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Everything You Need To Know About The German WW2 Panther Tank

The Panther tank was one of Germany’s most successful and most mass-produced tanks of World War 2. Contrary to popular belief, the German army was not more technologically advanced than the Allies during the war. In fact, during the invasion of France, the French Char B1 was more advanced than anything the Germans had, and in the invasion of the Soviet Union, the T-34 was more advanced. The T-34 medium tank in particular gave a lot of headaches for the Germans.Especially that the Soviet Union didn’t just collapse like France. So it was able to start mass-producing these tanks. To counter the T-34, the German Panzer III and IVs were upgraded, and the Panther was produced. The Panther was a medium/heavy tank that could always give the Allies a run for their money.Here is everything you need to know about the Panther — one of Germany’s most successful tanks.

8.Introduction To The Tank

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The Panther was originally intended to replace the older Panzer III and IV, but the realities of war meant that it would serve alongside the Panzer IV through to the end of the war. It was also related to the Tiger I Heavy Tank.

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The Panther was praised for its great protection and firepower, though its reliability was much more questionable. Still, it was more than enough to give the Soviets a tough fight and was super to the T-34. It is also easy to argue that it was more successful than the later Tiger I and Tiger II tanks.

7.Relationship With The Tiger I

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One problem for the German war effort was investing too many resources in the bigger and badder machines, but they just didn’t have those resources needed for that. The Panther was an excellent tank, partly because it was comparatively cheap and effective (affordability is very important in war).

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Compared to the Tiger I, it was much, much cheaper and offered a better gun penetration, more effective frontal hull armor, and was lighter and faster. The Tiger I on the other hand was heavier, had the same Maybach V12 gasoline 690 hp engine, but had better side armor.

6.In Combat

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The Panther was rushed into combat to participate in what was the largest, or one of the largest, tank battles in history at the Battle of Kursk. It’s hard to exaggerate how big this battle was. It was great off-road in open country and was effective in long-range fighting.

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But in the Battle of Kursk, it was still new off the production line and so had many issues that hadn’t been ironed out. Consequently, it suffered high losses during the battle, although, most of these deficiencies were fixed by the end of the year in 1943.

5.A Heavy Tank In Disguise

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While the Panther was officially classified as a medium tank, it was more of a heavy tank, with its weight of some hefty-for-the-time 44.8 tons. This places it as comparative to the heavy British infantry tank the Churchill (at 40.7 tons), the American M26 Pershing heavy tank (41.7 tons), and the Soviet IS-2 (at 46 tons).

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It was more than capable of taking on just about anything the Allies could throw at it. But, as with all heavy tanks, it did suffer from the problem of its weight and the difficulty of crossing many bridges.

4.Battle Of The Bulge

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The Battle of the Bulge was one of the largest tank battles fought by the Western Allies, and the Panther featured heavily in this campaign. By the end of 1944, the problems with the Panther’s engines overheating had been fixed, and some considered it the most potent tank on the battlefield.

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At the time of the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans had around 471 Panthers on the Western Front, of which 336 were operational. The Panthers suffered very heavy losses to the Allies and after the battle, many of the remaining Panthers were transferred to the Eastern Front.

3.Improvement And Regression

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While in the Battle of Kursk, the Panther had the teething problems all new designs have that need to be worked out, they did improve afterward. At the same time, the quality and effectiveness also fell over the course of the war.

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This is because of intensive Allied bombing and acute shortages of vital materials of the right standard needed for its construction. Additionally, it was adversely affected by worsening training, fuel shortages, and declining quality of the crew. There is a lot more to what makes an effective weapons system than just the design of the vehicle.

2.Allied Response

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In response to the Germans developing the heavy tanks the Panther and the Tiger I, the Allies all had to increase the protection and firepower of their tanks in order to take on these German tanks. The British developed the excellent 17-pounder anti-tank gun, but it took a while to actually mount it on a vehicle.

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Via Flickr

The Americans, though, weren’t in a hurry to field their new M26 Pershing heavy tank because it was both new and the sheer logistical difficulties of transporting and supplying heavy tanks all the way to the front line in Europe.

1.Number Produced And Surviving Tanks

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Around 6,000 of the Panther tanks were produced, making it one of Nazi Germany’s most-produced tanks of the war, at the peak, they had around 2,000 of them in service, although losses were heavy. This is still much less than the number of American M4 Shermans and Soviet T-34 Medium tanks that were produced during the course of the war.

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Today, there are supposedly around seven Panthers around the world still in working condition. Additionally, there are around another 14 complete Panthers that are not in working condition, mostly sat in museums around the world.

In summary, the Panther was a great tank in its day, it did have its problems but it was a better investment than the Tigers I and II.

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