The 5 cm KwK 38 L/42 (5 cm Kampfwagenkanone 38 L/42) was a German 50 mm calibre cannon used as the main armament of variants of the German Sd.Kfz. 141 Panzerkampfwagen III medium tank during the Second World War. There was no towed anti-tank gun equivalent.[1]

5 cm KwK 38 (L/42)
PzKpfwIIIH.Saumur.000a1y8q.jpeg
PzKpfw III/H with 5 cm KwK 38 L/42
TypeKampfwagenkanone
Place of originGermany
Service history
Used by Nazi Germany
WarsWorld War II
Production history
Unit cost8000 Reichmark
Specifications
Mass400 kg (881.8 lb)
Barrel length210 cm (83 in) bore (42 calibers)

ShellFixed ammunition 50 mm × 289 mm (2.0 in × 11.4 in) R
Shell weight2.07 kg (4.56 lb) armor-piercing (APC-HE) Pzgr. 39
Caliber50 mm (1.97 in)
Elevation-10° to +20°
Muzzle velocity685 m/s (2,250 ft/s)

HistoryEdit

The Panzer III was intended to fight other tanks; in the initial design stage a 50-millimetre (1.97 in) gun was specified. However, the infantry at the time were being equipped with the 37-millimetre (1.46 in) PaK 36, and it was thought that, in the interest of standardization, the tanks should carry the same armament. As a compromise, the turret ring was made large enough to accommodate a 50-millimetre (1.97 in) gun should a future upgrade be required. This single decision later assured the Panzer III a prolonged life in the German Army.[2]

The early Panzer III Ausf. A to early Ausf. G were equipped with a 3.7 cm KwK 36 L/45, which proved adequate during the campaigns of 1939 and 1940.[3] In response to increasingly better armed and armored opponents, the later Panzer III Ausf. F to Ausf. J were upgraded with the 5 cm KwK 38 L/42.[4] And the later Panzer III Ausf. J¹ to M went with the longer 5 cm KwK 39 L/60 gun.[5]

AmmunitionEdit

Average penetration performance established against rolled homogenous steel armour plate laid back at 30° from the vertical.[6]

PzGr (Armour Piercing)
  • Weight of projectile: 2.06 kg (4.5 lb)
  • Muzzle velocity: 685 m/s (2,250 ft/s)
100 m (330 ft) 500 m (1,600 ft) 1,000 m (3,300 ft) 1,500 m (4,900 ft)
53 mm (2.1 in) 43 mm (1.7 in) 32 mm (1.3 in) 24 mm (0.94 in)
PzGr. 39 (Armour-piercing, capped, ballistic cap)
  • Weight of projectile: 2.06 kg
  • Muzzle velocity: 685 m/s
100 m 500 m 1000 m 1500 m
55 mm (2.2 in) 47 mm (1.9 in) 37 mm (1.5 in) 28 mm (1.1 in)
PzGr. 40 (Armour-piercing, composite, rigid)
  • Weight of projectile: 0.925 kg (2.04 lb)
  • Muzzle velocity: 1,050 m/s (3,400 ft/s)
100 m 500 m
94 mm (3.7 in) 55 mm
Calculated penetration (at 90 degrees) using American and British 50% success criteria,
and allowing comparison to performance of other guns.[7]
Ammunition type Muzzle velocity Penetration
100 m 500 m 1000 m 1500 m 2,000 m (6,600 ft)
Pzgr. 39 APCBC 685 m/s 76 mm (3.0 in) 62 mm (2.4 in) 48 mm (1.9 in) 38 mm (1.5 in) 29 mm (1.1 in)
Pzgr. 40 APCR 1,050 m/s 107 mm (4.2 in) 74 mm 47 mm (1.9 in) 30 mm (1.2 in) 20 mm

Vehicles mounted onEdit

  • Panzerkampfwagen III (Sd. Kfz. 141) - Ausf. F to J (serial production), several earlier models were re-equipped with this gun.[1]
  • VK 20 series proposed replacement of the Panzer III and IV[8]

See alsoEdit

Weapons of comparable role, performance and eraEdit

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ a b Rottman, Gordon L. (2008). M3 Medium Tank Vs Panzer III: Kasserine Pass 1943. Duel 10. Osprey Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-84603-261-5.
  2. ^ Perrett (1999), p. 4.
  3. ^ Perrett (1999), p. 6.
  4. ^ Perrett (1999), p. 7.
  5. ^ Perrett (1999), p. 8.
  6. ^ Ankerstjerne, Christian (13 August 2014). "5 cm Kw K". Panzerworld. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  7. ^ Bird, Lorrin Rexford; Livingston, Robert D. (2001). WWII Ballistics: Armor and Gunnery. Overmatch Press. p. 61.
  8. ^ Jentz, Thomas; Doyle, Hilary (1995). Germany's Panther Tank. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. pp. 11. ISBN 0887408125.

BibliographyEdit

  • Perrett, Bryan (1999). Panzerkampfwagen III: Medium Tank 1936–44. New Vanguard 27. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-845-3.