The Panzer II is the common name used for a family of German tanks used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen II (abbreviated PzKpfw II).
Although the vehicle had originally been designed as a stopgap while larger, more advanced tanks were developed, it nonetheless went on to play an important role in the early years of World War II, during the Polish and French campaigns. The Panzer II was the most numerous tank in the German Panzer divisions beginning with the invasion of France. It was used in both North Africa against the British and on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union.
The Panzer II was supplemented by the Panzer III and IV by 1940/1941. Thereafter, it was used to great effect as a reconnaissance tank. By the end of 1942 it had been largely removed from front line service and it was used for training and on secondary fronts. Production of the tank itself ceased by 1943 but its chassis remained in use as the basis of several other armored vehicles, chiefly self-propelled artillery and tank destroyers such as the Wespe and Marder II.