Panther Tank

In the first three years of the Second World War the Panzer IV tank was the backbone of Blitzkreig strategy employed by the German Army.

However, the the successful resistance of the Red Army in the Soviet Union in 1942 showed that the Panzer IV was no longer invincible. A new tank was commissioned and the Panther appeared in November 1942. It had a 75mm gun which was capable of penetrating the armour of any Soviet tank. Other design features included sloped armour to deflect shot, torsion-bar suspension, interleaved road wheels. The armour was 80mm thick and its 650hp engine could travel at 28mph. Between 1942 and 1945 Germany produced 4,814 Panther tanks.

Tank Produced
Panzer I 3000
Panzer II 3500
Panzer III 5644
Panzer IV 9000
Panther 4814
Tiger 1350
King Tiger 484

Primary Sources

(1) Hasso Manteuffel, commander of the 7th Panzer Division, was interviewed by Basil Liddell Hart after the war for his book The Other Side of the Hill (1948)

T anks must be fast. That, I would say, is the most important lesson of the war in regard to tank design. The Panther was on the right lines, as a prototype. We used to call the Tiger a 'furniture van' - though it was a good machine in the initial breakthrough. Its slowness was a worse handicap in Russia than in France, because the distances were greater.

The Stalin tank is the heaviest in the world; it has robust tracks and good armour. A further advantage is its low build - it is 51 cm lower than our Panzer V, the Panther. As a 'breakthrough' tank it is undoubtedly good, but too slow.

It was at Targul Frumos that I first met the Stalin tanks. It was a shock to find that, although my Tigers began to hit them at a range of 3,000 metres, our shells bounced off, and did not penetrate them until we had closed to half that distance. But I was able to counter the Russians' superiority by manoeuvre and mobility, in making the best use of ground cover.

Fire-power, armour protection, speed and cross-country performance are the essentials, and the best type of tank is that which combines these conflicting requirements with most success. In my opinion the German Panzer V, the 'Panther', was the most satisfactory of all, and would have been dose to the ideal had it been possible to design with a lower silhouette. A main lesson I learned from all my experience was that much more importance should be placed on the speed of the tank on the battlefield than was generally believed before the war, and even during, the war. It is a matter of life or death for the tank to avoid the deadly effect of enemy fire by being able to move quickly from one fire-position to another. Manoeuvrability develops into a 'weapon' and often ranks equal to firepower and armour- protection.