 Jul 2021 06:33

The Panzer IV was considered for redesign after the initial KWK 40 guns proved to be a success.
Topics discussed at the meeting with the Führer on December 1, 2 and 3, 1942
[...]
Tests should be carried out promptly in relation to the variation of the running properties of the Panzer IV caused by the introduction of the inclined armor, reinforcement of the frontal armor and the ground armor. In order to ensure the beginning of the production transition until the summer of 1943, these tests must have been completed until 12/16/1942, the date on which a decision must be made.
Maybe it was real or not...who knows?
Topics discussed at the meeting with the Führer on January 3. / 4. / and 5., 1943
[...]
On the basis of the test reports carried out and on the basis of point 3) the Führer decides that the Panzer IV will be produced in a short period of time with a sloped and reinforced frontal armor. Until then, the front plates of all Panzer IVs up to 80 mm should be reinforced with additional armor.

As these vehicles are reserved for a special mission, the armor of the 47 Panzer IVs already delivered and still in Magdeburg must be immediately reinforced with the support of the Krupp-Gruson company in Magdeburg.
Anyway, it was decided to just crank out Panzer IV lang and maybe made sense since everyone was needed.
Berlin, March 11, 1943

Points discussed at the meeting with the Führer on March 6, 1943

The Führer has been informed about the positive results of the ballistics tests carried out so far with Schürzen. In addition to equipping all the assault guns with Schürzen, Panzer IV and Panther that are currently in production, the supply with Schürzen must be ensured in the shortest period of time to be able to equip all the aforementioned vehicles that are with them. in front or under repair. A calendar must be presented as quickly as possible in order to fulfill this objective.

Due to the fact that the Panzer III, after the incorporation of lateral Schürzen, has regained in combat capacity, the Führer agrees that the order issued by him at the time according to which a certain number of Panzer III it must have been transformed into assault cannons. Instead these Panzer IIIs must be equipped with a 7.5 cm L / 24 cannon.

The Führer has been informed that the Panzerkommision, taking into account the additional weight caused by the incorporation of the Schürzen in the Panzer IV as well as the order to increase its production, has decided not to carry out the planned transition to sloped frontal armor.

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