Panzer II Luchs
In the 1930s during the build-up to World War II, Germany began pioneering a revolutionary approach to warfare that is still commonly used today. It was called “Blitzkrieg” or “Lightning War”. At its inception, all major aspects of this now modern, mainstream approach were yet to be conceived or realized. One of the foundational building blocks of Blitzkrieg was the use of the armed and armored battle tank or “Panzer”.
Germany began Panzer development and its first offerings were the small and lightly armored Panzer I and Panzer II tanks. Driven by the ever-escalating capabilities of competing enemy tanks, Panzer development produced a lineage of tanks that, by the end of the war, dwarfed their early ancestors.
The Panzer I and Panzer II were soon obsolete for use as main battle tanks. They were quickly reduced to lighter-duty work such as communication, administration, training, ammunition carriers and civil policing of occupied lands.
An exception to this fate was the development of the “L” version (Ausf. L) of the Panzer II. The earlier Panzer II was completely redesigned and updated with the latest technology of the time creating essentially an entirely new tank that is “Panzer II” in name only. The Panzer II Ausf. L “Luchs” (Lynx in English) became its new designation. In certain circumstances, it was also identified as the SdKfz 123 and “Panzerspähwagen II”.
The PzKpfw II Ausf. L saw service until the end of the war on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. It was attached to Panzer-Aufklarungs-Abteilungen (armored reconnaissance detachments) of the Wehrmacht and possibly the Waffen-SS. Primarily there were only two units that received a documented distribution of Panzer II Luchs. 1.Kompanie./Pz.Afkl.Abt.9 of 9.Pz.Div. which fought in Normandy and on the Western Front and 2.Kompanie/Pz.Afkl.Abt.4. of 4.Pz.Div. which fought on the Russian Front. Reportedly there were a few other units that operated Luchs, but unfortunately, it is relatively undocumented and this information lacks certainty.
Of the original 100 Panzer II Luchs, there are only 2 surviving today. One is displayed at The Tank Museum in Bovington UK, and the other, which is operational, lives at Musee des Blindes tank museum, in Saumer France.
This reproduction Panzer II Luchs was built from the ground up to match the specifications, detail, size, weight, performance, and construction of the original vehicle. With no surviving parts, each piece and feature had to be re-created to match the original. Around 5,000 man hours went into crafting this museum-quality copy.
Length: 4.63 meters
Width: 2.48 meters
Height: 2.21 meters
Armor thickness: 30 mm on the front, 20 mm on sides, 10 mm on roof
Power- 180 hp via Maybach HL66P 6-cylinder
161-mile range (96 miles cross country)
Armaments consist of one KwK 38 L/55 20mm autocannon and one 7.92mm machine gun (mg34). Onboard were 320 rounds of 20mm ammunition, as well as 2,250 rounds of machine gun ammo.
The WWII German Panzer II Ausf. L “Luchs” was designed to serve as a fast & small reconnaissance vehicle and featured torsion bar suspension and large, overlapping road wheels that gave the Luchs excellent off-road performance.
A four men crew consisting of commander, gunner, driver, and radioman operated the Luchs. Only 100 Panzer II “Luchs” were produced in total, all manufactured by Maschinenfabrik Augsburg- Nürnberg (MAN) from September 1943 to January 1944.