The publication of any images or informations related to nazism, fascism or any other totalitarian regimes must be understood as the reproduction of historical accuracy and not as apology to these regimes, leaders or symbols.
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen Panzer I Ausf. B - KlPzBfWg (Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 - case report

 Kommandanten !!!

    Today's our focus is in a command vehicle that originated from one of the light tanks in the German Panzer divisions. It was very important in the early days of the Blitzkrieg, providing tactical support to the German forces, in their fulminating lightning strides of the beginning of the Second World War. Meet the Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen Panzer I Ausf. B - KlPzBfWg (Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265.

A brand new Sd.Kfz. 265 Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen Panzer I Ausf. B
KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) with "early" tall cupola


    The Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen (light armored command vehicle) Panzer I Ausf. B - KlPzBfWg (Kl B), known also by its ordnance inventory designation Sd.Kfz. 265, was the German Army's first purpose-designed armored command vehicle; a type of armoured fighting vehicle designed to provide a tank unit commander with mobility and communications on the battlefield.
An immacula teSd.Kfz.265 Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen,
sporting a rare license plate
    The Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen, is commonly referred to as a command tank, but as it is without a turret or offensive armament and merely is built on the chassis of the Panzer I light tank, it does not retain the capabilities or role of a tank. Instead, it functions more along the line of an armored personnel carrier in conveying the unit commander and his radio operator under armor about the battlefield.
   The Sd.Kfz.265 can be considered a development of the German Army's light tanks Panzer I Ausf. A and Panzer I Ausf. B (Sd.Kfz.101). These vehicles saw considerable action during the early years of the war, with the version Ausf. B serving in Panzer units through 1942 and with other formations until late in the war.
Early light tanks of the German Army
    The Sd.Kfz. 265 was designed to fulfill a growing need within the German Army for a command tank, following the realization that the leaders of a massive panzer formation would themselves have to travel in a tank of some type. This vehicle would have to carry extra equipment and personnel to assist the field commander in his duties. 
    The Panzer I Ausf.A then in service lacked a radio transmitter (only reciver) , and thus was unsuitable for commanders as they would have to leave the tank and rely on more vulnerable vehicles to carry a transmitter in order to be able to issue orders to their formation.
    Wishing to retain the Panzer I's armor and mobility, it was decided to modify the Panzer I Ausf. A to do the job. Not entirely satisfactory, significant chassis redesign was required, though this ultimately provided the basis for improvements in the combat tank line as well.
    In the end of 1935 in Daimler-Benz plant, six Panzer I Ausf.A were converted to the Tank Command version To increase space for a unit commander, radio operator, and a FuG 6 radio transmitter with associated gear the rotating turret and main armament of the Panzer I Ausf. A combat tank was removed. A tall, fixed casemate superstructure was installed which contained space for the commander and radio operator to work. Only six Panzer I Ausf. A have been converted to the command vehicle standard. Its denomination (1936) was Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen Panzer I Ausf. A - KlPzBfWg (1 Kl A). Initially, these vehicles were unarmed. In September 1936 two or three KIPzBtWg (1 K1 A) tanks were sent to Spain. In each one a short wave Fu 6 transmitter/ receiver of 13-16 km range and 20 W of power, and Fu 2 transmitter was installed. The crew consisted of three: commander, mechanic-driver and wireless operator. With time, command tanks received a7.92mm MG 13 machine gun (with 900 rounds of ammo) operated by a commander, in the early times of war. Later, the MG-34 was the standard weapon.
Variants of the KIPzBtWg (K1 A)
    The presence or absence of defensive weaponry in these vehicles varied according to certain aspects: at the beginning of the introduction of this class of car, the option was for the absence of the weapon. But when the vehicles went into combat, the crew members were extremely uncomfortable with the lack of any defensive weapon, generating a demand for the installation of machine guns in the new ones and adaptation in the existing vehicles. But with the development of the tactical and operational use of these machines, many Commanders realized that weapons were very rarely used, and in many cases, they were removed in the name of greater use of space. Therefore, the presence or absence of machine guns was inconstant.
   While room existed within this structure for map boards, paperwork and other kit required for operational command and radio operation, the vehicle's interior remained cramped and small. 
    As the concept of the tracked armored command vehicle turned out to be positive, the next step would be the construction of a more spacious vehicle. The simplest and most logical option would be to look for a larger vehicle, such as the Panzer I Ausf.B.
    In addition to more space, the original tank's 60 hp 4-cylinder air-cooled Krupp M305 engine was replaced by a 100 hp 6-cylinder liquid-cooled Maybach NL38TR to power not only the vehicle, but the newly installed equipment. 
Panzer I Ausf.B engine
  In addition to the six Panzer I Asusf.A-based prototypes, 184 production examples were built by Daimler-Benz from 1935 through 1937, meaning the German Army received just over one Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen for every ten Panzer I Ausf. A and B combat tanks built.
    But, strange as it may sound, three versions were made in such a short series of vehicles, designated 1 KI.B., 2 KI.B. and 3 KI.B. Common to all was the substitution of the central octagonal compartment (where the turret with the machine-guns was supported), for a taller one shaped in the form of a truncated pyramid, much more spacious than the asymmetric superstructure used by the KIPzBtWg-KL.A ones.
KlPzBfWg (1 Kl B) version: 
    Armament was confined to a MG-13 in the front wall of the compartment, in a simple mount, in the early versions. There were two small doors on the left sidewall for access to the fighting compartment and two in the roof, that were also used by the tank commander to peer out for driving. In this early versions, there was no cupola in the roof for the commander.
    All four of the command tanks sent to Spain during the Civil War belonged to this first version. 
Spanish KIPzBtWg (1 K1 B)
Notice the MG-13 installed in the front armor
and the absence of commanders cupola.

Spanish KIPzBtWg (1 K1 B) negotiating passage on rough terrain.

Another Spanish KIPzBtWg (1 K1 B)
Notice the Spanish Legion’s " Tercio Escudo" marking in the front armor
Spain, March - 1938.

Spanish KIPzBtWg (1 K1 B) leading Panzers I
Notice the commander, using a tube to talk with his driver

Spanish KIPzBtWg (1 K1 B) salutes General Franco
Victory Parade - Madrid, Spain
19 May, 1939. 

Brand new KIPzBtWg (1 K1 B) Sd.Kfz.265.
Notice the absence of the MG and commander cupola

German  KIPzBtWg (1 K1 B) Sd.Kfz.265
with complete antenna frame.
Notice the Wermacht license plate in the front of the hull
KlPzBfWg (2 Kl B) version: 
     A perfected second version included a ball mount for the MG 13 or MG 34 7,92mm machine-gun in the front armor, the same ball mount of the front hull of the Panzers III
 KIPzBtWg (2 K1 B) Sd.Kfz.265 in action in the Invasion of Poland.
Notice the ball mount for MG-34
The big white crosses were typical of that time. Polish gunners loved it ...
September, 1939.
KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) version:
    The latter, which was more evolved and built in larger numbers, apart from the previous modifications, incorporated a fixed squared cupola with portholes for the tank commander on the superstructure roof and two small upper doors. This cupola could be tall (early), in the first copies of this version and then, the most numerous and common vehicles, a little lower in height.
KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) Sd.Kfz.265
Notice the height of the commanders cupola: the "early" tall one...
3rd Panzer division - Parade in Berlin, 1939.

Another example of  KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) Sd.Kfz.265
with early (tall) commanders cupola

A group of brand new KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) Sd.Kfz.265
wearing the tall early cupolas, in parade.
Notice the two last Sd.Kfz.265 don't show any MG mount...
Germany, 1939.

KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) Sd.Kfz.265 with "regular" cupola
Compare with the cupola of the pictures above.
The (lucky) commander is pointing to an impact damage...

Another view of KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) Sd.Kfz.265 with "regular" cupolas
French Campaign - 1940.

KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) Sd.Kfz.265 with "regular" cupola
Polish Campaign - 1939.

Versions of Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen Panzer I
Two generations of Panzerbefehlswagens, side by side:
Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf .D1 and Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen I- 3 KL.B
Polish Campaign - 1939.

Proof of why the AT gunners loved the early German Balkenkreuz:
look at the perfuration very close to the "target".
KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 with loop antenna frame
Polish Campaign, 1939.
Notice the track installed inverted...

A  KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 with
Panzers II in Poland, 1939.
Notice the big white Balkenkreuz crudely painted off on the front armor...
Fritz was a wise guy!!!

KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 leading a convoy
Beskidy -Poland, 1939

A  KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 crossing a Polish stream,
with help of prefabricated bridges
Polish Campaign, 1939.

A  KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 at full speed
crossing a Polish woods. The Commander
was a careful guy, wearing goggles in all this dust...
Poland, 1939.

Brand new Panzers I Ausf.B ready for battle.
Notice the KlPzBfWg (2 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 in front right of the pic.
Germany, 1939.
     After the Polish Campaign, with real combat experiences, additional armour was added, at the most critical points of the vehicle's armor.

   Between 1935 and 1940 the Sd.Kfz.265 Kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen was the standard command tank of the German Panzer Divisions. Each Panzer division contained sixteen tank companies, grouped into four battalions, two regiments or one brigade, for a total of twenty-three headquarters. Each headquarters would be issued at least one command tank. In 1940 the Sd.Kfz. 265 was also issued to the signals and observation battalions of the Panzer artillery regiments.
A  KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 serving with
Panzer Artillery Regiment. The symbol means
Headquarters of Battery of  Motorized Field Howitzers

 Another KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 serving with
Panzer Artillery Regiment. The symbol means
Battery of  Motorized Field Guns

KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265
with crew starting a reluctant engine...
France - 1940.
    The Sd.Kfz.265 first saw combat in the Polish Campaign, September 1939. Afterwards, many were converted to Sanitätskraftwagen I (Sd.Kfz. 265) armoured ambulances which served in the French Campaign of 1940. 

Panzerbefehlswagen Sanitätskraftwagen I (Sd.Kfz. 265)
at full speed in unknow French village
4th Panzer Division - France, 1940.

Panzerbefehlswagen Sanitätskraftwagen I (Sd.Kfz. 265)
resting at a typical Bocage environment.
Notice the adapted stretcher in the rear deck
French Campaign  - May, 1940.
   Of the 190 produced (6 KL. A and 184 KL. B), 96 were still in use in May 1940 at the start of the invasion of France and the Low Countries. Following a 15 mm increase in armor protection that was hastily applied to the surfaces of the superstructure as a result of combat experiences in Poland, the Sd.Kfz. 265 command tank continued in use throughout the invasions of France,  the Netherlands and Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa).
Panzer I Ausf A and  KlPzBfWg (Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265. 
Operation Weserübung-Süd - Southern part of Jutland
Aabenraa - Denmark, 9 April 1940

A KlPzBfWg (Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 being transported in a trailer
crossing a century-old stone bridge, somewhere in Belgium, 1940.

Panzer IIIs wade a stream somewhere on the Russian front.
 A shabby KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265 of an
Artillery Regiment just watches the scene
Operation Barbarossa, June 1941.
     Many were shipped across the Mediterranean in 1941, to participate in the North African Campaign. Sd.Kfz. 265 also saw considerable action in the Balkans Campaigns of 1941 before being replaced by larger command vehicles.

A burning KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265, destroyed in the desert sands
8th. Panzer Regiment - 15. Panzer Division 
Operation Crusader - Tobruk.
December, 1941.

A KlPzBfWg (3 Kl B) - Sd.Kfz.265, crossing by a
destroyed Matilda Mk.II Infantry Tank, in the desert

..and with the graphite of the cupola deciphered!!
Thanks to my friends Fidelis Soares and Carsten Störzel
    Though replaced at the company level, many would continue to see service at higher levels of command through 1942. Some were also used as radio control vehicles for Minenräum-Wagen BI/BII (Sd.Kfz.300)

A nice shot with Sd.Kfz 265 command car and his "drones"
Minenräum-Wagen amphibian B-II Ente (middle) and the "terrestrial"one B-II
Notice the panoramic telescope in the roof of the vehicle
Kummersdorf Army Research Center - Germany
    A small number were also exported to Hungary. A few were still in service with the German Army when the war ended, though largely delegated to training role.


kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen Panzer I
Ausf. B - Sd.Kfz. 265
TypeCommand light tank
Place of origin                                       Nazi Germany
Service history
In service1939–1945
Used byNazi Germany
Kingdom of Hungary
WarsSecond World War
Production history
ManufacturerKrupp, Daimler-Benz
No. built184 (KL.B)
Mass5.8 tonnes 
Length4.445 mm 
Width2.08 m 
Height1.72 m 
Crew3: Commander, Driver
and Radio operator

Armor6 to 13 mm
Main armament
One 7.92 mm MG13 mg
or MG-34 with 900 rounds
EngineMaybach NL38TR inline
six-cylinder water cooled
gasoline engine.
100 HP
SuspensionQuarter-elliptical.leaf spring suspension.
Operational range
290 km 
Maximum speed40 km/h (on-road)

The kit:
    This kit was purchased many years ago, in a Galaxy far, far away, as scrap. It is an old and worn-out German Command Tank  (#3523), from Zvezda.
German command Tank (#3523)- Zvezda - 1995
     The kit was reasonably well built, but with the wrong markings and a horrible paint, with automotive enamel. She was reserved to be a parts donor for my crazy projects, but when I started building Panzer I Bison I and discovered this girl, I thought: why not ???
    The first thing to do, is to remove the old paint ... As it is enamel with high adhesion power, the recipe is an overnight bath in a container full of hydraulic brake fluid. The fluid attacks the paint without attacking the plastic and is easily removed with soap and water afterwards. The bath of brake fluid attacked the paint, but did not remove it all. The solution was one second bath overnight, this time with a caustic soda solution. Be very careful with these substances. are extremely aggressive...
    With the paint completely removed, after a good rinse with running water, I dipped the kit in acidified water with vinegar to neutralize the alkalinity of the soda bath and after another rinse with plenty of running water, the result was this:
The Zvezda kit, after the brake-fluid/soda bath...

The building is ok, with minimal problems (vinyl tracks are good, too ...)

Front view

To add some spice, I used a metal gun barrel for MG-34, from RB Models (#35B39).
Notice that I closed the Commander cupola

Ready for primer...
Notice the Zvezda kit represents the version of Sd.Kfz.265
with extra-armor added in the front of the vehicle.

Surface Primer Gray, from Vallejo (#74601)

The girl is almost decent now ...

Rear view
    I decided to place this girl at the beginning of Wehrmacht operations in the invasion of Russia, during Operation Barbarossa. Here is the profile that I usually do as a painting and markings guide. Our girl belonged to the famous Ghost Division, the 11th Panzer Division (Army Group South), during the preparations for the Battle of Kiev in June 1941.
Panzerserra's markings and painting guide

Panzer Gray with Future, to prevent silvering...

Shiny girl!!

Future drying...
        Next step: markings!!
Decals in position...
Notice the glossy aspect after application of the Future...
The decal in the vision port needed tons of softener (Microsolv)

Front view.

11th Panzer Division (Ghost Division)

Spare wheel in the rear superestructure...

Matt varnish... much better!!

3/4 right front view
painting the tools and wheels

Details under painting...

Left view

Notice the kit shows the additional front armor

Stay with us, Commanders !!! 
New updates coming soon !!!

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