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Which Panther was the Best

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by Sgttom, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Sgttom

    Sgttom recruit

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    I heard this story yesterday "After the war the british army got 10 panthers for trials and evaluation.

    Nine of them burst into flames on starting the ignition, they had to get a german POW out to see what the problem was. He said basically when you stop them you have to stall them in gear or the fuel rushs back up the lines and a spark ignites it.

    The steering was also awful, most crews skid turned then as using the proper steering threw the tracks off.

    The veteran in question said 'we were always fighting the tank and trying to make it work' .

    Similarly late war german tanks lacked automatic turret traverse as they ran out of copper for the wiring!" I always thought the Panther was an excelent tank untill I heard this. But what I am wondering is; which of the Panthers was the best? Ausf A, Ausf D,or Ausf G. Did one of them have a better engine? Which had the best speed?
     
  2. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Well, the Panther D, A, G (that's the cronological order, don't ask me!) underwent several modifications, naturally the Ausf.G, being the final one, was supposed to be the best model.

    In very short terms, the D. model had only a very simple slit for it's hull machine gun, A used a ball mount, and G ditto plus improved armour arrangement including on the gun mantlet in order to avoid a shot trap.

    IIRC the engine was the same.
     
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    If I remember right the bulk of Panthers officially tested by the British postwar were actually assembled by REME in the immediate aftermath of Germany's occupation. The 'G' example on display there is certainly a survivor of this programme. (Hence there are high hopes it'll get a running restoration as it's all pretty complete, just somewhat neglected... This could mean 3 fully restored Panthers & the Gibb Jagdpanther residing in the UK!)

    Interestingly the French gave their postwar Panthers a transmission life of 150 KMs, there were certainly reliability/maintenance issues to all models, not least the difficulty of changing major drivetrain assemblies when they failed. (There's a very good point by point asessment made by the French in Spielberger which contains the comment that Panther is; "in no way a strategic tank" based on these drivetrain weaknesses.) There's no mention of the fire thing in later/post war Panther testing reports that I have, though of course it was something of a 'feature' on the first models.
    Might be worth checking the Pantherfibel to see if any warning was given to crews on routines relating to this:

    View attachment 2557 (6.6meg pdf.)

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. SPGunner

    SPGunner Member

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    There were continuous improvements during the production run, so in general the Ausf G should be the best. Although late in the war, production quality may have deteriorated.
     
  5. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Is the "9 burst into flames" a verified fact? does not seem like a reasonable number. It seems to have been fairly effective once the bugs were worked out and before shortages hit. I am not certain they got continuously better as logic would dictate as material shortages and manufacturing ability was encumbered. It has been discussed that metal hardness was not as good toward the end due to lack of alloy additives. I think the Panther a very good performer given better circumstances. Does anyone know of a better WW2 tank design?
     
  6. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    Sure, the M4 Sherman...
     
  7. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Besides the aforementioned Sherman (last models) being a better design, I would venture the T-34 was superior in its final version as well, since its original version (T-34/76) spawned the NEED for the Panther.
     
  8. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    I agree with the T-34 and I understand that it forced the Germans to create the Panther and even influenced its design.

    However, I feel that arguing for the T-34 because it forced the Panther to be produced is not correct. When the Germans first introduced the Panzer IV with the 75mm L/43 gun it forced the Russians to design a better tank which turned out to be the T-34, but does that make the Panzer IV 75mm L/43 good or was it just more advanced than other tanks at the time.
     
  9. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I would argue the Sherman was better built but not better designed which was my point.. It's suspension systems (both) never appeared again nor did it's slab sided high silhouette, it's concept of 75, 76 and 105 main gun never showed up on any future MBT, all being single caliber. 75% of US Shermans had the less than spectacular 75 at wars end and the 76 hardly was equal to the Panther. At least the Brits got the gun right by a small margin. It and the Panther had gasoline engines, the Sherman a host of different ones....well I forgot a few diesels thrown in . The Sherman's other main notable trait is large numbers of them . I rather like the Sherman but feel it's fundamental design did not last the duration of the war but it's reliability and numbers did. The T 34-76 was to my humble eye a better design with it better ballistic shape, wider tracks from day one , better suspension ( Thanks to the Christie influence)diesel engine even if it was a bit crude in assembly. The thinking design behind it was better, to me than the Sherman and to a lessor degree the Panther. I think of the 34 as the ancestor of modern MBT design but it was a little rough. I found two T 34-85's near Terezin, in the Czech Republic just outside the concentration camp. They may have been post war but a small "contribution" gained me entry to one. The turret shape is not the best but probably necessary to accommodate the 85 mm gun. . The Sherman on display in the Ardenne seemed roomier but much taller. Creature comfort to the Sherman , purposefulness to the 34....

    GB
     
  10. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    First of all, it is absurd to argue that because some systems of a tank were never used again as grounds for saying they are inadequate. It could simply mean that better systems were developed. That is how the world works, things are made and then better things are developed to take their place.

    Second of all, you mention the Sherman's suspension. The Sherman's suspension was perfectly adequate and compared to the the suspension of the Panther it was excellent. The Panther D was a 45 ton tank running on a chassis built for a 24 ton vehicle. The suspension allowed it to "turn on a dime" but was badly overstressed and suffered from premature stripping of the third gear. Also its single teeth spur gears would often strip very readily. Furthermore, the Sherman 75mm was more than efficient in the Pacific Theater and could hold its own depending on the situation in Europe and Africa. As for the 76mm, it allowed the Sherman to take on Panzer IVs, Tigers, and Panthers at most normal combat ranges.

    The design of the Sherman allowed it to be adapted and used in many different roles. This is part of what made it an excellent tank.
     
  11. wokelly

    wokelly Member

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    Late G series should have been "the best" but you factor in armor flaws that were so common to late war German armor its hard to say. The German armor quality took a steep decline in 1944 when Germany ran out of adequate materials, improper quenching and cooling cycles, and an increase in carbon content well above the maximum amount allowed in good armor plate.

    The D version had all kinds of problems the other versions fixed but at least its armor was probably up to snuff.
     
  12. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    To a slight extent this is true. However, the G model was still extremely flawed.

    A copy of an earlier post I made comparing the D and A models to the G model:

    The Panther D (and A)
    When the Panther D tank was to be built, Guderian asked for a tank with superior mobility to the T-34. However, what he ended up with was a 45 ton tank with a petrol engine, front wheel drive, and poor suspension. They opted for a complex set of interleaved road wheels, which were quick to clog up with mud, and made it very difficult to change an inner wheel as you would have to take off other wheels. In 1943 no panzer unit equipped with Panther D and early model Panther A tanks were able to sustain an operational readiness rate above 35%. More Panthers were lost to mechanical problems in 1943 than to enemy combat. The transmission system was also poor as 5 percent broke within 100km and almost 90 percent broke down within 1,500km. The final drive on the Panther D was so bad that it could not even turn the tank while backing up. It fuel pumps were also a huge problem, they would often leak and cause massive engine fires. The Panther D and A tanks were so prone to breakdown that they had to transport them by train along with the Tiger I. When some Panther A tanks were first being distributed to the SS-Leibstandarte in Italy, September 1943, they were so poor that every one was rejected for service. In summary, the Panther D was a 45 ton tank running on a chassis built for a 24 ton vehicle with very poor mobility and reliability.

    The Panther G
    The Panther G tanks were not much better. They had very poor fuel consumption rates (a topic I forgot to mention when discussing the Panther D and A but surly prevailing to those two tanks as well). The Panther G could get 60-80 miles on road and 40-50 miles cross country with about 190 gallons of gasoline (To put that into perspective the M4A3 Sherman could get 100 miles on road and about 65 miles cross country with 168 gallons of gasoline). The suspension was improved slightly but still remained a problem. The suspension allowed it to "turn on a dime" but was badly overstressed and suffered from premature stripping of the third gear. Also its single teeth spur gears would often strip very readily. In 1944 during the time of the Battle of the Bulge, in outfits equipped with Panther G tanks, 35-40 percent of them were unavailable due to mechanical problems. This was probably made greater by the lack of fuel and spare parts at that point in the war for Germany. These tanks would often brake down but were so complex that nobody knew how to fix them. And again, similarly to the Panther D, these were shipped by train as long marches with Panthers were not encouraged.
     

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