The German military strategy of using of fast-moving tanks, with motorized infantry and artillery supported by dive-bombers, and concentrating on one part of the enemy sector, became known as Blitzkrieg (lightning war). The strategy was first put forward by Colonel John Fuller, the chief of staff of the British Tank Corps. Fuller was disappointed with the way tanks were used during the First World War and afterwards produced Plan 1919. This included a call for long-range mass tank attacks with strong air, motorized and artillery support. These ideas were developed in more detail in his books, Reformation of War (1923) and Foundation of the Science of War (1926).
Fuller's ideas were ignored by the British Army but was studied in Germany and in 1926 leaders of the the German Army asked the government to commission the production of new tanks that would enable them to use Blitzkrieg tactics in any future conflicts.
As a result of the terms of the Versailles Treaty these new experimental tanks were called tractors. The Light Tractor weighed ten tons and carried a 37mm gun and the Heavy Tractor was a 20-tonner with two turrets, one forward with a 77mm gun, and one at the rear carrying a machine-gun.
The Versailles Treaty limited the German Army to a strength of 100,000 men and General Hans von Seeckt, as Chief of Army Command he had the difficult task of maintaining morale of the armed forces. Disliking traditional theories of mass armies and trench warfare, he remolded the army as a mobile shock force of thirty-five divisions.
In 1928 Seeckt published Thoughts of a Soldier (1928). In the book Seeckt questioned the value of huge conscript armies. He argued that it was technical science and tactical skill that would win the wars of the future. He predicted that "the whole future of warfare appears to me to lie in the employment of mobile armies, relatively small but of high quality, and rendered distinctly more effective by the addition of aircraft, and in the simultaneous mobilization of the whole forces, either to feed the attack or for home defence."
After Adolf Hitler obtained power in 1933, the German government was open about its tank production. In the spring of 1934 the German Army began developing the Panzer tank. Over the next few years the Panzer I, Panzer II, Panzer III and Panzer IV were produced.
During the invasion of Poland in September, 1939, it became clear that the Panzer I was insufficiently armed for battle conditions. Panzer II and Panzer III tanks were reliable but were outgunned. The outstanding performer was the Panzer IV as it had the perfect combination of speed, agility, firepower and reliability. Over the next few years it became the backbone of Blitzkrieg and over 9,000 of these tanks were produced.
However, the the successful resistance of the Red Army in the Soviet Union in 1942 showed that the Panzer IV was no longer invincible. This resulted in the production of the Panther and it eventually became the most popular tank used in Germany. The greatest exponents of Blitzkrieg were the German commanders, Heinz Guderian and Erwin Rommel.