Rough color concept for "Operation: Dragon Slayer" [link]
The Pzf III Sieglinde first appeared in the early 1940s, ushering a quantum leap in German walking panzer design as they goose stepped under Brandenburg Gate. Beyond a considerable increase in stature and technical sophistication from the preceding Pz I Alberich and Pzf II Mime, the new Pzf IIIs bore a far more anthropomorphic design aesthetic. The Sieglinde's mimicry of German foot soldiers, culminating in an absurd Stahlhelme styled head, was originally intended only for purposes of military pageantry and the hyperbolic spectacle of Nazi rallies. But when the Fuhrer laid eyes on the first, more practically designed combat models, he was incensed, demanding that the Sieglinde's inaugural parade fittings would be made standard throughout all further production models. Despite the nervous explanation of Pzf manufacturers that the parade models had purely superficial features such as nonfunctional fingers (with cannon's welded directly to the Sieglinde's arms) Hitler would not be placated by anything less than the materialization of his new vision; an army of fully articulated giant soldiers.
And so it was, after an intense crash course for Pzf industrial firms in applying advanced mechanical theory, that the German army would begin to mass produce walking panzers of highly fanciful design. Despite the obvious impracticality of such war machines, the Sieglinde's anthropomorphized appearance was a distinguishing feature which was destined to be imitated by almost every subsequent walking armor design to appear in WWII. Not to be outdone by his ally, Mussolini also demanded that all Italian walking talks be designed w/ similar considerations to stylization and military pomp. The fact that Italian designs were even more technologically challenged and blithely useless than the first German models, did not stop them from going so far as to embellish the helmets of some with huge feathered plumes.
Short of donning actual Romanesque crest to their walking tanks, the Allied powers did in fact follow suit with increasingly anthropomorphic models. Manipulating the industrial might of Russia to his whim was a far easier task for Stalin than it was for the US Chief of Staff George Marshall to sway Congress towards dedicating mass military resources towards, what was essentially, following in the footsteps of madness. His herculean efforts were largely alleviated by a surge of public support following a Times Square parade of M-1 helmet totting giant GI's. The mere presence of these newer more relatable titans in American propaganda posters, contrasting those terrifying Nazi newsreel monsters, was enough to inspire an overwhelming nation-wide increase in war bond purchases.
The Sieglinde effectively introduced what would be the standard layout for most walking tanks to follow;
-Arms and legs capable of simulating most basic human movements.
-Engine situated in the lower waist section bellow the waist ring.
-Crew of at least 3 men crammed into the upper hull/torso, including, minimally, a driver, gunner, and commander.
-Rear exit hatch/point of entry.
-A humanized head with clever optics systems conveyed via periscope to the commander's seat directly bellow.
-Complex analog computers for calibrating various hand weapon types to the gunner's sights offset in the hull.
Being one of the first pioneers in this new era of warfare did not exempt the Sieglinde from a colorful history of teething troubles. All manner of technical issues were encountered on various fronts; from sand fouling joint-works in the Libyan desert, to freezing weather completely disabling optic systems on the Russian steppe. From the very start, Sieglinde's original 37mm hand weapons, direly outranged by larger Allied guns, and insufficient for penetrating formidable armor specimens like the French Charlemagne, were limited in size by the max carrying capacity of it's primitive joint construction and mechanical articulation. The basic design, however, like the Panzer III with which it shares a numerical designation, was well suited to a program of continuous improvement. From the Ausf. J version onward, the Pzf III was capable of arming a much more powerful 5 cm high velocity gun, though even this was nearing a state of ineffectiveness by the time of it's implementation. Late Sieglinde models could even accommodate a low-velocity 7.5cm HE gun on their shoulder mounts, but suffered dramatically limited movement in terms of elevation/depression and traverse compared to cannons equipped by hand. That it was already rendered definitively obsolescent by superior Allied designs (such as the seminal Russian Kirov) in the early 1940s, didn't prevent the Pzf III Sieglinde from continuing service as a support vehicle for larger newer Pzfs on all fronts up to the final months of the war.