Panzer V Panther (Family)

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In-Game Vehicles

Panthers

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Rank IV

Vehicles Based on the Panther

Rank IV

Panzer V Panther

Panzerkampfwagen V Ausf. D

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.

Crew

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.

Armament

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.

Armor

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.

Mobility

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.

Turret

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.

Radio

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.

Camouflage

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

Hull Machine Gun

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.

Armor

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.

Turret

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.

Suspension

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.

Exhaust Pipes

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.

Armor

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.

Turret

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.

Camouflage

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).

Production

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: 6,003

Total Produced By Year Using Factory Data -

1943: 1,768

1944: 3777

1945: 439

Total: 5,984

Bergepanther

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.

Panther II

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.

Panzerkampfwagen V Ausf. F

Jagdpanther

Media

The Shooting Range #135 - Metal Beasts section at 00:30 discusses the Panthers.
The Panther Family - War Thunder Official Channel

Bibliography