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Apr 5, 2013

"Buff my tank!" - Panzer IV

By Zarax

Hello and welcome to the third edition of "Buff my tank!"

The "Buff my tank!" articles are meant as an historical way to look at some tanks considered underpowered in game and ways to improve their combat abilities discussed by the original german engineers.
Beware that while being sometimes ironic in tone, the article treats about both costs and benefits of every choice and it most likely will never be listened by WG as suggestion.

 Panzer IV is yet another excellent "MMO tank", which saw a good deal of upgrades and plans during its service life. Even in its WOT life it saw a pretty big transformation, where the turret often mentioned as "vaderturm" with the 75mm L/70 removed and replaced with a close combat focused configuration.

Currently this tank is not exactly seen as weak but it is still controversial as many consider it dependent on HEAT rounds to be truly competitive, an extra edge that some even consider excessive.
Still, this popular tank was the object of many engineering projects, often left in the drawer.
Panzer IV & its variants by Spielberger plus some material from Panzer Tracts 20-1 will be used as historical support for this article.

 This time we will take a slightly different approach and divide the possible upgrades by section.


One often heard complaint is about insufficient protection, leaving the tank vulnerable to almost anything that shoots at it, especially with the new top turret. Side skirts were often suggested, but their contribute to armor against direct shots would be minimal, while artillery is not yet a problem at this level.

Another problem is of course the flat armor, something that makes shot deflection even more unlikely and angling discarded due to weak side armor.
In this respect, an alternate Panzer IV H was proposed in drawing W1462:

A sloped 80mm front would have given the tank excellent protection and with the long gun it would have been competitive until the end of the war, and Hitler asked this to be increased to 100mm.
Unfortunately this design was estimated to bring the weight to over 28 tons, which was too much for the suspensions.

This would of course leave the turret still weak, but there is room for improvement.
The best known project is the Panther narrow turret on Pz IV chassis, but this configuration was already deemed not balanced by WG:

A more realistic although still effective solution would be to use Krupp AKF31941turret drawing:

This would still give an excellent turret front without looking like a certain famous helm, although it's likely there would have been just a manual traverse system for it.


The late war Panzer IV was already an overweight tank and WG took all possible steps to improve it from historical stats.
One historical plan was to install a torsion bar suspension on Panzer IV chassis. This was designed by Kniepkamp, who later will be one of the inspirators of the E-series.
This could have helped with the increasing weight, as well as the interleaved wheels and larger tracks discussed later.
However, all of this is already in WOT in one form or the other, thus making this section nearly redundant.


Historically, the best cannon mounted on a production Panzer IV was the 75mm L/48.
The experimental 75mm L/70 is the most known configuration and this was also attempted to mount in the standard Pz IV turret.
Tests gave negative results, although it's possible a rigid mount like the one tried in the Hetzer could have worked.
This wouldn't be without drawbacks though, as a much heavier gun coupled with the necessary turret reinforcements would result in a significant hit in tank ergonomics.

A possible realistic alternative for large guns would be to use the Heuschrecke 10 turret:

This would realistically allow for larger guns (including the 105 L/28 as shown) while keeping weight acceptable.
Of course there is a price to pay, in this case a maximum turret armor of 30mm.

The last, more exotic solution would be to opt for something completely different:

A Mk 103 autocannon coupled with two 75mm recoilless rifles would have given this prototype a pretty respectable firepower, but we'll never see this configuration in WOT (although it would be a decent grinding gun). Twin 30mm as in the "Kugelblitz" configuration would make the tank a feared "knife fighter" as well.

Going into extremes, the 3.7cm flak 43 could be used as well, possibly in a similar configuration as the Mk103.
Nearly going into science fiction but still possible: Tungsten APCR used as silver rounds would have decent penetration, while uranium rounds were also available:

It also is very likely that the 8H63 and 10H64 guns were proposed as well in the Krupp november 1944 panzer rearmament project, but by that time all Pz IV plans were discarded.


Historically, the Panzer IV was optimized to the very limits of its chassis and any further improvements would have necessitated of a deep redesign, something that the germans never afforded during the war, especially later on when the Panther chassis was only slightly more expensive for vastly better performance.
By combining various proposed improvements one could make a compact heavy tank with great firepower and armor but bad mobility or an excellent but very vulnerable sniper.

This leads for the final verdict: 
Any improvement in one area would lead to weakening something else, thus only a "focus shift" would be likely.

Something very similar to Heuschrecke 10 is planned for the open top TD tree, while combining the sloped chassis with the Panther turret and 75mm L/70 would imho make a slow but rather interesting possibility for a tier higher, although with extremely bad mobility.

Thank you for reading and see you in the next article!


  1. I still prefer putting in the 8H63 and the 10H64 after changing HEAT shells to act more like normal shells in damage and cost.

    The Heuschrecke 10 turret would probably be good as a requirement for mounting the 105L28.

    1. Well, it would be the least historical possibility (but a drawing of a Panzer IV turret with 8H63 exists, although for the Panzer 38d) out of many.

      Still, this tried to show how much design time was put behind this german workhorse.

  2. PzIV's limitations are really a bummer here, although i really like the idea of APCR for standard / Uranium for gold. Don't think WG would implement this though.

    I think it wouldn't have been a bad idea to make the PzIV tier IV, VK 3001s and 3601 tier 5, and then historical tiger / panther (i don't know myself, did the panther ever mount a 100 caliber long long 75mm?) as tier 6. Alas, we have what we do.

    1. There were official plans for L/100 gun for Panther, Hitler exclusively stated that he wanted this gun, but they simply haven't finished it in time, so Panther was armed with L/70, that was already developed. I believe it is safe to assume that, given enough time, Panthers would eventually mount L/100 guns.

    2. ...well, given *minor* the prequisite assumption of that barrel being actually feasible.
      Wouldn't bet too much on that.
      So, yeah. "Safe to assume". *eyeroll*

    3. It still has more credibility than IS-4 with 122 mm M62-T2.

    4. And that would be why exactly?

    5. I do have a german tree rebalance project in mind but you must realize that any of those will be controversial in some way.

    6. @ Kellomies
      Because IS-2, IS-3 and IS-4 never used other gun than D25T. There were no plans for such other gun either, cause IS-2 was retired before D25 become ineffective, IS-3 was replaced by T-10 (IS-8) that used the M62-T2 and IS-4 was considered a failiure because it had same firepower as IS-2 and IS-3 while being also both heavier and more expensive than its competitior IS-3.
      Face it - IS-3 and especially IS-4 are in WoT purely fantasy tanks.

    7. I think an article about that would be something nice to ask to our new russian tank expert :)

      Don't underestimate soviet crazy project though, there is a lot of stuff that is not in WOT (yet).

    8. Yeah, but to what I know IS-4 as compared with IS-3, and deemed inferior, mass production stopped after only 250 tanks (vs about 2300 IS-3, nearly 10 times more). Then all vehicles were shipped to Far East, where they never saw combat. Based on that I cannot imagine that there was any serious call to upgrade equipment that was basically deemed obsolete.
      Yet in WoT IS-4 is not only much better than IS-3 (historically armour of IS-3 due to it's shape -"pike nose"- was considered more effective than simply sloped IS-4 armour), but also one of the better top tier tanks.

    9. @SC
      ...and that was neither the topic nor the point. AFAIK the M62-T2 existed (or at least something looking very much like it tends to show up on assorted postwar Objekts); whether it would've fit in the IS-3/-4 turrets I have no idea, but on that topic - Tiger and 88mm L/71 so that's a wash. That aside a high-velocity 122mm gun isn't particularly a problem. (No idea why you brought up the IS-2...)

      A 7,5cm L/100 conversely *will* have any number of outright structural issues nevermind now the cumbersome lenght that make your claim about it being "safe to assume" such would have been eventually fitted more than a little questionable; all the more so as AFAIK the Panther's various successor projects (Panther 2 and E-50) weren't intented to carry such.

    10. Why should they? In the meantime 88L/71 proved to be very capable gun, and it was readily aviable.
      As I said Panthers were originally intended to eventually carry L/100 gun. That was the idea. Was it ever tested? To my knowledge - not. What really matters is that ingame Panther need that gun. Otherwise it just wouldn't be playable competitive T7 med with 75L/70 or 88L/56 guns. Sure it could be (along with Tiger) brought one tier lower. Question is - what would be T7 German med then? Panther II? With what gun? What tank could you find to fit into German med line, that already has one tank existing only in blueprints (E-50) and one that is totally out of the blue (E-50M)?
      IS-4 needs the M62-T2 too, no doubts about that, but after all it is as fictional as Panther with L/100 gun. Both of these guns are there purely because of balance issues and as a result of certain game design conceptions, and you cannot remove them without totally breaking balance and/or tech trees.

    11. IS-4 was a miserable failure in real life. Such a huge one that it nearly caused the Soviet Army to abandon the idea of heavy tanks altogether.

      As for the M62 gun, the project was launched to replace the D-25T on all vehicles that mounted it, using the same size parameters. The IS-2 could mount an M62. I might go over these and similar projects if I start doing Buff My Tank segments (although the pre-war stuff is much more interesting in this regard). I should call them Russian Bias :)

    12. @SC
      The point is that the L/100 has "factually unviable" written all over it; even if they could've gotten around the only too likely drooping issues and the problems of properly counterbalancing that damn flagpole, the sheer lenght of the thing and the resulting problems of mobility and transportation would almost certainly have prompted the military to oppose the adoption of the bugger to the last.
      Ergo, "safe to assume" my foot.

      BTW the L/70 is pretty much an even match for the guns the Soviet and British meds of the tier have to work with, so you'll have to excuse some scepticism concerning an insurmountable NEED for Le Drinking Straw...

    13. Seeriously? You are going there, suggesting that Panther with L/100 is OP? Have you ever played the damn thing? Both Russian and British tanks can get away with low penetration guns, as they are quite fast and mobile. Panther with L/70 gun would be nothing more than a sitting duck without buffing its mobility. Then again mobile Panther would be just 30.02 DB all over again. And that would be bad because it would reduce gameplay variety (like PzIV changes already did so on T5).
      But if you could assure me that Panther would only face it's historical opponents like Shermans, T-34s, KV series (historical ones so KV-1,2,85) and sometimes IS then I'd go for it in a heartbeat. Right now it has to face T8 - T9 behemoths on regular basis, and having not much speed and pretty much nothing in mobility department, it NEEDS the L/100. If you want more accurate depiction of tank warfare there are strategy games that go to ridiculous detail in that department. In WoT it is important that different tanks play differently - for sake of variety, there already many players whining that game is full of copy-paste tanks, and Panther is one of the most original ones, but ONLY with L/100.

    14. But I have to admit, Panther on T6 with L/70 as top gun, a historical Panther if you will, would probably be an awesome tank. Problem is - what would you put on T7, and what gun would it use? 88L/56? Maybe, but it would have to be an awesome flanker, as this gun penetration is only sufficient to attack rear and sides of many of the tanks you normally face when playing T7 med. I don't know if Germany had that kind of project (with the exception of VK3002D, but it would be strange to put that tank one tier higher than the Panther, as it lost with it, moreover it now leads to new, separate medium branch), so we may face "fake (but proposed) gun or whole fake tank" dilemma here.

    15. You're missing the point; I don't really give a damn about the in-game Panther having the L/100 (aside from the fact it looks bloody stupid), I'm taking umbrage with your claim that the tank *IRL* would have been "eventually" armed with that brainfart.

      Also feel free to describe exactly where I claimed the gun was OP. If anything I have been told it's a pain in the ass to use, as my brother - who's a rather better player than me - went throught he Panther and hated it with a passion. (He conversely thought the P2 pretty awesome though.) As a matter of fact his specific complaint was the poor damage output - kinda low base damage plus somewhat indifferent RoF don't make for the most potent combo. Sounded a bit like something akin to what seems to be in store for the DB in 8.5, ie. more RoF for the L/70 for That Special MG Feeling, might have been a better option; it seems to work well enough for the Comet, and the L/70 is a fair bit more accurate plus has better pen to boot.

  3. That Krupp "flat turret" proposal looks suspiciously like the vision characteristics would be something exceptionally abysmal indeed to the point of making the terrible, terrible early-war Soviet stuff look positively nice... -_-;

    An aside: this isn't the first time I see the idea of uranium-cored shells mentioned. Was that ever more than a theoretical study (at best) IRL given that AFAIK the German nuclear program was something truly pathetic indeed?

    1. Speer released uranium for shell production in late 1942 and they were used mostly by luftwaffe, the pic I posted is for the 37mm aerial cannon special ammo.

      Wermacht use was at least experimented (I've found mentions of versuchskommando 515 testing them in various calibers in 1944)but this is the most extreme historical stretch possible without going into fiction land.

    2. That would be the "special steel" the piccy mentions I guess. Any idea what kind of uranium we're talking about here? Guessing it wasn't the depleted sort as IIRC the Germans managed like two very anemic experimental reactors and that only towards the end...

    3. Natural uranium, 1200 tons were taken from Belgium and released after it was realized that there were not enough resources to realistically have a successfull nuclear program in reasonable time.

  4. Didn't they replace the front two rubber rimmed road wheels with solid steel? The weight was too much for the Pz IV chassis with the Panther turret and they kept shredding or did I dream this?


    1. Yes, I mentioned it as a plan because it's historical but it never really worked with Pz IV suspensions.

  5. Thanks for this, interesting read no doubt :), awesome penetration on the 37mm flak


  6. I still dislike the changing of the Pz.IV into a howitzer brawl tank. Sure the Vaderturm+L/70 was OP but atleast WG could have kept the IV as the sniper medium of tier 5 and clearly different from the III/IV.

    I've seen some mentions of a 75mm L/60 gun, either as a flak gun or as a early version of the L/70 kwk utilised in the Panther prototypes. A rather unhistorical solution but it would fill the gap between the L/48 and L/70 guns as a sniper weapon, perhaps unique to the Pz.IV even.

    Goblin_5, EU

  7. The worst thing that happened to PzIV was the fact that it's "rebalance" completely changed its playstyle, a playstyle that was already unique in terms of its tier. We no longer have dedicated T5 med sniper, and this is simply sad, as gameplay variety suffered.
    That being said, there is no doubt that 75mmL/70 would be too powerful for PzIV after its penetration buff. Removal of the Schmallturm is also understandable. What I would do, though, is significantly improve 75mmL/48 statistics - penetration from 110 to 115mm and accuracy from 0,39 to 0,36. This would be followed by L/43 buff to current statistics of L/48 (acc from 0,41 to 0,39, penetration from 103 to 110mm). L/43 would be the new top gun of PzIII/IV (so stat-wise it would loose nothing; this would also require addition 75mm L/24 or 50mm L/60 to it's tech tree as a starting gun), and PzIV would get the L/48. This way the PzIV would be a sniper again (as it was earlier), but this time balanced in terms of T5 med tank and its unique playstyle would be redeemed.

    1. When I reported on the Panzer IV changes for the NA forum some of the suggestions brought up something similar

      Bottommost spoiler, under "Possible Solutions".

      I really think all it needs is some help in the pen department but the L/48 is intertwined with so many tanks(3/4 and Hetzer being problem spots) that it's difficult to present something WG might actually do

    2. That is why I propose to remove the L/48 from III/IV. And about Hetzer - would this +5mm pene/0,03 accuracy buff really make it that OP? Majority of players are already driving it with howitzer (which is arguably the best gun for it anyway).

    3. Besides, after all it was WG who promised us that kind of gun:
      Direct quote from that post:
      7.5 L48 will be balanced similarly to the 57mm ZiS4, though with slightly higher alpha and slightly slower rate of fire (approximately equal DPM), and at least equal accuracy.

  8. not so pesimistic its just a game!

  9. The W1462 looks like the W1466. mh.... :|

  10. pz4 is fine now, is balanced with the sherman and the rest of the mids.

    the only thing it doesnt fit in t5 is the kv1, it has a lot of armor(and the tracks absorbs a lot of HE damage), also the gun has a lot of dpm without drawbacks.

    1. KV-1 is not out of place imho, it's just that it lacks a similarly armored competitor (aside from AT-2).

      I wouldn't mind seeing a downtiered VK3601H reclassified as tier V heavy so that there would be a comparable opponent although ergonomics would suffer for sure.

    2. at2 has some obvious weakspots, is undergunned, is the slowest t5, turns slow and doesnt have a turret.

      the kv1 on the other side,doesnt big weakspots like a commanders hatch or something like that(also armor layout isnt faulty,some track shots on the at2 can deal damage), is a bit faster, has better trasverse and turret to counter better the flanking, and on top has a 85mm firing with more dpm than some mids and even the at2 using the 6pdr(and that gun has lower pen...)

      without the kv1 nobody would cry about the pz4 being bad...

    3. Anon, tried aiming at KV-1 hull actually or you still use autoaim since KV-1 is a problem for you.
      75mm@30deg frontal plates gets pened by T14/M4A2E4 gun (92mm pen) at short range w/o much problem and also driver's hatch and MG mount are weak points with only 60mm@30deg armor on both, which can be penetrated on good day with guns that do 75-80mm pen.

      Sure, armor is better then most tanks on tier 5 but price to pay for that is utterly shit visibility and lack of mobility.
      And KV-1 is heavy, Pz-IV is medium, you can easily flank KV-1 with Pz-IV and kill it before it spots you actually.
      So LtP and stop whine.

  11. Was the 105 L/28 ever mounted in the Panzer IV turret like we have in-game? I've been under the impression it was meant for only the Heuschrecke 10's turret.

    1. 105mm L/25 could fit in mounting designed for 75mm L/48, just as it could fit on StuH.
      It would most probably not have depression angle as in game (-10 IIRC), and RoF would not be really good as there would be no place left in turret for ready rounds.

  12. what books do you guys use for your research? would like to find and read them myself for my models and etc :D cheers!

    1. Books used are written at the start of each article.

  13. I miss mt PzIV with the L/70 :(

  14. WG just has to fix the penetration values of 7,5cm L48.
    historically it could penetrate KV1 from 1000m+ frontal...

    after that:
    1.remove L48 from panzer III/IV
    2.descent buff for L43


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