As the war between Germany and Russia continued into 1943 the Wehrmacht continued to seek more powerful, more capable weapons to deal with the Soviet masses.
Join me for a look at one of the more successful such designs.
I’ve previously looked at several German tank destroyers. The idea behind such vehicles initially was to mount a larger, more effective gun on an older, smaller tank chassis. The Jagdpanther was a little different, the idea being to mount the ultimate version of the 88 mm Pak43 L71 gun (the same gun used on the very heavy King Tiger tank) on the smaller, but current and modern Panther tank.
This had been tried on other platforms leading to vehicles that were either too heavy (Ferdinand/Elefant) or too light (Nashorn). So the Jagdpanther was meant to be Goldilock’s 88 mm tank destroyer. As far as that goes the design was a complete success. It was a viciously effective anti-tank weapon well suited to defensive, ambush warfare of the sort the Wehrmacht found itself embroiled in during the later part of the war.
But it suffered from all the shortcomings of late war German armor too. Its mechanical reliability was poor and spare parts were always in short supply. A total 415 Jagdpanthers were built from January of 1944; plans called for production of 150 a month but Allied strategic bombing kept that from ever happening.
At left is the Marder III, an earlier German tank destroyer that mounted a 76 mm gun on a Panzer 38(t) chassis. The gun platform fully rotates making it more tank-like, but obviously it was mostly open making it more vulnerable. The Hetzer (front, right) is a more complete Panzer 38(t) conversion with the 76 mm gun in a fully armored box. This time gun traverse is limited but the fighting unit is better protected. The Jagdpanther looms over the earlier, smaller vehicles. The big 88 mm gun on a Panther chassis, more fully converted like the Hetzer.
This example is from the Tamiya kit and represents a vehicle that fought in the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) in December of 1944. It was an easy and fun build as are other models in this series.
Late war German armor. The Panther tank at left was well regarded and capable. But it’s 75 mm gun couldn’t defeat the heaviest Soviet armor. The King Tiger at right, with its improved 88 mm gun, could defeat most anything, but it was always in short supply. So the Jagdpanther mounted that bigger gun on the Panther platform.
The American M10 Tank Destroyer (right, foreground) was much more tank-like than any German sort. It mounted a 3″ gun (only slightly bigger than the standard 75 mm on a Sherman) in an open, slightly lighter turret on the Sherman chassis. The Soviet IS-2 (right, rear) was the sort of heavy monster that was their response to German armor. Both allied weapons were available in greater numbers and were more reliable and better serviced than their German opponents.
I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; 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.
If I’m not mistaken in “Band of Brothers” in the Market Garden episode it is a Jagdpanther that just about singlehandedly stops E company ant the British advance.
Curse my lack of admin privileges on this blog… E company AND the British advance.
Yes I believe you are correct.
Of course, a lot of “Hollywood” armor is cobbled together from post-war spare parts; the only credits I can find on-line for that episode are a faux-Tiger (T-34 body with a reproduction Tiger turret) and a Stug III. But yeah, it looks more like a JagdPanther to me.
Definitely a fearsome opponent for paratroopers, and medium armor that doesn’t see their target!
Yeah, it carved them up pretty good, but that was the Market Garden story, lightly armed paratroopers and a fast moving armored column ran into an unexpected experienced Panzer division.
“We don’t have the facilities to take you all prisoner…”
I decided that since I have the video and streaming I could actually check. It is episode 4, “Replacements” and while the first tank to fire is a Tiger I, (which looks pretty authentic if it is a reproduction) there is definitely a Jagdpanther that looks like the real thing. There is a third German tank destroyer I couldn’t identify.
Yeah I think that third vehicle is the Stug III.
I don’t *think* they had an actual working Jagdpanther, which makes it a pretty amazing replica? I just don’t know.
Several years ago, at Thunder Over Michigan, a reenactor group had a replica Panther built from a T-34. It was a pretty convincing copy!
I took another closer look, and while they got the Tiger silhouette just about perfect there is a profile shot that makes it obvious (if you know your WWII armor) that it is on a T-34 chasis. The front drive wheel is far to small for a Tiger and it lacks the stacked running wheels of the Tiger. The Jagdpanther silhouette was also spot on, but there was not a good shot of the suspension. It could possibly be determined by scale, as both the Tiger and Panther were larger than the T-34, but as “Lord of the Rings: showed us, Hollywood is good at hiding those things.
The third does very much look like a Stug, right down to the suspension.
Okay, according to Wikipedia there is a running Jagdpanther in England. (A part of the “Weald Foundation”) I still haven’t found a specific credit for that, but I did find a still from “Replacements” where I could see even the road wheels are the Panther’s layered torsion type. It just has to be the real thing.
Really? That would be impressive that they went to the expense to be so accurate considering “The Battle of the Bulge” used M60’s for the Germans and M24’s for the Americans and everyone just accepted it as standard Hollywood stuff. Do you have a link or timestamp?
No but it was from wargaming.net
The caption identifies it as a Jagdpanther with no further explanation. Which proves precisely nothing…
Except that war gamers are often pretty OCD about this sort of stuff.
I suppose it doesn’t really matter, other than I’m impressed the details Hollywood goes to these days to be supremely accurate about WW II as opposed to 45 to 50 years ago when there were a ton of vets who had been specifically trained to identify Allied and German armor by both road wheels and profile. In fact when the Chaffee and Pershing were deployed there was a specific effort made to educate the troops on the new tanks, because their suspension looked “German”.
Some of that is just because Band of Brothers focused on small unit actions and didn’t try to do any sort of large action sequences.
And of course for newer projects, thanks to CGI will never have any excuse for such things.
Patton is the other one I remember with all those masses of Cold War vehicles. Established mass I guess, but not the right look.
The coming movie “Midway” looks to be dead on for hardware. How the story goes may be another story(!), but at least the cast shows all real, historic characters.
I will be very interested in how the new Midway movie is handled, based on my experience with JJ Abrams’ “Pearl Harbor”.
Yeah, expectations are cautious.
But dang, the previews look great!
Love the Nell taking off the tail of a parked Dauntless! True enough event, of course several months before the featured battle…
But then I hear Patrick Wilson’s voice over and I start thinking of “Pearl Harbor”.
Now that I think of it though, getting their hands on 50-60 Tiger or Panther reproductions to depict epic tank battles was not something that was gonna happen in 1965. And the tanks were perhaps the least of the liberties Hollywood took with that story.
I don’t disagree!
Just the curse of being a nerd on such things, it will never look right to us.
Oddly I find myself watching “Battle of the Bulge”. The Ardennes has an uncanny resemblance to southern California.
And Jodie and I are watching a new comedy this year that’s set in Detroit…. that also looks a lot like Southern California!
Getting wild in retirement eh? Up late on a Friday.
I’ve always considered 2 to be bedtime; so actually I’m trying to maintain “normal”!
This is when I stopped getting notifications.
Thank you for taking the time to catch up!
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