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Panther
Panzer V Panther


"Panther 1, Immobilized!"
―Koume Akaboshi

The Panther (its ordnance designation being Sd.Kfz. 171, and until 1944 designated as Panzerkampfwagen V Panther) was a German medium tank that saw extensive service in the later half of World War Two.

History

Development

Work on a replacement tank for the Panzer III and Panzer IV already began in 1938. This new series of tanks were designated as the VK 20.01. The letters ‘VK’ are an abbreviation for ‘Vollketten’ (fully tracked), the 20 followed for the weight class in tons, and the 01 for the first model in the series.

The first contract for a detailed design was given to Daimler-Benz. In October 1939, Daimler-Benz began to design their own tank after receiving permission to prepare designs without outside interference.

At the begininng of the war in September 1939, the firm of Krupp embarked on designing an improved Pz. Kpfw. IV. This project was cancelled in May 1940 and Krupp began detailed designs on a new tank in the 20 ton class.

Due to engineers at both Daimler-Benz and Krupp favoring leaf spring suspension and being opposed to torsion bar suspension the firm of MAN (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg – Machine Works of Augsburg and Nürnberg) was pulled into the competition to design a new tank in the 20 ton class with torsion bar suspension.

By November 1941, designs for new tanks in the 20 ton class had almost been completed.

During operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, that started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, German forces would come to encounter two new Soviet tanks, the medium T-34 and the heavy KV-1, for the first time. A special Panzerkommission was sent to the front in order to obtain first hand knowledge and to study captured examples. In December 1941, the decision was made to abandon the previous designs and create new tanks in the 30 ton class.

As Krupp was dropped from the competition leaving both Daimler-Benz and MAN to come up with proposal for the new tank. In March 1942 the politicians decided in favor of the proposal by Daimler-Benz. However, a special comission which had been formed to review both designs ruled in favor of the proposal by MAN in May 1942. That same month Hitler agreed with the recommendation and the Panther design from MAN was selected for series production.

Daimler-Benz’s design, VK 30.01 (D), sported a well-sloped low hull, permitted by the usage of the well-proven, although “old school” solution with leaf spring suspension combined with large diameter double roadwheels and no return rollers. This would give the tank a rather low silhouette and narrow hull, the benefit of this being that the tank would stay close to its intendid weight. At the same time, this also put a considerable restriction the size of the turret ring diameter, which in turn limited the size of the turret. Like on the T-34, the drive sprockets were at the rear and the turret was placed forward. The engine was a diesel. Even with a three-man turret, the internal space was cramped, and mounting of the planned long barelled gun proved very difficult.

On the other hand, the design by MAN, VK 30.02 (M), was more of a conventional design, with the transmission and drive sprockets at the front, and a gasoline engine at the rear. This allowed for a larger, roomier turret to be mounted in the center of the vehicle. The double torsion bar suspension required more internal space, resulting in a larger hull. For the suspension, MAN took inspiration from Henschel’s Tiger I design, with pairs of large diameter interleaved wheels and wide tracks the tank would enjoy a lower ground pressure, better traction and mobility.

In parallel to this, Rheinmetall-Borsig had been tasked with designing a new gun that could penetrate the armour of the new Russian tanks, specifically to be able to penetrate 140 mm at 1000 meter range. The first design was a 75 mm L/60 gun, which was testfired in early 1942 and nearly matched the requested numbers. Thusly, it was decided to settle at a callibre length of L/70.

Rheinmetall was contracted to design a new turret for this gun. It should be pointed out the vehicle this turret was being designed for was at that time not the Panther, but the Tiger. At that time, the 88 mm L/56 Kw.K 36 was not matching the penetrating power of the 75 mm L/70 Kw.K 42 so after the first 100 Tiger from Henschel and Porsche, subsequent production would switch to the Kw.K 42 gun.

A change in the 88 mm rounds filler cavity did provide the Kw.K 36 eventually with the same and better penetrating capabilities, after which the Tiger Ausf. H2 was canceled and the Tiger Ausf. H1 kept in production. Rheinmetall's turret design for the Tiger Ausf. H2 was subsequently changed to be used on the VK 30.0X designs.

When the decision was taken to go ahead with the design from MAN, series production would start at the MAN factory in November 1942. To increase deliveries of the new tank Daimler-Benz, Maschinenfabrik-Niedersachsen-Hanover (MNH) and Henschel became involved.

The first production model was designated as the Ausf. D, the reason for this contradiction remains unknown. Over the course of its production run all of the modifications made to the Ausf. D by DEMAG were incorperated. By September 1943, some 850 exampels of the Ausf. D had been completed.

Operational History

Panther g 04

Panzer V "Panther" Ausf. G

The combat debut of the Panther during Operation Zitadelle proved to be a major dissapointment for the German Army. During the first few days of fighting, the number of operational tanks had dropped considerably. Contributing to these heavy losses was the lack of proper training for the units operating the new tank, poor tactical usage of the tank by commanders, heavy in-depth Russian minefields, powerfull anti-tank defencess, and the tank being an untested design with numerous mechanical deficiencies at this stage.

During and after the failed offensive at Kursk, production of the Panther would continue at an ever increasing output. Known faults could only be corrected at the factory, and over time most of the problems with the tank were eliminated. By 1944, the Panther had developed from the fault-ridden tank of the Panzerwaffe to a formiddable battle tank much appreciated by its crews.

When the production of the Ausf. A began in August 1943 one of the few recognizable changes was the shape of the turret which had been simplefied for ease of manufacture. Other changes included a lower, more ballistically resistant, cast-steel cupola with seven hooded periscopes arranged around its exterior circumference. Another change was a ball-type mounting for the bow MG 34. As production began to ramp up the number of Panthers in the field began to show a considerable increase. By July 1944, some 2200 Panther Ausf. A had been completed.

Production would once again switch to an improved model in March 1944 with the introduction of the Ausf. G which would remain in production until the end of the war. While the turret remained unchanged to that of the Ausf. A, this new model would use a newly improived chassis that incorperated production simplifications as wel las lessons learned from the cancelled Panther II. The Ausf. G chassis was uparmored in some areas and thinned in other areas to maintain the vehicles weight. Captured German indicated that almost 3000 Panther Ausf. G tanks made it across the assembly lines before production ceased, making it the most numerous model of the Panther build.

Key external spotting features for the Ausf. G tank chassis included, large tapering superstructure plates on the sides of the vehicle's hull, wehich replaced the two-piece hull superstructure plates of the previous models. On the glacis plate, the driver's direct-vision visor port and his two overhead fixed periscopes, were done away with and replaced with a single overhead 360-degree rotating and tilting periscope. A newly designed and reinforced mantlet, called a 'chin' due to the pronounced chin on its bottom portion was introduced in September 1944. However, this conversion was gradual and resulted in many Panthers still being assembeld with the rounded mantlet through to the end of the war.

The outcome of the war was decided by industrial might which gave both the Western Allies and the Soviets the ability to produce the vast amounts of equipment and material to wage a global war, and would result in the final encirclement of the Third Reich from three sides from 1944 onwards. The increasingly fast loss of the initiative and strategic capability to react made all offensive ambitions of the Wehrmacht impossble. Forced to defend, this meant that the Panzerwaffe with potent machines such as the Panther ultimately lost the tactical and operational advantage.  

Despite most design flaws were rectified by late 1943 and the spring of 1944, though the bombing of production plants, increasing shortages of high quality alloys for critical components, shortage of fuel and training space, and the declining quality of crews all impacted the tank's effectiveness.

To what extent the Panther with its undeniable quality influenced post-war tank design is difficult to judge. Even with its capabilities acknowledged, elsewhere each nation went its own way to reach and eventually exceed the parameters. This became apparent with tanks like the Centurion, the M26 Pershing, and the T-44.

Girls und Panzer

Anime

Kuromorimine Girls Academy has several Panthers in its arsenal and uses these throughout their matches.

During the Tournament's Finals, Kuromorimine employed several Panthers as the backbone of its force, with the heavier vehicles being the ones supposed to bring the opponents down; however, thanks to Ooarai Girls Academy's unorthodox tactics, this often forced them to engage in unfavourable tactical conditions. Unsurprisingly, this caused the Panthers to take a good share of the losses at the hand of Ooarai's tanks, with some being taken out by skilled marksmanship (in the case of Miho Nishizumi's Panzer IV) or by superior firepower (as proved by Ooarai's Tiger (P)).

A Panther commanded by the Panther Commander was one of the tanks that was tricked by Turtle Team's Hetzer pulling up to their encirclement line, with the Panther Commander not noticing it until it pulled up between two of her fellow tanks. When she tried to direct tanks to engage the small tank destroyer, they came under heavy fire from Ooarai on the high ground. The subsequent chaos led her to pull the entire left flank back in an to regroup and form another defensive line, but this proved to be in vain as they were unable to prevent Ooarai's team from breaking out of the encirclement.

Gekkan Senshado Magazine

<TBD>

Der Film

Two Panthers were part of the Kuromorimine detachment sent to reinforce the Ooarai Compound Team. One was under the command of Koume Akaboshi, while the other was commanded by Emi Kojima. As part of the Sunflower detachment the Panther along with other tanks advance on a high, central hilltop, from which they hope to give supporting fire to the other two companies. They crest the hill unopposed. Although UST tanks from Megumi Company are spotted ahead, Katyusha notes that Pershing tanks are not good hill-climbers. Thus Team Sunflower manage to position themselves well before the Pershings are in range.

From their commanding position, Team Sunflower prepares to give supporting fire to the other companies, but just as Katyusha gives the order to open fire, a colossal explosion shakes the ground and showers the Team Sunflower vehicles with upturned dirt. The smoke slowly clears, with nobody sure as to where the explosion came from. In the silence, a shot from very far off is heard: Several moments later a huge artillery shell lands between two Kuromorimine Panthers, immobilizing them both in one hit.  Both were some of the first tanks to be taken out relatively early in the match when both got knocked out by a shell fired by the Karl-Gerät 040.

Das Finale

Several Panthers form a part of Kuromorimine's selection for their first match in the tournament against Maginot.

More about the Panther

Gallery

Main article: Panther/Gallery
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