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Weapons of World War Two

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther

The apparition in the frontline of the Soviet medium tank T-34 caused a huge impression in the German generals, who immediately realized that they faced a tank that could easily defeat their best armored elements. But after the first instants of panic, the reports from the front made to clearly understand that even if the Russians possessed an excellent weapon, they could not take the most of it, either because of lack of materials, the difficulties of the war industry or the scarce experience of the crews. Actually, the T-34 were used at the beginning in small numbers and without a precise criterion due to the concurrence of the three aforementioned causes.

Naturally, that could not be known by the German High Staff, but they could imagine that, sooner or later, the crews of the Red Army would get used to them, and then things would take an unpleasant aspect. Consequently, it was decided to press to the maximum the German war industry which, in the homeland, was studying new types of tanks. Since it was impossible to further accelerate the production of the heavier models, which later would originate the famous Tiger, Hitler ordered to give the strongest impulse to the creation of a new type of tank of 30 tonnes, which would see the light in September 1942, albeit shortly after it would be built the definitive prototype, which had some modifications requested by Hitler in person.

The denomination of that vehicle, which would be accepted and immediately put into production, was Panzerkampfwagen V "Panther". Indeed it deserved that name, for the designers had widely satisfied the requirements from the military: armor strong enough with very sloped surfaces to divert the projectiles, wide axes and tracks to ensure a good marching even in muddy or snowy terrains, and turret with rotation of 360 degrees fitted with a more powerful cannon than those in service.

The hull of the Panther, made of welded plates, had a maximum thickness of 80 millimeters and, in the fore part, an inclination of 55 degrees, which allowed the projectiles to slide out without hitting the upper part of the turret. The tracks for normal march, of 66 centimeters in width, and the sufficiently wide axes, ensured, apart from a good performance over mud and snow, an exceptionally stable firing platform. In the turret there was a 75-millimeter cannon of 70 calibers in length, able to perforate 140 millimeters of steel armor at 1000 meters of distance. Finally, close defense was entrusted to two 7.92 millimeters MG 34 machine guns (hull and coaxial), while a third similar machine gun could be installed in the top of the turret.

Of this excellent tank, which according to many experts was perhaps the best tank used during the war, would also be built a recovery version used by the engineer corps, and a small series (little less than 400 exemplars) modified as tank destroyer, with an 88/71 cannon installed in casemate instead of turret. In total would be used, from the mid 1943 to the last days of the war, about 6000 Panther, apart from the special versions.

Year: 1943

Weight: 44.8 tonnes

Length: 8.66 meters

Width: 3.42 meters

Height: 3.00 meters

Ground clearance: 56 centimeters

Maximum armor: 80 millimeters

Engine: Maybach HL 230 of 700 horsepower

Maximum speed on road: 45.7 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed on countryside: 30 kilometers/hour

Operational range on road: 200 kilometers

Operational range on countryside: 100 kilometers

Crew: 5

Armament: One 75-millimeter cannon; two or three 7.92-millimeter machine guns

Ammunitions: 79 of 75 millimeters; 4500 of 7.92 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.45 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.90 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 30 degrees

Fording: 1.70 meters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

Hornet aircraft carrierBM-13 KatyushaAvro Lancaster