Shortly before the start of the Second World War the “Inspektion der Panzertruppen” (Inspection of the Panzer Troops) put forward a request for the creation of a Panzer Assault Award to the higher Army authorities. The introduction of the Panzer Assault Badge in Silver was authorised by Generaloberst Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres von Brauchitsch” in Berlin on December 20th, 1939.
The higher grades II to IV were instituted on January 31st, 1943.
The Panzerkampfwagenabzeichen was awarded to officers, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted men who - beginning January 1st, 1940 - were engaged in effective combat action in a Panzer or Panzer Command Vehicle as commanders, drivers, gunners, or radiomen in at least three different combat assaults on three different days. Later orders stipulated that the following personnel also became eligible to earn the Panzer Assault Badge in Silver. Dispatch and communication riders (Kradmelder), Panzer Maintenance Units (Instandsetzungstruppen), Medical personnel (Sanitätspersonal), Panzer Signal Units (Panzer Nachrichten Abteilungen).
Grade I awarded after 3 combat days
Grade II Awarded after 25 combat days
Grade III Awarded after 50 combat days
Grade IV Awarded after 75 and again after 100 combat days
For the higher grades, it should be noted that for battle-hardened veterans retroactive service was taken into account. Also, war-wounded soldiers were credited with extra combat days.
Apart from one exception, all early Panzer Assault Badges were made in hollow form. The materials used were Nickle Silver and Tombak (Buntmetall). Both yellow and on rare occasions also white Tombak was used.
In an effort to save precious materials, by the middle of 1941 the switch was made to Hollow Zinc and occasionally Cupal production. By the end of 1941, the order was given only to produce combat awards in solid form. This also affected the Panzer Assault Badge that, from then on, was only produced in Zinc, both in Solid and Semi-hollow form. As the war progressed, the quality of the zinc used would steadily deteriorate. All higher grades were only made from Zinc, both in Solid and Semi-Hollow form.
The same goes for the finishes used. Where early badges show a high-quality plated finish, later awards received electroplated or galvanized finishes. The very last ones can be found with a very low-quality wash finish.
For civil use first a 16mm, later only a 9mm miniature was produced.
The Panzer Assault Badge had to be worn on the left breast side of the uniform. If worn as a single decoration, it would be placed in the central position, below and to the right if in combination with higher valor awards such as the EK I.
The recipient would receive an A4 or A3-sized award document.
No presentation case ever existed. The awards either came in a paper or cellophane envelope or in a generic cardboard box.
MANUFACTURERS & NUMBER OF SILVER GRADE PANZER ASSAULT BADGES AWARDED
So far 37 Grade I makers were identified - 3 makers were responsible for the production of the Higher Grade PABs.
The number of Panzer Assault Badges actually awarded remains unknown but several hundred thousand for sure were produced.
For more information on the Panzer Assault Badge, we gladly refer the interested collector to the reference work “The German Panzer Assault Badge of WWII “ written by Philippe De Bock.