Development of a light reconnaissance version of the Panzer II started in 1939. It utilised the suspension developed for the VK901 prototype (Panzer II Ausf G) with overlapping road wheels sprung on torsion bars.
The Luchs had a wider hull to accommodate a larger turret, initially designed to take the 5cm KwK 39/1 L/60 gun, but the first 100 were only fitted with the 2cm KwK 38.
Production was ordered but then halted before the 5cm version was produced. Production began in September 1943 and stopped in January 1944 after the completion of the first 100 armed with the 2cm gun.
The new suspension used by the Luchs made it a fast and agile reconnaissance vehicle; it could reach speeds of up to 60 kmph. In addition to the 2cm gun it was also armed with an MG-34. It had 30mm of frontal armour, 20mm on the side and up to 12mm on top.
The turret was fitted with two hatch periscopes instead of a cupola for use by the commander and gunner.
For its reconnaissance role the Luchs was equipped with two radios, one was an 80-watt transmitter/receiver for long-range communications with a 2-metre rod aerial. The second was an Ultra Short Wave transmitter/receiver for inter-vehicle communication with either a 1.4 or 2 metre aerial.
The Luchs was issued to the armoured reconnaissance detachments and was mainly used on the Eastern Front.
The Luchs in Flames of War:
The Luchs is a Fast Tank and can move 16"/40cm each turn. It also utilises the reconnaissance rules. These rules make it fast, agile and very hard to hit.
While its 2cm tank gun it not going to take out too many T-34s or Shermans, it's good enough to take care of any light vehicles caught unawares (Range: 16"/40cm, ROF 3, AT 4, FP 5+), and certainly any opposing Recce troops.
Though only lightly armoured (F3, S1, T1) their manoeuvrability keeps them out of most trouble.
They are available in the German Late War Intelligence Briefing as a Divisional Support option Reconnaissance Platoon (3 per Platoon, as they were treated like Armoured Cars). At only 45pts each, a worthwhile and handy little vehicle.