Panzer V Panther Ausf G

Arguably the best Armored Fighting Vehicle of World War II, the Panther was a response to effective Soviet armor and would prove a serious challenge for any opponent.

IMG_9187

After the jump, a German medium tank.

The Panther came about as a response to the T-34 and KV-1.  In 1941 the Germans were learning that Soviet armor was generally better than their own.  German tactics and training remained superior, but it was obvious better tanks were needed.  So work was started on the Panther, and heavier Tiger, at about the same time.

IMG_9188 IMG_9189

There is an extreme good and bad about this tank that leads to a mixed assessment.  Its main armament, and that means gun, ammunition, and targeting optics, were outstanding.  Really the best of any medium tank in the war.  Likewise its armor, both thickness and good angles, were as good as any medium tank.  Its tactical mobility was also good; that means it had a low “flotation”, or ground pressure, so it could maneuver even on loose or muddy surfaces better than most. It was also highly maneuverable and was one of the few World War Two tanks that could pivot in place.

IMG_9190 IMG_9191

But when first deployed, the Panther’s mechanical problems were practically crippling, after much work on refining the design later models mechanical problems were only serious.  That sounds like a joke, but it really isn’t.  The engine and transmission were both overworked due to the vehicle weight and complexity (pivot in place for a 44 ton tank!) and German industrial quality was becoming very bad in the later part of the war.  This meant the Panther’s strategic mobility was very poor.  Its reliability was a more limiting factor than the range on a tank of gas (!).

IMG_9193

The T-34 (at left) is the tank that inspired the Panther. No doubt the Panther was bigger and more formidable. But the T-34 was more rugged and reliable.

IMG_9192

This is the Tamiya kit of a Panther that fought on the Eastern Front in 1944.

 ~ Up Next: Savoia Marchetti SM.79 

Advertisements

About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
This entry was posted in Armor, Germany and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Panzer V Panther Ausf G

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    “Best” armored fighting vehicle is a whole briar patch. For many reasons you mention the Panther was a formidable foe on the battlefield. For many of the other reasons you mentioned, encountering one was an admittedly frightening, but somewhat rare event. There were about 6-7 thousand built over the course of the war. Not trivial, but there were over 40,000 M4 Shermans built, and production of the T-34 outstripped that. Granted, a T34-76 or a Sherman, especially earlier variants, encountering a Panther would in the immediate tactical environment be in serious trouble, but the fact is that a Sherman or T-34 rarely encountered anything near equal numbers of Panthers. Cold comfort for the crews, but in the base arithmetic of war the Panther was little more that a speed bump for allied forces. Had it been more reliable and deployed in greater numbers it surely could have had an impact, as is true of the Tiger and the King Tiger, but it was once again a too little too late story that runs across German weaponry in WW2.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah best and worst claims always make me chuckle. I’ve seen so many writers make that claim for the Panther, and given the type’s limitations it makes me laugh a little. Especially when German planners had to provide rail transport to within 50 miles of any offensive launching point.
      Neither the Sherman nor T-34 had such a limitation. Exactly as you said, I can see where a tanker might want to have a Panther; but on an operational level almost any other medium was more useful.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      And when it comes down to it, American military doctrine did not include slugging it out in armored battles. Oddly Rommel was one who saw the futility of that and Patton adapted that strategy, relying on close air support as opposed to armored columns guarding his flanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s