The Panzerkampfwagen III, commonly known as the Panzer III, was a medium tank developed in the 1930s by Germany, and was used extensively in World War II. The official German ordnance designation was Sd. Kfz, the Panzer III effectively became obsolete in this role and was supplanted by the Panzer IV. From 1942, the last version of Panzer III mounted the 7.5 cm KwK37 L/24, production of the Panzer III ended in 1943. However, the Panzer IIIs capable chassis provided hulls for the Sturmgeschütz III assault gun until the end of the war, the first task was direct combat against other tanks and other armoured vehicles, requiring the tank to fire armour piercing shells. On January 11,1934, following specifications laid down by Heinz Guderian, the Army Weapons Department drew up plans for a tank with a maximum weight of 24,000 kg. Such supportive tanks designed to operate with friendly infantry against the enemy generally were heavier, the direct infantry-support role was to be provided by the turret-less Sturmgeschütz assault gun, which mounted a short-barrelled gun on a Panzer III chassis. Daimler-Benz, Krupp, MAN, and Rheinmetall all produced prototypes, testing of these took place in 1936 and 1937, leading to the Daimler-Benz design being chosen for production. The first model of the Panzer III, the Ausführung A. came off the line in May 1937, ten. Between 1937 and 1940, attempts were made to standardize parts between Krupps Panzer IV and Daimler-Benzs Panzer III, much of the early development work on the Panzer III was a quest for a suitable suspension. Several varieties of leaf-spring suspensions were tried on Ausf, D, usually using eight relatively small-diameter road wheels before the torsion-bar suspension of the Ausf. E was standardized, using the six wheel design that became standard. The Panzer III, along with the Soviet KV heavy tank, was one of the tanks to use this suspension design first seen on the Stridsvagn L-60 a few years earlier. A distinct feature of the Panzer III, influenced by British Vickers tanks, was the three-man turret and this meant that the commander was not distracted with another role in the tank and could fully concentrate on maintaining awareness of the situation and directing the tank. Most tanks of the time did not have this capability, providing the Panzer III with a combat advantage versus such tanks, for example, the French Somua S-35s turret was manned only by the commander, and the Soviet T-34 originally had a two-man turret crew. The Panzer III, as opposed to the Panzer IV, had no turret basket, the Panzer III was intended as the primary battle tank of the German forces. However, when it met the KV-1 and T-34 tanks it proved to be inferior in both armour and gun power. As a result, production of self-propelled guns, as well as the up-gunning of the Panzer IV was initiated, in 1942, the final version of the Panzer III, the Ausf. N was equipped with rounds of HEAT ammunition that could penetrate 70 to 100 millimetres of armour depending on the rounds variant, the Japanese government bought two Panzer IIIs from their German allies during the war
PzkpfWg III Ausf. H
Panzerbefehlswagen (command tank) III ausf E or F in Greece, fitted with a 37 mm gun and two coaxial machine guns (1941).