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"The Pz-Kw 5 (Panther) Tank" from Tactical and Technical Trends

Initial report on new German Panther tank based on Russian intelligence sources, from Tactical and Technical Trends, Nov. 4, 1943. The Panther tank was first deployed on the Russian front, and initial intelligence on the Panther tank was based on Russian sources.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on the German Panther tank published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on the Panther tank is available in postwar publications.]



The German tank series 1 to 6 has now been filled in with the long-missing PzKw 5 (Panther) a fast, heavy, well-armored vehicle mounting a long 75-mm gun. It appears to be an intermediate type between the 22-ton PzKw 4 and the PzKw 6 (Tiger) tank. The Panther has a speed of about thirty-one miles per hour. It approximates (corresponds roughly to) our General Sherman, a tank which evoked complimentary comment in the Nazi press.

The following is a description of the tank: (It should be noted that practically all data contained in this report come from Russian sources).

     Weight   -   45 tons     
Crew   -   5
Armament   -   75-mm (2.95 in) gun, long barrel, (1943); 1 machine gun, MG-42, 7.92-mm
Ammunition   -   75 rounds (AP & HE)
Motor   -   Maybach, gasoline, 640 hp in rear of tank; the gas tanks are located on either side of motor
Cooling system   -   water
Ignition   -   magneto
Armor   -   front of turret and cannon shield 100 mm (3.94 in); upper front plate 85 mm (3.45 in) 57° inclination; lower front plate 75 mm (2.95 in) 53° inclination; side and rear plate 45 mm (1.78 in); top of turret & tank and bottom of tank 17 mm (.67 in)
   width   -   11 ft 8 in (same as the PzKw 6)
   length   -   22 ft 8 in (1 1/2 ft longer than the PzKw 6)
   clearance   -   1 ft 8 in (10 cm)(3.9 in) more than the PzKw 6)
Caterpillar section   -   drive sprockets at front; rear idlers; 8 double rubber-tired bogie wheels 850 mm (33.46 in) in diameter on either side; torsion suspension system; hydraulic shock absorbers located inside tank; metal caterpillar tread 660 mm (25.62 in) wide
Maximum speed   -   50 km hr. (approx. 31 mph)
Range   -   170 km (approx. 105 miles)

The 75-mm gun is probably the new Pak. 41 AT gun with a muzzle velocity of 4,000 foot-seconds. The estimated armor penetration at 547 yards is 4.72 inches, and the life of the barrel from 500 to 600 rounds. The gun has direct sights to 1,500 meters or 1,640 yards. The 75-mm has an overall length of 18 feet 2 inches.

The Panther can also be easily converted for fording deep streams by attaching a flexible tube with float to the air intake. There is a special fitting in the top rear of the tank for attaching this tube.

Although provided with smaller armor and armament than the 6, the Panther has the same motor, thus giving it higher speed and maneuverability. This tank is also provided with light armor plate (not shown in the sketch) 4 to 6 millimeters thick along the side just above the suspension wheels and the inclined side armor plate.

[German Panther Tank: the PzKw 5 Panther Tank]

Panther tanks are organized into separate tank battalions similar to the Tiger tanks. Many of these tanks have been used by the Germans during the July and August battles. The Russians state that this tank, although more maneuverable, is much easier to knock out than the PzKw 6. Fire from all types of rifles and machine guns directed against the peep holes, periscopes and the base of the turret and gun shield will blind or jam the parts. High-explosives and armor-piercing shells of 54-mm (2.12 in) caliber or higher, at 800 meters (875 yds) or less, are effective against the turret. Large caliber artillery and self-propelled cannon can put the Panther out of action at ordinary distances for effective fire. The inclined and vertical plates can be pierced by armor-piercing shells of 45 mm (1.78 in) caliber or higher. Incendiary armor-piercing shells are especially effective against the gasoline tanks and the ammunition located just in the rear of the driver.

The additional 4 to 6 mm (.157 to .236 in) armor plate above the suspension wheels is provided to reduce the penetration of hollow-charge shells but the Russians state that it is not effective. Antitank grenades, antitank mines and "Molotov cocktails" are effective against the weak bottom and top plates and the cooling and ventilating openings on the top of the tank just above the motor.

This tank is standard but the quantity and rate of production is not known.

See Also: New Heavy Tank: The Pz. Kw. 5 (Panther), The Heavy Mobile Punch, Ferdinand & the Panther
Keywords: Panther, Panzerkampfwagen V Panther, Panzer V, Pz.Kpfw. V, Sd. Kfz. 171

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