Military Organization > Nazi Germany > ​German Medium Tank Company — Panzer IV (1944) 

German Medium Tank Company — Panzer IV (1944) 

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following was the organization of the mittlere Panzerkompanie, or Medium Tank Company, of the German Army Panzer Battalion from November 1943 to November 1944. The variant covered here is that which featured the Panzerkampfwagen IV medium tank equipped with the long 7.5cm gun, which differed slightly from that equipped with the Panzerkampfwagen V "Panther".

Panzer IV equipped Medium Tank Companies were intended to be the principle combat element of one type of the Panzer-Abteilung (Tank Battalion). Each Tank Battalion consisted of 1 Staff and Staff Company, 1 Workshop Company and 4 Medium Tank Companies (this). As per the November 1943 establishment, each Panzer Regiment was to have 1 Panzer IV Tank Battalion and 1 Panther Tank Battalion.

In terms of maneuver elements, each Panzer Division would have 1 Panzer Regiment, 1 Panzergrenadier Regiment (motorized), and 1 Panzergrenadier Regiment (half motorized, half mechanized). This was in addition to fires and other support.

Contents:

  1. Organization

    • 1 Company HQ

    • 4 Platoons

    • 1 Maintenance Group

    • 1 Combat Train

    • 1 Baggage Train

  2. Discussion

  3. Sources

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1943 medium tank company-01.png
 

Organization

  • Type: Medium Tank Company

  • Origin: German Army, Waffen SS (Nazi Germany)

  • Time Frame: Nov. 1943—Nov. 1944

  • Personnel: 3 Officers and 158 Enlisted

Company Headquarters (1 Officer and 13 Enlisted)*

→ Medium Tank (Panzer IV)

  • 1× Company Leader (Kompanieführer), Hauptmann (OF-2), armed with 1 Walther/Luger Pistol

  • 1× Driver (Kraftwagenfahrer), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Gunner (Richtschützen), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio Operator (Funker), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Loader (Ladeschützen), Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

 

→ Medium Tank (Panzer IV)

  • 1× Tank Commander (Panzerführer), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Driver, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Gunner, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio OperatorPanzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Loader, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

→ 3× Motorcycles

  • 3× Motorcycle Messengers (Melder), Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

→ 1× Medium Car

  • 1× Drivers for Car (Kraftwagenfahrer für Pkw), Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

* All personnel except the Company Leader technically part of the Kompanietrupp

** Of the Junior NCOs in the company, 3 are Oberfeldwebel and 13 are Feldwebel

4× Platoons (0-1 Officer and 24-25 Enlisted each)

→ Medium Tank (Panzer IV)

  • 1× Platoon Leader (Zugführer), Leutnant (OF-1) or Feldwebel (OR-7)*, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Driver, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Gunner, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio Operator, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Loader, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

1st Half-Platoon

→ Medium Tank (Panzer IV)

  • 1× Tank Commander, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Driver, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Gunner, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio Operator, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Loader, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

→ Medium Tank (Panzer IV)

  • 1× Tank Commander, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Driver, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Gunner, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio Operator, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Loader, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

2nd Half-Platoon

→ Medium Tank (Panzer IV)

  • 1× Tank Commander, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Driver, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Gunner, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio Operator, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Loader, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

→ Medium Tank (Panzer IV)

  • 1× Tank Commander, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Driver, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)**, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Gunner, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio Operator, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Loader, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

* 1st and 2nd Platoons were commanded by officers while the 3rd and 4th Platoons were commanded by Senior NCOs.

** Of the Junior NCOs in the company, 3 are Oberfeldwebel and 13 are Feldwebel

1× Maintenance Group (26 Enlisted)

  • 3× Tank Mechanics (Panzerwarte)*, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)***, armed with 1 Pistol and 1 Submachine Gun or 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 8× Tank Mechanics**, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 2× Assistant Armorer-Artificers (Waffenmeistergehilfen)Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Walther/Luger Pistol

  • 2× Tank Radio Mechanics (Panzerfunkwarte)Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 4× Truck Drivers, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

→ Spare Tank Crew****

  • 1× Tank Commander, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)***, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Driver, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3)*, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Gunner, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio Operator, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Loader, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol
     

  • 1× Truck Driver, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 1× Assistant Truck Driver, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

→ Vehicles

  • 1× 4.5-ton Truck, for spare parts

  • 2× 3-ton Trucks, one for Maintenance Group equipment and one to carry spare tank crew

  • 1× 2-ton Truck, for Maintenance Group equipment

  • 1× Light Car

  • 2× Sd.Kfz. 3 or Sd. Kfz. 10 Half-Track Trucks

* One of the NCO Tank Mechanics acts as the Maintenance Group Leader

** One enlisted Tank Mechanic is an Electrician and another is a Welder. One also drives a Light Car while another drives a truck.

*** Of the Junior NCOs in the company, 3 are Oberfeldwebel and 13 are Feldwebel

**** Two of the Spare Tank Crew man an MG-42 or MG-34 machine gun.

1× Combat Train (17 Enlisted)

  • 1× ​Administrative First Sergeant (Hauptfeldwebel), Oberfeldwebel (OR-8), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Maintenance Technical Sergeant (Schirrmeister), Oberfeldwebel (OR-8), armed with 1 Submachine Gun and 1 Pistol

  • 1× Radio Technical Sergeant (Funkmeister), Oberfeldwebel (OR-8), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Armorer-Artificer (Waffenmeister), Oberfeldwebel (OR-8), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× ​Supply NCO (Gerätunteroffizier), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)*, armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 1× Field Cook NCO (Feldkochunteroffizier)**, Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)*, armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Medical NCO (Sanitätsunteroffizier), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)*, armed with 1 Pistol

  • 1× Assistant Armorer-Artificer (Waffenmeistergehilfen)**Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

  • 5× Truck Drivers, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 1× Assistant Truck Driver, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 1× Clerk (Schreiber), Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 1× Field Cook (Feldkoch), Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Stretcher Bearer/Light Car Driver (Krankenträger), Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Pistol

→ Vehicles and Spare Weapons

  • 2× 4.5-ton Trucks, for fuel

  • 1× 3-ton Truck, for kitchen

  • 3× Light Cars
     

  • 1× MG-42 or MG-34 Machine Gun

* Of the Junior NCOs in the company, 3 are Oberfeldwebel and 13 are Feldwebel

** Doubles as an assistant driver for a Light Car

1× Baggage Train (4 Enlisted)

  • 1× Account and Pay NCO (Rechnungsführer), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Feldwebel (OR-7)*, armed with 1 Kar98k

  • 1× Truck Driver, Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 1× Cobbler (Schuhmacher), Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle

  • 1× Tailor (Schneider), Panzerschütze (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k Rifle
     

→ Vehicles and Spare Weapons

  • 1× 3-ton Truck, for baggage

* Of the Junior NCOs in the company, 3 are Oberfeldwebel and 13 are Feldwebel

 

Discussion

The mittlere Panzerkompanie (Medium Tank Company) was the principle maneuver element of the Panzer Battalion and Regiment — the tank elements of the Panzer Division. Heavy Tank Companies by contrast were part of independent Heavy Tank Battalions and, by the late war, light tanks were typically used in reconnaissance units. This article covers the variation of the Medium Panzer Company equipped with the Panzer IV armed with the gun 7.5cm gun. Prior to November 1944 battalions were homogenous (with either only Panzer IV or Panther Companies) and the organization of the Panzer IV and Panther-equipped companies varied slightly (but only in the exact makeup of the non-combat elements). A StuG Brigade (battalion-sized with company-sized Abteilung) could and often would be attached to a Panzer Division to replace a Panzer Battalion (usually due to the limited supply of Panthers in early 1944) or a Panzerjager Battalion.

 

The company overall consisted of a Company Headquarters (Kompanietrupp), 4 Tank Platoons (Zug), 1 Maintenance Group (Kfz.Instandsetzungsgruppe), 1 Combat Train (Gefechtstroß) and 1 Baggage Train (Gepäcktroß) with a total armored fighting vehicle count of 22 Panzer IV tanks. While outside the scope of this article, the Medium Tank Company would be changed in November 1944. Major changes in late 1944 included the movement of the trains and maintenance to the battalion level to streamline the supply chain and get rid of redundant personnel (the so-called "Freie Gliederung" or "Free Organization"), making Panthers/Panzer IVs/Jagdpanzer IV/70s (and probably StuGs) interchangeable at the company level (with mixed battalions), and providing an option for 3-tank platoons if 5-tank platoons were unattainable.

The Company Headquarters was the tactical command element of the company. It consisted of two Panzer IV tanks and 3 motorcycles for messengers. The Company Leader doubled as a Tank Commander, while the second tank received its own NCO Tank Commander. By this time the Company Headquarters lacked the explicitly authorized Kompanietrupp leader that it had in the early war. There was no Company XO and if the Company CO went down a tank platoon leader would take command of the company. 

 

Each tank had a 5-man crew (Commander, Driver, Gunner, Radio Operator/Hull Machine Gunner, and Loader) who were all personally armed with pistols. Except for the company's spare tank crew that rode with the Maintenance Group, the Driver was typically always authorized as an NCO (a mark of the position's importance). By contrast, the Loader was typically always authorized as a junior enlisted due to the low skill, entry-level nature of the job. Additionally, while the Radio Operator in a Company or Platoon Leader's tank was typically authorized as an NCO, they were typically junior enlisted otherwise.

The 4 Tank Platoons were the close combat element of the company. Each consisted of 5 tanks with the Platoon Leader acting as a Tank Commander in one tank. Unlike in Heavy Tank Platoons, there was no Deputy Platoon Leader. In the first 2 platoons, the Platoon Leader would be an officer. Meanwhile in the second 2 platoons, they would be an NCO (ideally a Feldwebel) as it was German practice generally to use NCOs as platoon leaders. The platoons could be split into 2 Half-Platoons (Halbzug) of 2 tanks each (the Platoon Leader being separate as the Americans did) for bounding movements. One of the Tank Commanders would then act as a Half-Platoon or Section Commander.

The Maintenance Group provided the company with maintenance services and also contained a spare tank crew as replacements. It was manned mostly by Tank Mechanics, Tank Radio Mechanics, Armorers, and Drivers for the subunit's numerous trucks, cars, and half-track trucks. Typically the Maintenance Group would move with the combat element, while the trains (with the exception of the medical personnel, fuel trucks and motorcycle messengers) would travel with the battalion's rear echelon.

The Combat Train carried fuel, the field kitchen, and other supplies. It was lead by a Hauptfeldwebel, analogous to a Company First Sergeant, who was in charge of the administrative tasks of the company. Typically the combat trains were pooled and controlled at the battalion level. The Maintenance Technical Sergeant (Schirrmeister) was responsible for the upkeep of the vehicles and would, along with the appropriate Platoon Leader, would be responsible for determining whether tanks in the platoons were combat effective. The Schirrmeister and Sanitätsunteroffizier would receive their own light cars with drivers so they could travel independently with the combat echelon. A clerk, additional armorers, a supply NCO, and medical personnel were also allotted. The big 4.5-ton trucks mainly carried fuel while the 3-ton truck carried the field kitchen, with the former typically travelling with the combat echelon.

The Baggage Train provided the company with an addition 3-ton truck for baggage, an Account/Pay NCO, Cobbler, Tailor, and driver for the truck. They typically travelled with the rear echelon of the Combat Train.

Sources

  • "mittlere Panzerkompanie a" (KStN 1175a) published 1 November 1943, republished by WWII Day by Day

  • Schneider, Wolfgang. "Panzer Tactics: German Small-Unit Armor Tactics in World War II"

  • Battistelli, Pier Paolo (2009) "Panzer Divisions 1944-45"

 

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

      - Marcus Aurelius

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