The Panzer I was a light tank produced in Germany in the 1930s. The name is short for the German Panzerkampfwagen I (armored fighting vehicle mark I), abbreviated PzKpfw I. The tank's official German ordnance inventory designation was SdKfz 101 (special purpose vehicle 101).[1]

Design of the Panzer I began in 1932 and mass production in 1934. Intended only as a training tank to introduce the concept of armored warfare to the German Army, the Panzer I saw combat in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, in Poland, France, the Soviet Union and North Africa during the Second World War, and in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Experiences with the Panzer I during the Spanish Civil War helped shape the German armored corps' invasion of Poland in 1939 and France in 1940. By 1941, the Panzer I chassis design was used for production of tank destroyers and assault guns. There were attempts to upgrade the Panzer I throughout its service history, including by foreign nations to extend the design lifespan. It continued to serve in the armed forces of Spain until 1954.

The Panzer I's performance in combat was limited by its thin armor and light armament of two general purpose machine guns. As a design intended for training, the Panzer I was not as capable as other light tanks of the era, such as the T-26. Although weak in combat, it formed a large portion of Germany's tank strength in numbers and was used in all major campaigns between September 1939 and December 1941. The small, vulnerable light tank would be surpassed in importance by better-known German tanks such as the Panzer IV, Panther, and Tiger. Nevertheless, the Panzer I's contribution to the early victories of Nazi Germany during the Second World War was significant.

Panzer I
Panzer I
A WWII Panzer I









5.4 Tons


4.02 Metres


2.06 Metres


1.72 Metres


2; Commander and Driver


Between 7 and 13 Milimeters


2 7.92 mm MG13 Machine Guns

Power/Weight Suspension

11.1 PS/t

Quarter-elliptical leaf spring suspension

Panzer I (Continued)


Krupp M 305 four cylinder air cooled gasoline engine. 60 PS (59 hp, 44 kW)



Number Built




Used By

Nazi Germany, Bulgaria, Republic of China, Hungary, Spain


Spanish Civil War, Second World War, Second Sino-Japanese War


German Flag Germany


Main article: Panzer I Variants

Between 1934 and the mid 1940s several variants of the Panzer I were designed, especially during the later years of its combat history. Because they were obsolescent from their introduction, incapable of defeating foreign armor, and outclassed by newer German tanks, the Panzer I chassis were increasingly repurposed as tank destroyers and other variants.[88] One of the most well known variants was the Panzerbefehlswagen ("small armored command vehicle"), built on the Ausf. A and Ausf. B chassis—200 of these were manufactured. The Panzer I Ausf. B chassis was also used to build the German Army's first tracked tank destroyer, the Panzerjäger I. This vehicle was armed with a Czech 47-millimeter (1.85 in) anti-tank gun.



A PzKpfw I Ausf. F

Silver Tank

A Panzer I Ausf