Panzer V Panther

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Overview

The Pzkpfw V "Panther" is Germany's advanced medium tank and one of the best combat tanks designed during the war. Its full designation is Panzerkampfwagen (Armoured Fighting Vehicle) V, and was nicknamed the "Panther" (similar to other advanced German tank designs but differing from less "enigmatic" designs like the Panzer III and IV, StuG III, etc).

History

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union it was impressed by the Soviet T-34; its sloped armour, good maneuverability and cheap construction posed a challenge to the Wehrmacht and High Command was eager to reproduce their own design based on its principles. Thus was born the Panther; with well-sloped armour (superior in frontal protection to the Tiger I and IS-2), a high-velocity gun with greater penetration power at short to medium range than the Tiger I's KwK 36 L/56, and a relatively cheap pricetag, it proved very popular with Heer and Waffen-SS armored units and became a bane for the Allies. The Panther was a mean, fast and powerful tank, with excellent off-road maneuverability and speed coupled with devestating long-range firepower. Heavy losses of US Shermans to Panthers in the Battle of the Bulge at the end of 1944 led the US to switch their European Theater tank units entirely over to 76mm-armed Shermans and belatedly introduce the M26 Pershing heavy tank in 1945. Nevertheless the Panther gained its improved mobility over the Tiger by sacrificing armor on the flanks, top, and rear, leaving it vulnerable to lighter tanks and air attack. 75mm-armed Shermans were capable of inflicting lopsided defeats on Panther units, as exemplified at the Battle of Arracourt in September 1944 where inexperienced Panther crews were ambushed by veteran US tank and tank destroyer crews.

Between 1943 and the end of the war it is estimated approximately 6,000 Panther tanks were constructed, equipping about half of the Panzer force midway through 1944. Although it was nominally planned to field Panthers in battalions of 96 tanks featuring a communications platoon of three command Panthers, a reconnaissance platoon of five Panthers, and four 22-tank companies consisting of four platoons of five Panthers plus two command Panthers each, wartime losses and tank shortages often saw both battalions and companies cut down. Panzer battalions often dropped a company from their OOB, companies would often drop a platoon, and platoons were often reduced from 5 to 4 tanks each; by 1944 most Panzer companies had three platoons of four or five tanks each along with two command tanks, for a total of 14 or 17 tanks. Even then, it was not uncommon for entire Panzer "divisions" to take the field with only a company or a battalion of tanks.

Combat Performance

The Panther's high-velocity 75mm gun and thick, sloped frontal armor make it a dangerous adversary in a head-on fight; only the IS-2 and Sherman Firefly have much of a chance in such a confrontation (and the Firefly only provided it gets the first shot off). However, the Panther gains its improved mobility over the Tiger series by sacrificing armor on the flanks and rear; from the side even the lower-powered guns of the standard M4A4 Sherman, T-34-76, Cromwell, and Churchill can punch through at decent ranges. The Panther's turret turning speed is also inferior to the Sherman; therefore it is best to avoid using Panthers for close-in fighting and instead use them in fast strikes over open terrain.

In use, it is very similar to the Stug, but obviously you should be much more careful, as the rotating tower makes it more clumsy against highly mobile enemies and in open grounds in general.

Game Statistics