A good and interesting book with some conflicting information, mostly on PzKpfw 38(t). The PzKpfw 38(t) was originally a Czech light tank that continued to be produced for the Germans after the occupation of Czechoslovakia and formed a significant part of the German tank fleet from 1939 to 1942. It was used by several panzer divisions as their MBT during this period in lieu of the PzKpfw IIIs that German industry was unable to produce enough. The Czech origin is revealed by the (t) in the type designation, t = Tschechoslowakisch. The tanks of the BT series were Soviet fast/cavalry tanks quite a lot like British cruiser tanks.
To me the best part was the rather meagre information on the Soviet actions. The subject is well chosen because PzKpfw 38(t) and BT tanks are probably fairly unknown AFVs in the English-speaking world and also the attack of Panzergruppe 3 along Vilnius – Minsk axis might well be the least known of the four German main attack axes at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. There are very few first-hand accounts of the battles, but the reader can get a pretty clear picture of the course of the battles. The description is well interwoven, and the flow is good. The author himself gives conflicting opinions how well the subject battles are documented from the German side, at first, he notes that there is enough documentation to provide a detailed description of the battles. From German side there is the war diary of the 7. Panzer Division and records of higher corps and army commands but in the last chapter, Further Reading, he notes, from the German perspective, the war diary of the 7. Panzer Division provided an essential skeletal framework of the actions but offers very little detail about the tank battles. Much of the records of XXXIX. Armeekorps (mot.), the Corps 7. Panzer Division was attached to, were lost and surviving bits offer little coverage of these battles. Also, Manteuffel’s divisional history for this period is heavily based on the war diary and there are not much in memoirs. The only exception is the account of Horst Ohrloff’s, a Panzer 38(t) company commander in Panzer Regiment 25 at the time. Additionally, according to Zaloga Hermann Hoth’s book provides a good assessment of the campaign from a command level perspective.
On the other hand, on the source material of the Soviet side, he is consistent. Even if the headquarters of the 5th Tank Division was destroyed during the battle as was most of the division, in recent years Russian researchers have uncovered extensive pre-war records of the Soviet 5th Tank Division that help provide a detailed picture of its formation and training. In addition, new Russian books provide good deal of new information and there are published several reminiscences of the surviving personal in some articles.
The Introduction is good. The enormity of the tank battles in the western border regions of the Soviet Union during June – August 1941 is not so widely known.
Kliment's and Doyle's book gives for Panzer 38(t) the same specifications as Zaloga in the specifications table for Panzer 38(t) Ausf. D on page 13. On the other hand, according to Chamberlain’s and Doyle’s Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two Panzer 38(t) Ausf. D weighs only 9.5 tons, not 9.8. Only the up-armoured models from Ausf. E onwards weighted 9.85 tons.
The Soviet Army ordered BT-7 in the year 1934 that was four years earlier than the Czechoslovakian Army ordered LT vz. 38 tank, which was known as PzKpfw 38(t) in German service. Before January 1940 the designation of PzKpfw 38(t) in German service had been PzKpfw III(t) showing its use as the main gun tank in some German tank formations in lieu of PzKpfw III, which were short in supply in 1939 – 1942.
While Zaloga mentions that the original TNHP prototype was sent to Britain for trials he does not mention British results which were not overly positive according Forty who uses one page’s worth of text to quotes from the British report on the trial.
The specifications for the BT-7 Model 37 given in this book are identical to those given in Kolomiyets’ book with exception of the amount of machine gun ammunition. Zaloga gives two figures, for a tank without and with a radio transceiver, but Kolomiyets gives only one, very probably that for a tank without a transceiver. Zaloga’s figure for the BT-7 Model 37 with a radio transceiver is the same to that Kolomiyets gives for Model 35 with a transceiver.
There are some differences between Zaloga’s and Kolomiyets’ specifications of the BT-7 and those in Valera Potapov’s good The Russian Military Zone site. E.g. the former give for BT-7 Model 37 the main armament ammunition load as 188/146 (without radio transceiver/with transceiver) while Potapov, without identifying the Model, as 172/132 but for BT-7M as 188. BT-7M was a BT-7 powered by the 500 hp V-2 diesel engine and not surprisingly Kolomiyets gives for it the same ammunition load as for BT-7 Model 37. As the range (cross-country and on road track/wheel) Zaloga gives as 160 km and 375/500 km, Kolomiyets (track/wheel) the same and Potapov (track/wheel) as 230km/500 km etc. Based on Kolomiyets’ book it seems that Potapov gives the information on BT-7 Model 35 and Zaloga BT-7 Model 37. Both models had 400 hp M-17T engine. Kolomiyets gives the range as 220 km (on tracks)/450 km (on wheels) for Model 35 and 375 / 500 km for Model 37.
According to Zaloga significant advantage for the 38(t) in combat against the BT-7 was that it had a cupola for the commander with four episcopes, although the British trial report on their tests on one mild steel prototype in March 1939 mentions “the episcope and three periscopes” for the commander. Judging from photographs the commander’s cupola of the prototype seems identical to the production LT Vz 38 aka Pz Kpfw 38(t) Ausf. A but the head of the commander’s periscopic sight is different, perhaps only lacking the armoured cylinder protecting the periscope head on the production vehicles. The commander/gunner could use also his periscopic sight for surveillance because it was not mechanically linked to the gun. The German doctrine preferred commander to operate with his head outside the tank whenever possible for better situational awareness despite risks involved. Whereas Soviet tank tactics preferred the commander to remain under armour even if the commander of a BT-7 had only a periscopic sight with a half circle traverse and a vision port at the side of the turret for external vision.
Zaloga tells the tank radio distribution was not as black and white as often thought when talking on German and Soviet tanks in 1941. Both tanks had intercoms and in 38(t) units tanks only down to platoon commanders’ tanks had radio transceivers (transmitter/receivers) at this time. The rest of platoon tanks had only receiver. According to him 44 per cent of BT-7 tanks were fitted with radio transceivers. While on paper Soviet radios had much better range, they were more fragile.
A new information to me was that some later-production BT-7s had the stabilized TOS gunsight, which was gyro-stabilized in the vertical axis. Wiki says “The gun was later improved into the 45 mm tank gun model 1938, which had an electric firing system and a TOS stabilized (in vertical plane only) gun sight, allowing for accurate fire while the tank was in motion. The gyro stabilizer was removed from the design in 1941 due to inexperienced tank crews not activating the stabilizer." I read John Milsom’s Russian Tanks 1900-1970 in 70s but I had completely forgotten the use of the TOS sight in Soviet tanks before the Great Patriotic War.
Strangely, while Zaloga gives in the specifications the same speed for the PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. D as my other sources, namely 42 km/h, on the page 32 in the Mobility section he writes that ”both tanks had similar tracked road speed about 55km/h…” and while in specifications he gives the cross-country speeds as 15 km/h for PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. D and 32 km/h for BT-7 Model 1937 but again in the Mobility section he writes that “…similar cross-country speeds of about 30km/h…” The figures given in the technical data are probably the correct ones so IMHO Zaloga gives too good impression of the mobility of the PzKpfw 38(t) but I can trust Zaloga’s claim that PzKpfw 38(t) was more reliable and easier to drive than BT-7. The Finnish opinion on BT-7 was rather negative and they made a very limited use of those captured in stark contrast to the captured T-26s, which became the most common tank in the Finnish Army during the Continuation War. Although the new tracks of BT-7 were better than those of BT-5 also BT-7 had tendency of often shed off its track during tight turn in high speed or in difficult terrain. In Finland and also in the Eastern/Soviet Karelia there are lot of poor tank country. Early in the Continuation War the advancing Finnish Army was able to capture number of BT-5 and BT-7 tanks either undamaged or with such minor damage that they could be swiftly repaired and pressed into own use. However, their career with the Finnish Army was very short. Technical reliability proved poor, fuel consumption of M-17T gasoline engine excessive and the engine needed extensive overhaul after every 200 hours of use. At that time the most common tank in Finnish use was captured T-26s, which had GAZ T-26 engine that also required extensive overhaul after only every 250 hours of use - but still better than mere 200 hours of use for the M-17T. Hence Finnish Army decided not to repair BT-7 tanks for its use. However, later Finns modified 18 of their war-booty BT-7s into the ill-fated BT-42 "assault guns" by constructing a new turret large enough to house a 114 H/18 howitzer (British Q.F. 4.5-inch Howitzer Mk 2) and two crew members.
Kliment and Doyle and few other sources note there were only two hatches for four men in the PzKpfw 38(t), Zaloga does not mention that. IMHO the loader and the driver were not happy when in the case of an emergency they had to wait in the cramped space that the commander or radio operator/hull gunner got out first. In a BT-7 there were three hatches for its three men crew, so at least its crew could bail out fast. And on which side the driver sat in the PzKpfw 38(t)? According to Zaloga both the radio operator and the driver sat on the left side of the hull front. In fact, the driver sat on the right-hand side.
On the page 36 the table of organization and the number of tanks per type in the 7. Panzer Division is given, but only those with its Panzer Regiment are included. According to my other sources the Panzer-Pionier-Battalion of the division had two Panzer IIs and 10 Pz.Kpfw.I (M.G.) (Sd.Kfz.101) mit Abwurfvorrichtung, or maybe a few of those 10 were Ladungsleger II, based on PzKw II. Those were normal tanks with a devise for the laying of explosive charges of 50 to 75 kg at a target. They were not intended to participate tank battles but were tanks anyway and the few Pz.Kpfw.IIs with their 20 mm cannon could be dangerous to the weakly armoured BT-tanks. There were also three command tanks with Nachrichten-Abteilung/Signal battalion but at that stage those were armed only with one machine gun. The number of Panhard 178 armoured cars serving with the Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 37 of the 7. Panzer Division is not given in this The Combatants chapter. They were armed with a 25 mm cannon which was effective against BTs and T-26s and even those T-28 medium tanks which were not up-armoured and at least most if not all of the 24 T-28s of the 5th Tank Division participating the combat at Alytus seem to have belonged to this category. On the other hand the number of BA-10 armoured cars, armed with a 45 mm gun and 2 × 7.62 mm machine guns and even that of BA-20 armoured cars, armed only with a 7.62 mm machine gun, serving with the 5th Tank Division and with its mother formation 3rd Mechanized Corps are given on pages 43 - 44. The number of Panhard 178s, 64, with the 7. Panzer Division is however given in the table 7. Panzer Division tank strength, 24 July 1941 on the page 74, which gives also the strength on 22 June as the baseline.
The biographies are of Karl Rothenburg, the commander of the Panzer-Regiment 25 of 7. Panzer-Division and Fëdor F. Fëdorov, the commander of the 5th Tank Division.
Zaloga begins the description of the 5th Tank Division with a short general account of the turbulent development of the Soviet armoured forces in 1930s with Stalin purges which hit especially hard to mechanized formations and four radical reorganizations, the last of which began in June 1940.
Zaloga says that Pavel Rotmistrov, later the famous general officer commanding the 5th Guards Tank Army at Kursk in 1943 and who was the assistant commander of the 5th Tank Division in June 1941, had commanded a tank brigade during the Winter War against Finland but this seems to be an error; according to de.wikipedia.org at that time he had commanded a tank battalion within the 35th Light Tank Brigade. Also, according to Kolomyjec’s Tanks in the Winter War 1939 – 1940 the commander of the brigade during the Winter War was Colonel Kosjuba and none of the tank brigades participating the Winter War was commanded by Rotmistrov.
According to Zaloga most of the officers with the 5th Tank Division were very inexperienced and one or two ranks below the usual standard for the positions they held. E.g., only one of the eight tank battalions was commanded by a major and four were commanded by senior lieutenants.
On the training. According to Irincheev at the beginning of the Winter War, 30 November 1939, many of the participating Soviet Tank Battalions were well trained with highly motivated crews, the same was not true to most of the infantry units. But the massive expansion of Soviet tank forces from the later part of 1940 onward might well have diluted the quality of the manpower of the force.
The 7. Panzer-Division and 5th Tank Division had almost the same number of tanks but 5th had over 2½ times more medium tanks but while its T-34s were new ones many of its older T-28 mediums were in poor repairs. The two photos of T-28 medium tank in the book, both of the same knocked out T-28, show a T-28 armed with the original 76-mm KT-28 (L/16.5) tank gun not with more powerful 76-mm L-10 (L/26) tank gun. Both T-28s captured by Finns during the Winter War (30 Nov. 1939 – 13 March 1940) were armed with the L-10 tank gun. All 18 T-28s shown in war-time photos in Kolomyjec’ Tanks in the Winter War 1939 – 1940 which show the main gun have the L-10 gun as had all T-28s participating the October Revolution Day Parade on 7 November 1940 on Red Square, Moscow in the photos in Baryatinsky’s and Kinnear’s Steel Fortress The Russian T-28 Medium Tank book. There are in Baryatinsky’s and Kinnear’s book also photos of three T-28s which according to authors were knocked out during the fighting in Alytus area in June 1941, one of them the same shown in the Zaloga’s book. Two of the three were armed with the 76-mm KT-28 and one was a T-28E i.e., up-armoured. However according to Kolomiets and ru.wiki, the latter photo is from August 1941 and not from Alytus area. And one of the other T-28s is according to Kolomiets one of 3rd Tank Division/1st Mechanized Corps T-28s, which belonged to the Leningrad Military District and was based around Dno, 530 km NE from Alytus. According to ru.wiki all 40 T-28s in the Baltic Special Military District were armed with KT-28 guns, 27 of these belonged to the 5th Tank Division.
In Kolomyjec’ / Коломиец Т-28 book there are three photos of T-28s of the 5th Tank Division knocked out in the Alytus area from which one can clearly see the main gun, all of these have the older KT-28.
Kolomyjec agrees with Zaloga that during the battle on the eastern bank of the Neman River, the 9th Tank Regiment lost 16 out of its 24 (28 in the Zaloga’s book) T-28s on the battlefield, the rest were out of order and were blown up by crews (Most of the T-28 tanks that survived the afternoon battle were abandoned late in the day due to mechanical problems.) 24 vs. 28 probably a typo in either book, it appears from the photos that at least some of the T-28s was simply abandoned, e.g. none of the five T-28s of the 5th Tank Division left on the battlefield in the Alytus region shown in photos in Kolomyjec’ / Коломиец Т-28 book was blown up.
On pages 48-49 Zaloga lists the preparations made by the Soviet Union on Lithuanian territory in the event of a possible German invasion from 14 June 1941 onwards. At the attack sector of the 7. Panzer Division the Soviet first line defences were unusually weak because the Soviet infantry division in the area was only partially deployed because it got its movement order too late. Also, the order that authorized the laying of anti-tank minefields in this sector was given too late to have any real effect.
Tables of PzKpfw 38(t) deployed for Operation Barbarossa, 22 June 1941 by formation and of BT tank deployment in Soviet mechanized corps on 22 June 1941 by model and formation showed that there were over 6 times more BTs in the Western Military Districts than PzKpfw 38(t)s deployed for Operation Barbarossa, 4,113 vs. 660 at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. In addition, there were 229 BT-tanks in the Moscow Military District and almost all of the rest in the Transbaikal Military District or the Far Eastern Front. Altogether there were 6,094 BT-tanks in the 26 mechanized corps of the Red Army.
While generally giving a good description on the situation in the Soviet Union during the last months before the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, Zaloga’s claim that the Red Air Force did nothing to stop German aircraft overflowing its borders is not a completely accurate description, the VVS KA [the Soviet Army Air Force] even lost two MiG-3s when trying to catch a high flying Junkers Ju 86 P. The MiGs stalled when trying to catch the German plane. In Timin’s book there is a long list of German intrusions into the Soviet Baltic airspace, most were shallow ones, and several were interrupted by intercepting Soviet fighters, in one case on 5 April, a ‘He 111’ at 4,000 m was intercepted and Soviet fighters fired 20 warning burst of machinegun-fire while the German plane flew out to sea. The maximum number of fighters sent to intercept an intruder was on 9 April 1941 when 17 fighters were sent to intercept a Dornier Do 17 flying at 4,000 m. When encountering Soviet fighters, the Dornier flew out to sea. Further south, the Luftwaffe lost a Junkers Ju 86 P operating from Krakow. On 15 April 1941, it suffered engine trouble during a photo reconnaissance sortie to the Kiev-Zhitomir area and lost altitude. It was detected and intercepted by a Soviet pilot from 46 IAP in an I-16. The Soviet pilot forced the German crew to make a forced landing about 10 kilometres south of Rivne/Równe/Rovno. He either fired a short burst into the left, working engine of the Junkers or simply signalled to the German crew that they should land. Sources differ.
Zaloga does not mention that the Panzer Divisions equipped with PzKpfw 38(t)s as their main tank had more PzKpfw IVs and 5 cm PaKs (anti-tank guns) than the Panzer Divisions which had PzKpfw IIIs as their main tanks to compensate their weaker main tank. Kampfgruppe thinking allowed for Germans to form very flexibly suitable groupings, using field artillery pieces and 8.8 cm AA guns for extra anti-tank support against heavy Soviet tanks. XXXIX. Armee Korps (mot), under which the 7. Panzer Division fought during Operation Barbarossa, had under it a company (1./Panzerjägerabtailung 8) of six 8.8cm Flak 18(Sfl) auf Zugkraftwagen 12t Sd.Kfz. 8) self-powered anti-tank vehicles.
All my other sources (Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg Bd. 4, Niehorster, Stoves, Ohrloff etc.) tell that also the 20. Infanterie-Division (mot.) was under XXXIX. Armee Korps (mot) control on 22 June 1941 as were the 7. and 20. Panzer Divisions and the 14. Infanterie-Division (mot.) mentioned by Zaloga.
As Zaloga, also von Manteuffel says that at the border area defence was relatively weak and enemy artillery in any noteworthy strength appeared nowhere but on the eastern bank of the Neman River the panzer spearhead suffered significant losses due to anti-tank and tank fire. Heavy enemy counterattacks by tanks, including heavy ones with artillery and strong infantry support were repelled with the help of attached I./Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 78. I wonder where the Corps utilised its unique heavy mobile anti-tank asset, 1./Pz.Jg.Abt. 8 with its six heavy armoured half-tracks armed with 88 mm cannon. The 7. Panzer-Division was the point formation of the XXXIX. Corps so in a way a natural place for the unit, especially after Germans met T-34s, which seemed impervious to German tank guns. But none of my sources mentions the unit being at Alytus during the battle but none is very specific on the battle. And when Zaloga lists the tank kill claims made by different German units during the battle, he makes no mention of 1./Pz.Jg.Abt. 8.
The formations of the XXXIX. Corps (mot.) seem to have advanced in line along the main road up to Alytus. The 7. Panzer Division used its own infantry to secure the breakthrough, perhaps the Germans feared that their main advance road would become congested, and the formations would have become entangled if the troops of an infantry division (mot.) had attacked first across the border and then the 7. Panzer Division would have advanced through them. After infantry of the division had opened the way the reconnaissance units the division and the Panzer Regiment 25 began the dash towards Alytus and its bridges over the Neman River.
Zaloga gives some information on the Soviet actions which were new to me. Some BA-10 armoured cars from of the 5th Tank Division skirmished with German troops west of Alytus.
Zaloga writes that a few 37 mm anti-aircraft guns of the 5th Air Defence Battalion were in Alytus when Germans arrived there, and they had been ordered to prepare to deal with ground targets. Maybe it should have been noted that the Soviet 37 mm AA gun was effective against PzKpfw 38(t)s up to and including the Ausf. D up to 1,000 m. A Motorized Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion of a Tank Division usually had twelve 37mm AA guns as had a Separate battalion of automatic AA guns. Zaloga mentions that the Soviet AA gun crews claimed to have knocked out 14 German tanks and the 76 mm regimental guns a further 16 German tanks but continues that German accounts suggest that there was very limited fighting before the bridges were captured, so these claims were a gross exaggeration. But anyway, in the thread https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=181387 there are some photos showing, if their captions are correct, that at least two PzKpfw 38(t)s were destroyed inside Alytus.
On the Soviet 76 mm regimental gun M1927, because the Finns captured some Soviet BR-350A armour piercing ammunition for the gun it seems that the ammunition type was available at least in late 1941 if not earlier. On the other hand, T-28s armed with KT-28 gun seems to have carried only high-explosive fragmentation and shrapnel shells. The KT-28 was a tank gun variant of the 76 mm regiment gun model 1927.The penetration power of its armour-piercing shell due to the low muzzle velocity was very low. With the BR-350A AP ammunition M1927 would have been marginally effective against PzKpfw 38(t)s up to Ausf. D, hull front armour and turret front 25 mm, at shorter ranges. Its HE ammunition, shells weighted little over 6 kg with explosive content of 710 – 815 g, depending on the HE shell type, might well have been more effective against hard but brittle Czech armour. British tests in 1944 showed than even the Grenade, Hand, Anti-Tank, No. 75, also known as the "Hawkins grenade" weighting about 1.02 kilograms (2.2 lb) and contained approximately 450 grams (0.99 lb) of explosive, usually either ammonal or TNT could pierce the 17 mm thick roof armour of Panther tank which the British saw being more brittle than comparable British armour. Because HE shells depended on chemical not kinetic energy in their effectiveness against armoured targets, so contrary to what Zaloga writes IMHO the distance, as long as it was not too long for hitting moving targets, was irrelevant.
During the Alytus battle the tank quantities of the participating divisions were quite close to each other until Panzer-Regiment 21 of 20. Panzer Division began to arrive little after 5 P.M. The Panzer Regiment of 7. Panzer Division had 53 PzKpfw IIs, 167 PzKpfw 38(t)s, 7 PzBefWg 38(t)s, 30 PzKpfw IVs and 8 PzBefWg IIIs and 5th Tank Division had 170 BT-7s, 18 T-26s, 30 T-28s and 50 T-34s of which 30 were Model 1940 and 20 Model 1941. At least some of the T-34s utilized beforehand dug firing positions as one can see in the thread https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=181387 .
According to Zaloga Soviet 5th Tank Division lost most of its cohesion already on 22 June 1941 during the battle for the dominance of the east bank of the Neman River. After four days of fighting, it was almost wiped out. Also, the 7th Panzer Division suffered high tank losses and after a week of intense fighting it had only about half of its PzKpfw 38(t)s still operational, much of the tank losses on both sides were because of mechanical problems. As usual in tank warfare, the control of battlefield was crucial, the side controlling it could recover its damaged and broken down AFVs.
The double page showing gun sights is again interesting. It is interesting even if not very surprising to note that the Czech sight was somewhat like French and British ones, and the Soviet one fairly similar to German gun sights. Not so surprising because of the Czech and French military co-operation between the world wars and German and Soviet secret close military co-operations, especially with tank and aircraft matters, up to early 1930s.
The table 7. Panzer Division tank strength, 24 July 1941 shows very high losses of Panhard armoured cars with the 7. Panzer Division. This is in line with my other sources (e.g. Merriam, Hahn and Chamberlain & Doyle), according to them 107 Panhards were lost in 1941 out of 190 which participated in Operation Barbarossa. The armoured recce battalions of the Panzer divisions (7. and 20.) which were equipped with them had almost twice as many armoured cars than the other Panzer Divisions whose armoured recce battalions were equipped with German armoured cars. Also, the losses of the German-built armoured cars had been high, 426 vehicles. Panhard was a very good armoured car for its time.
On 24 July 1941 only 40 % of the PzKpfw 38(t)s with which the 7. Panzer Division had begun Operation Barbarossa were operational, only slightly less than PzKpfw IVs (43 %) but clearly less than PzKpfw IIs (56 %), but not so surprising because PzKpfw 38(t)s were the main battle tank of the division. Fairly similar was the situation with the 4. Panzer Division totally equipped with German tanks. On 23 July 1941 45 % of its original PzKpfw IIs were operational as were 30 % of its PzKpfw IIIs and 30 % of its PzKpfw IVs, the rest were being in repair or in maintenance or were total losses. The numbers of the operational were 20 PzKpfw IIs, 31 PzKpfw IIIs and six PzKpfw IVs. On 21 July 1941 the number of total tank losses of its panzer regiment was 42. With the Panzer Regiment 25 of the 7. Panzer Division the number was 49 on 24 July 1941. The Panzer Regiment of 4. Panzer Division had begun Operation Barbarossa with 177 tanks and the Panzer Regiment of 7. Panzer Division with 265 tanks.
While according to the Durability and losses of German tank types, August – September 1941 table in the book the proportions of those destroyed for PzKpfw III, IV and 38(t) were almost identical at the turn of August and September, there were clearly more PzKpfw IIIs in repairs than the other two types. According to Zaloga one reason for that was that PzKpfw III still suffered from transmission problems.
The losses because of mines for PzKpfw 38(t)s were high. It was clearly smaller than PzKpfw III and IV and weighed less than half of what the other two types. Also, its bottom armour was only half of that of PzKpfw IIIs, 8 mm vs 16 mm. And if it was hard but brittle as were the other armour plates in PzKpfw 38(t), it might have been even more dangerous to the crew in case of mine explosion. But anyway, the bottom plate of PzKpfw 38(t) was thicker, 8 mm vs 5 mm, than that of the German light tank PzKpfw II, even if their weights were about same, namely about 9.5 tons.
Colour 3-views of both tank types, PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. D, 7. Panzer-Division and BT-7 Model 1937, 5th Tank
Division with specifications.
Crew layouts of both
Turret interiors of both showing ammunition racks inside the turrets. There are also drawings of the gun
ammunition types, for both an armour-piercing-tracer and an HE.
A double page drawing of a tank battle, IMHO rather unnecessary.
The views through the gun sights
Comparative tank gun performance
Orders of Battle of 7. Panzer and 5th Tank Divisions
3rd Mechanized Corps armoured vehicles, 22 June 1941 by type and formation
5th Tank Division armoured vehicles, 22 June 1941 by type and unit
PzKpfw 38(t) deployed for Operation Barbarossa, 22 June 1941 by formation
BT tank deployment in Soviet mechanized corps on 22 June 1941 by type and formation
7. Panzer Division tank strength, 24 July 1941
PzKpfw 38(t) Eastern Front statistics 1941
Soviet tank losses in 1941 by campaign
Durability and losses of German tank types, August – September 1941
Soviet fortifications in the attack sector of the 7. Panzer-Division between the border and Kalvarija.
Operation Barbarossa in Lithuania, 22 June 1941
The combat route of the 7. Panzer Division 22 – 25 June 1941 i.e., from the border to Vilnius
The battle for the Alytus bridges, 22 June 1941. On this map, it is confusing that the city blocks and the
surrounding forests are both marked with khaki. The marking is even more confusing because there are plenty of straight forest tracks / fires brakes in the forests. Fortunately, the area has not changed that much since the war, so a glance at Google Maps solved the problem.
There are some interesting photos. One of them being a photo of a PzBefWg 38(t) (Panzerbefehlswagen/command tank) from the front taken in France during the Battle of France. It belonged to 2./Nachrichten-Abtailung 83, the signal battalion of 7. Panzer Division. Its only armament seems to have been a 37 mm cannon, of course it can also be a very good dummy. The Table of organization and equipment of the Armoured Radio Company of the signal battalion of a Panzer Division on 10 May 1940 included seven PzBefWg, four with No. 1 Platoon and three with No. 3 Platoon but none with No. 2 according to Niehorster. No. 2 Platoon had six Sd.Kfz. 263 8-wheel drive Panzerfunkwagen, also armed with one machine gun like PzBefWg. Now the 1940 Kriegsgliederung of 7. Panzer Division shows only six machine guns with the Armoured Radio Company of its signal battalion so it might have lacked the PzBefWg but it definitely had at least some Sd.Kfz. 263s, there are photos showing the then division commander Erwin Rommel in a Sd.Kfz. 263 during the Battle of France. In addition, based on the picture in Zaloga's book, No. 2 Platoon also seems to have had at least one PzBefWg 38(t). During that time the Panzer Regiment of the division had had only eight PzBefWgn all PzBefWg 38(t)s.
So, a good introduction in PzKpfw 38(t), the tanks of the BT-series and the border battles of the Vilnius axis, which became a crucial part of the northern pincer of the Minsk pocket.
D.T.D. Experimental Report A.T. No. 232. Part III REPORT OF BALLISTIC TRIALS against Pz.Kw. V Model G (D.T.D. No. 3040) held at Shoeburyness Range on October 24th-26th, 1944
Baryatinsky, Mikhail and Kinnear, Jim, Steel Fortress The Russian T-28 Medium Tank (Tiptree: Barbarossa
Bergström, Christer. Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July–December 1941 (London: Chevron/Ian Allan, 2007).
Boog, Horst et al., Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, Band 4, Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion
(Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt DVA; 3rd edition, 1983).
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https://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34631 Retrieved on 23 January 2022
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