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Panther disaster?


berna2vm
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It was certainly a desperate copy of the T34, a tank which utterly amazed and paniced the Germans when they first came up against it.. Compared to the very crude, easily built, easily maintained T34, it was overly complex and disasterously unreliable when first introduced. The Germans eventually sorted out most of the technical troubles and made the tank into somethink very useful and reasonably reliable.

 

To say it was a disaster is probably true of early production vehicles (as proved at the battle of Kursk) but at the end of production it was in my opinion as good a tank as any wartime tank.

 

So to ask whether it was a disaster, you have to refine the question and specify the time period, you are concidering.

 

Its a bit lit the Ju87 Stuka. When first introduced it was very succesful, but by half way through the war it was long in the tooth, and had lost its edge, and by the end it was much below par. Though with the stuka its success came early, but the Panther matured with age.

 

However had the war gone on another six months and the Panther had come up against A41/ Centurion, my gut feeling is that the Germans would wish that they had a copy of that instead of a copy of the T34.

Edited by antarmike
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It is a bit true , The German Tanks that came after the PZKPFW IV were all very well armoured , and had a good gun , but were just mobile pillboxes for moving around short distances , they were technically not good for the battlefield , engines very fragile , and drive train too , so they needed railways to be transported , but then again they were too wide for putting on the railway wagon`s , and needed stripping for that .

There is a post war test on Newly built Panher`s , but the test results were never completed , because they almost all broke down before the end of the test.

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However had the war gone on another six months and the Panther had come up against A41/ Centurion, my gut feeling is that the Germans would wish that they had a copy of that instead of a copy of the T34.

 

If you look at the glacis plate of the Bovington Panther you'll see that this particular vehicle was assembled by a REME Base Workshop that occupied the factory (at Kassel?) at the end of the war. The vehicle was used in comparison trials with Centurion. As I understand it, the results were remarkably close and only the Cent's less-complicated, less-expensive design saw it win through.

 

Imagine if we had built Chieftain as an evolution of Panther instead of Centurion: our boys might be riding round in Emperor Tigers now. (And I'd have been furious at having joined a recce regiment instead of an armoured regiment.)

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I have read that the French Army used Panthers for some time after the War. Has anyone any further information, photographs etc.

 

Where these new built machines or were they captured examples?

 

The Tank can't have been that bad if somone adopts it in peacetime. Using an unsatisfactory weapon is often a necessity in wartime, but if peace had broken out, why choose the Panther?

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I am certain the British army used at least one Panther (named Cuckoo) during the hostilities, or directly after.

 

As a side note the British also captured a partially completed Maus (E100= 100 ton monster tank) but as far as i know the only complete example is in Russia (or what was ! )

 

Ashley

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1. Cuckoo belonged to Guards Armoured Division between Normandy and the Baltic. Plenty of photos exist. It was ditched for the mundane reason that something trivial broke (fuel pump?) and they couldn't repair it quickly enough to continue the advance.

 

2. ISTR reading that Jordan used Panthers and engaged Israeli tanks across the Dead Sea IIRC during one or another Middle East War.

 

3. ISTR that the last use of PzKpfw 4 in combat was the Israelis using them (captured from the Syrians) dug-in as pillboxes on the Golan Heights against their former owners.

 

4. I vaguely recall that Spain played with Tigers briefly after the war.

 

I stand to be corrected on any or all (except 1. which crops up regularly. Pictures on ARRSE I think if you go looking). Cuckoo is the one time when I can understand great big white star aiming marks on a tank. If I were crewing a captured tank and spent my day leading the attack, exposing my weakly-armoured tail to the rest of the brigade, I'd not want the crews behind to mistake me for the enemy.

 

http://www.arrse.co.uk/Forums/viewtopic/t=132597.html

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As a side note the British also captured a partially completed Maus (E100= 100 ton monster tank) but as far as i know the only complete example is in Russia (or what was ! )

 

Ashley

 

Maus and E100 were two different beasts. Maus was 180 tons and one does survive at Kubinka. E100 never went into production but some prototype hulls were captured.

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  • 1 year later...

After the Red Army entered Bulgaria and the rule of the country changed in September 1944, 15 Panthers were delivered to the Bulgarian tank unit. If remember well the information, the delivery took place in late 1944 or early 1945. The crews trained with the new vehicles, but never reached combat. In the memories of an officer who served in the armored unit in WW2 and shortly later, about 1946 or 47 one Panther burnt completely during military manoeuvres, probably fuel leak caused sudden strong fire. It is unknown what happened to the rest, none was found among the Pz IV bodies and T-34 turrets, used as bunkers along the southern border. Some people still hope these may have been preserved somewhere, but most likely all have been scrapped at an earlier stage.

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http://www.achtungpanzer.com/bulgarian-panthers.htm

 

There's never been a single photo of a Pantherturm in Bulgaria, so the chances of any surviving do seem to be remote.

Carry on dredging the Neva, that seems to be full of tanks & other AFV!

The Czechs ran Panthers, Bergpanthers & PzIV up into the 1950s, several appear in the "Tank Commander" (? right name) film.

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Since I last posted on this thread, I saw a thread on arrse comparing Panther and Sherman and there were some if not compelling, certainly interesting arguments that ultimately Sherman was a better tank.

 

I do remember a snippet from that thread that suggested a Panther needed a base workshop service more frequently than it needed to refuel (with petrol!). And that it's MTBF in combat was only about 30 minutes.

 

It looks the part but I am slowly coming round to the view that it didn't deliver on the promise.

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Were the German tanks really as unreliable as was made out though or was some of this a factor of sabotage during the manufacturing process. There are lots of stories of blocked oilways etc coming to light during restos. Surely this must account for some of the poor reputation ?

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Were the German tanks really as unreliable as was made out though or was some of this a factor of sabotage during the manufacturing process. There are lots of stories of blocked oilways etc coming to light during restos. Surely this must account for some of the poor reputation ?

This is very much my understanding of the situation, Tim.

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The Panther G had a combat weight of 45.5 tonnes, the Panther D 43 tonnes.

The original idea was to have a tank ~37 tonnes in weight, so the whole transmission was designed with this weight in mind.

The Tiger had similar issues, designed around a 45 tonne limit and waddling onto the battlefield at a positively obese 56 tonnes.

In "Tigers in the Mud", Carius includes a couple of appendices, that are either combat reports or reports from the maintainance company.

In two days, totalling 113km, one Tiger was "lost" to enemy action, 3 to mechanical problems.

Both the Tiger (All versions) and Panther were thrown into combat with inadequate development, the engineering reports from the 503rd SwPzAbt make that very clear, with various types of piping too short, poor seals leading to leaks, piping being distorted when engine covers are closed, weak socket wrenches, track pins sliding out & clamps being insufficiently tightened.

There are reports of sabotage of some weaponary by slave labourers, annecdotal ones of B17s returning with holed fuel tanks, when the 20mm cannon shells are recovered from them, they're empty of explosive, but have notes saying the likes of "This is the best way we can help you" The He277, being assembled in a French factory, was sabotaged, finally being completed & flown in 1947-8 IIRC.

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I agree with Pzkpfw-e in that German tanks were unreliable in that they suffered from a weapon and armour inflation problem without a complementary increase in mobility. it also has to be said that many tanks in WW2 were unrelable -A15 Crusader, A13 Covenanter, A22 Churchill and A27 Cromwell series were unreliable as they could not benefit from a proper development programme- the later German tanks are no better in this respect.

 

As to the sabotage -I tend to regard these stories as "Jackanory" to some extent a persistance of the WW1 "Stab in the back by the comunist/jews" myth.

 

If Britain had lost WW2 there would be persisitant stories of "sabotage" -there were stupid practices that happened too- people "f******" up work pieces and disguising errors to get it past inspection during piece work, people smoking whilst working and dropping butts into components -accidently or on purpose - the result of people stressed and under directed labour schemes.

 

In the 3rd Reich things happened but remember conscript workers (ie French,Belgian, Dutch, Czech and Danish skilled workers) knew full well the penalites if they did something that was classed as sabotage- each member of their familly back home, well documented by the reich would certainly be eliminated or sent to a concentration camp. Most true slave workers -concentration camp inmates would never be trusted with access to critical components or assembly they did the grunt work! -there would always be a skilled cadre doing the complex stuff.

 

Whilst sanitised Schindlers List gives a reasonable idea of what was going on most of the real sabotage was Schindleresque scams to get money out of the authorities by Party members lining their own pockets- although the camp sequence of the shooting of the unter mensch architech gives a reasonable view of nazi idealogy to intelligent slave workers.

 

German quality control was very good for the most part, have a look at documentation for V2s -2 sometimes 3 quality inspection stamps for each component.

 

BTW HE277 have you got the right designation as I thought the 277 was experimental only and was "sabotaged" due to changing requirements and parts going to other more important projects.

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Make that the Heinkel 274!

The best known and verified instance of sabotage, was with the Hs293 glide bombs, where wires used in the guidance systems were severed in such a manner, that they passed static tests, but the vibrations when in flight caused intermitent interuptions in the guidance signals received.

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Steve, a lot of workers in German factories were forced labour, of all nationalties, political views and religions. There are a lot of credible stories of handfuls of sand or swarf stuck in with grease, Plaster or paper soacked in acid painted onto U Boat hulls. It was a dangerous occupation, if caught the results were fatal, often by nasty methods. But hey , what was there to loose? At least it gave what passed for life a purpose. Jersey airport, at the time considered one of the best equipped in the world, was only considered suitable for Light Aircraft by the German's. A local contractor was employed to mow the grass on the runways. The figure quoted is that the gras had to be 4 inches high. The mowere was set by a German officer at the start of the job. The operator then lowered the cutter, at te end he raised the cutter, this was checked by the officer at the end of the job.

It was only post war that this came to light.

Edited by Tony B
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