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Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H
The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H was produced in larger numbers than any other version of the Panzer IV. At first it was very similar to late production Ausf Gs, differing only in the use of a new SSG77 transmission powering cast drive sprockets, and in having thicker armour on the turret roof. Like the Ausf G it was armed with the longer 7.5cm KwK40 L/48, which made it a very effective tank killer when it first appeared.
A total of 3,935 Panzer IV Ausf H chassis were produced. Of these 3,744 were completed as tanks, 30 were used to produce the first StuG IVs and 130 were used for the Brummbär assault gun carrier.
At the start of its production run the frontal armour of the Ausf H was made up of a 50mm base with 30mm plates bolted on, but from June 1943 this was replaced with a simple 80mm plate. In December 1943 the frontal armour was further improved by interlocking it with the side plates.
Other changes during the production run included the use of an anti-magnetic coating, the introduction of cast steel return rollers and a cast idler wheel. The increased use of Schürzen armoured skirts meant that the side vision ports on the superstructure could be removed, as the skirts blocked their view. The cupola was given a mount for an anti-aircraft machine gun.
The Panzer IV Ausf H appeared at the same time as the Panther. In 1943 each Panzer regiment in the Panzer divisions was meant to have one Panzer IV detachment and one Panther detachment, but a shortage of Panthers meant that some regiments had a second Panzer IV detachment, while others got a single detachment of four Panzer IV companies, with 22 tanks each. The Ausf H fought on every major front, almost always in defensive actions. On 6 June 1944 the nine Panzer divisions then in France contained 748 Panzer IVs, although by that date the Panther was available in large numbers.
Number produced: 3,774
Produced: April 1943-July 1944
Hull Width: 2.88m
Weight: 25 tons
Engine: Maybach HL120TRM
Max Speed: 38km/hr
Max Range: 210km
Armament: One 7.5cm KwK40 L/48 and two 7.92mm MG13s
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