All About German Panzer Division WWII…
German Panzer division…
Panzer divisions were combined arms formations having both armor (panzers) and infantry as organic components, along with the usual assets of artillery, anti-aircraft, signals, etc. that are common to most military divisions of the industrial era. However, the proportions of the components of a panzer division changed over time.
Although initially the formation of units larger than a panzer regiment proposed by Heinz Guderian were rejected by the inspector of motorized troops Otto von Stuelpnagel, on his replacement by Oswald Lutz, Guderian’s mentor, the attitude gained more support in the Wehrmacht, and after 1933 was also supported by Adolf Hitler. On 15 October 1935 the first three panzer divisions were formed. The 1st Division was formed in Weimar and commanded by Maximilian von Weichs, the 2nd Division was formed in Würzburg and commanded byHeinz Guderian and the 3rd Division was formed in Berlin and commanded by Ernst Feßmann.
Panzer divisions during World War II…
Organization of the 1941-type Pz Division
The German panzer divisions were the main building blocks of the German successes in the Blitzkrieg operations in the early years of the war. Most other armies of the era usually organized their tanks into „tank brigades” requiring infantry and artillery support. Panzer divisions had their own support units organic to themselves, which led to an automatic change in military doctrine: rather than seeing tanks as a unit to support operations by other units, the tanks became the main focus of attention, with other units supporting them. This organizational style meant they could operate relatively independently from other units.
These divisions usually consisted of one tank regiment, two motorized infantry regiments (including one mechanized battalion), an artillery regiment with truck- or halftrack-towed howitzers, later with some self-propelled howitzers, and several support battalions (reconnaissance, anti-tank, anti-aircraft, engineers, etc.), all equipped with motor transport. The number of tanks was comparatively small, but all other units in the panzer division were motorised (with trucks, half-tracks, specialized combat vehicles) to match the speed of the tanks.
Both the Wehrmacht Heer and the Waffen-SS included panzer divisions in their structure.
The Wehrmacht Heer panzer division consisted of a single panzer regiment, two panzergrenadier regiments, one motorised artilleryregiment (later a panzer artillery regiment). Several other combat and combat support battalions were often included, like motorcycle-infantry battalion, reconnaissance battalion (Aufklärungsabteilung), pioneer battalion (combat engineers), signals battalion, anti-aircraft battalion, and field replacement battalion. At full strength, the division included around 16,000 personnel and was equipped with between 135 and 209 tanks, with the amount of tanks decreasing over the course of the war.
One myth that emerged in post-war years was that SS Divisions received more tanks than their Wehrmacht counterparts. Recent research has shown this to be untrue, with both types of unit receiving the same amounts of equipment. Since both the Wehrmacht and SS used their own ordinal system, there were duplicate numbers (i.e. there was both a 9th Panzer Divisionand a 9th SS Panzer Division), which occasionally led to confusion amongst their opponents.
As the war progressed, the battle losses were decreasingly replaced in favour of forming new divisions. This led to the situation where most panzer divisions were much smaller by the second half of the war.