The Panther tank was brought into play by the Germans during World War II (WWII) and was in operation from 1943-1945; it was meant to counter the Soviet’s T-34 that its predecessors the Panzer III and Panzer IV were not adequate against. The Panther did not succeed in replacing the Panzer IV but served alongside it throughout the war until the war came to an end. Today the Panther is considered one of the best tanks of WWII because of its firepower, mobility and protection.
HISTORY OF THE PANTHER TANK
The Panther was developed when Germany captured a T-34 tank; after analyzing the T-34 to see why its design was so successful and it was so effective against German tanks, it was decided that the T-34’s success was based on its 76.2 mm gun, sloping armor and wide road wheels. Soon a modified version of the T-34 was in the works in Germany with upgrades to make the Panther even more effective.
The first set of Panther tanks were rushed into battle and were plagued with problems and failures because of lack of testing; the problems were fixed and the Panther became popular and highly effective in battle. Originally there was to be one Panther tank battalion per division but because it was so successful, it soon made up almost have of Germany’s tank strength.
Although the Panther remained superior to the T-34 throughout the war, the quantity of T-34-85s was far greater than the quantity of Panthers that Germany had and they dominated on the battle field; the Soviets also developed other tanks with heavier fire power to counter the upgraded Panther. In 1943 development of the Panther II was begun; it was meant to use the same parts as the Tiger II and ease maintenance for both tanks. Until the end of the war, the Panther was perhaps the best mid-size tank in use; the design of the Panther influenced many post-war designs because it was so successful.
The Panther weighed 49.4 tons, traveled at 34 mph and had a range of 155 miles; the Panther used a V-12 petrol Maybach HL230 P30 690 hp engine, supported a five member crew – the driver, radio-operator, commander, gunner and loader – had a range of 155 miles and used a double torsion bar with interleaved road wheels for suspension.
The Panther had better frontal armor and gun penetration than the Tiger I tank and was also lighter, faster and better able to handle rough terrain; however its side armor was weaker and so was at a disadvantage in close combat, but it proved effective and deadly in long range shooting. The Panther also used smaller shells than the Tiger I and so was weaker against infantry; the Panther had the added advantage of being far cheaper than the Tiger and overall its pros outweighed its cons and it accomplished far more than the Tiger tank and even a little more than the Panzer IV, however the final drive of the Panther was flawed and caused major breakdowns of the tanks over the years as the problem was never corrected.