The Panzerkampfwagen I, also from here on known as the PzK I, was created in 1931 after Germany
's defeat in World War I
, after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles
. But, the PzK I is a bit of a misnomer; it is not a real tank. In fact, this less than 5-ton tank was labelled as a "tractor
" to avoid repercussions from the Treaty of Versailles
. Originally labelled as the "Landwirtschaftlicher", or "agricultural tractor", the PzK I was designed by Krupp
and modelled after the British Carden Lloyd Mk IV
to be used as a training vehicle to give future German tank users some experience.
The PzK I began production in April of 1934, known as the Panzerkampfwagen Ausf A, and before the end of the month, 15 of these "tractors" met with Adolf Hitler for approval. In 1935, Daimler-Benz, MAN, Krupp, and Henschel had all begun full production of the PzK I Ausf B, which had a 100hp engine instead of the PzK I Ausf A's overworked 57hp engine. Both tanks were turretless coming off the production line. Yet, the PzKpfw I had a two-man crew consisting of a driver and a gunner. The driver sat on the left, and the commander/gunner alongside in the small offset turret on the right.
The PzK I did not see combat action until the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1938, when approximately 100 PzK Is were used for training purposes and also for an assault on Madrid, Spain. For this conflict, certain PzK I Ausf Bs were outfitted with Italian 20mm Breda Modello light anti-aircraft guns. However, the PzK I was easily outmatched by its Soviet counterparts, the Soviet T-26.
After the PzK I's miserable defeat, it was realized that it could never be used for combat situations, and new work began on turning the PzK I into a APC of sorts. In 1942 and 1943, the PzK I Ausf C, D, and F were all used as light armored, fast reconnaissance infantry support vehicles.