Eaglemoss EM027 German Sd. Kfz. 121 PzKpfw II Ausf. F Light Tank - 6.Panzer Division, Stalingrad, Russia, 1942 (1:43 Scale)
"If the tank succeeds, then victory follows."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
Originally identified as the '2cm MG Panzerwagen', the PzKpfw II light tank was designed to supplement the PzKpfw I by providing an automatic weapon capable of firing both a high explosive round and an armor piercing round. The design period was very short: the initial order for a tank design in the 10-ton class was issued by the Waffenamt in July 1934, and the first complete soft steel prototype was put through its paces in October 1935. Unfortunately, many of the teething problems had not been worked out when rapid expansion of the panzerwaffe and international politics forced the decision to order a comparatively large number of PzKpfw IIs. First issued to Panzer units in the spring of 1936, the PzKpfw II was armed with a 2cm KwK L/55 gun and was crewed by three men.
Pictured here is a 1:43 scale replica of a German Sd. Kfz. 121 PzKpfw II Ausf. F light tank that was attached to the 6.Panzer Division, then deployed to Stalingrad, Russia, during 1942.
Release Date: December 2015
Historical Account: "Here is Stalingrad" - Under the code name Operation Uranus, the Russians launched their offensive to pinch off the German salient in and around Stalingrad on November 19th, 1942. The attacks fell on weakly held sectors north and south of the city, which were manned mainly by Romanian forces in the north and by a mixture of Romanians and units of the 4th Panzer Army in the south.
Despite the sudden attacks, decisive action by the German leadership could have saved the situation.
If General von Paulus, head of the 6.Armee, had acted boldly, sending some units north and south to hold the Russians at bay while withdrawing the bulk of his force from the ruins of Stalingrad, then much of his army would have been saved.
On the 21st, Paulus recommended to Von Weichs at the Army Group level, that he be allowed to withdraw the endangered Army to an arc on the Don and the Chir Rivers. Having initially supported such an immediate breakout, Von Weichs failed to act and the same evening passed on an instruction from OKH that Paulus was to hold the position on the Volga at all costs and that countermeasures to restore the situation were being implemented by the Fuhrer. In the meantime the Army would be supplied by air.
Senior officers under Paulus doubted if the required scale of an airlift could be achieved during a Russian winter. General Fiebig informed Paulus and his Chief of Staff Schmidt, 'Supplying a whole Army by air? Impossible! I warn you against entertaining such exaggerated expectations!' All of his Corps commanders argued for a breakout before the Red Army was able to consolidate its positions. General Hans Hube told Paulus: 'A breakout is our only chance.' Paulus remarks in his memoirs that 'In this situation, my acting against orders, particularly since I could not responsibly oversee the overall situation, would have pulled the operational foundation from under the supreme command. Such a course of action, against the plans of the overall leadership, leads to anarchy in the command structure.' However, perhaps the uniqueness of the situation required someone to take such a course of action. In addition Paulus was suffering continuing dysentery and a general rundown in health, but despite being urged to take sick leave in Germany, he refused.
On December 17th, Von Manstein gave the order for Paulus to break out towards the forces of LVII Panzer Corps, which had fought its way to within 30 miles of the pocket. Hitler, however, ordered that he was expected to both break out and establish a supply corridor, whilst still holding his positions within the city. Paulus rejected the order, arguing that his men were too weak to make such a move and that his vehicles had insufficient fuel to reach the relieving forces. On the 19th, Von Manstein sent an emissary, Major Eismann, into the pocket by air to urge Paulus to do all he could to attempt a break-out and meet the relieving force. It was the last chance for Paulus, but in the end he refused to move, quoting Hitler's orders that the present positions at Stalingrad should be held. He told Eismann, 'Thunderclap, (the code name for a complete breakout) is a catastrophic solution that should be avoided if at all possible.' From that point onward, their fate was sealed.