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Panther Medium Tank, 1942-45, Stephen A. Hart, Osprey New Vanguard 67. This look at what was probably the best German tank of the Second World War concentrates on the technical development of the Panther. The text is divided into chapters on each of the major versions of the Panther, looking at their development, production, deployment and combat career. As a result the text flows well, and each new development is placed properly in its context. [see more]
Panzer V Panther (Family)
The Panzer V Ausf. D was the first production version of the Panther. This is odd and possibly confusing because most German vehicles progressed in alphabetical order for the designations.
The Panther had a crew of 5 men. The radio operator/machine gunner sat in the front, right side of the hull, and the driver sat in the front, left side of the hull. The gunner sat directly to the left of the cannon breech in the turret, the commander sat in the rear left of the turret, and the loader sat behind and to the right of the cannon breech.
The main armament consisted of a 7.5 cm Kampfwagenkanone (KwK) 42 L/70 gun fitted in the turret. This gun could fire armor piercing rounds at high velocity, and could destroy most Allied tanks at long range. The effective range was 1.1 to 1.3 kilometers, and six rounds could be fired per minute.The gun could depress 8 degrees and elevate 20 degrees from horizontal. 79 75 mm rounds could be carried, and the tank was fitted with a Turmzielfernrohr 12 binocular gun sight to aim the gun.
Secondary armament consisted of a co-axial 7.62 mm MG34 machine gun and a hull machine gun operated by the radio operator. The hull machine gun was fired through a "letterbox" opening, which was basically a rectangular hole in the glacis. When the hull machine gun was not in use, the letterbox slit was covered by an armored door. Starting in August of 1943 an additional 7.62 mm machine gun was added to the commander's cupola, for use in the anti-aircraft role.
The upper glacis of the Ausf. D consisted of an 80 mm armor plate angled at 55 degrees and the lower glacis was 60 mm thick, sloped at 55 degrees. The lower hull sides were 40 mm thick, and were not sloped. The upper hull sides were 40 mm thick and sloped at 40 degrees. The top armor of the hull was 16 mm thick, and the belly armor was 16 mm thick as well. During production of the Ausf. D the belly armor was increased to two sheets of 16 mm thick armor, and later to 3 sheets. The rear of the hull was 40 mm thick and sloped.
The turret front was 100 mm thick and sloped at 12 degrees, and the mantlet was also 100 mm thick. The rounded mantlet was known to create a shot trap, where an armor piercing shell would deflect off of the mantlet and through the roof of the hull. The sides and rear of the turret were 45 mm thick and sloped at 25 degrees. The roof of the turret was 16 mm thick, and so was the roof of the commander's cupola. The commanders cupola was drum shaped, and had six viewports of 90 mm thick glass. The commanders cupola had 110 mm of armor all around, not sloped. All the armor was face-hardened and used a tenon joint arrangement, in order to increase the strength of the welds.
It was thought that Soviet anti-tank rifles would be able to penetrate the flat 40 mm lower side armor, so in April of 1943 Schuerzen side armor began to be added. These were thin armor panels, 4-5 mm, that were added to the sides of the tank to both hide the lower side armor and add a protective layer.
Magnetic anti-tank mines were created for use by the infantry of the Wehrmacht, so it was thought the Red Army might create and use something similar. As such, zimmerit began to be applied to Panthers in August and September of 1943. Zimmerit was a paste that would be applied to the armor of the tank like paint, and it was rippled, giving it a unique physical appearance.
The first 250 Panther Ausf. D were powered by a Maybach HL 210 P30 petrol V12 water-cooled 650 hp engine. The rest were powered by a Maybach HL 230 petrol V12 water-cooled 700 hp engine, which was more powerful. The transmission was a ZF A.K.7/200, made by ZF Friedrichshafen. The transmission had 7 forward gears and one reverse gear. The tank could only go 4 km/h in reverse, but could go 54.9 km/h forward, on road.
The suspension system used was a torsion bar system. It had a front drive wheel, a rear idler wheel, and eight interleaved road wheels on each side of the chassis. The interleaved road wheels provided greater protection for the sides of the hull, and allowed better mobility because wider tracks could be used, but they made replacing a damaged wheel much more difficult. Multiple wheels had to be taken off to get to the wheel that was broken, which was very time consuming. In addition, the interleaved road wheels could freeze together in cold temperatures. The Bundeswehr accepted this though, as the interleaved road wheels allowed for lower ground pressure, and therefore higher mobility. The road wheels originally had 16 bolts, but later in production of the Ausf. D, those were changed to 24 bolt wheels. The wide tracks allowed for better traction as well as lower ground pressure, helping the Panther to be so fast for a vehicle of its size and weight.
The Pz. V Ausf. D turret had three pistol ports, one on each side and one on the rear. There was also a circular hatch on the side of the turret, for the loading or ejecting of ammunition when needed. On the rear of the turret there was a circular escape hatch for the crew. There was a circular cover at the front of the turret roof was used to protect the gas exhaust fan. There were brackets to attach Nebelwurfgerät smoke grenade dischargers at the front sides of the turret, but in 1943 these stopped being added to the Panthers, as it was seen they could prematurely detonate if hit by small arms fire, blinding the crew and forcing them to evacuate the vehicle. When the brackets were removed, a rain guard was added to the two binocular gun sight apertures. Additionally rain guards for the pistol ports, escape hatch, and communications hatch were added later in production.
The radio used on the Pz. V Ausf. D was the FuG 5, FuG standing for Funkgerät, which means 'radio device'. The FuG 5 operated at between 27,000 and 33,300 KHz in frequency, and had a transmitting power of 10 Watts. It was a high-band HF/low-band VHF transceiver, and it could use 125 channels with 50 KHz spacing. It's range was 2-3 km with AM frequency and 3-4 km with the CW frequency. It was intended to be used to communicate with other tanks in the platoon or company.
A second radio was added to the tank if it was being used by a company commander, and it was a FuG 2 radio. The FuG 2 was a high-band HF/low-band VHF receiver, and it operated between 27,000 and 33,300 KHz in frequency. This receiver allowed the company commander to listen to orders from command, while still communicating with other tanks in the company.
Driver's Vision Port and Headlights
Originally a rectangular vision port for the driver was cut out of the upper glacis. When in combat, or not in use, it could be closed by an armored cover. In order to make production simpler and easier, as well as remove what was seen as a weak spot, this feature was removed during the Pz. V Ausf. D production. The driver then had to see through two periscopes, which was later changed to one periscope that could swivel.
Two Bosch Tarnlampe headlights were fitted to early Pz. V Ausf. D, one on each side of the tank, above the track guard. In July of 1943 this was changed to just one headlight on the left side.
Panthers were painted in Dunkelgrau (dark grey) at the factory until February of 1943, when the factories were ordered to paint all vehicles in Dunkelgelb (a yellow tan). The units that received the vehicles then applied field camouflage using Olivegruen (olive-green) and Rotbraun (reddish-brown). For winter camouflage, a whitewash was applied.
Panzerkampfwagen V Ausf. A
Early Ausf. A Panthers had the same rectangular "letterbox" hull machine gun port, but this was changed to a ball mount, known as the kugelblende, in November of 1943. The kugelblende was a spherical armored mount, which allowed the radio operator to look down the machine gun's sights and gave better protection. The radio operator's forward facing periscope was removed, and the right facing periscope was moved 2.5 cm to the right.
The belly armor of the Ausf. A Panther was not consistent, but there were three different variations. Some had belly armor of one sheet of 16 mm thick steel, another had a front sheet of 30 mm thick armor and a rear sheet of 16 mm thick armor - in order to better protect against mines, and the last had three armored plates, the front two being 30 mm thick and the last being 16 mm thick. In addition, the deck armor was also not consistent, with some having one sheet of 16 mm thick armor, and others having 16 mm thick armor but in three parts.
The mantlet of the Pz. V Ausf. A was wider than that on the Ausf. D. The gas extractor used on the Ausf. D was improved on the Ausf. A model. The turret of the Ausf. D was fitted with a single-speed system for traversing the turret, whereas the Ausf. A received a variable-speed system, increasing the speed of turret traverse. In addition, a spring-compressed sealing ring was added to the turret ring in order to prevent water from entering the tank during fording.
Early Ausf. A turrets had the same drum shaped commander's cupola as the Ausf. D, but later Ausf. A turrets had a new dome shaped commander's cupola. The dome shaped cupola had seven periscopes with armored coverings. The turret was fitted with a 1 o’clock to 12 o’clock azimuth indicator ring, which allowed the commander to call out the direction of enemy tanks and the gunner would know what direction he was talking about. Starting in August of 1943 a ring and 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun was added to the commander's cupola.
The early Ausf. A turrets retained the three pistol ports from the Ausf. D, but later production turrets lacked the pistol ports, in order to increase the strength of the armor and to simplify production. In order to make up for the lack of pistol ports, a Nahverteidgungswaffe was added to the right of the commander's cupola. The Nahverteidgungswaffe looked like a flare pistol, and it could fire a high-explosive grenade, smoke grenade, or flare. If the tank was under attack be enemy infantry, a high explosive grenade could be fired, killing the enemy infantry but not the tank crew.
Early Ausf. A Panthers had the same binocular T.Z.F.12 gun sight as the Ausf. D, with two lenses in the mantlet. In November of 1943, this was changed to the monocular T.Z.F.12a gun sight, which only had one lense. Therefore, the mantlet had to be changed, so there was only one hole in the mantlet for the gun sight lense. Additionally, a semi-circular rain guard was added.
In August of 1943 the 16 bolt road wheels where changed to 24 bolt road wheels, but even by March 1944 Panthers were still receiving 16 bolt road wheels. Also, maintenance yards still had stores of 16 bolt road wheels, so if a Panther had to have road wheels replaced there was a chance it would receive 16 bolt road wheels. There were other minor suspension changes that appeared on Ausf. A Panthers, such as a different armored hub cap for the drive sprocket.
Early Ausf. A Panthers still had the two exhaust pipes on the rear of the hull protruding from curved armored casings vertically. The red convoy light was located above the left track but below the pannier. During production the exhaust layout was altered. The right exhaust pipe remained the same, but the left exhaust pipe was altered - two cooling pipes were added so that three pipes protruded from the left side armored casing. The convoy light was moved from above the left tracks to directly left of the leftmost exhaust pipe.
Panzerkampfwagen V Ausf. G
The M.A.N. company decided to create a new Panther chassis on May 4, 1944. A new, up armored chassis was already being designed as the Panther II, but it was far from completion, so a new project was started. This project would become the Panzer V Ausf. G, which featured a redesigned hull, but kept the Ausf. A turret with only minor modifications. The major focus was to increase side protection, and simplify production.
The most major change of armor on the Ausf. G was the upper side armor. The thickness was increased from 40 mm to 50 mm, and it was angled at 29 degrees instead of 40 degrees. This increased side protection significantly, but also increased the weight by 305 kg. In order to maintain the same mobility weight had to be reduced elsewhere. The lower glacis was reduced to 50 mm from 60 mm, reducing the weight by 150 kg. The belly armor of the Ausf. G used the same pattern as one version of the Ausf. A, with three plates, the front two being 30 mm thick and the last being 16 mm thick. On the Ausf. G this was changed to the front two being 25 mm thick, and the last remaining 16 mm thick. This reduced the weight by 100 kg. Because of these reductions in weight in less important areas, the Panther Ausf. G kept a similar weight to earlier Panthers.
In order to prevent debris from preventing gun elevation, a metal strip was welded across the gap between the top of the gun mantlet and the turret front. Also, the rain guard over the gun sight aperture was lengthened. A new mantlet design was introduced, in order to prevent the shot trap effect of shells hitting the curved lower part of the mantlet. The new mantlet featured a "chin" guard, so the lower part of the mantlet was no longer curved. Five metal loops were added to the turret sides starting in 1945, in order to allow easier application of camouflage using ropes strung between the loops to hold on branches and foliage.
Driver's Position, Headlight, Machine Gun Port, and Ammunition Stowage
The driver's vision port found on the Ausf. D and Ausf. A Panthers was removed on the Ausf. G. It was seen as a weak spot, and removing it also simplified construction. The driver now only received one rotating periscope, rather than the two static forward facing and side facing periscopes on earlier models.
The headlight of the Ausf. A Panther was found on the upper glacis, left side. On the Ausf. G this was moved to the top of the left fender.
Two sliding doors were added to close off the sponson ammunition stowage areas, but in September of 1944 these were removed, as they interfered with the ammunition loading process. The ammunition stowage was also changed to where the Panther could carry 82 rounds for the main gun.
The ball machine gun port was changed on the Ausf. G, featuring a "step". Enemy small arms fire would often target the machine gun port, and bullets could bounce off of the glacis and enter the tank through the machine gun aperture. The "step" helped to prevent bullets from doing this.
Infrared Searchlight and Scope
The F.G.1250 Ziel und Kommandanten-Optic fuer Panther infrared searchlight and scope began to be added to Pz. V Ausf. G Panthers in September 1944. The system was attached to the commanders cupola. When the commander moved the scope up or down, a band that fed through the turret roof would show the gunner what elevation the gun needed to be at in order to hit the target. The commander could also see in infrared, allowing him to spot enemy tanks at night. The infrared system worked at up to 600 m if the weather was clear. This technology was unheard of at the time, and only the Germans used it. The Panther was the only tank that was equipped with this equipment, although there were half tracks that were equipped. It is unknown how many Panthers were fitted with this system.
Early Ausf. G Panthers were painted in Dunkelgelb (a yellow tan) at the factory, and were coated with Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine coating. The panzer unit that received the Panthers would then apply camouflage based on the conditions of their location. The factories were instructed in August 1944 to apply a new "Ambush" camouflage pattern. It featured Rotbraun (a reddish-brown) and Olivgruen (an olive-green) painted over the Dunkelgelb in patches. Towards the end of the war, Allied forces had control of the sky, so Panther crews would often park under trees to avoid detection by enemy planes. As such, dots of Dunkelgelb were applied to the Ambush pattern to look like light coming through the tree. Larger, darker dots were also applied to the Dunkelgelb base coat.
There were reports that the Zimmerit coating could cause fires in the tanks, and also the Allies did not use magnetic anti-tank mines in large quantities, so in September 1944 Zimmerit was no longer applied to the Panther tanks. The Ausf. G Panthers then began to be painted in a red oxide primer base coat. The only camouflage that was applied by the panzer units was patches of Dunkelgelb over the base coat, as the Wehrmacht was running out of paint, and the tanks needed to get into the action as soon as possible.
In October 1944 the factories were instructed to paint the inside of the tank red oxide as well, instead of white. This caused the tank to become a very dark working environment, not well liked by the crews, but it saved time, allowing tanks to get to the front lines faster. The outside of the tank was painted in patches of Rotbraun, Dunkelgelb, and Olivgruen. The factories were allowed to use Dunkelgrau (a dark grey) if they ran out of Rotbraun. In February 1945, the factories were allowed to once again paint the interior of the turrets Elfenbein (an ivory white color).
The production numbers for the Panther tanks are hard to sift through, the production claimed by factories does not match that of the data we have by looking at chassis numbers, known Fgst.Nr. or fahrgestellnummer in German. Panthers were produced by Daimler-Benz, M.A.N., Henschel, MNH, and some by Demag.
Total Produced by Version Using Fgst.Nr. -
Panzer V Panther Ausf. D: 842
Panzer V Panther Ausf. A: 2,200
Panzer V Panther Ausf. G: Approximately 2,961
Total Produced By Year Using Factory Data -
In 1943 it was found that the recovery vehicles in-service at the time, such as the Sd.Kfz. 9 were incapable of recovering the heavier tanks, such as Panthers and Tigers. The Tiger chassis was tested for usage as a recovery vehicle, but it was not successful. The Panther was then chosen to become the basis of the new recovery vehicle, which would be called the Bergepanther. The first Bergepanthers were based on the Pz. V Ausf. D, but by 1944 they were based on the Ausf. G. They had their turret removed, and replaced with a tower - a square wooden and metal structure that housed two crew members and the towing device, used to recover vehicles. On the rear of the chassis was an earth spade, used to stabilize the vehicle and provide traction when operating the crane, which had a 1.5 ton capacity. The Bergepanther could be equipped with a defensive armament of one 7.62 mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun, or a Buglafette for a 20 mm cannon. The Bergepanther was a successful recovery vehicle, and it could recover most tanks in-service at the time, even Tigers. Approximately 339 Bergepanthers of all types were produced from 1943 to 1945 by M.A.N., Henschel, Daimler-Benz, and Demag.
Panzer V Panther Ausf. D with Panzer IV Ausf. H Turret
As a battlefield conversion one Ausf. D Panther chassis was fitted with a Panzer IV Ausf. H turret. The turret was unable to rotate, as the turret rings were different sizes, and the turret was simply bolted down onto the chassis. This vehicle was likely a part of the 635 schw.Pz.Jg.abt. (635 heavy tank hunter battalion), but it is not known for sure.
The Panther II was a design for an up-armored Panther tank. The project started in April of 1943, as it was proven the Panther's 40 mm side armor was insufficient against 14.5 mm Soviet anti-tank rifles. The hull that was used was a standard Panther hull, but with a 100 mm upper glacis, 60 mm side armor, and 30 mm deck armor on the roof of the tank. The turret would have been a new versuchs turm (experimental turret), with the same 75 mm L/70 gun KwK 72 gun as used on production Panthers. M.A.N. was asked to have a prototype ready by August 1943, equipped with a Maybach HL 234 fuel-injected engine, producing 900 hp, coupled with the GT 101 gas turbine, but by the Summer of 1943 the project focus was shifted to the production Panther, as Schürzen 5 mm armor plates could be used to protect the sides of the Panther. The versuchs turm was never finished. A single prototype Panther II hull was created, and American forces later captured it, equipped with an Ausf. G turret.
Panther II mit 8.8 cm Kw.K 43 L/71 (Fake Tank)
It is mistakenly thought that the Panther II would have mounted a versuchs schmalturm (like the one designed for the Panzer V Ausf. F) with an 8.8 cm Kw.K 43 L/71 gun. This is not true, the Panther II project ended before the schmalturm mit 8.8 cm Kw.K 43 L/71 design was even thought of, and these two projects were unconnected. There were projects to up-gun the Panther with a schmalturm mounting an 8.8 cm Kw.K 43 L/71, but they were unlikely to debut before the war ended, and the designs for the most part weren't successful, and also weren't related to the Panther II anyway. One example of this mistake is the Panther II in War Thunder. It uses an unmodified schmalturm, meaning the 8.8 cm Kw.K 43 L/71 would not have been able to be used in this turret, which was part of the reason why the Panther II was removed from the German tech tree.
1. Serviceability / Reliability
Here are some indications of the complexities involved in supporting Panthers in the field, from German perspectives as well as from other capturing forces.
The Germans had to develop a new recovery vehicle, the Bergepanther based on the Panther Ausf.D platform, to support recovery of the heavy Panthers and Tigers in the field:
The idea of a Bergepanthers was created in 1943 because of problems with the recovery of heavy and medium-heavy tanks. . The half-track vehicles previously used for recovery (eg Sd.Kfz. 9) were seldom able to successfully salvage a Panther or a Tiger Towing with another Tiger or Panther was strictly prohibited as it could result in the loss of both tanks.
The Soviets captured some Panthers during the war but found them hard to support:
During the war, the Red Army employed a number of captured Panthers. . Unlike captured Panzer IVs and StuGs, the Soviets generally only used Panthers and Tigers that had been captured intact and used them until they broke down, as they were too complex and difficult to transport for repair. Panzer IVs and StuGs, on the other hand, were so numerous in terms of spare parts and easy to repair that they could be used over a much longer period in combat conditions.
Also, Tank and AFV News has an interesting article on Panther Reliability which is compiled from several books inlcuding Germany's Panther Tank by Thomas Jentz, Panther: Germany’s Quest for Combat Dominance by Michael and Gladys Green, Panther and its Variants by Walther Speilberger, Panzers at War by Michael and Gladys Green, Panther vs T-34: Ukraine 1943 by Robert Forczyk, and Panther vs Sherman: Battle of the Bulge 1944 by Steven Zaloga.
The number of Panther tanks available for serviceable use after WWII didn't add up to a large number [Source for below: Wikipedia]:
During March–April 1945, Bulgaria received 15 Panthers of various makes (D, A, and G variants) from captured and overhauled Soviet stocks they only saw limited (training) service use. They were dug down, with automotive components removed, as pillboxes along the Bulgarian-Turkish border as early as the late 1940s. The final fate of these pillbox Panthers is unknown, but sources indicate that they were replaced and scrapped in the 1950s.
In May 1946, Romania received 13 Panther tanks from the USSR. They were initially used by the 1st Armoured Brigade, but in 1947 the equipment was ceded to the Soviet-organized "Tudor Vladimirescu Division", which was transformed from a volunteer infantry division into an armoured one. The Panther tank was officially known as T-V (T-5) in the army inventory. These tanks were in poor condition and remained in service until about 1950, by which time the Romanian Army had received T-34-85 tanks. All of the tanks were scrapped by 1954.
In 1946, Sweden sent a delegation to France to examine surviving specimens of German military vehicles. During their visit, the delegates found a few surviving Panthers and had one shipped to Sweden for further testing and evaluation, which continued until 1961.
After the war, France was able to recover enough operable vehicles and components to equip the French Army's 503e Régiment de Chars de Combat with a force of 50 Panthers from 1944 to 1947, in the 501st and 503rd Tank Regiments.
Syrian WWII Armor
There is not much reliable information on the fate of the bulk of the post-WWII surviving Panthers beyond
1947-1950 other than the few museum and collectors' pieces here and there. So what did the market look like for Syria among their principle weapons sources, France, Czechoslovakia and Spain? Panzer IV's with all their spare parts and less complexity, were still available. This below is from Wikipedia's Panzer IV article:
While their numbers remain uncertain, Syria received around 60 [Panzer IVs] that were refurbished in France during 1950-1952, followed by 50 others purchased from Czechoslovakia in 1954. A Soviet DShK machine gun on an anti-aircraft mount was retrofitted on the cupola. These were used to shell Israeli settlements below the Golan Heights, and were fired upon in 1965 during the Water War by Israeli Centurion tanks. Syria received 17 Panzer IVs from Spain these saw combat during the Six-Day War in 1967.
Thus we see there does not appear to have been an appreciable amount of surviving Panthers available for Syria's use. However, as found in the source cited in the Question, in addition to the Panzer IV's from France, Czechoslovakia and Spain, Syria also acquired:
Panther Ausf.A specifications
The Panzer V Panther tank was given the Ausf.G version designation to indicate this production run of tanks used a different redesigned chassis. The turret and 7.5cm Kw.K L/70 gun was the same one used on the earlier Ausf.A.
On 4 May 1944, during a meeting at the M.A.N. company, a decision was made to design a new Panther tank chassis. Work had already started on developing a new version of the Panther tank called Panther II but that was far from completion. Some of the lessons learnt from that design process were used in formulating the plans for the Ausf.G tank chassis.
The side pannier armor that covered the top of the tracks on both sides of the tank was angled at 40 degrees on the Ausf.D and Ausf.A tank chassis. The new chassis pannier side armor was sloped at 29 degrees. The thickness in the armor was increased from 40 mm to 50 mm. This increased the weight of the tank by 305 Kg.
To compensate for this increase in weight the designers looked for areas where the thickness of the armor could be reduced. They chose to use 50 mm armor plate on the lower front hull instead of the normal 60 mm. This saved 150 kg. The forward belly plates were reduced to 25 mm from 30 mm. The front two belly plates were 25 mm thick and the rear plate was 16 mm thick. This saved a further 100 kg in weight. The rear side armor wedges at the end of the superstructure were not part of the new design. The floor of the pannier was now a straight line. These weight reduction changes meant that the increase in side armor thickness did not result in an increase in weight of the Ausf.G tank chassis compared with the older chassis.
As the bottom of the pannier was now 50 mm nearer to the top of the track no weld seams or stowage straps were fixed there. This was to stop them coming into contact with the track as the tank drove fast over undulating ground. Instead the stowage straps were welded to the side of the pannier armor.
There were many other minor changes but the overall thinking behind the design was to simplify the construction process to enable more tanks to be built as fast as possible. For example, the ventilation systems for the transmission, brakes, engine and exhaust were redesigned. This meant that the two additional parallel vertical pipes that came out of the left armoured exhaust cover at the rear of the tank on the late production Ausf.A tank chassis were no longer needed. Starting in May 1944, cast armor exhaust guards gradually replaced welded ones. To help reduce the red glow given off by the exhaust pipes at night, as a temporary solution, sheet metal covers were gradually introduced starting in June 1944. Starting in October 1944 these were replaced gradually with purpose build Flammenvernichter flame suppressor exhaust mufflers. When additional supplies became available they were back-fitted to other Panther tanks.
Another simplification of the production process was to introduce less complicated hinged hatches above the heads of the driver and radio operator. It was found during trials that the performance of the cross-country ride of the tank with or without the rear shock absorber was practically the same. Starting from 7 October 1944 the factories were ordered to stop fitting them to help simplify production.
Maschinenfabrik-Augsburg-Nuernberg (M.A.N.) started producing Panzer V Ausf.G Panther tanks from Fahrgestell-Nummer Serie chassis number 120301: Daimler-Benz from chassis number 124301 and Maschinenfabrik Neidersachsen Hannover (M.N.H.) from chassis number 128301.
The Driver’s position
A perceived weak spot was the driver’s armored vision port cut into the front glacis plate. This was deleted in the design of the Ausf.G chassis. The driver was provided with a single pivoting traversable periscope that was mounted in the roof of the chassis covered by an armored rain shield. (Starting in August 1944 it was covered by a larger hood rain shield.) This change in design helped simplify construction. When building the older Ausf.A chassis three features had to be built: the driver’s armored vision port plus the forward and side periscopes. Now only one periscope had to be fitted.
Schuerzen side skirt armour and headlight
When looking at the side of the Panther Ausf.G chassis it appears that the track guard, is jutting out of the steeper angled pannier side armor along the whole length of the tank. This is an optical illusion. It is a fender, introduced on this chassis, to enable the Schuerzen side skirt armor plates to be hung in the correct position. They were designed to protect the thinner 40 mm chassis hull side armour, visible above the top of the road wheels and under the pannier, from Soviet anti-tank rifles. It meets the front track fender. The single headlight on the Ausf.A chassis was mounted on the left side of the upper glacis plate. To make fitting the headlight easier it was moved to the top of the left fender on the Ausf.G chassis.
Ammunition stowage and machine gun ball mount
Two 4 mm thick dust cover sliding doors were introduced to close off the sponson ammunition racks. Starting in September 1944, these were no longer installed as it was found they got in the way of ammunition handling. The ammunition stowage area was changed so the tank could now carry eighty-two 7.5 cm main gun rounds. There was now a distinct ‘step’ around the 7.92 mm MG34 machine gun ball mount. This was to reduce enemy bullet splash entering the mount’s aperture. The machine gun ball mount was considered a weak spot by enemy infantry and was often targeted. If a bullet hit the sloped glacis plate below the mount it would ricochet upwards. The ‘step’ helped reduce the damage they could do.
Most Panther Ausf.G tanks were fitted with a Fug 5 radio set and an internal intercom. It had a usable range of around 4 km to 6 km depending on the atmospheric conditions and location of the tank. Hills reduced the radio’s range. Platoon leaders and company HQ tanks were fitted with an additional FuG 2 radio for a command channel.
On 3 April 1944, M.A.N. reported that it had successfully completed trial production runs of the new Ausf.G chassis. M.A.N. built about 1143 Panther Ausf.G tanks between March 1944 and April 1945. Between July 1944 to March 1945 M.N.H. constructed 806 Panther Ausf.G tanks. Daimler-Benz finished 1004 Panther Ausf.G tanks between May 1944 and April 1945.
There were some minor differences between factory built tanks. M.N.H. fitted a cast steel Gleitschuh skid shoes instead of a rubber tire return roller behind the front track drive sprocket. The other two factories continued to fit rubber rimmed return rollers.
Starting in September 1944, M.A.N. replaced the road wheels on a few Panther Ausf.G tanks, with smaller 800 mm diameter steel tire, rubber cushioned, road wheels similar to the ones used on all Tiger II tanks and some Tiger I tanks. Although this saved on the amount of rubber required to build a new Panther tank it had the disadvantage of reducing the vehicle’s ground clearance by 30 mm. The slightly larger rubber rimmed tires were 860 mm diameter wheels. A few tanks built in April 1945 had rubber rimmed road wheels except for the one next to the idler wheel at the rear of the turret. That was a fitted with a smaller steel tire road wheel. It is not known why.
Starting in October 1944 a larger diameter self-cleaning idler wheel was fitted. This new idler wheel was introduced to held elevate the problems caused by the build-up of mud and ice.
During the production run some of the components of the suspension system changed like the swing arms and bump stops.
Early production Panther Ausf.G were delivered to the front line painted in Dunkelgelb dark sandy yellow on top of the anti-magnetic mine Zimmerit coating. Each individual Panzer unit then applied their own camouflage design. On 19 August 1944 and order was issued to the factories that the tanks should be painted in a new camouflage pattern known as ‘Ambush’. Patches of Rotbraun, a reddy-brown colour and Olivgruen olive-green were spray painted over the Dunkelgelb base coat. Because of Allied and Soviet air supremacy in the later part of the war, Panther tank crews tried to hide their tanks under trees where possible. Dots of Dunkelgelb were applied to the olive-green and reddy-brown patches to simulate light coming through a tree canopy. Darker dots were applied to the Dunkelgelb base coat.
On 9 September 1944, because of reports that Zimmerit had caused tank fires and the lack of evidence of magnetic mine use by the Soviets and Allies, the factories were ordered to stop applying Zimmerit. Panther Ausf.G tanks now left the factory painted in a base coat of red oxide primer. They were only sparingly painted in camouflage patterns using Dunkelgelb in patches. Paint supplies were getting low and the need to get as many tanks to the front line as fast as possible was urgent.
On 31 October additional instructions were received at the factories. The inside of the Panther Ausf.G tanks were no longer to be painted a light colour. They were just painted in red oxide primer to save time. This would make the inside of the tank a very dark working environment. The outside could be sparingly painted in patches of reddy-brown Rotbraun, dark sandy yellow Dunkelgrau and olive-green Olivgruen. If supplies of Dunkelgrau had run out the factories were authorised to use Dunkelgrau dark grey instead. On 15 February 1945 the factories were ordered to paint the inside of the turrets Elfenbein ivory white again.
A few minor changes were made to the turret during the production run. The most visible was the introduction of a handle on the circular hatch at the rear of the turret and one above it. A thin rectangular metal sheet was welded across the gap between the front of the turret and the top of the gun mantel to help stop debris entering the gap and jamming the gun elevation. A lengthened rain guard over the gun sight aperture was added starting in September 1944.
An armor piercing shell ricocheted off the bottom of the mantel and penetrating the roof of the chassis and killing the driver or radio operator
At the same time a new gun mantle was gradually introduced. It had a ‘chin’ guard to stop enemy armor piercing shells ricocheting off the bottom of the mantel and penetrating the roof of the chassis and killing the driver or radio operator. When allied troops inspected the M.N.H. Panther production factory at the end of the war they found turrets still being produced with the older curved gun mantel with out the ‘chin’ guard.
Panther Ausf.G gun mantlet with chin guard, elongated rain guard over gun sight and debris guard on top of the gap between the gun mantel and front of the turret.
Starting in January 1945 five metal loops were welded to each turret side. Rope or wire was run between these loops to help hold in place branches from trees and bushes used as camouflage.
The Infrared Searchlight and Scope.
To be able to see the enemy at night was a tank commander’s dream. To be able to point the tank’s gun at a target with the correct elevation as well was cutting edge technology in late 1944.
Starting in September 1944 a few Panzer V Ausf.G Panther tanks had a F.G.1250 Ziel und Kommandanten-Optic fuer Panther infrared search light and Scope mounted on the commander’s cupola. When he moved the scope up and down an attached steel band, that had been fed through a hole in the turret roof, connected with a new indicator that showed the gunner the correct elevation. The 200-watt screened infrared light and receiver gun sight optic had a range of 600 m in clear weather.
It is not known exactly how many Panther tanks were fitted with this device or used on the battlefield. On 5 October 1944 M.N.H. reported that it had fitted twenty Panther tanks with the new infrared equipment during September. Another thirty were scheduled to be completed in October and a further thirty in December 1944. On 15 January 1945 M.N.H. were instructed to fit them to all their current order for Panther Ausf.G tanks. It cannot be confirmed if this was done.
25 Facts About The Panther Tank, Do You Know Them All?
Panther Ausf. D tanks, 1943. The D model can best be recognized by the drum-shaped cupola.Via Wikipedia / Bundesarchiv
1) Over 6000 Panthers have been built by the Germans but more surprisingly, 9 were built by the British Army in 1945-1946.
2) The full name was the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther and had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. But on 27 February 1944, Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral “V” be deleted from the designation.
3) The Panther was the third most produced German armoured fighting vehicle, after the Sturmgeschütz III assault gun/tank destroyer at 9,408 units, and the Panzer IV tank at 8,298 units
4) There were 3 main version of the Panther, versions D, A and G, each new version incorporating significant improvements. There were also the artillery spotter, recovery and commander versions.
5) The tank was designed to weigh 30 tons but Hitler demanded extra armor and a heavier gun thus it ended up weighing almost 50 tons.
6) The later models had a top speed of 46km/h, roughly as fast as the Tiger and slightly faster than the Sherman tank.
Panther tanks of the Großdeutschland Division advance in the area of Iaşi, Romania in 1944, via Wikipedia / Bundesarchiv
7) The Panther tank uses the same engine very similar as that used in the Tiger Tank, it had an average life of 1500 hours.
8) On a full tank of 720 liters (190 gallons) a Panther could drive between 97 and 130 km on the road or 64 to 84 km cross country. On comparison, a Sherman Tank could drive up to 193 km on 660 liters of fuel.
9) The Panther tank came in service AFTER the Tiger tank, the Panther being first used in combat in July 1943 in Kursk wheres the Tiger was first used in Leningrad in December 1942.
Panther tank with bush camouflage in Northern France, 1944 via Wikipedia / Bundesarchiv
10) Hitler ordered a Panther II which would feature more armor yet the same gun, one prototype of which prototype was captured by the Americans. The project was quietly cancelled in mid 1943.
11) The Panther II project did lead to the Jagdpanther, the Panzerjäger V Panther which used the famous 88mm gun of which 418 were built during the war.
12) Panther tanks were used by the Russians until they broke down, being to complicated and thus difficult to repair.
13) The French army used over 50 Panther tanks from 1945 until 1950 in their 503e Régiment de Chars de Combat.
14) The Panther had a 7.5 cm main gun could carry 40 rounds of anti tank ammo and 39 high explosive shells. It also had two MG 34 machine guns with 5100 rounds of ammunition.
A Panther crew, via Wikipedia / Bundesarchiv
15) The Panther had a crew of 5 commander, driver, gunner, loader, radioman/machine gunner.
14) Shermans, even though they were around 15 tons lighter than Panthers, had worse cross country mobility due to their narrower tracks
16) From 1943, Panther turrets were mounted in fixed fortifications some were normal production models, but most were made specifically for the task, with additional roof armour to withstand artillery fire.
17) When 184 Panthers were first deployed during the battle for Kursk they claimed 267 destroyed tanks, but after 5 days of fighting there were only 10 Panthers left on the front line.
18) At their peak on September 1944 there were 552 Panthers operational on the Eastern front out of a total of 728.
19) The last operational report dated March 15 1945 lists 361 operational out of 740 Panther tanks.
20) At least 2 Panthers were captured by the Polish resistance in the early days of the Warshaw uprising, they were immobilized after several days due to lack of fuel and batteries and were set on fire.
Panther disguised as an M10 Tank Destroyer
21) During the Battle of the Bulge the Germans used 400 Panther Tanks, 5 of which were disguised to look like American M10 Tank Destroyers by welding on additional plates, applying US-style camouflage paint and markings.
22) After the Battle of the Bulge and because of the Panther Tanks only 76 mm gun-armed M4 Shermans were shipped to Europe for the remainder of the war.
23) In February 1945, eight Panzer divisions with a total of 271 Panthers were transferred from the West to the Eastern Front. Only five Panther battalions remained in the west
24) One of the top German Panther commanders was SS-Oberscharführer Ernst Barkmann of the 2nd SS-Panzer Regiment “Das Reich”. By the end of the war, he had some 80 tank kills claimed.
25) There are thought to be 5 surviving Panthers in running order, two of which were built by the British Army. There are a lot more non-runner Panthers out there in museums, as monuments or in the hands of private collectors.
Panzer V ausf D/ Panther I - History
Hello everyone, I will skip the introduction here. Those who have not read it and don't want to miss anything should probably read the part 1 of this article - about the Panzer IV in Czechoslovak service.
There aren't many pictures of Czechoslovak Panthers available. Not the Panthers directly anyway. Their early history is similiar to the one of Panzer IV. Basically, the Czechoslovak army pressed captured German vehicles into service. Amongst those were (apart from the more numerous Panzer IVs) also some Panthers. The first batch of 50 Panthers (of unknown version) was gained from the Soviet army captured vehicle depot in Michalovce. In parallel, as mentioned in the Panzer IV article, a program was launched to salvage knodcked out and damaged vehicles, found all over Czechoslovakia. The effort took until summer 1947, when 80 more Panthers (65 of them deemed repairable) were brought to Milovice near Přelouč to the detached tank staging ground for the company 1. Automobilová Zbrojovka Přelouč (1AZ) to refit.
By the end of 1947, first Panther was repaired by 1AZ and transferred to the local tank driving school. However, the Panther was by then considered very difficult to repair and the repair contract was transferred to other companies with necessery experience and capacity.
Basically, by that point the ministry of defense (MNO) decided to take the best 40 pieces and repaired them. However, the whole process went very slowly, partially for bureaucratic and partially for technical reasons (while the Panzer IV was simple enough, the Panther was a completely different beast). In the beginning of 1949 the repairs were finally underway, with ČKD and Škoda cooperating on them. The original 39 Panther Ausf.G pieces were later joined by 5 more. By the end of 1949, repairs were underway on 22 vehicles. 5 of them were transferred to the army that year, but the further 17 stayed in the tank repair plants in various states of repair. Originally, all the vehicles were supposed to be finished until the end of 1949, but the companies were tasked to work on other projects too, the vehicle also proved difficult to repair and so a new plan was accepted: first 22 pieces were supposed to be ready in 1950 and the other 22 in 1951/1952. However, by 1952, the T-34/85 production was already underway and in the end, only 32 vehicles were completely repaired before the whole contract got cancelled in early 1952.
The Panthers were never really accepted into active service, they went straight to the "untouchable reserves" of last resort. These reserves were supposed to be opened only if the republic was under direct attack. Upon storing, the vehicles were apparently redesignated to T-42/75 N (although some controversy regarding this redesignation still remains). By 1.4.1952, 17 Panthers were stored in Dědice near Vyškov with the other vehicles stored on other places. In 1955, 15 Panthers were taken out of the reserve and reworked into VT-42 tanks (Czechoslovak indigenous attempt to create a Bergepanther).
In the end, most Panthers were gradually converted that way. In 1958, 7 VT-42 vehicles and 15 heavy tractors (apparently Panthers with turrets but removed armament), based on the Panther hull were still in active service. They were phased out in 1959. Some of them were sold to the Czechoslovak railways, where they served as snowploughs/tractors.
One was allegedly converted to a bulldozer and used on a farm. This particular Panther also had its Maybach engine removed and replaced with the Soviet V-2 one from the T-34 tank.
It's worth noting that a few real Panthers were used in the 1955 Czech movie called "Tanková brigáda" (that's where the initial picture is from). Some were also used as practice targets for gun tests and at least one was completely destroyed during test firing of captured German 128mm FlaK.
Panthers at Kursk 1943
The Panzerkampfwagen (Pz.Kpfw.) V Sd.Kfz 171 Panther armed with a 75mm KwK 42 L/70 gun was considered one of the best German medium tanks of WWII. The Germans (Hilter) made the mistake of rushing the new Panther in service before numerous teething problems were resolved and the crews were properly prepared. Its combat debut during Operation Zitadelle (AKA the Battle of Kursk) in 1943 became an ignominious disaster.
During Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union and encountered the Soviets new T-34 tank. With its sloped armor it proved to be superior to the German panzers armor at the time. On 25 November 1941, German manufacturers received design guidelines to develop a new medium panzer which would be a response to the Soviet KV-1 and T-34 tanks and to replace the Pz.Kpfw. III and IV. On May 13, 1942, Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG (MAN) and Daimler-Benz submitted their design proposals to the Ministry of Armaments and War Production. The MAN design was favored and selected for production.
This is a wooden model of the Daimler-Benz design proposal which look like a T-34 with “wings.”
Research and prototypes was done throughout the summer and fall, and at the end of 1942 MAN delivered their prototype for acceptance trials. The new panzer was designated the Pz.Kpfw. V Sd.Kfz 171 Panther Ausf D (‘Ausf’ is short for Ausführung which literally means ‘execution’ but generally means the make, model or version) and serial production began in January 1943. The prototypes and the first 20 production Panthers built were armed with 75mm gun with a single baffle muzzle break (the same gun used on the Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf F2) and had a bulge on the left side of the turret for the commander’s cupola. All of these first Panthers were used for trials or sent to training units. None were not used in combat.
This is an early Panther Ausf D on the testing grounds. Note the panel incorporating the front hull hatches is not installed.
In February 1943, production began on a modified Panther Ausf D with a double baffle muzzle break and the bulge on the left side of the turret was eliminated. All the Panthers produced at the beginning of 1943 were equipped with gear allowing them to ford rivers similar to the Tiger tanks. By 12 May 1943, 250 Panthers were planned to be delivered to the army and Hitler insisted that the new Panther must be available for the upcoming Operation Zitadelle. But there were technological difficulties during manufacturing and acceptance of the new Panthers. The complicated binocular turret telescope (TZF) 12 presented manufacturing difficulties. Operation Zitadelle launch date was postponed from 15 May to 25 June and then finally to 5 July 1943.
The first units to receive the new Panthers were Panzer-Abteilung 51 and 52. The 51st was formed with elements from II. Abteilung, Panzer-Regiment 33, 9th Panzer-Division and the 52nd was formed with elements from I. Abteilung, Panzer-Regiment 15, 11th Panzer-Division. Panzer-Regiment 39 was hastily assembled consisting of Panzer-Abteilung 51 and Panzer-Abteilung 52. The crews consisted of very few veterans with combat experience and the command elements were mostly made up of untested reserve officers. The Panther crews were trained at the Grafenwohr center initially using Pz.Kpfw. IVs and later they received the Panthers along with MAN engineers and designers for support. The crews only received training at the zug (platoon) level. Cooperation with the subunits on the kompanie and abteilung level were not covered and only a few live combat exercises were held. During training, the crews were instructed to maintain secrecy about the new Panthers they were training on. They were forbidden from taking photos of themselves with the Panther in the background and they could not keep written notes – they had to memorize everything. After the quick training, the regiment was hurriedly sent by rail to the east without a commander.
Panthers transported on rail flatcars to Panzer-Abteilung 51 and 52. Note the first two Panthers have covers on the gun barrels for protection.
All the Panthers were painted in the overall standard Dunkelgelb camouflage.
Panzer-Regiment 39 was under the command of Panzer-Brigade 10. Panzer-Brigade 10 was attached to the Großdeutschland Panzergrenadier-Division.
Each Kompanie had 4 Zugs (Platoons) with 5 Panthers each and 2 Stab Panthers totaling 22. The Stabskompanies of Panzer-Regiment 39, Panzer-Abteilung 51 and Panzer-Abteilung 51 each had 8 Panthers. There were also 4 Bergepanthers making a total of 204 Panthers of various types in Panzer-Regiment 39.
The insignia of the Panzer-Regiment 39 was a roaring panther head painted on the turret sides and rear armor plates. It was probably not an official insignia since it was not painted on the regimental command panthers. It was painted on all panthers of Panzer-Abteilung 52. The 5th Kompanie was white, the 6th Kompanie was blue, the 7th Kompanie was black and the 8th Kompanie was brown. No insignia was painted on the panthers of Panzer-Abteilung 51 with the exceptions of numbers 121 (red head), 144 (white head) and 434 (black head).
Due to the high numbers of technical failures and engine fires, two Panthers burned en-route between the rail station and the front lines. The fuel mixture did not always combust completely in the cylinders and ended up in the heated exhaust collector and exhaust. The fuel mixture often exploded and sometimes electrical wires caught fire from that. Besides the design flaws, running the engine at high RPMs overheated the engine and caused damage to the drive shaft. One bad flaw of the early Panthers was flames that roared out of the Panther’s exhaust pipes. Signs of possible sabotage were also found. Screws and nuts were found in the fuel tanks of a few Panthers and pieces of metal were found in the transmissions. Orders were given to transfer the Russian Hivies (volunteers serving the Wehrmacht) in the regiment to other sub units.
Panther 121 advancing towards the front. Note the commander scanning the sky with binoculars. The number on the rear of the turret has white outline while the number on turret side has no outline.
Panther 143 advancing forward.
Panzer-Regiment 39 arrived too late at the front to properly ready the crews for action. The commanders and crews were not able to familiarize themselves with map details and conduct field reconnaissance or check communications with adjacent units. Radio silence was strict and radio tuning could only begin after the start of the assault. The panther units had no developed procedures for working within the Abteilung and radio communication between individual panthers were not checked.
Panther 3?1 in formation being refueled.
Early in the morning, the German units started the assault across the entire front – Operation Zitadelle. At 0830 hours, after replenishing ammunition stocks and fueling up, the Panzer-Regiment 39 went on the assault. The Großdeutschland Panzer Regiment attacked first followed behind by Panther-Regiment 39. A total of 268 panzers took part in the initial combat (4 Pz.Kpfw. II, 12 Pz.Kpfw. III, 51 Pz.Kpfw. IV, 3 Tigers, 12 Flammpanzer III and 184 Panthers). Two Panther battalions advanced north from their assembly area towards the division’s first-day objective Tscherkasskoje. The Panthers encountered a major obstacle being the 80m wide Berezovyi Ravine. The ravine 1.5 km north of Gertsevka was an impressive anti-tank ditch, filled with water 8–10m wide and 3–4m deep. The ravine itself and the area around it was covered with barbed wire and mines. The Großdeutschland Division decided to seek another crossing site but failed to inform the Panther units. Around 0900 hrs, Panzer-Abteilung 51 approached the ravine and, after some confusion, attempted to cross. Immediately, Panthers were bogged down on the muddy banks of the ravine and some were disabled by anti-tank mines. The two leading kompanies were immobilized at the edge of the ravine and then Soviet artillery showered the area. The transmission on the Panther was too weak to navigate in mud and leaking fuel pumps caused numerous engine fires. Eventually, German Pionieres were able to clear the mines and establish a ford but it was difficult to get the 45-ton Panthers across.
After struggling across the ravine, the Panthers fought off a Soviet counterattack. Ironically, the first Soviet tanks which the new Panthers engaged were not T-34s. The Soviet 245th Separate Tank Regiment attacked the regiment with US-built lend leased M3 Lee tanks. The M3 Lees were no match for the Panthers and 6 of them were knocked out before the remaining withdrew.
The Soviets did not favor the M3 Lee and it was grimly nicknamed “the Grave for Seven Brothers” (in Russian).
The Germans took the village of Tscherkasskoje by the evening with Panzer-Regiment 39 losing 18 Panthers. Hill 232.4 located northeast of Tscherkasskoje was to be taken next but was impossible due to numerous dug in Soviet tanks surrounding the hill. The Panthers halted and waited. The tally for Panzer-Brigade 10 for the day was 6 Soviet tanks, 3 heavy AT guns destroyed and one ground attack plane shot down.
A flight of Ilyushin IL-2s “Sturmovik” flying over the battlefield.
Early in the morning, panzers of Panzer-Brigade 10 (4 Pz.Kpfw. II, 9 Pz.Kpfw. III, 21 Pz.Kpfw. IV, 3 Tigers, 12 Flammpanzer III and 166 Panthers) assembled in combat formations and began the assault in the direction of Lukhanino. The Panthers were on the left with the Großdeutschland Panzer Regiment on the right flank. During the attack, the panzers overcame an anti-tank trench and a large mine field. later, they hit a defensive line where they were halted by Soviet artillery and hidden traps with tanks of the Soviet 3rd Mechanized Corps. The combat losses were 37 Panthers. One Panther which became disoriented was misidentified as a Soviet tank and was knocked out by a Pz.Kfw. IV of Panzer regiment 15, 11th Panzer-Division. The crew was unable to get out and perished in their Panther.
Panther 143 was knocked out by artillery fire. Note the gun barrel was penetrated by a Soviet 45mm AT shell.
Panther 101 was knocked out by mines. When the Panther was standing on an incline, the opening of the hatch in the commander’s cupola was hindered. That was why the hatch was often left open.
The assault continued in the northern direction. Despite a powerful Soviet defensive, heavy fire from dug in Soviet tanks and AT guns, by the end of the day units of the Panzer-Regiment 39 and the Großdeutschland Division reached the village of Gremychiy.
Near the village of Gremuchiy are two Panzer-Regiment 39 panthers. Panther 432 is on the left and the caption states Panther 101 is on the right in the background.
This is my close up of the supposedly Panther 101 in the above photo. Note the difference of the Panther’s position which do not appear to be the same. Maybe this Panther is number I01.
Behind Panther 432 is a PzBeobWg III Ausf G/H with long 50mm gun probably had number I02 or R02.
This is the view of Panther 432 along the right side of the hull.
The entire day was spent repelling furious counter attacks of the Soviet 1st Guards, 192nd and 200th Tank Brigades. The Panthers and the accompanying Großdeutschland grenadiers took heavy losses. In addition, during the morning before the assault 6 Panthers were lost due to engine fires. Three more were knocked out by AT guns and one by ground attack aircraft. By the evening, 20 operational Panthers remained.
Heavy combat raged as the regiment attacked in the direction of Oboyan, south of Kursk where the Soviet resistance was exceptionally strong. A Panther was hit in the commander’s cupola by an anti-tank gun and the commander luckily survived. The Panther continued the attack with the damaged commander’s cupola with the hatch open. Another Panther was destroyed by a SU-152 ‘Zveroboy’ (“Beast Slayer”) where the Panther’s armor was pierced and the entire crew was killed. Again the Panthers encountered more Soviet M3 Lees. At the range of about 2000 meters (1.2 miles), they were able to hit a few T-34 tanks.
During combat on July 9-10, the combat efficiency of the Panzer-Regiment 39 rapidly declined. Ten Panthers remained operational by the evening of the 10th. Twenty five panzers were totally destroyed, 65 panzers were being repaired and another 100 awaiting repair (of which 56 were hit or had mine damage and 44 had mechanical problems). By the evening of the 11th, there were 38 operational Panthers, 31 destroyed and the remaining 131 requiring various repairs.
Units of Panzer-Brigade 10 were withdrawn from combat and concentrated in the area around hill 260.8 to refit. During the evening, after being informed of the Allies Invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) and fearing further landings in Italy and Southern France, Hitler issued orders to his generals to terminate Operation Zitadelle but the fighting continued.
The Panthers were to assault in the direction of Bienozhovka to secure the flank of the Großdeutschland Division’s attack but the rough terrain and sudden downpours hindered movement and the resupply of fuel and ammunition.
Panther being rearmed from a Ford Maultier “Mule”.
At 0500 hours, an assault began using 6 Pz.Kpfw. III, 24 Pz.Kpfw. IV and 36 Panthers. Over the course of the day, the Germans made little forward gains due to AT fire and a counter attack by Soviet tanks. Due to extensive losses, Panzer-Regiment 3 was subordinated to Panzer-Brigade 10 but was not able to link up because of the operational chaos. It was impossible to continue the assault due to a complete lack of ammunition. In the evening, the brigade had one Pz.Kpfw. I, 23 Pz.Kpfw. IV and 20 Panthers. Three Pz.Kpfw. IV and 6 Panthers were completely destroyed.
The Panther-Regiment 39 repair sections were efficient and managed to repair up to 25 Panthers each day. Spare parts were a problem because they were planned to be flown in directly from Germany by Luftwaffe transports. Nineteen 18 ton (Zgkw Sd.Kfz 9) half tracks were used to retreive damaged Panthers from the battlefield. Later, the regiment received an additional 14 half tracks. Three half tracks were required to tow one damaged Panther.
A damaged Panther waiting for retrieval with towing bars connected to the front hull.
7th Kompanie Panthers at a repair base. Panther 742 covered with foliage in front was recently towed in as it still has towing cables attached.
A Panther missing its running gear in a maintenance section area. Probably it was beyond repair and was stripped for spare parts to repair other less damaged Panthers.
The command of Panzer-Brigade 10 and Panzer-Regiment 39 were detached from the Großdeutschland Division and subordinated directly to the command of the XLVIII Panzer-Korps.
Panzer-Abteilung 51 transferred its surviving Panthers to Panzer-Abteilung 52 and was withdrawn in order to be refitted with new panzers. The men, cars and panzers of Panzer-Abteilung 51 were loaded on trains in Bogodukhowo and transported to Briansk.
Quartermaster of the 4th Panzer Army reported that Panzer-Regiment 39 had 41 operational Panthers, 85 required repairs, 16 Panthers were sent to Germany for total overhaul and 58 Panthers had been destroyed (49 of them during retreat).
Panzer-Abteilung 52 continued fighting as part of LII Armeekorps and later became part of the 19. Panzer-Division. The Abteilung received 12 new Panthers from Germany and incurred heavy losses in the ensuring combat. The last Panthers were destroyed during the fighting for Kharkov.
After arriving in Briansk, Panzer-Abteilung 51 received 96 new panthers from I. Abteilung, Panzer-Regiment 26. Near the end of July, I. Abteilung of Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland was transferred in an emergency, to counter a Soviet assault. Panzer-Abteilung 51 was merged into the panzer regiment of the Großdeutschland Division. The Abteilung’s organization did not change and the camouflage continued to be used. Uniformly painted Dunkelgelb panthers were painted with green stripes using Grün (RAL 6003) paint. The turret numbers were smaller and painted in black without white outline.
All the panthers of Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland carried this walking panther badge.
After unloading of the Panthers from rail flatcars, the subunits of the Großdeutschland Division counterattacked the advancing Soviet units north of Karatschew. The Soviet assault was only stopped after a pitched battle and very high losses. In the evening of August 2, Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland had 26 operational Pz.Kpfw. IV out of the 84 it began with while a third of its 15 Tigers remained. Panther losses were high and neared 2/3 of the machines of which at least 20% were irreparable losses.
Units of the Großdeutschland Division were transferred to the rear and after a brief rest in Briansk, were sent to Akhtyrka.
Units of the Großdeutschland Division (including Panzer-Abteilung 51) went straight back into combat.
After the inception of the Soviet counter offensive in the direction of Byelogrod, officers of the Scientific Research Institute of the Red Army Armored Forces conducted research and analysis of the Panthers knocked out during the defensive fighting on the Voronezh front. The reviews were conducted between 20 to 28 July 1943 in the section of the front along the road between Byelogrod and Oboyan in an area 30 km wide and 35 km deep where 31 destroyed Panthers were studied. A number of the photos came from those studies.
After being inspected, Panthers 521 and 745 were shipped to Moscow to be displayed at the captured equipment exhibit in the Gorky Park of Culture and Recreation. Panther 824 was shipped to the experimental Factory No. 100 in Tschelabynsk while Panthers 535 and 732 were shipped to the proving grounds in Kubinka. Panther 433 was later presented to the British Army and shipped to Great Britain. Panther 441 was subjected to live fire trials using a T-34 tank.
Panther 434 took three 76mm shell hits on the hull side.
The turret escape hatch was blown off by internal explosion. This side view shows the early 16 bolt road wheels.
On the turret rear there are three Soviet 45mm AT shell hits.
On the rear hull is the signature “Iliyn” followed by the date / 7.” It is probably the name of the Soviet technician from the Scientific Research Institute of the Red Army Armored Forces who studied this destroyed Panther.
This is the left front view of Panther 434.
It appears there were two Panthers numbered 445. This Panther 445 of Panzer-Abteilung 51 received mine damaged and was abandoned. Note the damaged road wheel rim beside the crewmen. Panther 445 with mine damage was one of the 31 Panthers studied by the Soviets.
This Panther 445 could been one of the repaired Panthers and was renumbered 445 when it transferred to Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland. It fought and was destroyed in battle around Karatschev and later photographed in August 1943.
This is my close up showing it was destroyed by two shell hits on the turret side and the turret side port cover (used to eject spent shells) was blown off by internal explosion. Barely visible on the lower edge of the turret is the walking panther badge of Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland. Note the difference of the camouflage pattern on the Schürzen (“Aprons” or side skirts).
This is the front view of Panther 445 showing a Tiger I numbered 11 parked behind it. This Panther has two headlights on the front hull and still has one of its smoke grenade launchers on the turret.
Panther 521 soon after captured. Note the headlights were removed from the mounts.
The rear of Panther 521. To the left is the rear of a Soviet M3A1 Stuart tank.
Panther 521 at the war trophy exhibit in Moscow, August 1943. A Ferdinand is parked in the background. Note the positions of the shell hole at the lower edge of the turret and the blast marking beneath the numbers. That indicates the turret was transversed to the left when the shell hit. The blast marking would been lined up with the shell hole.
This is my close up of the shell hole on the hull side of Panther 521 after it was captured.
Panther 521 on display in Gorky Central Park of Culture and Recreation in Moscow, Winter 1943-44.
The rear of Panther 521 on display. The white panther head badge is barely visible on the turret rear.
Panther 632 with additional boxes mounted on the engine deck.
Panther 632 climbing a slope. Note the 2cm Flugabwehrkanone (Flak) 38 in the background.
Panther 745 abandoned by the Germans during the retreat.
Panther 745 at the war trophy exhibit in Moscow, August 1943. Note the Stug III in the background.
This is the left side of Panther 745. A Ferdinand is in the background and a Tiger I is parked on the side other of Panther 745.
Panther 824 was knocked out by Soviet AT fire. Supposedly a 45mm shell penetrated the gun sight on the mantlet.
Left side of Panther 824. Note tow cable attached to the front and the Panther appears to be parked on T-34 tracks.
This is a close up of the turret numbers and the Panther head badge.
Panther 824 at Factory No. 100 in Tschelabynsk. The Soviet unit who captured it wrote their inscription over the turret numbers.
Right side of Panther 824 missing its Schürzen.
Panzer-Regiment 39 Stabskompanie tactical numbers:
• Nachrichtenzug (command platoon): R01, R02 and R03 – 3 Befehlswagen (PzBfWg) Panthers
• Aufklärungzug (Reconnaissance Platoon): R04, R05, R06, R07 and R08 – 5 Panthers
Panther R04 at the beginning of the assault. Note no panther head badge is painted on the turret.
Panther R04 later knocked out by artillery fire. Note the windmill in the background. It is missing its Schürzen and has a ladder leaning on the rear hull indicating repairs were probably attempted before it was abandoned.
The rear of Panther R04. Note the right rear storage compartment is missing.
Panzer-Abteilung 51 Stabskompanie tactical numbers:
• Nachrichtenzug: I01, I02 and I03 – 3 PzBfWg Panthers
• Aufklärungzug: I04, I05, I06, I07 and I08 – 5 Panthers
Panther I01 besides a PzBeobWg III coded R01.
Panther I03 had mine damage and was abandoned. Note the missing road wheels.
Panther I07 on a rail flatcar.
Panzer-Abteilung 52 Stabskompanie standard tactical numbers:
• Nachrichtenzug: II01, II02 and II03 – 3 PzBfWg Panthers
• Aufklärungzug: II04, II05, II06, II07 and II08 – 5 Panthers
There is no photographic evidence.
Some sources state that Panzer-Abteilung 52 Stabskompanie probably did not follow the standard tactical code scheme and believe Panther 914 belonged to the Panzer Abteilung 52 Aufklärungzug. It could have been a ploy to disguise the Stabskompanie panzers. Tactical numbers containing an ”, “I” or “R” would indicated a command panzer to the enemy.
Panzer-Abteilung 52 Stabskompanie possible tactical numbers:
• Nachrichtenzug: 911, 912 and 913 – 3 PzBfWg Panthers
• Aufklärungzug: 914, 915, 916, 917 and 918 – 5 Panthers
An abandoned Panther in the Kharkov area, August 1943. Note in the background
is a Munitionspanzer auf Fgst Sturmgeschutz Ausf G ammo carrier.
Dragon 6164 Sd.Kfz. 171 Panther D – 2002
(Decals: 445 , 521 )
ICM 35361 Pz.Kpfw. V Panther, Ausf. D – 2005
(Decals: 212, 512)
Dragon 6299 Sd.Kfz.171 Panther D – 2006
(Decals: R04 , 124, 745 )
Italeri 6473 Pz.kpfw. V Panther Ausf.D – 2009
(Decals: 745 )
Revell 03095 Pz.Kpfw. V Panther Ausf. D – 2013
(Decals: 501, 824)
Tamiya 35345 Pz.Kpfw. Panther Ausf. D (Sd.Kfz. 171) – 2015
(Decals: 432, 445 , 745 )
Academy 13503 Pz.Kpfw.V Panther Ausf.D – 2016
(Decals: 521 , 745 , 824 )
Meng Model TS-038 Sd.Kfz.171 Panther Ausf.D – 2018
(Decals: 121 , 632 )
Tamiya 25182 Pz.Kpfw.V Ausf.D Panther – 2018
(Decals: 432 , 445 , 745 )
Tamiya 32597 German Tank Panther Ausf. D – 2019
(Decals: 432 , 445 )
Ausf. G GT 101 [ edit | edit source ]
|Panther Ausf. G with GT 101|
|General Historical Information|
|Place of origin||Germany|
|Speed||Unknow (possible 100 km/h)|
|Main armament||7.5 cm KwK 42 L/70|
|Coaxial weapon||7.92 mm MG 34|
17 x 150 rounds
|General Ingame Information|
|Seatق||7.92 mm MG 34|
8 x 250 rounds
|Seatك||7.92 mm MG 34|
8 x 250 rounds
10 x HE grenade
This experimental Panther was a Panther with a gas turbine engine named GT 101 that almost doubles the speed! The German Army's development division, the Heereswaffenamt (Army Ordnance Board), studied a number of gas turbine engines for use in tanks starting in mid-1944. Although none of these were fitted operationally, the GT 101 (GT for "Gas Turbine") reached a production quality stage of development and was considered for installation in the Panther tank. Several designs were produced over the lifetime of the program, including the GT 102 and GT 103. In terms of performance the GT 101 would have been surprisingly effective. It would have produced a total of 3,750 hp, using 2,600 hp to operate the compressor and thus leaving 1,150 hp to power the transmission. The entire engine assembly weighted 450 kg (922 lb), not including the transmission. In comparison, the existing Maybach HL230 P30 it replaced provided 620 hp yet weighted a comparatively huge 1,200 kg. With the Maybach the Panther had a specific power of about 13.5 hp/ton, with the GT 101 this would improve to 25 hp/ton, outperforming any tank of WWII by a wide margin (for instance, the T-34 was 19.23 hp/tonne). For other reasons, essentially wear and tear, speeds would be deliberately limited to those of the gasoline-powered Panthers. The only downsides were poor torque at low power settings, and a fuel consumption about double that of the Maybach, which presented problems in finding enough room for fuel tankage. You can test it on the map Adak Race against all other high speed vehicles. But also on Alpenfestung. Who will make a donut?
Kako se kombinacija tenkova Panzer III i Panzer IV pokazala dostatnom na bojištima u zapadnoj Europi i sjevernoj Africi Njemačka je još 1940. godine obustavila sav razvoj potencijalnih novih modela smatrajući da će dobiti rat prije nego što oni postanu zastarjeli. Neugodno iznenađenje borbenih susreta tih modela s T-34 i KV-1 u Sovjetskom Savezu je razbilo to uvjerenje i dovelo do toga da je u novembru 1941. Hitler izdao naredbu o proizvodnji novog tenka koji će prvobitno imati ime Panzer V. Natjecanje za izgradnju novog tenka između Škode, Daimler-Benza i MAN-a je dobio ovaj potonji u ljeto 1942. sa svojom unaprijeđenom kopijom sovjetskog T-34. Početak proizvodnje novoga tenka dogodio se tek u decembru 1942. godine. Po naređenju Hitlera ovaj tenk dobija 1944. godine ime Pantera (Panther).
Vatreno krštenje ovaj tenk doživljava u julu 1943. godine u Kurskoj bitki gdje je poslan bez testiranja po naredbi Hitlera. Taj pokus na borbenom polju bio je tek donekle uspješan jer se većina poslanih tenkova pokvarila prije dolaska do vatrene linije. Oni koji se nisu pokvarili uništili su velik broj protivničkih tenkova dokazujući uspjeh njegovog vojnog dizajna. Kada su početne mehaničke boljke ovog tenka bile djelomično ispravljene on je postao strah i trepet protivnika.
Crvena armija ga je poštovala kao protivnika na bojnom polju, ali i smatrala preskupim tenkom koji se lako kvari, tako da je naredila uništenje svih zarobljenih modela kada se prvi put pokvare za razliku od Panzera IV koji je ostajao u upotrebi. S druge strane, kada bi američke ili britanske vojne (oklopne ili pješadijske) trupe imale susret s Panzerom V nastupala bi opća panika s pozivom zrakoplovstvu za hitno bombardiranje. Zapadni saveznici su redovito koristili sve zarobljene tenkove Panzer V smatrajući ih daleko boljim od bilo kojeg svog tenka.
Po američkoj statistici za uništenje jednog Panzera V bilo je potrebno izgubiti 5 Shermana ili 9 sovjetskih T-34, a stvarni je omjer možda bio i veći pošto se u rujnu 1943. sedam Pantera sukobilo sa 70 tenkova T-34 i uništilo više od 25 protivnika bez gubitaka.
Iako prvobitno zamišljeno da ovaj tenk ulazi u borbu zajedno s svojim starijim i jačim bratom imena Panzer VI Tigar to se veoma rijetko ispunjavalo zbog stalnih nedostataka ovog drugog legendarnog tenka što je na kraju bio nedostatak koji se rijetko primjećivao zbog njegove vlastite kvalitete.
Za razliku od svojih prethodnika ovaj tenk nije tokom svog životnog vijeka imao značajnije preinake u cilju povećanja oklopa, topa i druge opreme. Tenk proizveden 1943. bio je identičan onome iz 1945. Prednji oklop iznosio je 100 mm, a osnovno naoružanje činio je top od 75 mm. Težina tenka bila je 45 tona što je dvostruko više od Panzera IV, a najveća brzina iznosila je 46 km/h. Ukupno je bilo proizvedeno manje od 6000 primjeraka ovog tenka.
Jedina praktična prenamjena ovog tenka bila je u protutenkovski Jagdpanther (Lovačka pantera) koja se proizvodila 1944. i 1945. godine. To je bio Panzer V bez kupole, ali s topom od 88 mm i jačim oklopom što ga je učinilo neuništivim u borbama sa savezničkim tenkovima. Proizvedeno ih je nešto manje od 400 komada.
Najmasovnije je Panzer V poslije rata rabila Francuska koja ih imala u sastavu svoje vojske do početka pedesetih godina. U manjem broju koristile su ga i Bugarska, Čehoslovačka, Mađarska, Rumunija i Jugoslavija.