The Panzerkampfwagen IV (Pz.Kpfw. IV), commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a medium tank developed in NaziGermany in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 161.
Designed as an infantry-support tank, the Panzer IV was not originally intended to engage enemy armor—that function was performed by the lighter Panzer III. However, with the flaws of pre-war doctrine becoming apparent and in the face of SovietT-34 tanks, the Panzer IV soon assumed the tank-fighting role of its increasingly obsolete cousin.
The Panzer IV was beginning to make its way onto the battlefield in 1939, over six months after the outbreak of a second World War. During the initial fighting, the German military had relied heavily on Panzer Is and IIs, with some Panzer IIIs in the mix.
Tank crews looked at the Panzer IV as a "real fighting" tank. However, its short, low velocity 75mm main gun made it ineffective against other tanks since it was intended to fire HE rounds against infantry rather than AP against armor. However, by 1942, a new version with a longer, high velocity 75mm gun entered service against the Red Army. When Adalbert Stoss first saw one, he quipped that it had a hard-on, a big one. In addition to the new gun, the panzer was also uparmored making it a match for the T-34.
Colonel Heinrich Jäger commanded a tank regiment comprised of Panthers, Tigers and Panzer IVs. The Panzer IVs were fitted with very long guns and some added extras, but they were still vulnerable to the Landcruisers.