A German tank Pzkpfw IV of an earlier version, armed with a short 75 mm cannon and capable of a maximum speed of 40 km/h. The Pzkpfw IV was intended to be a support tank for the infantry,
while the Pzkpfw III would assume the anti-tank role. However, the production of the Pzkpfw III was
finished in 1943, since this tank was too small to accommodate on its turret any anti-tank cannon over
50 mm, that was now necessary against the new and heavier enemy tanks, so the Pzkpfw IV, being a
bigger tank, was reconverted to the anti-tank role, by arming it with a long 75 mm cannon and improving
its armor in successive versions. With this new configuration, the Pzkpfw IV became the workhorse
of the German panzerdivisions until the end of the conflict, and a fearsome tank when used by skilled
The German panzers massively advance formed in columns along the Russian steppe during the summer of 1941. Von Manstein said to Hitler that England should be invaded before attacking the Soviet Union, but
Hitler surely feared that these had also the intention to attack Germany, and therefore the Soviet Union should be invaded before it could reorganize its army, at that moment crippled by the purges of Stalin.
Two German soldiers lay a signal flag on the steppe as an indication to their allied aviation about the
position of the attacking ground troops .
Some Soviet T34/76 medium tanks immobilized on a muddy terrain in the area of Tolocin, near the
river Drut. At the beginning of the campaign, the German invasion was helped by the fact that the
Russians didn't know how to properly exploit the potential of their armored forces.
A German Panzer III tank advances through snowy fields. The advance is still fast, but a premature
winter with very low temperatures will soon block it. In the winter of 1941/42, the Wehrmacht stopped
its fast advance at the gates of Moscow.
A Soviet T34/76 tank burns after being hit. This was the best tank on the Soviet Army when the
Germans invaded the Soviet Union, surpassing any German tank in service in those days, with better
armament and armor. The Germans countered these tanks by using powerful anti-tank cannons as the famous
88 mm or the 75 mm Pak-40, and greatly improving their veteran Panzer IV tanks and producing the new
Tiger and Panther heavy tanks.
The Panzer IV was the most produced tank for the German Army but its influence in the war has been
probably underestimated. The tank in the photo was photographed while crossing a burning Russian village
in the summer of 1941, during the Operation Barbarossa.
A German Panzer III tank crosses a river by using a bridge quickly mounted by the engineers. The
advance cannot have any pause. The obstacles must be surpassed to prevent the reorganization of enemy
As it happened during the napoleonic invasion of Russia, the Soviet Army employed the tactic of the
scorched land, leaving behind them only ruins and destruction.
German grenadiers supported by a MG 34 machine gun advance with caution through the Ukrainian
countryside. The Germans delayed the assault on Moscow and directed their efforts against the southern regions, that would give access to the grain of Ukraine and the rich oilfields of the Black Sea and
A 210 mm artillery cannon shoots towards Moscow. At first, the Germans believed to be able to
crush the resistance of the Soviet capital. But Stalin, assuming as improbable a Japanese attack on the
Soviet Union from Manchuria, moved three divisions from Siberia to Moscow, which decided the fate of the
battle for Moscow.
This propaganda photo published in 1942 shows the Heinkel He 111 medium bomber, which ended its
days serving as a transport aircraft, due to the enemy air superiority.