Officially designated Panzerkampfwagen V, the Panzer V “Panther” was a German medium tank used by the Wehrmacht in World War II. The Panther was in service with the German Army from mid-1943 unti the end of the war. It was designed and developed to counter the Soviet tank T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and IV. It first saw combat action in July 1943, in the Battle of Kursk. The Panther had excellent combination of firepower, mobility, and protection as it is frequently regarded, along the Tiger tank, as the best tank design of World War II. The ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz 171.
The Panther was designed in 1942 by Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG (MAN), based on a captured Soviet T-34. This new German tank was armed with a powerful, high-velocity 75mm gun, and a 7.92mm MG34 machine gun. This new high-velocity gun was capable of piercing both the Soviet and Allied tank armors at a distance of 1,000 meters (1,150 yards). The Panther Sd.Kfz weighed 45.5 tons and was powered by a V-12 petrol Maybach engine, which generated 700 hp. It was protected by a 100mm-thick steel armor on the front of the turret, which was made in the shape of a transverse half-cylinder; the frontal hull was made of an 80mm-thick steel glacis plate which sloped back at 55 degrees. The side armor was 50mm-thick.
The Panther tank saw action for the first time at Kursk on July 5, 1943. At the beginning it had some mechanical problems as the track and suspension often broke. Heinz Guderian stated, however, that the firepower and frontal armor were excellent. Although many of the Panthers used at Kursk were damaged or suffered from mechanical difficulties, this tank achieved success, with 263 Soviet tanks claimed destroyed in 1943. The Panthers which suffered from damage or mechanical breakdowns were repaired and the design problems of the early Ausf. D models were fixed, making the Panther a formidable tank.
Type: heavy tank
Weight: 45.5 tons
Hull length: 6.88 m
Width: 3.43 m
Height: 3.1 m
Power plant: one Maybach HL 230 P 30,
12-cylinder, diesel engine
Maximum speed: 48 km/h