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Panther: Germany`s best medium tank

Panther: Germany`s best medium tank

Panther, a medium tank deployed by Nazi Germany in WW II, was intended as a counter to the Russian T-34.Its reputation was just next to the heavier Tiger tanks and was regarded as one of the best tanks.

It was due to the Soviet Union potent KV heavy tanks and T-34/76 tanks that Nazi Germany dictator Hitler ordered Daimler-Benz and MAN to design a more powerful tank to counter Soviet Union T-34.

In March, 1942,Daimler-Benz made a prototype called VK3002(DB) which borrowed lots of factors of T-34. MAN made its sample VK3002 in February with turret equipped in the front. Hitler chose MAN`s proposal. On May 11, 1942, it got the famous name: Panther.

Commenced from December 1942, Panther had 75mmKwK42L/70 artillery which can penetrate 140mm armor within 1 km. But they were "guinea pigs" with light armor. The frontal armor was 60mm thick and only 20 tanks were made. They were called Panzerkampfwagen Panther A.

Soon, the design for amended Panther D came out. Then Hitler ordered that 250 Panthers should be made before May 12, 1943 to join the Battle of Kursk. In addition, 750 more Panthers should be made as soon as possible. On December 11, the first Panther D with thicker armor left the factory.

During the Battle of Kursk, due to mechanical failure, especially problems of gear-box, transmission, suspension and engine, many Panthers were broken. Until August 10, 1943, only 43 Panthers were left from the original 250.  600 Panthers developed later also called Panther D2 changed engine to HL230P30V.

In August 1943, Panther A came out. It has strengthened power and defense. The thickness of frontal armor reached 110mm. From August 1943 to May 1944, 2000 Panthers were made.

The update to Panthers continued. In March 1944, German made the first Panther G which had the biggest output. I t had many new features, such as a periscope was added, the seat of driver was raised. From May 1944 to April 1945, 3126 tanks are made.

From May 1944, the Germans began to make Panther F which thickened armor and equipped new turret. However, only a few turrets and 8 chassis were made until the war ended.

When compare Panthers and T-34/85 and JS-2 of Soviet Union, Germans say Panthers have better front attack than T-34/85, the flank and rear attack match. Compared to IS-2, Panthers are better in the front, weaker in the flank and rear. Panthers can destroy the enemy tank within 2km, its hit rate was 90% within 1 km. According to American statistics, to destroy a Panther should lose 5 M4Sherman tanks or 9 T-34 tanks.

From 1943 to 1945, 5976 Panther tanks were made. In general, the quality of Panther is excellent, its power, armor, flexibility rank top among tanks. It has flaws, though, such as there were many mechanical failures in early Panthers, its defense of the flank and rear are not strong.

As to its combat use, there are many battles that proved its power. On September 13, 1943, 7 Panthers combated with 70 tanks. Panthers destroyed 28 T-34 tanks in 20 minutes with no breakdown themselves. On July 28 and 29, 1944, an armor battalion destroyed 107 tanks including T-34 tanks, Sherman tanks and Valentine tanks with the loss of only 6 tanks.  

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