Altaya ALT95895 German Sd. Kfz.101 PzKpfw I Ausf. B Light Tank - 5.Panzer Division, Pszczyna, Poland, 1939 (1:72 Scale)
"If the tank succeeds, then victory follows."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
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").
Design of the Panzer I began in 1932 and mass production began 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 as the basis 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's 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 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 Soviet T-26. Although weak in combat, it formed a large part of Germany's tank forces 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.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a German Sd. Kfz.101 PzKpfw I Ausf. B Light Tank.
Release Date: February 2014
Historical Account: "Panzers East" - The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign (German: Polenfeldzug) in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II. The invasion began on September 1st, 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and ended October 6th, 1939 with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland.
The day after the Gleiwitz incident, German forces invaded Poland from the north, south, and west. As the Germans advanced, Polish forces withdrew from their forward bases of operation close to the Polish-German border to more established lines of defense to the east. After the mid-September Polish defeat in the Battle of the Bzura, the Germans gained an undisputed advantage. Polish forces then withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defense of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited expected French and British support and relief.
The Soviet Red Army's invasion of the Kresy on September 17th, in accordance with a secret protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, rendered the Polish plan of defense obsolete. Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded the defense of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all troops to neutral Romania. On October 6th, following the Polish defeat at the Battle of Kock, German and Soviet Union forces gained full control over Poland. The success of the invasion marked the end of the Second Polish Republic, though Poland never formally surrendered.
On October 8th, Germany directly annexed western Poland and the former Free City of Danzig and placed the remaining block of territory under administration of the newly established General Government. The Soviet Union immediately started a campaign of sovietization of the newly acquired areas. This included staged elections, the results of which were used to legitimize the Soviet Union's annexation of eastern Poland. In the aftermath of the invasion, a collective of underground resistance organizations formed the Polish Underground State within the territory of the former Polish state. Many of the military exiles that managed to escape Poland subsequently joined the Polish Armed Forces in the West, an armed force loyal to the Polish government in exile.