German Panther Ausf. G; digital image by Les Still - Mystic Realms

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German Panther Ausf. G
German Panther Ausf. G; digital illustration by Les Still
German Panther Ausf. G; digital illustration by Les Still
German Panther Ausf. G
Crew;- 5
Armament;- One 7.5cm KwK 42 L/70 main gun, two 7.92mm MG   34 machine guns.
Armour;- 0.6in (20mm) minimum, 4.72in   (120mm) maximum.
Dimensions;- Length 22'6" (6.68m), width   10'10" (3.3m), height 9'8" (2.95m), data refers to the   Ausf G.
Weight;- 98,766lb (44800kg).
Ground Pressure;- 12.5lb/sq in (0.88 sq   cm).
Power to weight ratio;- 15.9hp /ton.
Engine;- Maybach HL 230 V-12 water cooled   petrol engine developing 700bhp at 3,000rpm.
Performance;- Road speed 29mph (46km/h),   cross country speed 15mph (24km/h), range 110 miles   (177km), vertical obstacle 3' (.9m), trench 6'3" (1.9m),   fording depth 4'7" (1.4m), gradient 35 degrees.
History;- In service with the German Army   from 1943 to 1945. Also used by the Soviet Union and   France after the war.
Development;- Until the invasion of the   Soviet Union, the PzKpfw IV had been the heaviest tank   in the German Army, and had proved quite adequate. In   early October 1941 the new Soviet T-34 appeared and   proved the PzKpfw IV to be completely out of date. The   sloped armour, speed and manoeuvrability of the T-34   brought about a profound change of heart on the part of   the Germans, and a new requirement was hurriedly drawn   up. At first to save time, it was even considered that   the T-34 should be copied directly, but national pride   forbade this approach and the specification issued in   January 1942 merely incorporated all the T-34 features.   Designs were submitted in April 1942, and the first   trial models appeared in September, the MAN design   being chosen for production. There were the usual   multitude of modifications called for as a result of the   prototypes performance, and spurred on by Hitler   himself, MAN brought out the first production tank in   January 1943, but Daimler Benz had to be brought in to   help. From then on production forged ahead, but never   reached the ambitious target of 600 vehicles a month set   by Hitler. There were many difficulties. The engine and   transmission were overstressed to cope with the increase   in weight, cooling was inadequate, engines caught fire,   and the wheel rims gave trouble. When the Panther first   went into action at Kursk in July 1943, it was at   Hitler's insistence, and it was a failure. Most broke   down on the journey from the railhead, and few survived   the first day. All that were salvaged had to be sent   back to the factory to be rebuilt. Later models   corrected the faults, and the Panther soon became a fine   tank which was superior to the T34/76 and very popular   with it's crews. The hull was fairly conventional in the   German fashion, with a large one piece glacis plate in   which were originally two holes, one for the gunner and   one for the driver. The G model had only the gun hole,   the driver using a periscope. The turret was well   sloped, although rather cramped inside, but the   commander was given a good cupola. The mantlet was   massive, with tiny holes for the machine gun and the   gunner's binocular sight. From the front, the protection   was excellent. The suspension was by inter leaved bogies   sprung on torsion bars, and it gave the Panther the best   arrangement of any German tank of the war. The trouble   was that the bogies could freeze up when clogged with   snow in Russian winters, and so immobilise the vehicle.   Maintenance was also difficult since the outer wheels   had to be removed to allow access to the inner ones.   Steering was by hydraulically operated disc brakes and   epicyclic gears to each track, which allowed the tracks   to be stopped separately when required without loss of   power. It was an adaptation of the Merritt-Brown system,   but rather more complicated in design. The long 75mm gun   (with 79 rounds) could penetrate 4.72" (120mm) of sloped   plate at 1.094 yards ( 1000m) and this together with the   protection of the thick frontal armour meant that the   Panther could stand off from Allied tanks and knock them   out without being harmed itself. The US Army reckoned it   took five Shermans to knock out one Panther, and over   5,000 Panthers had been built by the end of the war.   After 1943 the Germans needed numbers of tanks rather   than improved designs and the Panther was simplified to   ease production. The hull sides were sloped more, the   mantlet was thickened to prevent shot being deflected   into the decking and the gearbox was improved to cope   with the weight problem. In 1944-5 over 3,500 Panthers   were built, more than any other German tank during that   time. Despite its complexity and high manufacturing   cost, the Panther was a successful design and many   consider it to have been one of the best tanks produced   during the war. Towards the end of the war it's petrol   engine and complications were distinct disadvantages,   but it was a powerful supplement to the PzKpfw IVs of   the armoured formations, and it was really only defeated   by the overwhelming Allied air strength.

from The Illustrated   Encyclopaedia of the Worlds Tanks and Fighting Vehicles -   Salamander
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