Panther Medium Tank, 1942-45, Stephen A. Hart

Panther Medium Tank, 1942-45, Stephen A. Hart

Panther Medium Tank, 1942-45, Stephen A. Hart

Panther Medium Tank, 1942-45, Stephen A. Hart

New Vanguard 67

This entry in Osprey's New Vanguard series looks at what was probably the best German tank of the Second World War - the Panzer V Panther.

While most books on the Panther are divided into seperate sections on the design of the tank and its service career, this book is structured around the different variants of the Panther. Each chapter begins with a look at a particular version of the Panther, then looks at the combat record of the Panther once that variant entered service. While this approach can make it a little harder to find the sections on the Panther's combat record, it does produce a more coherent text. The development and deployment of each new version of the Panther is thus placed in context

The vast majority of the photographs have been chosen to illustrate some aspect of the design of the Panther. Amongst them are some rather useful detailed pictures of the commander's cupola and the interior of the turret. The same is true of the colour artwork - where the original Vanguard on the Panther had a series of paintings of the tank in the field, here we have a series of sharply drawn front, side and top views. The cutaway diagram is also of excellent quality, although I would have preferred it to have been drawn from a higher angle, to give a better view of the interior.

This is an informative, well organised and well written book. The focus is on the technical development of the Panther, which takes up two thirds of the thirty three pages of main text, reflecting the remit of the New Vanguard Series. This also leaves eleven pages for the tank's combat record. Key moments in the Panther's history - the battle of Kursk or the aftermath of the D-Day landings - are examined in the most detail.

Author: Stephen A. Hart
Edition: Paperback
Pages: pp
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2203

Chapters
Development History
Panther Model D
Panther II
Panther Model A
Panther Model G
Panther Model F
The Panther Assessed



Panther Medium Tank 1942–45

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Panther Medium Tank 1942–45 Japan and Korea AD 612–1639 1st Edition by Stephen A. Hart and Publisher Osprey Publishing. Save up to 80% by choosing the eTextbook option for ISBN: 9781782000648, 178200064X. The print version of this textbook is ISBN: 9781841765433, 1841765430.

Panther Medium Tank 1942–45 Japan and Korea AD 612–1639 1st Edition by Stephen A. Hart and Publisher Osprey Publishing. Save up to 80% by choosing the eTextbook option for ISBN: 9781782000648, 178200064X. The print version of this textbook is ISBN: 9781841765433, 1841765430.


Soviet Tanks in Combat 1941 1945

The T-28, T-34, T-34-85 and T-44 Medium Tanks Steve Zaloga . As a result, its
armor thickness was actually reduced in 1942, and the KV-I was removed from
the tank corps and segregated into separate tank regiments for infantry .
Although the Soviets did not have a tank to equal the Panther, it simply didn't
matter.

ISBN: NWU:35556039114715

Category: Tanks (Military science)


Panther Medium Tank 1942�

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WI Daimler Benz Panther?

Its not just the turret, though that would be heavier, it is also the enlarged turret ring and rotation mechanism, as well as the heavier gun, recoil mechanism, and extra weight of bigger ammo.

Also if you look at the T-34 and how it evolved from 26.5 tons with the 1941 version to the 32 ton T-34/85 that weight increase came from the heavier gun and bigger turret. The T-34 despite its sloped armor had to increase the thickness repeatedly too because of German gun power. Given the larger Panther the weight increase could easily be around 5 tons. Of course too the 35 ton DB Panther was the prototype, the production model and issues that would need to be rectified which would increase weight, same as the MAN Panther, which was under 40 tons in the prototype IIRC. Part of that was Hitler ordering up armoring, but not exclusively. They had to go for a heavier steel engine, which upped weight because they didn't have enough aluminum for the original engine design. That same problem would exist for the DB Panther as it would have to forego the Diesel engine for a heavier petrol one.

I think that the best bet is to get as many PAK42 equipped Pz III chassis super marders out there so that they have the long range firepower of the Panther on a much cheaper existing chassis that is good to go in later 1942 to provide overwatch sniper support for the Pz IV, which they can just spam out there until 1944 when they can produce a reliable MAN Panther in limited numbers. The PAK42 SP AT gun would provide the same firepower of the Panther while being able to shoot and scoot like the British Archer, attacking from ambush (the Germans were on the strategic defensive after all) and wear down Soviet armor that way. Have the Nashorn/Hornisse plus the Über-Marder as mobile AT platforms that outrange the T-34, don't attack at Kursk, and just snipe constantly. It would be great too for the Italian front as well. Its a lot cheaper and easier to make with an existing chassis than the Panther too.

CrimsonKing

So what gives? Why is it that the T-34-85 can have a larger caliber gun, and the Sherman Firefly and the other examples marathag brought up an equal caliber while not going over 35 tonnes, and not the DB Panther? There must be something we can cut to bring the weight to an acceptable level. Regarding the turret ring specifically, I didn't think it was enlarged for the L/70 turret, rather the new turret was designed around it.

Edit: For some reason, I didn't see your last paragraph when writing this post. I agree that if the MAN design is chosen, your approach is the best way to introduce it.

Commando Howiezter

Its not just the turret, though that would be heavier, it is also the enlarged turret ring and rotation mechanism, as well as the heavier gun, recoil mechanism, and extra weight of bigger ammo.

Also if you look at the T-34 and how it evolved from 26.5 tons with the 1941 version to the 32 ton T-34/85 that weight increase came from the heavier gun and bigger turret. The T-34 despite its sloped armor had to increase the thickness repeatedly too because of German gun power. Given the larger Panther the weight increase could easily be around 5 tons. Of course too the 35 ton DB Panther was the prototype, the production model and issues that would need to be rectified which would increase weight, same as the MAN Panther, which was under 40 tons in the prototype IIRC. Part of that was Hitler ordering up armoring, but not exclusively. They had to go for a heavier steel engine, which upped weight because they didn't have enough aluminum for the original engine design. That same problem would exist for the DB Panther as it would have to forego the Diesel engine for a heavier petrol one.

I think that the best bet is to get as many PAK42 equipped Pz III chassis super marders out there so that they have the long range firepower of the Panther on a much cheaper existing chassis that is good to go in later 1942 to provide overwatch sniper support for the Pz IV, which they can just spam out there until 1944 when they can produce a reliable MAN Panther in limited numbers. The PAK42 SP AT gun would provide the same firepower of the Panther while being able to shoot and scoot like the British Archer, attacking from ambush (the Germans were on the strategic defensive after all) and wear down Soviet armor that way. Have the Nashorn/Hornisse plus the Über-Marder as mobile AT platforms that outrange the T-34, don't attack at Kursk, and just snipe constantly. It would be great too for the Italian front as well. Its a lot cheaper and easier to make with an existing chassis than the Panther too.

Deleted member 1487

So what gives? Why is it that the T-34-85 can have a larger caliber gun, and the Sherman Firefly and the other examples marathag brought up an equal caliber while not going over 35 tonnes, and not the DB Panther? There must be something we can cut to bring the weight to an acceptable level. Regarding the turret ring specifically, I didn't think it was enlarged for the L/70 turret, rather the new turret was designed around it.

Edit: For some reason, I didn't see your last paragraph when writing this post. I agree that if the MAN design is chosen, your approach is the best way to introduce it.

I edited by post, not your fault.
The T-34/85 gained 5-6 tons from adding a new turret/heavier gun of lower power than the German gun. The German design was larger and overall heavier. The gun was more powerful and required a hardier recoil mechanism as well as more space for it to operate. No the L70 75 required a larger turret ring to have a turret capable of handling the high velocity 75.

Frankly the German design was just different. Also the Allied guns were L/55s the German one L70, which required a lot more recoil mechanism to deal with. The German jump from L48 to L70 is greater than the US one from L40 to L55, which the Soviet one gained 10mm in caliber and but the Length of the barrel didn't change much. Still they gained a lot more weight as a result. The base T-34 was 26 tons (1940 version) and ended the war over 32 tons with the T-34/85. They were less tall than the Panther designs, as the Germans used front drives instead of rear drives because of improved performance for their mobility. Also the Sherman Firefly gained 5 tons from the upgrade to the high velocity 76mm gun.

As it was the DB Panther prototype was heavier with the basic L48 turret than the T-34/85 before we even get into a heavier gun with a new turret.

Marathag

Sloping Armor does help with protection, but reduces usable interior space.

The Panther was a maintenance nightmare. The early models, you had to pull the turret to work on the final drives and differential

The US understood that being able to replace parts quickly was an advantage, even if it resulted in weak spots, because a tank back in Depot had zero combat power on the Front

The Mk IV had access panels for differential and steering clutch/brake

Now the Pz IV /70 had sloped superstructure and nose piece, but retained the hatches to get at those bits, as they brokedown more frequently.

But the Panther just made it worse, by going with a full regenerative differential, while gave excellent mobility vs the Mk IV Clutch/Brake or US Cletrac, was nowhere near as reliable.

They put a drive system that was rated for a 30 ton tank, into a 45 ton tank. A higher rated, but simpler system was needed. The US Cletrac, that was still used on the 95 ton T28 Assault Gun. It was bulletproof, developed just after WWI for bulldozers. Last used in the M113 APC. Also used in many French tanks

The Soviets from the KV series onwards went with the slightly more complex double epicyclic geared steering that was an improved clutch/brake that the Mk IV and T-34 used. This epicyclic system had been developed by the UK after WWI.
The Japanese, Italians and Czechs also used this.

Most tanks after WWII use triple differential system, first used in the Churchill. This allowed pivot turns, a first. It was more complex, but made for excellent controlability on the ground. The Tiger had a variant of this

The Panther was again somewhat similar, using a mix of epicyclic geared steering double differential system.

In theory, it could pivot turn, but were likely to shell out the drive if attempted.

Deleted member 1487

Hitler demanding the next generation Panzer and all the sexy upgrades. Why did he want the Maus.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer_VIII_Maus
Or King Tiger, or Jagdtiger, or E-series monstrosities? Or Gustav rail guns, V-2 rockets, or V-3 super cannon?

Hitler repeatedly ignored the cheaper more effective option in the medium term for game changing super weapons that would take years to perfect, which is part of the reason the war was lost. With a lot better planning the Germans could have done FAR better in the war. After the war the US military did a study on the German R&D efforts (reading about the death rays and other crazy stuff they experimented with is mind-boggling) and in reading it the interesting part is the conclusion where the engineer colonel states that German badly underutilized what research resources they had (not even getting into chasing off many of their best scientists pre-war), getting only 10-50% out of what they had depending on the field.

Utilizing what they had to the utmost would have gotten them a LOT more bang for their buck.

Deleted member 1487

Sloping Armor does help with protection, but reduces usable interior space.

The Panther was a maintenance nightmare. The early models, you had to pull the turret to work on the final drives and differential

The US understood that being able to replace parts quickly was an advantage, even if it resulted in weak spots, because a tank back in Depot had zero combat power on the Front

The Mk IV had access panels for differential and steering clutch/brake


Now the Pz IV /70 had sloped superstructure and nose piece, but retained the hatches to get at those bits, as they brokedown more frequently.

But the Panther just made it worse, by going with a full regenerative differential, while gave excellent mobility vs the Mk IV Clutch/Brake or US Cletrac, was nowhere near as reliable.

They put a drive system that was rated for a 30 ton tank, into a 45 ton tank. A higher rated, but simpler system was needed. The US Cletrac, that was still used on the 95 ton T28 Assault Gun. It was bulletproof, developed just after WWI for bulldozers. Last used in the M113 APC. Also used in many French tanks

The Soviets from the KV series onwards went with the slightly more complex double epicyclic geared steering that was an improved clutch/brake that the Mk IV and T-34 used. This epicyclic system had been developed by the UK after WWI.
The Japanese, Italians and Czechs also used this.

Most tanks after WWII use triple differential system, first used in the Churchill. This allowed pivot turns, a first. It was more complex, but made for excellent controlability on the ground. The Tiger had a variant of this

The Panther was again somewhat similar, using a mix of epicyclic geared steering double differential system.

In theory, it could pivot turn, but were likely to shell out the drive if attempted.

Part of the problem was Hitler rushed the design and they had to use existing work of the VK3001 for the VK3002 and accommodate the demands for a high velocity 75 and 80mm of sloped armor after the fact, which forced them to just go with existing parts designed for a 30 ton chassis.

Post-war the Leopard 1 took all of these maintanence lessons and created a very easily field serviced tank that was build around heavy punch and great mobility at the expense of armor and it was a far greater success than the Panther as a result.

Marathag

this is the Israeli M50 ISherman

It had a HV French 75mm gun 'inspired' by that Panther 75mm

Its the standard M4 75mm turret, but notice the counterweight at the rear, and an armored box on the turret face that allowed the gun to be moved forward. This allowed everything to balance out

The UK did similar during the war, with the Churchill to allow it to fit the US 75mm gun.

The Churchill used the UK favored method, the interior mantlet

This took up a lot of space, reducing what can be mounted.

This is the Churchill 75mmNA NA for 'North Africa where this mod was done.

Its a Us M4 mantlet welded to the Churchill turret that was torchcut for clearance

CrimsonKing

@marathag If sloped armor would be that much of a problem, I would be willing to drop it if we can make this Panzer IV/70 faster. If that is doable I have to say that I think that this option is far better than either the DB or MAN Panthers. Just think of it-all the production lines could be switched over to this new model easily, and the resulting product would be nothing like OTL Panther maintenance disaster.

@wiking That makes sense now. Do you have a source for the DB Panther turret ring having to be enlarged for the new turret? I don't mean this in a doubting way, I'm just curious because OTL Panzer IV and Panther actually had the same diameter ring. I still think that if we go back to the OP question, the DB Panther would be better than the MAN version even with the increased weight because it is an overall simpler design and would probably still weigh marginally less. It would be like a WW2 version of a Leopard 1.

Deleted member 1487

@marathag If sloped armor would be that much of a problem, I would be willing to drop it if we can make this Panzer IV/70 faster. If that is doable I have to say that I think that this option is far better than either the DB or MAN Panthers. Just think of it-all the production lines could be switched over to this new model easily, and the resulting product would be nothing like OTL Panther maintenance disaster.

@wiking That makes sense now. Do you have a source for the DB Panther turret ring having to be enlarged for the new turret? I don't mean this in a doubting way, I'm just curious because OTL Panzer IV and Panther actually had the same diameter ring. I still think that if we go back to the OP question, the DB Panther would be better than the MAN version even with the increased weight because it is an overall simpler design and would probably still weigh marginally less. It would be like a WW2 version of a Leopard 1.

CrimsonKing

Deleted member 1487

CrimsonKing

Deleted member 1487

CrimsonKing

It was.
Needed an extra set of roadwheels, lengthen the chassis, similar to the A30 Challenger, 32 ton tank.

Sherman Firefly or 76mm Shermans were 35 ton.

Mk IVG was 25 tons. Hull sizes on the Sherman and Mk IV were similar, roughly 9 ft wide and 19 feet long. Challenger a bit longer.

Really don't need Panther levels of armor either.

Deleted member 1487

CrimsonKing

All right, granted that that is the case and that your suggestion is the better idea, the Germans are still going to have to decide at some point what to replace the Panzer IV with. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I still like the DB over the MAN because of its simplicity and ease of production and maintenance, and I still think it would weigh at least somewhat less than OTL Panther. Remember that the sole reason the MAN was chosen in real life was that it was erroneously believed to be quicker to get into production. If they had been of a mind to accept a delay, as they would have been in your scenario, they would almost certainly have chosen the DB. In addition, I ran across this quote from a post from a user named "Lkefct" over at the Axis History Forum in a thread entitled "German Produced T-34 copy from mid 1942."

"The DB version of the Panther was a far superior design to the one that was finally accepted from MAN. The vehicle has all of the automative components in the rear. While less efficient in terms of the traction that the front wheel drive on most German tanks it leaves the fighting compartment much more clear. This would be important in terms of the design of the following StuG/jagdpanzer verison, which the design started as soon as the tank prototypes where finished. It would have carried a 88mm L71 gun, and probably been in the upper 30 ton range, with similar protection, and probably better speed then the jagdpanther. The tanks is smaller then the actual Panther, and so any improvements in the basic specifications would not lead to the rapid increases in weight that later caused the Panther to be very unreliable. The deisel engine that was purposed was based ona railway engine and was already avalible. It was much more suitible for the weight range that was intended, and more powerful. The whole design was just a whole lot simplier, and would probably have been much more easily put into action, and at a sooner date. It also contained a 3 man turret, although technically, because it was so far forward, the drivers also sat in the turret ring, so you could make an argument that it was a 4 man turret. The 1 issue that was lacking, as with many prototypes, the ball mounted MG was not added before the design was canceled."

He makes a very convincing case (to me, anyway) that it would make for a much better StuG conversion, which would seem to seal the deal. He also says that the diesel engine was readily available. However, as I said earlier, if you are right that the diesel would be too much trouble, I am open to the petrol version.

Edit: Incidentally, another part of that same post by Lkefct confirms that you were right that the DB ring had to be enlarged to accommodate the L/70 gun.

Deleted member 1487

All right, granted that that is the case and that your suggestion is the better idea, the Germans are still going to have to decide at some point what to replace the Panzer IV with. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I still like the DB over the MAN because of its simplicity and ease of production and maintenance, and I still think it would weigh at least somewhat less than OTL Panther. Remember that the sole reason the MAN was chosen in real life was that it was erroneously believed to be quicker to get into production. If they had been of a mind to accept a delay, as they would have been in your scenario, they would almost certainly have chosen the DB. In addition, I ran across this quote from a post from a user named "Lkefct" over at the Axis History Forum in a thread entitled "German Produced T-34 copy from mid 1942."

"The DB version of the Panther was a far superior design to the one that was finally accepted from MAN. The vehicle has all of the automative components in the rear. While less efficient in terms of the traction that the front wheel drive on most German tanks it leaves the fighting compartment much more clear. This would be important in terms of the design of the following StuG/jagdpanzer verison, which the design started as soon as the tank prototypes where finished. It would have carried a 88mm L71 gun, and probably been in the upper 30 ton range, with similar protection, and probably better speed then the jagdpanther. The tanks is smaller then the actual Panther, and so any improvements in the basic specifications would not lead to the rapid increases in weight that later caused the Panther to be very unreliable. The deisel engine that was purposed was based ona railway engine and was already avalible. It was much more suitible for the weight range that was intended, and more powerful. The whole design was just a whole lot simplier, and would probably have been much more easily put into action, and at a sooner date. It also contained a 3 man turret, although technically, because it was so far forward, the drivers also sat in the turret ring, so you could make an argument that it was a 4 man turret. The 1 issue that was lacking, as with many prototypes, the ball mounted MG was not added before the design was canceled."

He makes a very convincing case (to me, anyway) that it would make for a much better StuG conversion, which would seem to seal the deal. He also says that the diesel engine was readily available. However, as I said earlier, if you are right that the diesel would be too much trouble, I am open to the petrol version.

The T-34/76 suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment. The two-man turret crew arrangement required the commander to aim and fire the gun, an arrangement common to most Soviet tanks of the day this proved to be inferior to three-man (commander, gunner, and loader) turret crews of German Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks.

Early in the war, the commander fought at a further disadvantage the forward-opening hatch and lack of turret cupola forced him to observe the battlefield through a single vision slit and traversable periscope.[65] German commanders liked to fight "heads-up", with their seat raised and having a full field of view – in the T-34/76 this was impossible.[66] Soviet veterans condemned the turret hatches of early models. Nicknamed pirozhok (stuffed bun) because of its characteristic shape, it was heavy and hard to open. The complaints of the crews urged the design group led by Alexander Morozov to switch in August 1942[67] to using two hatches in the turret.[68]
The loader also had a difficult job due to the lack of a turret basket (a rotating floor that moves as the turret turns) the same fault was present on all German tanks prior to the Panzer IV. The floor under the T-34's turret was made up of ammunition stored in small metal boxes, covered by a rubber mat. There were nine ready rounds of ammunition stowed in racks on the sides of the fighting compartment. Once these rounds had been used, the crew had to pull additional ammunition out of the floor boxes, leaving the floor littered with open bins and matting and reducing their performance.[69]

A straight copy, even of the three man turreted T-34/85 was not particularly combat effective. It worked for the Soviets because they could make more and suck up the huge losses, while the Germans needed to maintain a combat edge. In the long run the MAN design had more long term stretch being a bigger tank that was far more well laid out than the DB design. The DB design was more well liked because it was quickly ready and had all the features of the T-34 immediately available, while the MAN design took the best features and added German innovations. The OTL Panther was a generation design later than the T-34 or a German knock off version and in the long run a better replacement than a copy. By the time the MAN Panther would have been reliable the Soviets would have moved on to the T-44 or so, while the Germans would still be stuck with the DB knock off of the T-34 having just invested a bunch in upgrading to it, effectively being behind the Soviets. Hitler was on the right track trying to leap-frog the T-34, but he was wrong in forcing its introduction too early before the problems were worked out in a period when the Panzer IV was still more than adequate and in fact better to have en masse rather than a unreliable mess that the Panther was.

Frankly the DB Panther was just the wrong step for the Germans to move to the next generation, it was the MAN design for the future, just further than the Germans tried to make it. I'd have kept the Pz IV plus support SP AT guns of long range from 1942-44 and introduced the perfected MAN Panther in 1945. I'd have also put the Tiger 1 as a stop-gap in 1943-45 until the Panther was ready and then dropped the heavy tank concept altogether.

The quote of what the DB knock off chassis could have been neglects to mention that the chassis would have been reserved for tank production until there were enough of them to be used for TDs, i.e. not until 1945 at the earliest. And the 88 long would not have worked on a T-34 chassis in Jagdpanther configuration, it needed a 40 ton chassis minimum. The OTL Jagdpanther was perfect and better than the Soviet equivalents, though the ISU series was technically more like the Jagdtiger, but in the weight class of the Jagdanther on the IS tank chassis. The SU-85 was inferior to the Jagdpanther in everyway, much smaller and with a weaker gun. The Soviet 85 was inferior to the Tiger gun (85mm L55 vs. 88mm L56) and nowhere near the weight and power of the 88mm long. Putting than in Jagdpanther config in a 30-35 ton chassis just isn't doable. Putting it on the 25 ton chassis of the Nashorn was doable, but with the near complete lack of armor and limited ammo capacity. Doing a DB Panther chassis Su-85 would only work with a 88mm L56 of the Tiger 1, which was inferior to the 75mm L70 at long range for armor penetration. The OTL Jagdpanther was made fully mechanically reliable and was ideal as it was, anything smaller would have ergonomic issues, ammo storage problems, less armor, etc. Even the post-war German Kannonenjager with 90mm US gun only was L40 and used HEAT ammo and it fit more into what Lckeft was talking about, but had much shorter range than the Jagdpanther and relied on post-war HEAT shell developments to work.

In terms of the diesel engine I already addressed that issue in an earlier post.


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Beschreibung

The Panzerkampfwagen V Panther is one of the best-known German tanks in existence and is considered one of the greatest tanks of World War II. When in June of 1941, Germany invaded Russia, Panzertruppe encountered KV series and T-34/76 tanks, far superior in firepower and armour protection to any Panzer in service at the time. It was therefore decided to design a new more powerful medium tank, which could be quickly put into production. This book details the result, the Medium Battle Tank, available for service in January 1943. Later models ensured that it became one of the most feared tanks of WWII.

Dr Stephen A Hart is senior lecturer in the War Studies department, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Prior to this he lectured in the International Studies Department at the University of Surrey, and in the War Studies Department, King's College London. He is the author of Montgomery and the 'Colossal Cracks': The 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe 1944-45 (Praeger, 2000), and has co-authored - with Russell Hart - several popular histories of aspects of the German Army in World War II.


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During that day, Barkmann’s by now damaged Panther nonetheless managed to knock out nine Shermans in a famous break-out attempt now known as the battle of Barkmann’s Corner, and the next day he successfully rejoined his parent formation near Coutances.

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Panther Medium Tank 1942–45 - Stephen A. Hart

COMMENTARY

PANTHER MEDIUM TANK 1942–45

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY

The origins of the Panther tank lay in the shock that the German Army experienced during Operation Barbarossa – its June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. During the first week of combat, the otherwise triumphant German Panzer spearheads experienced fierce encounters with the Soviet T-34/76 medium tank. Although the T-34/76 was in short supply at the front in 1941, it nevertheless outclassed every German tank then in service. With its combination of excellent mobility, mechanical reliability, potent firepower, and effective, well-sloped armour protection, the T-34 posed a formidable threat to the success of Barbarossa. Several tactical engagements during the campaign demonstrated the superiority of the T-34, particularly the severe blow experienced by the 4th Panzer Division at Mtsensk, near Orel, on 4 October 1941.

This division belonged to Colonel-General Heinz Guderian’s Panzer Group 2, which spearheaded the German Army Group Centre. In the aftermath of the setback at Mtsensk, Guderian demanded that an inquiry be established into the realities of tank warfare on the Eastern Front. During 18–21 November, senior German tank designers and manufacturers, plus staff officers from the Army Weapons Department, toured Guderian’s operational area to study captured T-34 tanks and to evaluate the implications that this vehicle posed for future German tank development. Guderian suggested to the inquiry that Germany should simply produce a direct copy of the T-34 tank, as this would be the quickest way of countering the threat that this vehicle posed. The Weapons Department disagreed, however, because Germany would find it difficult to produce steel alloy and diesel engines in sufficient quantities. While deliberations on a new tank unfolded, the inquiry recommended that the Army up-gunned its Panzer IV tanks and Sturmgeschütz III assault guns.

The shock the Germans experienced after encountering the Soviet T-34/76 tank during Operation Barbarossa led them to develop the Panther, which incorporated the overhanging gun barrel, well-sloped armoured plates, and large road wheels featured in the enemy tank. (The Tank Museum, 47/E6)

The 150th Panzer Brigade employed 10 Panthers disguised as American M10 tank destroyers to spread confusion during the initial stages of the mid-December 1944 German Ardennes counter-offensive. (The Tank Museum, 1164/A2)

The answer, however, as the inquiry recognised, was to incorporate the best features of the T-34 into a new German medium tank. The inquiry – now known as the Panther Commission – concluded that the T-34’s main strengths revolved around three features that to date had been lacking in German tank design. The Soviet tank’s main armament overhung the front of the vehicle, which enabled it to have a greater barrel length and thus deliver a higher muzzle velocity to its rounds consequently, the weapon obtained increased armour penetration capabilities. Second, the suspension on the T-34 featured large road wheels and wide tracks that gave the vehicle excellent off-road mobility and an impressive maximum road speed. Last, while the Soviet tank had only modestly thick armour (with 45mm plates), these were well sloped and so gave greater levels of protection than German tanks with vertical armoured plates of similar thickness.

This mid-production Model A Panther has been overturned, presumably by Allied aerial bombing, at Norrey-en-Bessin during the summer 1944 Normandy campaign. Note the twin cooling pipes added to the vehicle’s left exhaust pipe. (The Tank Museum, 5721/F6)

In late November 1941, the Panther Commission contracted the armaments firms of Daimler-Benz and Maschinenfabrik Augsberg-Nuremburg (MAN) to begin development work on a new tank in the 30-tonne class, designated the VK30.02. Each firm’s prototypes were to mount the turret then being developed by Rheinmetall that featured the long-barrelled 7.5cm L/70 gun. On 9 December 1941, the Weapons Department set the specified weight of the VK30.02 at 32.5 tonnes. During spring 1942, Daimler-Benz completed three slightly different versions of their prototype design, the VK30.02(DB). These vehicles had a sloping hull design, forward-mounted turret, overhanging main gun, and large square gun mantlet that all bore a strong resemblance to the T-34. In addition, one of these three prototypes had a diesel engine similar to that fitted in the Soviet tank, although here driven through a rear sprocket. However, unlike the T-34, the VK30.02(DB) featured the traditional German suspension design based on bogie wheels mounted on external leaf springs that had been used on the previous Panzer I–IV tanks. The VK30.02(DB) weighed 35 tonnes, had sloped armour up to 60mm thick, and delivered an operational by-road range of 195km. The vehicle’s relatively narrow tracks, however, produced an unimpressively high ground pressure figure of 0.83kg/cm².

This early Model D Panther, completed by Henschel in early May 1943, sports smoke-grenade launchers, a feature discontinued in Panthers completed after early June. Note the Henschel-produced Tiger in the background. (The Tank Museum, 6087/D2)

In comparison, the VK30.02(MAN) design represented less of a direct copy of the T-34


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The Panzerkampfwagen V Panther is one of the best-known German tanks in existence and is considered one of the greatest tanks of World War II. When in June of 1941, Germany invaded Russia, Panzertruppe encountered KV series and T-34/76 tanks, far superior in firepower and armour protection to any Panzer in service at the time. It was therefore decided to design a new more powerful medium tank, which could be quickly put into production. This book details the result, the Medium Battle Tank, available for service in January 1943. Later models ensured that it became one of the most feared tanks of WWII.

  • Sales Rank: #941618 in Books
  • Brand: New Vanguard - Tanks - German
  • Published on: 2003-02-19
  • Released on: 2003-02-19
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.69" h x 2.54" w x 7.21" l, .37 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 48 pages

From the Publisher
The unrivalled illustrated reference on fighting vehicles, transport and artillery through the ages. Each volume is illustrated throughout, making these books uniquely accessible to history enthusiasts of all ages.

About the Author
Dr Stephen A Hart is senior lecturer in the War Studies department, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Prior to this he lectured in the International Studies Department at the University of Surrey, and in the War Studies Department, King's College London. He is the author of several popular histories of aspects of the German Army in the Second World War.

Most helpful customer reviews

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Informative Book
By james hutchisson
Good book, excellent illustrations.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Five Stars
By David Paquette
Arrived on time and as ordered

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
Well-researched book with just about everything you would want to know about the German Panther Tank
By Stephen P. Ford
I have been very pleased with and impressed with the quality of Osprey publications. The Vanguard and New Vanguard series are focused on specific weapon systems. Panther Medium Tank 1942-45 provides information on the development of the Panther and models D, II, A, G & F. For a more complete technical book I recommend Panther and Its Variants by Walter J. Spielberger - This is Volume 1 of The Spielberger German Armor & Military Vehicle Series,

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Book Description Softcover. Condition: New. Laurier, Jim (illustrator). Osprey New Vanguard - Tanks - German Panther Medium Tank 1942-45 (MINT/New) Manufacturer: Osprey Product Line: New Vanguard - Tanks - German Type: Softcover Code: OSPNVG067 Copyright Date: 2003 Author: Stephen Hart Page Count: 48 Please review the condition and any condition notes for the exact condition of this item. All pictures are stock photos. The condition of the item you will receive is MINT/New. Our grading system is explained in the terms of sale section of our bookseller page. Please feel free to contact us with any questions. Product Description: The Panzerkampfwagen V Panther is one of the best-known German tanks in existence and is considered one of the greatest tanks of World War II. When in June of 1941, Germany invaded Russia, Panzertruppe encountered KV series and T-34/76 tanks, far superior in firepower and armour protection to any Panzer in service at the time. It was therefore decided to design a new more powerful medium tank, which could be quickly put into production. This book details the result, the Medium Battle Tank, available for service in January 1943. Later models ensured that it became one of the most feared tanks of WWII. Seller Inventory # 2148872801


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