German tanks sent in 1st half of Jan. 42

Until now I believed that a total of 54 tanks  tanks had been sent from Italy to the Afrikakorps on the M.43 convoy on 5 Jan 42. Jan very kindly sent me the loading lists for the convoy. From these, I can ascertain that the actual number was 56 tanks, not 54. Of these there were 47 mediums (37 Mk. III, 10 Mk. IV), and 9 light (Mk. II) tanks. So far, so good in the accounting errors department.

Now however, until today I believed that the next tank shipment was the operation T.18, which delivered a similar number of German tanks. Instead, in the loading lists I have now come across the lists for the German navy lighters (Marinefaehrpraehme, MFPs), which operated out of Palermo, where they were constructed. On 5/6 Jan, MFPs 152 – 159, a total of 8 lighters, were loaded with 24 medium tanks, 15 Mk. III, and 9 Mk. IV, to go to Tripoli.

The trip took them maybe 2-3 days, so this would mean that by about 10 January, a total of 71 new medium tanks had been received in North Africa.

UPDATE 15 June 2012: The MFP convoy was delayed due to a lack of escorts and weather, and only arrived at the end of February, after staying at Palermo for a while. The Panzer III on this convoy were the first ‘Specials’, with the long 50mm gun to be sent to Africa.

For the next trip, operation T.18, and the single runners Wachtfels, Atlas, and Trapani (which carried 10/4/4 tanks for a total of 18) it appears that tanks sent were 3/60/15/2 (Mk. II/III/IV/command tanks), plus 4 undefined, for a total of 84 tanks, of which 66 were on T.18. This convoy is normally given with 71 tanks for the Germans, and a total of 98 tanks (presumably including the Italian tanks).

UPDATE 15 June 2012: Atlas did arrive on 23 January, while Wachtfels only arrived on 23 February, and Trapani only on 7 February probably again due to lack of escorts.

In any case, this would make the reinforcements to Panzergruppe during January 12 light tanks, and 152 mediums/others (112 Mk. III, 34 Mk. IV, 4 undefined, and 2 command tanks).

Update 15 June 2012: given the above corrections, the number would drop back to the original 56 tanks sent with operation M.43. 

I would like to see if this can be confirmed?

Below the document with the chassis numbers:

German loading document for tank transfer Jan 1942

30 thoughts on “German tanks sent in 1st half of Jan. 42

  1. It is surprising to see a very slow vessel like MFP employed to go from Palermo to Tripoli with tanks.
    It will be also a escort problem.

  2. If it is confirmed then okay. I thought it could be only a coastal movement in Sicily.
    I looked at map and they could hop Sicily>Pantellaria> Lampedusa>Tripoli.

    • That’s in effect what they did, and they were held up at Pantelleria by bad weather. There was also an escort shortage during the month.

  3. Hi Andreas:

    You said you had come across a chassis number list of panzers sent to Africa in January 1942. Any chance you could share the list. In terms of frontal armor added to Panzer III’s that you had asked about I may be able to help you there as well. Best Regards,

    Henry

  4. Daimler Benz 5cm L42 kanone 72021 Produced Oct 41, 72059, 72065, 72080, 72071, 72072, Produced Nov 41 72081 Dec 41

    68140 is probably incorrect (typo) it may be 68130 which was produced by Daimler Benz in Sep 1941.

    The only vehicle that could have possbily had additional bolt on armor on this list would have been 72875 which was produced in Dec 41 at MNH. It was one the first vehicles with an L60 50 mm kanone according to a intelligence report but most it is most unlikely that it had any additional bolt on armor.

    • Hi Henry

      Many thanks. Any thoughts or info regarding the second batch, incl. 72870, 72831, and 72523?

      All the best

      Andreas

      • 72523 was built by MAN in Dec 41. YesI have the Prelimary Report Thanks it is really cool. Most likely an L42 50mm. 72831 was built by MIAG in Oct 41. They are estimates but are considered to be pretty accurate. Some of the information is from Tom Jentz estimated table in his book Panzer III 3-3 but I made some changes based of photos, other information. etc. Unfortunately some factory records did not survive the war. I would recommend buying that book you would love it. I have been collecting panzer III stuff for 10 years. If you could send me the other things you found I would greatly appreciate it.

  5. Hi Henry

    Afraid this is it for the moment. You have seen the other things relating to the Panzer III on this site?

    All the best

    Andreas

  6. There is a photo out there in Tom’s Book and in a Panzer III book published by tankograd of chassis number 72873 with L60 50 mm kanone and frontal bolt on armor on the turret and superstructure. This Panzer III was built in Dec 1941 but I believe it to be most likely a rebuild or one of a kind test vehicle. The photo looks to be taken much later in the war at a Panzer schule or West Europe perhaps Summer of 1942 or 1943. I have never bothered to date the uniforms in the photo and probably should. If you have others you would like to send let me know. I can check them against my assembled list of over 2200 iii chassis numbers and and i will not share your info with others if that is your wish or fear. Most of the ones on your list I already had but there were a couple of new ones. . I live 2 hours drive from the National DC archives in DC and spend a lot of time down there. Best Regards Panzeriii. There are some things in the archives in England that are not in the U.S. and vice versa.

    • Hi Henry

      Have to apologise, I missed this comment. Could you send me the picture? I will then send you the relevant loading records by return mail.

      t34m43[at]gmail[dot]com

      All the best

      Andreas

  7. Came upon your site by accident the other day.I have a ‘life long’ interest in the DAK in the African campaign ,having built up a large collection of books and info on this theater of WW2.
    Very interesting article on the MFP delivery of Panzer’s to Africa.Have looked up what info I have on this, and I would say that it is very unlikely that kwk/L60 armed Panzer 3 ausf J were delivered on the MFP’s
    According to my references, which back up Tom Jentz’s Panzer Tracts No3-3 book ,only 40 Panzer 3 with the 50mm kwk/L60 were produced in December 1941.These were the first to be produced and would most likely have been sent to Russia as North Africa was only treated as a ‘side show’ by Hitler.Russia was the priority.The chassis numbers quoted refer to Panzer 3 Ausf J with the short 50mm kwk/L42, and would have no extra spaced armour.The first mention of the long gunned versions being available on DAK strength are in May 1942.DAK lists show 19 Pz 3 Ausf J/L60 available on 1st June 1942, with another 19 being prepared.This makes sense as the majority of the L60 armed Pz 3 would have been sent to Russia, as per the excellent Pz 4 F2’s to tackle the T34, KV 1 & 2 threat.
    As Tom states in the Panzer Tracts book it is impossible to say when particular Panzer 3 L60 were produced by each manufacturer as the change over occured from producing the short gunned version.Another difficulty is that all J version L60 produced prior to April 1942 were re-named as L versions.There seems to have been no standard way as to what extra spaced armour was added to the Panzer 3, as studying numerous photos shows !.
    I hope this info helps.Would love to know the exact mark/Ausf of panzer 3 that were shipped to North Africa, but I guess this wasn’t a priority at the time, only maybe if it was a long barelled version or not !!.

    • Hi Stephen

      Many thanks for the comment. I had a good discussion on Tanknet on this which confirms what you write.

      I am not sure about the priorities though. I believe the first specials arrived on the February convoy. This means they must have left Germany in January, if not December, and they would have been amongst the first long-barrelled versions to be produced. While Hitler treated the theatre as a side-show (and OKH even more so), there seems to have been a very good flow of tank reinforcements nevertheless in late 41/early 42, which is surprising given the needs of the east at the same time. I count 310 German tanks arriving or being sunk between December 1941 and 9 March 1942. These included the first Mk. III specials.

      I hope you find lots of stuff on this blog to feed your interest!

      All the best

      Andreas

      • As I mentioned, The vehicles in Jan 42 convoy were mostly likely all L42 5cm cannon vehicles as identified by fgst nr except possible 72875 which was noted by U.S. / British Intelligence report as being a special L60. I will be taking a trip in Spring to National Archives in DC and will go through the Naval records to see what I can find. The L60 cannon did not go into production until Late Nov 41 and was manufactured in limited quantity in Nov, Dec and Jan. This explains why only 40 were L60 Panzer III’s were manufactured in December there were simply a shortage of guns. As for Africa being a sideshow that may have benn true when the campaign started but not by January 1942. In fact over 558 Panzer III’s were sent to Africa and these were documented by the Briitsh Intelligence in their efforts to identify production / changes etc. Nearly 10% of total production shows that this was not the case.

      • Hi Henry

        Many thanks for your comments. The load sheets for the German part of the freight to Africa are extant in NARA, and you then only need to know which vessels were sunk or turned around to get an idea of what got through to the harbour. Good luck with your research!

        I agree on your point regarding Africa being a sideshow by late 41/early 42. The transfer of Luftflotte 2, the appointment of Kesselring, and the volume of supplies going into it show that this view was no longer the case.

        All the best

        Andreas

      • Hi Andreas,
        I think we will have to agree to disagree about the importance of the North African campaign.The transfer of Luftflotte 2 to Southern Italy at the end of 1941 was necessary to re-open the supply lines to Libya as up to that point virtually none had been getting through !. The Germans had to take control of the suppression of the island of Malta from the Italians to allow supplies to get through and not strangle the DAK.The Germans had to support their ally , as the loss of North Africa would have untold political consequencies for Italy in the conduct of the war.
        It was winter in Russia, so transfer to Africa of Luftflotte 2 was not such a ‘big deal’.Luftflotte 1,4 and 6 could cover the whole of the Russian front, and Luftflotte 5 would still cover Norway and Finland.
        As Kesselring was commander of Luftflotte 2, it was just another step up for him to be responsible for all the forces in the Mediterranean, and be tasked with re-opening the supply lines as his main priority.
        What tends to be forgotten, is that a lot of supplies were held up in Italy for lack of shipping to send to Libya, so once the supply lines were re-opened this back log could start to be sent across.This probably accounts for the approximately 100 tanks awaiting shipment that I remember reading somewhere, held up in Italy as Rommel was falling back from Alamein !.

        Regards,
        Steve.

      • Hi Andreas,
        Many thanks for your views on my comments on the forum.When I said that North Africa wasn’t the priority, but Russia was, I still believe this to be correct.Not withstanding this though, there were occasions when a special effort was made to get supplies through to Libya.Usually ‘Rommel’ had used his ‘special relationship’ with Hitler to try and emphasize the importance and need for this.
        The period December 1941 onwards was an important phase in the development of the Panzer3 in regard to the installation of the new 50mm KwK L/60 gun.until it totally replaced the KwK L42 version at the end of May 1942.Until we can have more evidence of Fgst.Nr.of Tanks sent or in use in North Africa, I believe the ‘lion’s share’ of the L/60 armed Pz 3 went to Russia, and mostly L/42 armed Pz 3 were sent to Libya.
        There are equipment returns for the AfrikaKorps in the book ‘The AfrikaKorps an organizational history 1941-1943’ by George F. Nafziger.This book gives the actual daily numbers of weapons present with the various units of the AfrikaKorps.These are actual field returns for the evening of the date indicated, and cover the period of eg 15th Panzer Division 22nd November to 31st December 1941 etc.Unfortunately they don’t distinguish between the long and short barreled versions of the Panzer 3 !. I could send you copies if you like.
        Another very interesting topic to discuss would be ( IMHO ) the even more important Panzer 3 Ausf ‘H’.This tank is often overlooked, but was present in very considerable numbers with !5th Panzer Division when it landed in Libya.This tank confounded the British as they didn’t recognize the importance of the extra 30mm face -hardened plates bolted onto the front 30mm face-hardened superstructure and hull front of the ‘H’ version of the Panzer 3.This defeated the un-capped 2pdr AP rounds at any range !!.I can supply more info and references related to this if you require.Interesting Photo of Pz 3 Ausf H , J ( short barrel ), and I think in the background Pz 4 F1’s.Counting the numbers looks like a complete panzer company !.At least 10 x ‘H’, 5 x ‘J’, posibly 5 x F1’s., page 38 ‘Ground Power book on the Panzer 3 !!.Looks like Naples dock identified by the ‘Castle’ in the background and the tall street lamp special to here !.No date though !.
        I won’t go on any longer or I will be writing a book !!.If I can be of any small help in your project ,please ask !.
        Many thanks for allowing me onto your forum.I have certainly found many interesting things I didn’t know about the North African Campaign of WW2.There is still much more to learn !!.

        Best Regards,
        Steve.

  8. Hi Henry,
    Not sure that I agree about Fgst.Nr 72875 being a Pz 3 Ausf J 5cm Kwk L/60 armed tank.Thomas Jentz says that 72874 was a Pz 3 J 5cm L/60 armed tank, but it doesn’t follow that 72875 was,as Thomas mentions that 72907 was a 5cm L/42 armed tank.It’s too close to the transition/change period for up-gunning the Pz 3 to say for sure, without a photograph of the actual tank in question.
    Fgst. Nr.72873 is an up-armoured and up-gunned Pz 3 in Europe/Russia as the photograph in Thomas Jentz’s book shows.He also says that this was part of a select series that were produced in Dec 41 with Vorpanzer on both turret front and superstructure front.The black Panzer uniforms of the crew present, were worn throughout the war, so it’s not possible to date the photo accurately.
    I have a copy of ‘Preliminary Report No 5’ School of Tank Technology .This report contains detailed findings on the Pz 3’s captured during the war.None of the Fgst.Nr match any on the tank transfer document for Jan 42.
    Your figure of 558 Pz 3 delivered to Libya sounds a lot, but as you say 90% went to Russia, never mind Pz 4, stug’s etc.There were more than 200 German Divisions on the Russian Front, and AfrikaKorps never had more than 2 !!.
    Would love to know a detailed list of the different versions delivered to Libya of the Pz 3 !!.
    Thomas Jentz was going to write two more volumes in addition to his excellent book ‘Tank Combat in North Africa, the opening rounds’. However I don’t suppose that these will now see the light of day, which is a shame because his research was impeccable.I personally consider that this book was the best and most detailed work on the period of Feb to June 1941 ever done.
    Hope my comments put some perspective on things.I am not trying to ‘pick holes’ but just trying to give an alternative view on things.Like I said before I have been collecting books etc on the AfrikaKorps for over 40 years !!. You could, and some would say, that I am obsessed with the subject !.

    Kind Regards,
    Steve.

    • Hi Stephen,

      There is no picking holes haha. I can only go by what survived the war and the British noted this vehicle as special aka new long cannon and it could be wrong. 72874 was a L60 and was in Russia I have collecting Information on panzer iii with chassis numbers for 15 years and shared much with Tom Jentz and vice versa. Sadly he passed away last year and I miss him. I use to meet with him in wash dc. As for the total numbers I feel it is close since the british named them individually and as for 72875 who knows it could be one or both maybe originally L42 then upgunned with a turret and gun from another vehicle. THERE IS VIDEO of these panzers arriving but although all those shown look like L42’s does not mean it was not there and the pk film crew may had been made not to film it since it was new Just as sidenote British U.S. interest in panzer iii production seemed to wane by oct 43 some notes on flamm iii. More than likely it is because Mi10 and u.s. intelligence had correctly ascertained produ tion was winding down The u.s had captured a chassis list of the hg division in sicilyor salerno but they seemed to only add panzer iv’s onto the list they were compiling. So
      far I have been unable to find a copy of the hg chassis list it may still be somewhere any grammar mistakes apologized on my tablet and I hate typing on it
      regards,

      Henry

      • Hi Henry,
        Thanks for the interesting info.I am quite/very envious of your friendship with Thomas Jentz.It is very sad to loose someone who was such a prolific writer, as Thomas was.Do you know how far he got with the follow on volume’s to ‘Tank Combat in North Africa’ ?. He must have accumulated a lot of information on the North African campaign, as I believe he was very passionate about this topic !,his favorite theatre of WW2.

        All the best ,
        Steve.

  9. Could someone tell me specifically where these documents were found at NARA? I looked and could not find them a month ago.

    Thanks and Regards,

    Henry

    • Hi Henry

      Sorry for the reply. They were in the naval files, if that helps. I unfortunately do not have the precise number, but the final file in one of the folders names them as Reel T-114D and T-115D.

      Hope that helps!

      All the best

      Andreas

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