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. 141. It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and serve alongside and support the similar Panzer IV, which was originally designed for infantry support. However, as the Germans faced the Soviet T-34 and KV-1, more powerful anti-tank guns were needed, and since the Panzer IV had more development potential with a larger turret ring, it was redesigned to mount the long-barrelled 7.5 cm KwK 40 gun. The Panzer III effectively swapped roles with the Panzer IV, as from 1942 the last version of the Panzer III (Panzer III N) mounted the 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 that was better suited for infantry support. Production of the Panzer III ceased in 1943. Nevertheless, the Panzer III's capable chassis provided hulls for the SturmgeschÑŒtz III assault gun until the end of the war.
Panzer III Ausf. J was the most common variant of the Panzer III, which served in North Africa and the Eastern Front. Hull and turret front armour increased to solid 50 mm plate. Spaced armour was placed around the gun mantlet. Some were produced with 5 cm KwK 39 L/60 gun and later redesignated Ausf. L.
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