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Panzer PzKpfw Mk V

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                                                                                    Panzer Mk V History
Origins
Soon after the invasion of Russia in 1941, the panzer troops encountered the Russian T-34 tank. The T-34 was well armed with a 76.2 mm gun, had well sloped and effective armour, and was fast and handy. It outfought all the German tanks then in service with the exception of the PzKpfw IV, so its appearance had a profound effect on the German panzer arm. The T-34 design was closely studied and at one time it was proposed that it should be copied direct and produced in Germany. Troops at the front went further and pressed large numbers of captured T-34s into service against their former owners, but the German national pride could not accept a direct copy.

Instead, the main features of the T-34 were incorporated into a new German design which became the Panther. A design proposed by MAN was accepted in September 1942 and the production of the new tank was given the highest priority the first tank came off the line in November 1942. This was the Ausf D1 (Panther ausf numbers did not run in sequence), which was soon followed by the Ausf D2, the production variant. The Panther eventually became the best of all the German tanks, but its baptism of fire was a disaster for it was pressed into service during the Battle of Kursk (which was delayed in order to allow the Panther to participate) at a time when it was not fully developed or tried, and breakdowns were frequent. After this early misadventure the Panther became an excellent fighting tank.

                                                                                                Models
Panther Ausf D2 The Panther had well-sloped armour, a powerful 7.5 cm L/70 gun and interleaved road wheels supported on torsion bar suspension. It was fast for its size but the final product turned out to be overweight and was thus not so handy as had been hoped. When the first Panthers went into action many defects, both design and mechanical, were discovered the hard way, not the least of which was that the fuel tanks in the hull rear were insufficiently armoured and caught fire easily. Many of these defects were eliminated in later models.

Panther Ausf A The next Panther model was the Ausf A which was first produced in late 1943. A more powerful engine was fitted and the hull
machine-gun port was changed from a slot to a ball mounting. Numerous other changes were made and 'scheutzen' side armour was added.

Panther Ausf G This was the final production model but it existed in more than one version. The main change from the earlier models was that the hull shape was revised to give more armour protection and also to make it easier to manufacture. The driver's vision port in the hull front was removed and replaced by a peri-scopic vision device, and many other changes were incorporated. The first vehicles off the line in 1944 continued to use the dished and convex interleaved roadwheels, but on the late versions these were replaced by the steel wheels used on the Tiger suspension in its late production form. The Panther was still in production as the war ended.

If the war had continued beyond May 1945, it had been proposed that a Panther II would replace the earlier models in production. This model would have used a smaller turret which would give more protection and which was capable of mounting an 8.8 cm gun.


                                                                                                Variants
Jagdpanther (SdKfz 173) Many armour experts regard the Jagdpanther as one of the best armoured fighting vehicles to emerge from World War 2. It was a conversion of the basic Panther chassis to take a well-shaped sloping superstructure which could mount the very effective 8.8 cm Pak 43/3. This vehicle could outrange and outfight nearly every Allied tank it was likely to encounter, and in addition it was fast and handy. Three hundred and eighty-two were built during 1944 and 1945, and they were respected opponents.

Bergepanzer 'Panther' (SdKfz 179) When such heavy tanks as the Tiger and Panther entered service, existing armoured recovery vehicles were not capable of assisting and recovering such vehicles from the battlefield. The solution was to convert some of the older Ausf D and A vehicles by removing the turret and fitting heavy-duty winches inside the hull. As the Bergepanzer 'Panther', 297 vehicles were converted.

Beobachtungspanzer Panther (SdKfz 267 or 268) A small number of Panthers were converted to the artillery observation role by removing the main gun and replacing it with a false barrel. The inside of the turret was then equipped for its special task, and a machine-gun was fitted on one side of the turret front, Extra radios and vision devices were added.

As well as the above variants, planned vehicles were to be Flak tanks, mineclearing vehicles, and one project was for a tank-killer mounting a
12.8 cm gun. One project intended that a shortened Panther chassis was to carry a 10.5 cm field piece in a turret that could be emplaced as a form of pill-box emplacement, and recovered by the same vehicle when required. If this varient had been built it would have been a classic example of German inability to concentrate their efforts on producing large numbers of successful vehicles, for such a project would only have diverted much-needed design and production facilities, to say nothing of raw materials.
 

Technical Specification

MkV  Variations & Plans

Plans

       
NO IMAGE NO IMAGE NO IMAGE NO IMAGE
Specifications Ausf D Ausf A Ausf G
Image

 

Weight 43 Tons 45.5 Tons 44.8 Tons
Max Road Speed 46  kph / 28.6 mph 46  kph / 28.6 mph 46  kph / 28.6 mph
Road range 169  km / 105  miles 177  km / 110 miles 177  km / 110 miles
Cross Country Range  85 km / 52.5 miles  89 km / 55.3 miles  89 km / 55.3 miles
Length Overall 8,860 mm / 348.8 inches 8,860 mm / 348.8 inches 8,860 mm / 348.8 inches
Width 3,430 mm / 135 inches 3,430 mm / 135 inches 3,430 mm / 135 inches
Height  2,950 mm / 116 inches  3,100 mm / 122 inches  3,000 mm / 118 inches
Engine 650 Horse Power 700 Horse Power 700 Horse Power
Track Width   650 mm / 25.6 inches   650 mm / 25.6 inches   650 mm / 25.6 inches
Wheel base 2620 mm / 103 inches 2620 mm / 103 inches 2620 mm / 103 inches
Armament 1 1 x 7.5 cm L/70 1 x 7.5 cm L/70 1 x 7.5 cm L/70
Armament 2 2 x 7.92 mm MG 3 x 7.92 mm MG 3 x 7.92 mm MG
Ammunition Carried 1 79 x 7.5 cm 79 x 7.5 cm 82 x 7.5 cm
Ammunition Carried 2 4,104 x 7.92 mm 4,200 x 7.92 mm 4,200 x 7.92 mm
Bow Armour  80 mm / 3.15 inches  80 mm / 3.15 inches  80 mm / 3.15 inches
Side Armour 40 mm / 1.57 inches 40 mm / 1.57 inches 50 mm / 1.97 inches
Roof & Floor Armour 15  mm / 0.59 inches 15  mm / 0.59 inches 40  mm / 1.57 inches
Turret Armour 120 mm / 4.7 inches 120 mm / 4.7 inches 120 mm / 4.7 inches
Crew 5 5 5