PzKpfw III SK 1 (1943)

Trials and demonstrations took place in the grounds at Arys in October 1943, with two or three PzKpfw III Ausf L/N of the final series, armed with the 7.5cm KwK L/24. The machine was given the designation of ‘SK 1’ meaning ‘Schienenkampfwagen 1’ (Rail Tank No 1). The transmission, motor and cooling system were identical to those of the original tank, the last three torsion bars of the suspension needed modifying. With the added parts under the tank the ground clearance decreased from 48cm (1ft 7in) to 34.2cm (1ft 1½in). The drive on the rails was transmitted via the forward axle, the other being free-rotating. No matter how well the system performed, and the speed and haulage capacities were impressive, by 1943 the PzKpfw III was completely outclassed as a fighting vehicle.

SK 1 Technical specifications:

Length (buffers folded): 5.62m (18ft 51/4in)

Length (buffers extended): 6.00m (19ft 61/4in)

Width: 2.94m (9ft 73/4in)

Height (on road): 2.435m (8ft)

Height (on rails): 2.825m (9ft 31/4in)

Weight: 25 tonnes Motor type: 12-cylinder Maybach HL 120 TRM

Horsepower: 320hp at 3000rpm

Transmission: Fichtel & Sachs six-speed gearbox

Speed on rails (maximum): 100km/h (62mph)

Speed on rails (normal): 60km/h (37mph)

Wheelbase on rails: 2.94m (9ft 73/4in)

Gauge (European standard): 1435mm (4ft 81/2in)

Gauge (Russian): 1524mm (5ft)

Fuel capacity: 350 litres (921/2 Imperial gallons)

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