SdKfz 265 Panzerbefehlswagen

The SdKfz 265 Panzerbefehlswagen was the German Army's first purpose-designed command tank, and the primary German command tank in service at the beginning of World War II. Converted from the Panzer I Ausf. B, the SdKfz 265 was to see considerable action during the early years of the War.

SdKfz 265 Panzerbefehlswagen
Class Vehicle
Type Self-Propelled artillery
Manufacturer Krupp
Production Period 1938 - 1939
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1939
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Germany 1939 1945 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Krupp 1938 1939 190 View

The SdKfz 265 was designed to fulfil a growing need within the German Army for a command tank, following the realization that the leaders of a massive panzer formation would themselves have to travel in a tank of some type. This vehicle would have to carry extra equipment and personnel to assist the field commander in his duties.

In 1935 Krupp offered a command tank design based on the existing Panzer I Ausf B chassis. The Ausf. B was slightly longer than the Panzer I Ausf A and lent itself easily to conversion into a command vehicle.

Between 1935 and 1940 the SdKfz 265 Panzerbefehlswagen was the standard command tank of the German Panzer divisions. Each Panzer division contained sixteen tank companies, grouped into four battalions, two regiments or one brigade, for a total of twenty-three headquarters. Each headquarters would be issued at least one command tank. In 1940 the SdKfz 265 was also issued to the signals and observation battalions of the Panzer artillery regiments.

The SdKfz 265 first saw combat in the Polish Campaign of September 1939. Afterwards, many were converted to Sanitatskraftwagen I (Sd.Kfz. 265) armoured ambulances which served in the French Campaign of 1940. Of the 190 produced, 96 were still in use in May 1940 at the start of the invasion of France and the Low Countries. Following a 15 mm increase in armor protection (to a total of 28 mm) that was hastily applied to the surfaces of the superstructure as a result of combat experiences in Poland, the SdKfz 265 command tank continued in use throughout the invasions of France and the Netherlands, and in 1941 many were shipped across the Mediterranean to participate in the North African Campaign. SdKfz 265 also saw considerable action in the Balkans Campaigns of 1941 before being replaced by larger command vehicles. Though replaced at the company level, many would continue to see service at higher levels of command through 1942. Some were also used as radio control vehicles for Minenraeum-Wagen BI/BII (Sd.Kfz.300). A small number were also exported to Hungary. A few were still in service with the German Army when the war ended, though largely delegated to training roles.

Type Light tank
Place of origin  Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1939–1945
Used by  Nazi Germany
 Kingdom of Hungary
Wars Second World War
Production history
Designed 1938
Manufacturer Krupp, Daimler-Benz
Produced 1938–1939
Number built 190
Specifications
Weight 5.8 tonnes (6.4 short tons; 5.7 long tons)
Length 4.445 m (14 ft 7.0 in)
Width 2.08 m (6 ft 10 in)
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Crew 3; Commander, Driver and Radio Operator
Armor 6 to 13 mm (0.24 to 0.51 in)
Main
armament
One 7.92 mm MG13 machine gun
Engine Maybach NL38TR four cylinder air cooled gasoline engine.
100 hp
Suspension Quarter-elliptical leaf springsuspension.
Operational
range
290 km (180 mi)
Speed 40 km/h (25 mph) on-road

End notes