Many people I have spoken to really don’t like this tank. Some call the Panzer IV Ausf.A a tinderbox for catching fire so easily due to its weak ammo rack and some call it a paper box because its armor is practically non-existent. However, let me tell you that this great vehicle is anything but failure. Just take a look at my performance screen below:
I destroyed 40 vehicles in 20 battles and dealt average damage of 720, while maintaining a survival rate of 80% and accuracy of 75%. Just like how I reviewed the Panzer II, I will review the Panzer IV Ausf.A with General Guderian’s criteria: Armor, Firepower and Mobility. Let’s begin!
ARMOR (Fully Upgraded)
While writing this review, I noticed that the upgraded turret makes this tank into Ausf.B instead of Ausf.A. So should this tank be renamed to Panzer IV Ausf.B? Anyways, as you can see, this tank has a very good health pool with 400 HP. This should allow you stay on the battlefield a little longer but you should really never get shot in the first place. 14 mm of hull armor really makes you vulnerable even to tier 2 machine gun fire. If you ever get caught in the behind by a fast-moving T7 car, you are in deep trouble as your health will be whittled down very quickly. In essence, there is no side-scraping or angling in this tank as you will most likely be penetrated. However, I do recommend that if you have to do a 1-on-1 with a tank with an auto-cannon, it is still better to angle the tank in a diamond-fashion as you can luckily bounce off a few bullets.
Since the frontal turret armor is 30 mm, you should definitely try to go hull down if possible and rarely show your hull to the enemy. However, your commander’s cupola will stick out and can be shot by players with good aim. All in all, this tank really should try to avoid getting spotted by enemy tanks in the first place.
FIREPOWER (75 mm KwK 37 L/24)
Historically, this gun was a short howitzer to support infantry during operations. This gun was used to destroy bunkers and fortifications but also proved to be effective against light armor vehicles. In the game, this gun is excellent against tier 2 and 3 tanks as their armor is very thin. I recommend that you carry a mix of AP, HE and HEAT shells to allow you to respond to any situation. Thankfully, this tank allows you to carry a decent amount of ammunition of 122 rounds. Given the slow rate of fire, you probably won’t have a chance to fire more than 30 shots so it’s okay to divide the 122 equally into the three types of ammunition. Combined with slow rate of fire and weak armor, you really should not brawl in this tank unless you like seeing your tank go up in flames of shame.
The key to success with this gun is to aim carefully. With 0.5 dispersion you will not be able to hit your targets if you don’t let your aiming circle close in. Even when you think you aimed long enough you can still miss shots. So please do not try to snipe with this tank. I guess this is why people find this tank to be hard to drive. You might be asking yourself, “Okay… You told me not to brawl with this tank and now you’re telling me not to snipe? What am I even supposed to do?” Previously, I didn’t know what to call this middle-line role and thanks to the WOT Blitz forums, I found the technical term for this role: “Second Line Support”. You need to closely support and follow your front-line tanks and give them effective fire support.
When you see a weakly armored tank like a Cruiser III or T82, immediately switch to HE ammunition to one-shot kill him. If you find yourself fighting in a tier 4 battle, you could flank around an enemy tank to target his weak rear armor. For instance, the infamous Hetzer has only 8 mm of rear armor which your howitzer can easily penetrate.
FIREPOWER (50 mm KwK 38 L/42)
This is the stock gun on this German medium tank. Compared to the 75 mm gun, this gun does not have the one-shot kill ability. However, it does have better accuracy albeit not by much. It also has better penetration, fire rate and aiming time. In my experience, this gun can actually be better than the 75 mm because you will have fewer problems penetrating thicker armor at tier 4 battles and hit enemy tanks more effectively. Also, the projectile velocity seems much faster than the 75 mm; this allows you to be a mobile sniper even though I advise you not to. With this gun, it seems pretty obvious to carry more AP and APCR rather than HE as it does not have the same explosive results as with the 75 mm.
Given its good rate of fire, you won’t feel the need to run away after firing a shot. You should use this gun to perform peek-a-boo tactics. However, you should still not be at the front lines as a good gun does not remove the aspect of weak armor. You should still place yourself in the second line but feel free to jump into the front lines from time to time so that you can give more active fire support.
At this point, I want to share a story. I was the last one left on Copperfield in a tier 3 battle. The enemy team had 3 tanks: a T-46 tank with 52 HP left, a M2 Medium tank with 30 HP left and a Valentine AT with 15 HP left. I only had about 90 HP. I knew that the 75 mm howitzer on the M2 Medium or a 4 shot burst by the T-46 or a single HE shot from the Valentine AT could end my life. What made this situation worst was that the three tanks were close together i.e. they were working together to a certain degree. Had I equipped the 75 mm gun, I would only have been able to kill one tank before going up in flames. Thanks to the great fire rate of the 50 mm gun, I was able to kill all three in succession. Personally, I recommend this stock gun over the top gun.
MOBILITY (Fully Upgraded)
Given this tank’s large body, I thought it would have a rather poor mobility but thankfully it does not. Its mobility really helps to supplement its weak armor. In fact, had this tank had poor mobility, I would have avoided playing it altogether. You can use its mobility to get to different flanks in a timely fashion and get out of fire quickly enough to get yourself behind some solid cover. You can also respond well to those pesky T7 cars or BT-2 tanks trying to perform a circle-of-death tactic thanks to your decent hull traverse and turret traverse speeds. To players who complain about this tank’s paper-thin armor, use your mobility to your advantage!
I usually use the following equipment setup for the Panzer IV Ausf.A:
Some people will criticize me for not carrying a Wet Ammo Rack. However, I find that maximizing offensive capabilities is often more important. Of course, having a Wet Ammo Rack is totally fine and in fact, having anything else is also totally fine 🙂 In other words, there is no right answer!
For the 50 mm gun, I carry the following ammunition:
- Armor Piercing (AP): 100 rounds
- Armor Piercing Composite Rigid (APCR): 40 rounds
- High Explosive (HE): 10 rounds
For the 75 mm gun, I carry these:
- Armor Piercing (AP): 40 rounds
- High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT): 42 rounds
- High Explosive (HE): 40 rounds
For consumables, I carry:
- Multi-purpose Restore Pack (* Cure-All package for your vehicle and crew)
- Adrenaline (* Boosts your fire rate by 25% and increases chances of damaging enemy tank modules by 10%)
- Chocolate (* +10% to all crew skills)
Because of its weak armor, you really should watch out for every tank including tier 1 tanks, which I sometimes have the pleasure of seeing due to stupid platoon teams. Still, I picked 5 tanks to which I died most often and they are:
- T82: Can this tank one-shot kill you? YES, so watch out!
- Hetzer: Need I say more?
- Cruiser IV: The dreaded Pom-Pom gun with quick speed = Deadly!
- M2 Medium: This tank also has a 75 mm howitzer! Beware the Derp!
- Matilda: Don’t even try engaging this tank frontally! Always the rear!
I hope this review was informative to you all. If you hated this tank before, give this Panzer some love and try out again – just more cautiously this time. For me, I have no intentions of selling this great tank because it is such a high performer 😀
(I want to thank Achtungpanzer.com for the Panzer IV Ausf A image!)