Panther is the common name of a medium tank fielded by Nazi Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945.
About this creation
The Panther was intended to act as counter to the T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV. While it never fully replaced the Panzer III and IV, it served alongside them as well as with the heavier Tiger tanks until the end of the war. The Panther's excellent combination of firepower, mobility, and protection served as a benchmark for other nations' late war and immediate post-war tank designs, and it is frequently regarded as one of the best tank designs of World War II.
Design by Daniel Siskend
2nd to last and 3rd to last photos by Bernard Zee
The development of the Panther resulted from the Wehrmacht's unpleasant surprise encounter with the Soviet T-34 during Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia in June 1941. Although in short supply, the T-34 made a quick and lasting impression on the German armored forces through its combination of speed and mobility, rugged reliability, sloped armor protection and firepower.
The Panther was designed over two years, a much shorter period then the usual five year period. As a result, the tank was plagued with mechanical problems, making the Panther much less effective then it could have been. The Panther was originally supposed to have a weight of 35 tons, but ended up at 44 tons. It was fitted with gears meant for a 35 ton tank, so as a result when the tank accelerated, the teeth on the gears would shear off. Before this could be corrected, the Panther was thrown into production in order to participate in the Battle of Kursk.
Having arrived on the battlefield in 1943 at a crucial phase in World War II for Germany and been rushed into combat at Kursk before its teething problems were corrected, the Panther tank thereafter fought on outnumbered in Germany's steady retreat before the Allies for the remainder of World War II. Its success as a battlefield weapon was thus hampered by Germany's generally declining position in the war, with the loss of airpower protection by the Luftwaffe, the loss of fuel and training space, and the declining quality of tank crews
Nevertheless, the Panther tank was respected by the Allies as one of the best all-round tanks of the war, and its combat capabilities led directly to the introduction of heavier Allied tanks such as the Soviet IS-2 and the American M26 Pershing into the war.
The Panther was armed with a long-barreled 7.5 cm KwK 42 L/70 gun with 79 rounds. A MG34 mounted on the bow provided protection from infantry. It was manned by a crew of 5, a driver, radio-operator/hull machine gunner, commander, gunner and a loader.
Below is the Panther Ausf. A at the museum where I work. It is the world's only running Panther tank, and is the most completely restored Panther as well. This tank was found at the bottom of a river in Poland and shipped to the US. The restoration process took three years and $4.5 million. The restoration process was featured on the History Channel show "Tank Overhaul", which still occasionally airs.
Here is a video of the Panther running for the first time.
This is how it first looked when it arrived in the USA.