The Panzerkampfwagen V "Panther" was a medium tank used by Germany during WWII. The first production model of the Panther series was the Panther Ausf. A1. It had a 690 hp, gasoline powered Maybach HL230 engine capable of propelling the Panther at speeds of 55 km/h.
The main idea of the Panther came from the Germans seeing the T-34's slanted armor in comparison to their own vertical armor, they then realized that by slanting the armor, they doubled the armor with no extra weight. They soon produced the Panther as a result.
The Panther's main gun was a high velocity 75 mm cannon capable of piercing most tank armor at the time. The gun was designated the L/70 and the Panther furthermore had two defensive machine guns. MG 34s to be more precise. In order to function, the Panther Ausf. A1 required a crew of five and its sloped armor was 80mm thick which was the equivelent to about 100mm.
The Panther had a torsion bar suspension system along with 7 speed forward, 1 speed reverse transmission system. The total weight of the Panther system was about 39,900 kg while the total length was about 8.8 meters. The maximum operational range of the panther was 250 kilometers.
The first variant in the Panther series following the Panther Ausf. A1 was the Ausf. A2 which had improved the A1s main shortcoming, mechanical failure. Despite the fact that the Ausf. A2's designation seems to indicate that it came early on, the A2 was deployed only by 1944. Before it was actually the Ausf. D. The Ausf. D had much the same specifications as the original only that it had improvements to its transmission and was the first real mass-produced variant. The final variant, the Ausf. G, was heavily modified, having the capability to have three MG 34s mounted, having a modified crew compartment, and having a modified turret. Another variant of the series only not a tank was the SdKfz 179 Bergepanther which was an armored recovery vehicle. Additionally, some other command vehicle variants designated Befehlspanzer Panthers were also made.
The Panther soon began its development almost immediately after German units demanded for a tank that could actually hold its own against the heavily armored T-34 and KV-1. As mentioned above, one of the main aspects of the Panther's success was its sloped armor that just about doubled its protectiveness and increased the chance that a round would bounce off of the armor. Also important was the 76mm main gun which was large enough to deal effectively with other tanks yet small enough that its weight wouldn't slow down the tank. However, one of the more little known aspects of the Panther's success was its wide road tracks/wheels which prevented it from sinking into the Soviet homeland's heavy muds. Field tests were then conducted as soon as early 1942, but due to Hitler's increasing desire for the new Panthers to be in the field on the Eastern Front as soon as possible, these panthers were rushed in the making, thus leading to early mechanical problems which then led to field break-downs.
The Panther was extensively used on the Eastern Front against the Soviets as that was where it was designed to be used but it also saw action in the North African Campaign. It was perhaps the best medium tank of WWII with its excellent combination of mobility, firepower, and armor protection. It was virtually invulnerable to the smaller guns of the M4A2 Sherman, Crusader III, Churchill, and the T-34/76. The Panther also had better armor than most tanks of the day but the advancing Red Army soon produced the massive IS-2 with a powerful 122mm main gun to counteract the effects of the panther. However, the IS-2 posed a problem, it took a very long time to load the 122 main gun. This lead to the development of the T-34-85 which although still couldn't quite beat the Panther's armor, it was mass produced and with the right tactics, could overcome.
- ↑ http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/tanks-medium/pzkpfw-v-ausf-a1.asp
- ↑ http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/vehiclesarmor/p/panther.htm