The Panzerkampfwagen IV (PzKpfw IV), commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a German medium tank developed in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. It was originally designed for infantry support, while the Panzer III  was to fight  armoured fighting vehicles. In its role the Panzer IV was intended to neutralize enemy anti-tank guns and fortifications, hence the short-barrelled, howitzer-like 75-millimetre gun as its main armament. The Panzer III in its turn would be armed with a 37-millimetreanti-tank gun. However, as the Germans faced tanks as the formidable T-34, the need for more powerful guns became apparent. The Panzer IV had more development potential because the larger turret ring allowed more powerful guns to be mounted, and the Panzer III and Panzer IV switched roles.


The Panzer IV saw service in all combat theatres and was the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the war. The Panzer IV was the most numerous German tank  of the Second World War: 8,553 Panzer IVs of all versions were built during World War II, it was only exceeded by the StuG III assault gun with 10,086 vehicles. Its chassis was used for a variety of other  fighting vehicles, including the Sturmgeschütz IV assault gun, the Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer, the Wirbelwind self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, and the Brummbär self-propelled gun.


It received large range of upgrades and design modifications, intended to counter new threats, extending its service life. Generally, these involved increasing the armour protection or upgrading the weapons, although during the last months of the war, with Germany's pressing need for rapid replacement of losses, design changes also included simplifications to speed up the manufacturing process.


The Panzer IV was partially succeeded by the Panther medium tank, which was introduced to counter the Soviet T-34, although it continued to be a significant component of German armoured formations to the end of the war.


It was the most widely exported tank in German service, with around 300 sold to Finland, Romania, Spain and Bulgaria. After the war, Syria procured Panzer IVs from France and Czechoslovakia, which even saw combat as late as the 1967 Six-Day War.

In March 1943, delivery of the PzKpfw IV Ausführung H began, which, with almost 3800 units in terms of numbers the largest single series of a German armored fighting vehicle during the Second World War. The long 75 mm KwK 40 L / 48 gun was fitted as standard and the front basic armor of the turret and hull was now 80 mm. Slightly modified idlers and drive wheels with replaceable sprockets were installed. Due to a lack of material, some of the rubber-tyred rollers were replaced by steel rollers.


The vehicles were delivered with side skirts (Schürzen) as standard. These were 5 mm thick panels that were removable from the body and firmly attached to the tower and  protected the tank effectively aganst hollow charge projectiles and bazookas. Due to the scarcity of raw materials, Schürzen made of wire mesh (see picture) were sometimes used. The side viewing slits on the turret for shotguns and loaders were omitted because they had lost their function anyway due to the attachment of the Schürzen.