MANUFACTURER(S): State Factories - Imperial Germany
OPERATORS: Imperial Germany
LENGTH: 16.73 feet (5.1 meters)
WIDTH: 6.23 feet (1.9 meters)
HEIGHT: 8.20 feet (2.5 meters)
WEIGHT: 9 Tons (7,940 kilograms; 17,505 pounds)
ENGINE: 1 x Daimler-Benz 4-cylinder gasoline engine developing 60 horsepower.
SPEED: 10 miles-per-hour (16 kilometers-per-hour)
RANGE: 43 miles (70 kilometers)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Leichter Kampfwagen II (LK II) Light Tank Prototype.
Entry last updated on 9/28/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Germans in World War 1 (1914-1918) did not find the same level of success with combat tanks that was enjoyed by its enemies. Their primary contribution was the tactically-limited Sturmpanzerwagen A7V which was designed by engineer Joseph Vollmer and produced in just 20 examples. Vollmer also helped to develop the "K-Wagen" Super Heavy Tank but this vehicle remained in prototype form by war's end. In the middle of 1918, the Leichter Kampfwagen I (LK I) was being used to further a light-class infantry support vehicle design and this set the foundation for the production-minded Leichter Kampfwagen II (LK II) to follow.
The original LK I was based upon the existing chassis and drive of a Daimler commercial automobile. To this was added a track-over-wheel arrangement, armor plating, and a traversable turret housing machine gun armament. The vehicle retained the general arrangement of the car which saw the engine in front and the passenger section over the middle-rear of the design. Serving exclusively as a prototype design, the LK I was only ever completed in two pilot vehicles.
The Leichter Kampfwagen II (LK II) followed the same design lines and internal arrangement as the LK I before it. It was a refinement of the basic approach and fielded a much more potent 37mmmain gun in its turret. Power was through a Diamler-Benz Model 1910 4-cylinder gasoline engine of 60 horsepower and armor protection ranged from 8mm to 14mm. Its crew numbered three as in the LK I and dimensions were a 5.1 meter length, 1.9 meter width, and 2.5 meter height. Combat weight was 8.75 tons - decidedly heavier than the prototype LK I vehicles which weighed 6.9 tons. Performance specifications included a road speed reaching 11 miles per hour with an operational range out to 44 miles.
Two pilot vehicles of the LK II design were completed during 1918 and available for June. It was envisioned that the type would carry a 37mm Krupp cannon with 1 x 7.92mm MG08 machine gun. The German Army - as desperate as they were for armored vehicles at this point in the war - commissioned for 580 of these light-class vehicles to be manufactured. However, the end of the war in November of 1918 halted all work on the tanks - leaving just the two prototypes completed.
The story of the LK II was not over, however, for the Swedes absorbed the design into their inventory and produced the vehicle under the Strv m/21 designation. These models incorporated a sole 6.5mm machine gun as seen in the LK I prototype vehicles. The design served the Swedes well and, with early German support, furthered their local tank programs well into World War 2 - culminating in the Strv m/42 of 1943 which became the first Swedish armored vehicle to bring about use of a 75mm main gun.
The Swedish Army fielded a total of ten LK II tanks built from parts shipped over from Germany after World War 1. Landsverk handled their assembly.
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