Third Reich Panzer

This section is for all Third Reich Panzer related uniforms, headgear, badges, documents and other Panzer related items. It includes the Waffen SS / Herman Goring Division / Third Reich Army Panzer items.

The German Panzer Division was an armored division in the army and air force branches of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II. The panzer divisions were the key element of German success in the Blitzkrieg operations of the early years of the war.

A panzer division was a combined arms formation, having both tanks and infantry as organic components, along with the usual assets of artillery, anti-aircraft, signals, etc. However, the proportions of the components of a panzer division changed over time.

These first panzer divisions (1st through 5th) were composed of two tank regiments and one motorised infantry regiment of two battalions each, plus supporting troops. After the invasion of Poland in 1939, the old divisions were partially reorganised (adding a third battalion to some infantry regiments or alternatively adding a second regiment of two battalions).

Divisions newly organised around this time (6th through 10th) diverged in organisation, each on average with one tank regiment, one separate tank battalion, one or two infantry regiments (three to four battalions per division). By the start of Operation Barbarossa in 1941 the by then 21 panzer divisions had undergone further reorganisation to now consist of one tank regiment (of two or three battalions) and two motorised regiments (of two battalions each).

Until the winter of 1941/42 supporting troops organic to these divisions consisted of a motorised artillery regiment (of one heavy and two light battalions), and one each reconnaissance, motorcycle, anti-tank, pioneer, field replacement, and communications battalions. The number of tanks in the 1941 style divisions was comparatively small, but all other units in these formations were fully motorised (trucks, half-tracks, specialized combat vehicles) to match the speed of the tanks.

During the winter 1941/42 another reorganisation of these divisions became necessary, each tank regiment now composed of one to three battalions depending on location (generally three for Heeresgruppe Süd, one for Heeresgruppe Mitte, other commands usually two battalions). Throughout 1942 the reconnaissance battalions were merged into the motorcycle battalions.

By the summer of 1943, the Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS also had panzer divisions. A renewed standardization of the tank regiments was attempted. Each was now supposed to consist of two battalions (one Panzer IV, the other Panzer V). In reality the organization continued to vary from division to division. The first infantry battalion of the first infantry regiment of each panzer division was now supposed to be fully mechanised (mounted on armoured half-tracks (Sd.Kfz. 251).

The first battalion of the artillery regiment replaced its former light towed howitzers with a mix of heavy and light self-propelled guns (Hummel, Wespe). The anti-tank battalion now included both assault guns and tank destroyers in addition to towed anti-tank guns. Generally the mechanization of these divisions increased compared to their previous organization.