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Armoured Assault

Abilio Piñeiro Grajera tackles a light tank with a difference.

Hobbyboss Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.F

Following the 1939 Polish campaign, the Wehrmacht decided it needed a well-armoured infantry support tank. Almost immediately, work started on designing a heavily armoured infantry assault tank based on the Pz.Kpfw.I. With prototype designation VK1801, the vehicle was later named Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. F. While sharing certain features from the early Panzer Is, it differed significantly in terms of armour protection and suspension, and, of course, its battlefield role. It had 80mm frontal armour, 50mm on the sides and rear, and 25mm top and bottom. Interleaved road wheels with torsion bar suspension, and wide tracks (similar to the earlier Ausf.C reconnaissance tank) helped to disperse the added weight, which amounted to 21 tons. Powered by a Maybach HL 45P engine, the vehicle had a maximum road speed of 25km/h and a range of 150km.

Due to its intended role, the turret was fitted with five roof-mounted periscopes, allowing the commander good vision when the hatch was closed. In addition, a binocular telescope served as a sight for the two MG 34 machine guns. The vehicle had a crew of two: commander and driver. While well-protected against most anti-tank weapons of its time, low speed and light armament limited its use to anti-infantry operations. Only thirty were produced by Krauss- Maffei from April to December 1942. The Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.F saw action on the Eastern Front with 1 and 12 Panzer Divisions in 1943. It also carried out anti-partisan duties in Yugoslavia, and was eventually relegated to a crew-training role.

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Inside this months issue: Panzer Vor! - The Great and Small of Panzer Modelling Challenger 2 - Operation Telic Armour