Panzer V ausf G/ Panther I 'Cuckoo'

Panzer V ausf G/ Panther I 'Cuckoo'


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Panther Medium Tank, 1942-45, Stephen A. Hart, Osprey New Vanguard 67. This look at what was probably the best German tank of the Second World War concentrates on the technical development of the Panther. The text is divided into chapters on each of the major versions of the Panther, looking at their development, production, deployment and combat career. As a result the text flows well, and each new development is placed properly in its context. [see more]


TAMIYA "CUCKOO" PANTHER .

OK. THIS IS THE OFFICIAL CUCKOO THREAD FOR THE TAMIYA 1/16 SCALE FULL FUNCTION TANK!

Got mine and could not do it as is.

Asked some FANTASTIC FRIENDS of mine and Fellow TANKERS if they wanted in on some PANTHER ACTION!

PRO-BUILDER LT DAN txtanker V. to the rescue. he assembled and added on lots of metal upgrade parts that I opted for. wanted this PANTHER to be SOLID and RELIABLE for any terrain and HEAVY BATTLE USEAGE.

Mike moonshadow M. did volunteer to give it a custom ZIMMERIT JOB with paint JOB and fantastic weathering.

**NOTE PHOTOS in this 1st posting are of the ORIGINAL CUCKOO and an IMPS MODEL. NOT MY TAMIYA CUCKOO. ***

SO HERE IS THE History of the CUCKOO.

“Cuckoo”, a Panther G in British service

By T.J.M. Schers, The Netherlands

Published originally in “De Tank” Issue 103, August 1993.

Translated by Rob Plas, notes in text by the author

All trough the history of warfare, soldiers always knew how to make good use of captured equipment. Clothing, food, and inevitably, weapons. The latter were especially attractive if they were easier to obtain and of better quality then the ones issued to troops originally. Using the enemy’s weapons did mean on the other hand that ammunition and spare parts were sometimes hard to get, and in the case of vehicles, one had to be careful not to be shot by friendly forces.

During World War II the German forces made extensive use of captured equipment. (1) This started directly after invading Czechoslovakia and it also took place in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. I am referring to vehicles like the LT vz.38 Skoda, later used by the German 7th and 8th armoured divisions, the French Char B1bis, the Somua S-35 and the Renault R-35. [The Germans made good use of some DAF M38 armoured cars, captured in The Netherlands during the Blitzkrieg in 1940, and transported to the USSR, and deployed in the fights against the soviet partisans ]
The Russian T-34 tank was used a lot by the German forces, usually with very large white Balkenkreuz markings to prevent being shot by their own comrades. In North Africa also, British and American equipment and vehicles were used by the German forces, often to compensate for the huge shortages of material.

Also in the ETO, German forces made good use of captured vehicles, a very well known example being the use of American vehicles by Otto Skorzeny’s 150th armoured brigade during the Ardennes offensive. (2)
Although not as often as their counterparts, the allied forces also used captured vehicles. First they had good, reliable resources and resupply, and more than enough armoured vehicles of their own. Second the almost impossible to get spare parts and ammunition played a role in this. Last but not least, the bigger chance to get shot by the own troops was also not an encouraging thought.
Some of the vehicles that did see action under allied flag were Sdkfz 250 and 251’s, as well as a battery of 3 - 88mm Flak 18 Anti-Tank guns, in the southern county of Limburg, The Netherlands. (3)
There was very little deployment of tanks and tank destroyers. Known is the use of a Stug III by American soldiers from the 104th Infantry Div. (4) It is therefore worth noticing that the extended use of a Pzkpfw V Panther Ausf G must be considered as a rare event. This Panther was captured and used by the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade, and often photographed. This Panther can be a very interesting subject in scale. (5)

In the aftermath of the failed Arnhem offensive the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade was engaged in heavy fighting to gain control of the small Dutch village called Overloon. It was during these fierce battles that tankers of the 4th Armoured Battalion - Coldstream Guards, one of the 2 tank battalions in the brigade, entered a large barn, only to find a Panther tank of the PanzerAbteiling 2, Panzer Brigade 107. This Panther was in running order and quickly put to work in the staff units of the brigade. The use of this captured vehicle was a unique event, so it appears more than once in the official history of the brigade. (6)

After some adjustments were made to the appearance of the vehicle (more about that later) this Panther was used to help the artillery barrage on the Geijsteren castle, just north of Venlo, on the Meuse River. The tank was christened “Cuckoo”, which seems to be an appropriate name for such a strange “bird”

In the artillery bombardment on the castle, Cuckoo proved to be a worthy newcomer. After an infantry attack at the castle failed, the decision was made to bombard the castle with artillery. This barrage proved to be not very successful, as the relatively small target was hard to hit with artillery. The 75mm tank guns and 6-pounders were more accurate, but too light to do real impressive damage to the thick walls of the castle.
The Panther tank on the other hand did an outstanding job: “ The 95mms were a great success, but “Cuckoo”, [………], did best of all, hurling its shells through selected windows with unfailing precision.”
Later, during operation “Blackcock” (In an area to the south of Venlo) Cuckoo was deployed again, now to join in on an attack on the German town called Waldenrath. Cuckoo preformed very well again, it’s mobility was especially noticeable.

The historian wrote “The road conditions were abominable all day, but whereas the Churchill’s and the Crocodiles, with no ice bars, slid into ditches at every possible opportunity, “Cuckoo” the Panther, eight tons heavier, trundled merrily along with no difficulty at all.”

The next theatre of operations for the 6th Guards Tank Brigade,and the Panther was during operation "Veritable", better known as the battles for the Reichswald. Here Cuckoo's career ended in a sorry way. When heading towards the east of Kleve in Germany the fuel pump broke down, and due to lack of a spare pump the tank had to be abandoned.

Cuckoo originally belonged to the German Panzerbrigade 107, a unit that only saw action in the Dutch county of Limburg, and the eastern part of Noord Brabant. (Roughly the area between Eindhoven, Venlo and Roermond, in the south east of The Netherlands. [RP])
After retreating behind the River Meuse (Maas) the remains of this brigade became the base where around the new 25th Panzergenadier Div. was formed.
For references about the appearance and deployment of the Panther tanks in this unit I would like to recommend the articles I wrote on the subject, and that were published in the MIP, the magazine of the Dutch chapter of the IPMS (7)
This unit mainly consisted of Panther Ausf G tanks, the earliest version. These tanks (and this includes Cuckoo) were not yet supplied with the so-called “chin” on the gunmantlet (Geänderter Walzenblende in verstärkter Abweisserleiste) nor the raised air inlet fan cover on the left hand site of the engine deck. Pictures of the tanks in this unit show them in an overall sand yellow base coat, or in a “cloud shaped” 3-colour scheme. The photographs also depict a 3-digit number on all (?) tanks, combined with a black cross.

It is not clear if, and how this Panther in British service was camouflaged, but from the original pictures it is clear that Cuckoo was painted in a single colour. Which colour is not absolutely sure. The original dark yellow (Dunkelgelb) was acceptable, presuming that nobody bothered to completely repaint the vehicle, but as there are no signs of digits and/or crosses on the tank, nor visible proof of any local shade variations, which would most certain be visible if these were covered with fresh paint, it can be assumed that Cuckoo was repainted overall in the same shade (Khaki Drab) as the Churchill’s in the unit. This would explain the lack of German markings, and a paint job like that wouldn’t be a problem at all for the brigade’s workshop units. When comparing the shades of grey on the original black and white prints I can’t see any significant differences in tone. I therefore support the idea of Cuckoo being repainted, before put to work for it’s new owners. (8) (Repainting captured vehicles was a common practice in World War II even civilian cars got that treatment [RP])

If we let the subject of repainting rest, the first thing that was changed in the appearance of Cuckoo was applying a large white 5-pointed star in a white circle, the allied (air)recognition sign. (Often this sign was not used, or hidden, because enemy gunners used the star as a bulls-eye for easy aiming) The star was applied to both sides of the turret. The remaining markings related to the vehicles position in the British organisation: unit number, vehicle number and the name Cuckoo. The Unit serial number used by the Coldstream Guards was 153. This number was applied to the toolbox on the right hand side at the rear of the tank in white paint. Normally this number was painted on a background that consisted of a green field with a horizontal white band below it. This to show that the brigade was part of the second British Army corps.
I didn’t find any proof of these markings on Cuckoo. The tank was named Cuckoo, and this name was painted on both lower sides of the turret, in white or another light colour. On the picture the tone looks a little darker than the white star. (9)
“Cuckoo” wasn’t just made up all vehicles in the staff unit had bird names. The CO’s tank was named Eagle, his warrant officer’s tank named Seagull. The ACV (Armoured Command Vehicle of 2nd I/C (second in Command) was called Vulture, while the troop commander drove Owl. (10)
Cuckoo was deployed to the bombardment of Geijsteren castle looking like described above. During operation "Blackcock" in January 1945, the roads and fields were covered with a thick blanket of fresh snow, so the unit’s vehicles were camouflaged to cope with that.

Some of the units Churchill tanks were covered with white sheets Cuckoo received a rough coat of white chalk. On the picture you can see this, the hull seems to have got a even coat of white, whilst the turret received some broad white bands on the forward half it. Clearly visible on the original print is the side of the gun mantled, which was still in its original colour. On it’s next battles during operation "Veritable", Cuckoo is back in green again, only the serial numbers on the back seems to have disappeared totally.

T.J.M. Schers, 1993
You can contact Theo if you are interested in this subject of captured vehicles
You can send him an E-mail

(1) For a long time “beutepanzer” were more or less ignored but recently more literature about this subject has become available. Look for: W. Regenberg en H. Scheibert, Beutepanzer unterm Balkenkreuz: Franzosischer Kampfpanzer (Waffen Arsenal bd 121), and RussicheBeutepanzer (Waffen Arsenal Bd116) both by Friedberg 1990 Beute farzeuge und -Panzer der Wehrmacht, (Militaärfarzeuge Bd 12) Walter Spielberger.

(2) See: B. Perret, The PzKpfw. V Panther (Vanguard 21) London 1981, colourplate G2 and page 37-39 London 1981

(3) Photographs in J. Piekalkiwitz, Die 8,8 Flak im Erdkampf-einzets Stuttgart 1978

(4) Photograph in W. Auerbach, Last of the Panzers, German Tanks 1944-45 (Tanks Illustrated 9) Polish, 1984, Picture 66

(5) In Italy the 145 RAC also captured and used a Panther tank, named DESERTER! Perret, PzKpfw V, p34.

(6) P. Forbes, 6th Guards Tank Brigade: The story of Guardsmen in Churchill tanks, London, z.j. The historian's quotes are from this book

(7) T. Schers, Panthers in Nederland: 107e Pz.Brigade in N. Brabant en Limburg, herfst 1944, MIP 13 1984, pp 16-18 and 32-36, Panthers in Nederland, een vervolg, MIP 20, 1991 pp 107-109

(8) B. Perrett, PzKpfw. V, Colour plate, G1. He believes Cuckoo has a dark yellow background (“Factory Yellow”), the original colour.

(9) Perret, PzKpfw. V, page 37, yellow as main colour.

(10) B. Perrett, The Churchill tank (Vanguard 13, London 1980) Colour plate E1 and E2: Churchills of the 6th Armoured Brigade, Normandy.


World War Photos

/> Panzerkampfwagen V Panther in combat German Panther ausf G tank German tank Panther ausf D number 824 /> destroyed Panther ausf G tank
Camouflaged Panther tank /> Panther tank number 221 Battle of the Bulge Panther tank Berlin 1945 /> Panther ausf D 4th Panzer Regiment
/> Panzerkampfwagen V Panther ausf G winter German Panther ausf A tank /> Panther tank in Paris France /> Panzerkampfwagen V Panther number 442
/> Panther tank zimmerit /> Panther ausf D tank 4th Panzer Regiment number 112 /> Panther tank Early Version /> Panther ausf D 4th Panzer Regiment number 112
/> Panther ausf D 4th Panzer Regiment crew knocked out Panther tank /> Panther ausf D 4th Panzer Regiment front Panzer V Ausf A of the Das Reich Division France 1944
/> Panther ausf G late version /> Panther 4th Panzer Regiment rear view 101 Panther ausf D tanks photo Panther ausf G of the 9th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht) France 1944 7
Panther ausf G winter camouflage Panther from SS Panzer Division Wiking Panther ausf D Bahntransport Panther Ausf D number 211 of Panzer Grenadier Division Grossdeutschland, August 1943
Panther number 123 German Panther tank Italy 1944 3 Destroyed Panther Panther number 232
Destroyed Panther tank Panther ausf D number 232 Panther number 331 Panther ausf G 4th Coldstream Guards Maastricht
Panther ausf G at MAN factory Nuremberg Early Panther tank 2 Panther ausf G 3 German Panther tank turret east front
Destroyed Panther Ausf A France 1944 2nd Armored Division soldiers with captured Panther tank Grandmenil Belgium 1945 Panther I03 befehlswagen Albert Speer and Panther
abandoned Panther tank Destroyed Panther number 432 east front Panther tanks are loaded aboard railcars for transport to the front. Panther Ausf A tank from II/Panzer Regiment 33, 9th Panzer Division, Cologne Germany 2
early Panther tank Destroyed Panther Engine Bay France 1944 Panther ausf G at MAN factory Nuremberg photo German Panther tank
Panther ausf A Panther ausf G 2 Panther in Belgium 1 Panzer SS Division Benito Mussolini and Pantherturm
Destroyed Panther 2 Destroyed Panther tank June 1944 France Panther ausf G France 1944 5 Panther ausf A early
Panther ausf D tanks Panther and panzersoldat Italy Panther commander cupola Panther 3 SS Panzer Division Totenkopf with schurzen
Panther Ausf G tank number 302 of 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Hosingen in northern Luxembourg Panther number 215 of the Panzer-Regiment 4 Italy 1944 Panther number 143 with smoke dischargers on side of turret Panther ausf D tank photo
Panther ausf D tank on flatbed railcar Panther number 312 Panther ausf G France 1944 6 Panther ausf G of the 9th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht) France 1944 8
Panther ausf D tank Hungary Panzer V Panther 2 Panther being towed by Panther and a SdKfz 9 FAMO German Panzer V Panther Medium Tanks on Rail Cars 1944
Destroyed Pantherturm at Fano Italy 1944 German Panther tank Italy 1944 Panther ausf G with steel wheels Panther ausf G tanks
Panther ausf G sdkfz 171 Panther ausf G 4 Panzerkampfwagen V Panther ausf A 3 France Panzer V Panther
Blown up Panther Ausf D number 312 of the 51st Panzer Battalion Kursk Panther number 231 towed by SdKfz 9 Famo German Panther and POW Panther ausf A 2
Panther ausf G France 1944 Panther number 135 Poland 1944 Panther Ausf A R02 Panther ausf A destroyed
German Panther Ausf A tanks, winter eastern front Panther ausf G east front Panzerkampfwagen V Panther ausf G on rail car Panzerkampfwagen V Panther in Hungary
Panzerkampfwagen V Panther number 121 Early Panther Ausf D with hull hatches open, during field exercises Panther ausf G France 1944 3 Panther ausf A SdKfz 171
Panther ausf G Panther assembly line in Germany Panther ausf A tanks 2nd Armored Division M4 Sherman passes german Panther tank Grandmenil Belgium Bulge
Panther ausf G France 1944 4 Panther befehlswagen German Panther tank Italy 1944 2 Panther and panzersoldat Italy 2
destroyed Panther ausf D turret Panther Ausf D during field exercises Panther ausf G 5 Panther ausf G “Cuckoo” (ex 107 Panzer Brigade) and Churchill tank. Holland 1944 – 1945.
Panther I02 befehlspanzer Panther damaged front plate Panther Berlin 1945 Hungary Panzer V Panther
Befehlspanzer Panther tactical number I01 Panther in Warsaw Panther befehlswagen ausf D Panther ausf D tank photo 2
Panther ausf G winter camo Panther in Paris Waffen SS 7th Army Experiments on captured german Panther tank, Saverne, France February 1945 Panther Ausf D
Panther ausf G France 1944 2 Panther ausf A and wehrmacht soldiers German Panther tank ausf G Panther and Volkssturm soldiers
Destroyed Panther Ausf G tank, Germany 1945 Italy Panther Ausf D Panther 212 – Falaise Normandy 1944

6000 tanks. Gun: 7.5 cm KwK 42 L/70. Max armor: 120 mm.
Bibliography:


Vision

One of the defining features of the Pz.Kpfw. Panther Ausf.F was the inclusion of a rangefinder. The E.M.1.32 m stereoscopic rangefinder was under development by Zeiss of Jena, Germany. ‘E.M.’ is an acronym for Entfernungsmesser (English: ‘rangefinder’) and ‘1.32 m’ stood for the length of the rangefinder. It has a magnification of 15x and a field of view of four degrees. However, no example of this rangefinder would ever be built. Development would end in April of 1945 and mass production was meant to begin in July of 1945. In order to accommodate the rangefinder, it was located near the front top of the Schmalturm. Two spherical bulges were created to properly accommodate the piece of equipment on both upper front sides of the turret.

Initially, the monocular, articulated telescopic T.Z.F.13 was the intended gun sight for the Pz.Kpfw. Panther Ausf.F, developed by Leitz of Wetzlar, Germany. An aperture at the front of the turret would need to be created to accommodate the sight, a feature that the first Versuchs-Schmalturm possessed. The T.Z.F.13 had a selectable magnification of 2.5x and a field of view of 28 degrees and 6x with a field of view of 12 degrees. An order of 4208 T.Z.F.13 gun sights was placed from Leitz which only ended with the dismal production of two gun sights, one in October of 1944 and the other in January of 1945.

A general view of the binocular version of the T.Z.F.13 gun sight. Source: Walter J. Spielberger

It appears that the T.Z.F.13 and S.Z.F.1 gun sights were going to compliment each other with S.Z.F.1 acting as a supplement. However, the S.Z.F.1 ended up being chosen, seeing as a periscopic stabilized device was desired for series production of the Schmalturm turret. Ten trial series S.Z.F.1s were ordered from Leitz in 1944 which seemed to have resulted in the production of five examples from September to December, 1944. One thousand more production versions were ordered in January of 1945. Meanwhile, four S.Z.F.1b modified gun sights were produced in January and February 1945.

According to the President of the Panzer Kommission Stiele von Heydekampf, they became interested in stabilizing both guns and gun sights after the discovery of the Medium Tank, M3’s stabilizers during the North Africa Campaign. Heydekampf claimed that they had managed to build an experimental gun and gun sight stabilizers for the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther. However, he refused to give any additional details other than claim that the experiments were promising.

The optical parts of the S.Z.F.1 sight were built by Leitz of Weltzar, but the gyroscopic parts for vertically stabilizing the sight were provided by Fa. Kreiselgerate of Berlin. Ernst Haas from the Berlin firm was credited as the inventor and designer. Haas claims that he invented the equipment prior to the Second World War and offered his patents to the American Sperry Gyroscope Company. The company offered him too little for his patents and thus Haas refused their offer. However, his claims contradict the claims of Ludwig Leitz, head of development at Leitz. A less refined sight similar to the S.Z.F.1 sight was found in the Leitz plant. Ludwig Leitz claims that the sight was captured on the Eastern Front. He also goes on to claims that the sight was being refined and copied by both Leitz and Kreiselgerate together.

The original precursor to the S.Z.F.1 sight lacked the ability to fire accurately while on the move. While the sight was stabilized in the vertical plane, the gun was not. This meant that one could easily use the sight for observation, but could not be used to accurately fire while the vehicle was moving. However, the inclusion of a “pre-ignition device”, as Haas called it, allowed it to fire with a degree of accuracy while the vehicle was moving. The “pre-ignition device” was, in reality, a gyroscopic rate-of-turn indicator that measured the rate of angular motion in the vertical plane. With this device, when the unstabilized gun and stabilized gun sight aligned at the right moment when moving, the gun would fire after the gunner has triggered the firing of the gun. There would thus be a delay until the gun and sight align. This effectively gave the tank the ability to fire accurately while driving albeit only when the inconsistent alignment occurred.

The S.Z.F.1 periscopic sight consists of the periscope, control box, and motor-generator. The control box sits at a “comfortable” proximity to the gunner. It features switches for correcting the optical sighting axis by elevating or lowering it, for power supply, lighting, and firing, and for the “arresting device”. The sight had a magnification of 3x and 6x with “clean” observation up to 6000 m, elevation/depression of ±18, and the gyros rotated at 28000 RPM. The device consumed 120 watts on the direct current side.

The S.Z.F.1 was seen as a very rugged and sturdy design which “works without the least failure” even beyond the elevation of the sight because of the “good arrangements of the gyros”. Trials showed a mean value of 10 rounds which each deviated ±0.5 m from a target 1000 meters away, which corresponded with the angular value of 0.5 milliradians.

It is not confirmed if the Pz.Kpfw. Panther Ausf.F would have had the ability to fire on the move. It is known that the S.Z.F.1 was intended for the vehicle and that the second Versuchs-Schmalturm also equipped with it. The information on the performance and characteristics is based on Ernst Haas claims albeit in great detail. Without solid documentary evidence, this information should be used cautiously. The documentation doesn’t explicitly mention the S.Z.F.1, but it does provide photographs of the S.Z.F.1 implying that is what is being referred to. Speculatively, it could be possible that the S.Z.F.1b was the variant with the pre-ignition device equipped which would allow it to fire on the move accurately while the S.Z.F.1 was the original precursor that did not have this ability. Both sights were known to have been built.



Top: general view of the S.Z.F.1 motor generator (left) and control box (right). Bottom: general view of the S.Z.F.1 periscopic gun sight. Source: Stabilized Optical Sight for German Tank Guns

The loader’s periscope from the previous Panther turrets was carried over to the first Versuchs-Schmalturm and production Schmalturm turrets. However, a design change omitting the loader’s periscope occurred after production of the Schmalturm turret commenced. The hole for the loader’s periscope was plugged by a welded armor plug.

Compared to the earlier Panther cupolas, the Pz.Kpfw. Panther Ausf.F tank’s cast cupola was lower in height and, as a result, presented a smaller target. It featured seven slots for easily replaceable watertight and bullet resistant periscopes. A traversable ring was mounted internally at the top of the cupola, where a V-shaped rangefinder, scissor telescope, FG 1250 infrared night vision device (of which can be screwed on easily), and an anti-aircraft machine gun mount could be mounted. Internally, a cupola azimuth indicator was located near the bottom of the cupola. The azimuth indicator showed the commander and the gunner the relative position of the turret to the hull and consisted of a “clock dial drive”, comprised of ring connected via a gear train to the turret.


2 Answers 2

UPDATE I have found a definitive answer to at least the first part, thanks to Steven J Flebbe on Patreon. This comes from German Tanks In World War Two In Action by George Forty, former director of the Bovington Tank Museum.

The first 20 Panthers to come off the production line at MAN from November 1942 onwards were designated Ausf A in the normal manner, although as we shall see, this designation was later changed. The Ausf B was to have been a version to be fitted with the Maybach-Olvar gearbox instead of the specially-designed ZFAK 7-200, but this proved abortive and the designation was never used. It could be said that the original 20 Ausf As were really pre-production models as they did not have any of the design improvements which had been proposed following the pilot model trials. What happened to the designation Ausf C remains a mystery, but it was presumably allocated to another model that never left the drawing board, so the first full production model was designated Ausf D. To try to keep the records straight the Ausf A batch was later given the designation Ausf D1, while the Ausf D was sometimes called Ausf D2.

That explains why the first production models were called Ausf D.

However, no explanation for why they went back to Ausf A.

The next production model was for some reason designated as Ausf A instead of the expected Ausf E.

UPDATE I asked Curator David Willey, of The Tank Museum, and he answered in the April 2021 Patreon Q&A.

I have never found a straight answer to why the first production models are coming out as D's.

Good work, you've stumped The Tank Museum.

However, he references Germany's Panther Tank by Thomas Jentz (the same mentioned by Marakai) to offer a theory. Unlike American A, B, C or British Mark 1, 2, 3 which designate a production number, Ausführung letters designate separate designs. If Ausführung D is ready first, that's what goes into production as Ausführung D. Furthermore, troops did not tend to refer to Ausführung letters except for repair and maintenance.

There was no particular order to the Panther's Ausführung letters. There's no evidence of a Panther Ausführung B, C, nor E ever existing. My own speculation is D stood for something like Tiger Ausf. H is for Henshel. It's not the designer, that was Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN).

And unlike the well-ordered US system, the German system is inconsistent over time and project.

He quotes Jentz (parenthesis are Curator Willey's interjections).

. the Ausführung letter designation was not used when issuing Panthers to unit nor was the Ausführung used in making decisions relating to tactical employment. (Just because you've got G's and they've got A's or something makes no difference to the troops.) The original use of the Ausführung designation was for specific identification by the designers. The assembly firms also used the Ausführung designation stipulating in their contracts the delivery of a specified number of each Ausführung. As used by the troops the Ausführung designation was used to identify compatible repair parts and identification of differences to aid in maintenance. The original records do not contain a single reference to an Ausführung B, C, or E nor is it a logical assumption that these three letters were ever used. The Ausführung letter was a modifier applied to the designation "PzK Panther".

Curator Willey goes on to explain.

. what I think he's really trying to say is that actually as a Ausführung it's a specific set of drawings for a model. Not necessarily we always start with this model A, model B. And if the model as we think the model D is kind of been worked up and is ready ahead of what we might have logically said was an A. then that is the one that is chosen and why it's going into production that way.

This is my own speculation before I heard from Curator Willey.

Once you start looking into wartime German model names you realize it's a big mess.

David Willey, curator of The Tank Museum, mentions this in Tank Chats #16.

The actual first model is not Ausführung A, the model A, as we normally would consider them. They work down the letters in the German system. The first model that goes into production is actually the model D.

Obviously this contradicts how earlier Panzer models go, like the Panzer IV going from A to J. Those were all pre-war designs. Perhaps this is a wartime change, though I can't imagine why.

This also doesn't explain why they started with D, and why there's a later Ausf. F and G. Unless they hit A and had to start again from the top. Seems pretty short sighted to start with D.

When we look into the Tiger tanks we also see a mess. The Tiger I started out as PzKpfw VI Ausf H1, H for Henschel, the designer, in contrast to Porche's competing prototype. It's possible Panther began with Ausf D for Daimler whose prototype was considered superior, but Hitler chose the MAN design instead.

By the end of the war the Tiger I was PzKpfw Tiger Ausf E. While the Tiger II was PzKpfw Tiger Ausf B. They're both models of PzKpfw Tiger but in reality they are totally different tanks.

To add to the confusion, Tiger I began as SdKfz 182, but was later retroactively changed to SdKfz 181 when the Tiger II became SdKfz 182.

I've seen several references to an order by Hitler on 27 Feb 1944 to change PzKpfw VI to PzKpfw Tiger and PzKpfw V to PzKpfw Panther. This may account for the change in model numbers. But I've been unable to find this order.

My educated guess is they started with a simple, orderly pre-war system (PzKpfw I, II, III. Ausf A, B, C. ) which broke down in the increasing chaos of wartime production, competing industrial concerns, and ego stroking. They started making it up as they went along (the first Tiger is not Ausf A but Ausf H for Henschel) then had to retroactively deal with the consequences (I guess we'll count backwards), and every once in a while Hitler throws a spanner into the works (it's not the PzKpfw VI it's the PzKpfw Tiger, and this utterly new tank over here is also PzKpfw Tiger). By the time Panther comes around in 1943 this mess has stuck.

As for why D than A, technically A then D then A, there are multiple theories, none of which with any documentary evidence behind them. So your guess is as good as mine.


Panther: Probably the best German tank design of WWII?

The Panther was not as thickly armoured, nor as heavily armed, as tanks such as the Tiger but was probably a much more balanced design. It was one of the fastest German tanks, highly manoeuvrable and equipped with an accurate gun. Its worst defect was a propensity to catch fire if the engine backfired.

The Model G was the last main production variant of Panther and our exhibit was one of a group built, under British control, at the end of the war. These were tested in Britain and Germany and may have contributed to the design of the British Centurion.

This Panther was found partly completed on the production lines after the German surrender and was finished by REME troops. It has features characteristic of the Ausf G, including increased armour, a one-piece side plate and hinged hatches in the hull.

The camouflage scheme issimilar to that used on Panthers leaving the factory in the last months of the war. A basic undercoat of red with other colours rapidly applied. It was seen on Panthers of 5th Battalion, 25th Panzer Grenadier Division on the Eastern Front in February 1945.

Precise Name: Panzerkampfwagen V Aus G

Other Name: SdKfz 171, VK3002, Panther I, Pz Kpfw Panther (Aus G)

DESCRIPTION

The Panzerkampfwagen V or Panther was the best German tank of World War II and possibly the best medium tank fielded by any of the combatants in World War II. The other contender for the accolade of best tank is the Soviet T34, earlier versions of which inspired some aspects of the design of the Panther.

The Soviet T34/76 and KV tanks were a complete surprise to the Germans when they encountered them in July 1941 during the invasion of the Soviet Union. They were superior to any tanks that the Germans had in service and the German troops were soon demanding a new tank to counter them.

A special Panzer Commission was sent to the eastern front in November 1941 to gather information. After the Commission reported Daimler Benz and MAN were asked to design a new medium tank. MAN eventually won the design competition and the first prototype appeared in September 1942. Hitler decreed that the new tank, named Panther, had to be ready for service by the end of May 1943 so that it could participate in the offensive against the Soviet Army planned for the summer of 1943, Operation Zitadelle. As a result its’ development was rushed and the first production version, the Ausfuhrung D, suffered from many teething problems. These included failures of the wheel rims, problems with the transmission and a tendency for the engine to catch fire.

The Panther Aus D made its’ combat debut at the Battle of Kursk in July 1943, the largest tank battle in history. Many early model Panthers were lost because of mechanical failure rather than by enemy action.

The Panther hull was welded and had sloping, thick, armour. The upper part of the hull front was 6cms thick, the turret front 8cms thick. This armour was capable of resisting the projectiles fired by most allied tank guns when it entered service. The hull was carried on eight pairs of large road wheels on each side, attached to torsion bars and riding on broad tracks like the T34. The transmission and drive sprockets were at the front of the hull and the Maybach petrol engine was in the rear.

The Panther mounted a long, high velocity, accurate 7.5cm gun, the KwK42. This gun was 70 calibres long and had a muzzle velocity of 1,120 metres/sec. It could penetrate 14.9cm of armour plate sloping at 30 degrees at a range of 1,000 metres. The front armour of the principle United States tank of this period, the Sherman, (see E1955. 32) was just over 5cms thick the Soviet T34/76 had 4.5cms on the hull front and 6.5cms on the turret front (see E1952.44). The gun was complemented by excellent optics.

Eight hundred and fifty Panther Aus D were produced before an improved tank, confusingly called the Aus A, superseded it in September 1943! The Aus A had an extensively modified turret with a cast commander’s cupola, a ball mount for the bow machine gun in place of a letter box flap and many changes to improve reliability. The Aus A became the main combat tank of the Wehrmacht and 2,000 were built between August 1943 and May 1944. They served on the Eastern front, in Italy and in Normandy following the Anglo American invasion in June 1944.

The Panther Aus A was in turn replaced by the Panther Aus G in the spring of 1944, (the Aus F was a projected model that never entered production). The Aus G had further changes to improve reliability, thicker armour, a simplified hull structure and a modified gun mantlet that was intended to eliminate a shot trap. It was the last production variant and 3,126 were made by MAN, Daimler Benz and MNH between March 1944 and April 1945, bringing total production of Panther gun tanks to 5,976 vehicles. The Panther Aus G was the first tank to use infrared night vision aids in combat, albeit on a small scale. The commander’s cupola was fitted with an infrared sight while illumination was provided by an infrared search light mounted on a special version of the SdKfz 251 half track, called the Uhu (Owl).

The Panther Aus B and C were ‘paper’ projects that were never built, while only prototypes were made of the Aus F.

The Tank Museum’s Panther is a rather unusual Aus G unusual because it is one of a small batch completed in the MNH factory by British REME troops for the British Army immediately after the end of the war in Europe. These were extensively tested in Britain and Germany. The results of the trials may have influenced the development of the British Centurion tank.


Panzer V ausf G/ Panther I 'Cuckoo' - History

“Cuckoo”, a Panther G in British service

By T.J.M. Schers, The Netherlands

Published originally in “De Tank” Issue 103, August 1993.

Translated by Rob Plas, notes in text by the author

All trough the history of warfare, soldiers always knew how to make good use of captured equipment. Clothing, food, and inevitably, weapons. The latter were especially attractive if they were easier to obtain and of better quality then the ones issued to troops originally. Using the enemy’s weapons did mean on the other hand that ammunition and spare parts were sometimes hard to get, and in the case of vehicles, one had to be careful not to be shot by friendly forces.

During World War II the German forces made extensive use of captured equipment. (1) This started directly after invading Czechoslovakia and it also took place in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. I am referring to vehicles like the LT vz.38 Skoda, later used by the German 7th and 8th armoured divisions, the French Char B1bis, the Somua S-35 and the Renault R-35. [The Germans made good use of some DAF M38 armoured cars, captured in The Netherlands during the Blitzkrieg in 1940, and transported to the USSR, and deployed in the fights against the soviet partisans ]
The Russian T-34 tank was used a lot by the German forces, usually with very large white Balkenkreuz markings to prevent being shot by their own comrades. In North Africa also, British and American equipment and vehicles were used by the German forces, often to compensate for the huge shortages of material.

Also in the ETO, German forces made good use of captured vehicles, a very well known example being the use of American vehicles by Otto Skorzeny’s 150th armoured brigade during the Ardennes offensive. (2)
Although not as often as their counterparts, the allied forces also used captured vehicles. First they had good, reliable resources and resupply, and more than enough armoured vehicles of their own. Second the almost impossible to get spare parts and ammunition played a role in this. Last but not least, the bigger chance to get shot by the own troops was also not an encouraging thought.
Some of the vehicles that did see action under allied flag were Sdkfz 250 and 251’s, as well as a battery of 3 - 88mm Flak 18 Anti-Tank guns, in the southern county of Limburg, The Netherlands. (3)
There was very little deployment of tanks and tank destroyers. Known is the use of a Stug III by American soldiers from the 104th Infantry Div. (4) It is therefore worth noticing that the extended use of a Pzkpfw V Panther Ausf G must be considered as a rare event. This Panther was captured and used by the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade, and often photographed. This Panther can be a very interesting subject in scale. (5)

Cuckoo with his new owners.

In the aftermath of the failed Arnhem offensive the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade was engaged in heavy fighting to gain control of the small Dutch village called Overloon. It was during these fierce battles that tankers of the 4th Armoured Battalion - Coldstream Guards, one of the 2 tank battalions in the brigade, entered a large barn, only to find a Panther tank of the PanzerAbteiling 2, Panzer Brigade 107. This Panther was in running order and quickly put to work in the staff units of the brigade. The use of this captured vehicle was a unique event, so it appears more than once in the official history of the brigade. (6)

After some adjustments were made to the appearance of the vehicle (more about that later) this Panther was used to help the artillery barrage on the Geijsteren castle, just north of Venlo, on the Meuse River. The tank was christened “Cuckoo”, which seems to be an appropriate name for such a strange “bird”


Cuckoo is in the back of this column of Churchill tanks, normally a sight like this would cause panic amongst the british crews.

In the artillery bombardment on the castle, Cuckoo proved to be a worthy newcomer. After an infantry attack at the castle failed, the decision was made to bombard the castle with artillery. This barrage proved to be not very successful, as the relatively small target was hard to hit with artillery. The 75mm tank guns and 6-pounders were more accurate, but too light to do real impressive damage to the thick walls of the castle.
The Panther tank on the other hand did an outstanding job: “ The 95mms were a great success, but “Cuckoo”, [………], did best of all, hurling its shells through selected windows with unfailing precision.”
Later, during operation “Blackcock” (In an area to the south of Venlo) Cuckoo was deployed again, now to join in on an attack on the German town called Waldenrath. Cuckoo preformed very well again, it’s mobility was especially noticeable.

The historian wrote “The road conditions were abominable all day, but whereas the Churchill’s and the Crocodiles, with no ice bars, slid into ditches at every possible opportunity, “Cuckoo” the Panther, eight tons heavier, trundled merrily along with no difficulty at all.”

The next theatre of operations for the 6th Guards Tank Brigade,and the Panther was during operation "Veritable", better known as the battles for the Reichswald. Here Cuckoo's career ended in a sorry way. When heading towards the east of Kleve in Germany the fuel pump broke down, and due to lack of a spare pump the tank had to be abandoned.


A colour impression made by Øyvind Leonsen after reading the original version of this document.

Cuckoo originally belonged to the German Panzerbrigade 107, a unit that only saw action in the Dutch county of Limburg, and the eastern part of Noord Brabant. (Roughly the area between Eindhoven, Venlo and Roermond, in the south east of The Netherlands. [RP])
After retreating behind the River Meuse (Maas) the remains of this brigade became the base where around the new 25th Panzergenadier Div. was formed.
For references about the appearance and deployment of the Panther tanks in this unit I would like to recommend the articles I wrote on the subject, and that were published in the MIP, the magazine of the Dutch chapter of the IPMS (7)
This unit mainly consisted of Panther Ausf G tanks, the earliest version. These tanks (and this includes Cuckoo) were not yet supplied with the so-called “chin” on the gunmantlet (Geänderter Walzenblende in verstärkter Abweisserleiste) nor the raised air inlet fan cover on the left hand site of the engine deck. Pictures of the tanks in this unit show them in an overall sand yellow base coat, or in a “cloud shaped” 3-colour scheme. The photographs also depict a 3-digit number on all (?) tanks, combined with a black cross.


The left hand side turret, also by Øyvind Leonsen

It is not clear if, and how this Panther in British service was camouflaged, but from the original pictures it is clear that Cuckoo was painted in a single colour. Which colour is not absolutely sure. The original dark yellow (Dunkelgelb) was acceptable, presuming that nobody bothered to completely repaint the vehicle, but as there are no signs of digits and/or crosses on the tank, nor visible proof of any local shade variations, which would most certain be visible if these were covered with fresh paint, it can be assumed that Cuckoo was repainted overall in the same shade (Khaki Drab) as the Churchill’s in the unit. This would explain the lack of German markings, and a paint job like that wouldn’t be a problem at all for the brigade’s workshop units. When comparing the shades of grey on the original black and white prints I can’t see any significant differences in tone. I therefore support the idea of Cuckoo being repainted, before put to work for it’s new owners. ( (Repainting captured vehicles was a common practice in World War II even civilian cars got that treatment [RP])

If we let the subject of repainting rest, the first thing that was changed in the appearance of Cuckoo was applying a large white 5-pointed star in a white circle, the allied (air)recognition sign. (Often this sign was not used, or hidden, because enemy gunners used the star as a bulls-eye for easy aiming) The star was applied to both sides of the turret. The remaining markings related to the vehicles position in the British organisation: unit number, vehicle number and the name Cuckoo. The Unit serial number used by the Coldstream Guards was 153. This number was applied to the toolbox on the right hand side at the rear of the tank in white paint. Normally this number was painted on a background that consisted of a green field with a horizontal white band below it. This to show that the brigade was part of the second British Army corps.
I didn’t find any proof of these markings on Cuckoo. The tank was named Cuckoo, and this name was painted on both lower sides of the turret, in white or another light colour. On the picture the tone looks a little darker than the white star. (9)
“Cuckoo” wasn’t just made up all vehicles in the staff unit had bird names. The CO’s tank was named Eagle, his warrant officer’s tank named Seagull. The ACV (Armoured Command Vehicle of 2nd I/C (second in Command) was called Vulture, while the troop commander drove Owl. (10)
Cuckoo was deployed to the bombardment of Geijsteren castle looking like described above. During operation "Blackcock" in January 1945, the roads and fields were covered with a thick blanket of fresh snow, so the unit’s vehicles were camouflaged to cope with that.

Cuckoo3.JPG (27376 bytes)
Cuckoo in a hastily applied snow camouflage scheme

Some of the units Churchill tanks were covered with white sheets Cuckoo received a rough coat of white chalk. On the picture you can see this, the hull seems to have got a even coat of white, whilst the turret received some broad white bands on the forward half it. Clearly visible on the original print is the side of the gun mantled, which was still in its original colour. On it’s next battles during operation "Veritable", Cuckoo is back in green again, only the serial numbers on the back seems to have disappeared totally.

T.J.M. Schers, 1993
You can contact Theo if you are interested in this subject of captured vehicles
You can send him an E-mail

(1) For a long time “beutepanzer” were more or less ignored but recently more literature about this subject has become available. Look for: W. Regenberg en H. Scheibert, Beutepanzer unterm Balkenkreuz: Franzosischer Kampfpanzer (Waffen Arsenal bd 121), and RussicheBeutepanzer (Waffen Arsenal Bd116) both by Friedberg 1990 Beute farzeuge und -Panzer der Wehrmacht, (Militaärfarzeuge Bd 12) Walter Spielberger.

(2) See: B. Perret, The PzKpfw. V Panther (Vanguard 21) London 1981, colourplate G2 and page 37-39 London 1981

(3) Photographs in J. Piekalkiwitz, Die 8,8 Flak im Erdkampf-einzets Stuttgart 1978

(4) Photograph in W. Auerbach, Last of the Panzers, German Tanks 1944-45 (Tanks Illustrated 9) Polish, 1984, Picture 66

(5) In Italy the 145 RAC also captured and used a Panther tank, named DESERTER! Perret, PzKpfw V, p34.

(6) P. Forbes, 6th Guards Tank Brigade: The story of Guardsmen in Churchill tanks, London, z.j. The historian's quotes are from this book

(7) T. Schers, Panthers in Nederland: 107e Pz.Brigade in N. Brabant en Limburg, herfst 1944, MIP 13 1984, pp 16-18 and 32-36, Panthers in Nederland, een vervolg, MIP 20, 1991 pp 107-109

( B. Perrett, PzKpfw. V, Colour plate, G1. He believes Cuckoo has a dark yellow background (“Factory Yellow”), the original colour.

(9) Perret, PzKpfw. V, page 37, yellow as main colour.

(10) B. Perrett, The Churchill tank (Vanguard 13, London 1980) Colour plate E1 and E2: Churchills of the 6th Armoured Brigade, Normandy.

Øyvind Leonsen got really excited after reading this article some time ago and mailed me these pics of Cuckoo in 1/35 scale.

ccoo12.jpg (63578 bytes)
_________________
Watch your thoughts they become words. Watch your words they become actions. Watch your actions they become habits. Watch your habits they become character. Watch your character it becomes your destiny.





_________________
http://bob-wargames.uk/

Don't encourage him, he was too lazy to do the Zimmerit !
_________________
Alan


Was the Panther Really the Best Tank of WW2?

The Panther has been called the finest German tank of World War II. Some people have even suggested that it was the best overall tank in that war.

However, the Panther has become the subject of a mythology out of all proportion to its actual effectiveness as a weapon of war. Let’s try to cut through the hype to assess how good this iconic German tank really was.

Design

The designing of a medium tank to replace both the Panzer III and IV began in 1938. However, German military successes in 1940 led to the project being put on hold – after all, if Germany was winning so easily with existing tanks, what was the point in spending time and resources on producing a completely new model?

Three French boys looking at a knocked-out German Panther tank in the Falaise pocket, Normandy, 25 August 1944. A captured Panther in Red Army use

That complacency was shattered in mid-1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union and encountered the T-34 for the first time.

Suddenly, the Wehrmacht was in urgent need of a medium tank with good mobility, armor, and firepower. A completely new design was started, taking into account lessons learned from studying the T-34.

T-34 tanks headed to the front. Photo: RIA Novosti archive, image #1274 / RIA Novosti / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Daimler-Benz (DB) and Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG (MAN) both submitted designs for the new tank in January 1942.

The DB design featured sloping armor, a diesel engine and a forward turret, very like the T-34. The MAN design also featured sloping armor, but had a more conventional mid-mounted turret and a gasoline engine.

Albert Speer examines a T-34 in June 1943. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J14589 / Willi Kobierowski / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Hitler apparently favored the DB design. However, there was an urgent need to get the new tank into production and the MAN design included a turret which had already been designed by Rheinmetall-Borsig.

The design and creation of a completely new turret for the DB design would inevitably have taken longer, so in May 1942 the MAN design was approved for production.

Maybach HL 230 in TechnikMuseum, Sinsheim, Germany. Photo: Bilderling / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The MAN design featured sloping frontal armor and a Maybach V12 gasoline engine driving the front sprockets. Suspension was provided by torsion-bar axles.

In order to fit eight axles to each side, the tank’s sixteen rubber-rimmed steel road wheels on each side were interleaved. This resulted in uniform weight distribution and low ground pressure.

This system, called schachtellaufwerk, had been used previously on a number of German half-track vehicles, and a very similar design had been developed for the Tiger tank which was also about to enter production.

Schachtellaufwerk interleaved wheels on a Panther. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-296-1652-35 / Schwoon / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The three-man, hydraulically traversed turret on the MAN design held a 7.5 cm Kampfwagenkanone (KwK) 42 L/70 main gun, a weapon which had originally been intended for the Tiger tank before that was redesigned for the 8.8cm KwK 36.

This gun was primarily designed as a tank killer: it had a very high muzzle velocity and was capable of penetrating 150mm (almost six inches) of armor at a range of one kilometer (o.6 miles). The effective range of this weapon was up to one mile and it was provided with a Turmzielfernrohr 12 binocular gun sight.

Repair of the transmission of a Panther. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-280-1096-33 / Jacob / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The new tank was intended to be faster and more maneuverable than the Tiger, and its name was chosen to reflect this greater agility. However, Hitler, as he so often did, began to interfere almost as soon as the design was approved for series production.

Among other things, he insisted that the frontal armor thickness be increased. This led to the final design being significantly heavier than originally intended – the initial design was for a 30-35 ton tank, but production Panthers were closer to 50 tons, the original design weight of the Tiger.

Panther tank on the Eastern Front, 1944. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1976-124-12A / Müller, Karl / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Panther was designed for a five-man crew: driver, radio operator/bow machine gunner, loader, gunner and commander. The turret was provided with a basket, a base which revolved with it. It was rather cramped – the loader in particular was forced to crouch awkwardly.

The crew of a Panther pose for photograph. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-244-2323-06A / Waidelich / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Production

During 1942, the German need for a new tank became even more pressing. The advance towards the Caucasus Mountains had bogged down and by the end of the year it was becoming apparent that the German Sixth Army, which was trapped in Stalingrad, was in dire trouble.

Plans were already being made for a massive new offensive in the summer of 1943 and it was imperative that the new tank be available by then.

Panther production began in December 1942 at the main MAN plant at Nuremberg and at other locations. That represents a stunning achievement – just seven months from design approval to the first tanks being assembled on the production line.

Panther tank production line. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-635-3966-27 / Hebenstreit / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Like most German tanks of WWII, the different models of the Panther were identified by an Ausfuehrung (Version) letter.

Typically, the first version of any new tank was identified as Ausf. A, but the first production version of the Panther was, for some reason, identified as the Ausf. D. The first examples of this version left the MAN production line in January 1943, and around nine hundred were produced.

Panther Ausf. D tanks, 1943. The D model can best be recognized by the drum-shaped cupola. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H26258 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

By August 1943, an improved model of the Panther was in production, designated the Ausf. A. This included a number of detail changes to the turret and increased armor thickness in various areas. Some late Ausf. D models and all Ausf. A models were also equipped with an improved Maybach engine, increasing power from 650 to 700 metric horsepower.

Production of the Ausf. A continued to May 1944, and a total of just over 2,000 were delivered.

Panther Ausf. A in Italy, 1944. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-476-2051-30A / Brünning / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The final version of the Panther was the Ausf. G which began to be produced in March 1944. This version introduced a number of detail changes as well as a new chassis with a different distribution of armor.

The side pannier armor which protected the top of the tracks was increased in thickness and, to avoid increasing the overall weight of the tank, armor in other areas such as the forward front plates and the belly armor was reduced.

Production of this version continued to the end of the war and around 3,000 were produced in total.

Panther Ausf G in Bockage, France, 1944. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-722-0406-06A / Theobald / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Best Tank of WWII?

Like any weapon system, the design of the Panther was an attempt to balance combat requirements with practical considerations.

The KwK 42 main gun, for example, was one of the most effective anti-armor weapons carried by any tank in WWII. But it also had significant drawbacks. Its length of over fifteen feet (five meters), for example, made it unwieldy in street fighting and in difficult terrain such as the Bockage of Normandy.

A very high muzzle velocity made the KwK 42 gun a potent tank killer, but this also meant that shells had to be specially reinforced.

This wasn’t an issue with armor-piercing shells, but it severely limited the volume of explosive in HE shells. This made the Panther significantly less capable as an anti-infantry weapon or against reinforced positions.

The muzzle blast from its main gun was also severe and likely to produce concussive injuries in any friendly infantry close to the tank when it was fired.

Panther tank with bush camouflage in Northern France, 1944. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-301-1955-32 / Kurth / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The weakness of the Panther in the infantry support role meant that large numbers of the Panzer III and IV which it was intended to replace still had to be produced.

Also, since the KwK 42 had to use a shell that was entirely different from any other 75mm shell used by German forces, difficult logistics were made even more complicated.

British officers ride on a captured Panther tank in Italy, June 1944, with an early “letterbox” hull gun aperture

Even as an anti-tank weapon, the main gun on the Panther had a fundamental flaw. The gunner was equipped only with a telescopic binocular sight. This was very effective once the target had been located, but initial location was an issue.

On most Allied and Soviet tanks of the period, the gunner was provided with two sights – a panoramic sight and a telescopic sight.

This was important during handover from the commander, whose role it was to identify targets, to the gunner, whose role was to find and engage those targets.

Pantherturm fortification in Italy, 1944. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-587-2267-24 / Wahner / CC-BY-SA 3.0

In the Panther, it took time for the gunner, using only a high magnification sight, to find the target handed off by the commander. In any tank-versus-tank situation, getting the first shot off is critical. This issue was never fully addressed in the Panther.

Panther in the river at Houffalize, 1945

The Panther’s weight was also a problem. It couldn’t use some bridges, and special railroad wagons were required for rail transport.

Its torsion bar suspension and multiple road wheels gave it smooth cross-country performance, but the interleaved road wheels were prone to becoming clogged with mud and debris and even completely freezing up in harsh Russian winters.

The interleaved design also meant that changing a damaged wheel was a major headache. If an inner wheel was damaged, several outer wheels might have to be removed before it could be replaced.

Panthers, already with bush camouflage attached, being transported by rail to the front in France. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-721-0398-10A / Wagner / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Panther’s armor was less than perfect. The face-hardened steel had a tendency to spall lethal splinters into the interior of the tank even if it wasn’t penetrated.

On the Ausf. D, the gun mantlet created a shot trap which deflected shots down into the thin armor above the driver/radio operator compartment, often with fatal consequences.

Belly armor on early models was thin, around 16mm (0.6 inches), making the Panther particularly vulnerable to anti-tank mines.

Side armor on early versions was also thin, around 40mm (1.5 inches), and hits to the side led to many Panthers being lost to catastrophic fires.

Burnt out Panther Ausf.G at the Battle of the Bulge, penetrated in the sponson.

The Panther’s greatest flaw was its poor reliability. Partly this was a production issue – early models were rushed into service, and later models were hampered by a lack of high-grade steel and the Allied bombing of production facilities.

However, poor reliability of the engine and final drive were also due to design changes. The engine and drive train were originally designed for a tank of 30-35 tons. The production Panther was more than 30% heavier and as a consequence these components proved fragile in use.

Batalion Zośka armored platoon on a captured German Panther, August 2, 1944.

Panther engines suffered from high fuel consumption and the engine compartment was sealed since the Panther was originally intended to be amphibious. That led to catastrophic overheating and fires. Engines were also prone to blowing head gaskets and to bearing and rod failures.

In post-war tests, Panthers were found to need repair or replacement of the final drive in an average of just 150 km (93 miles) – less than the range of a single tank of fuel.

Road gantry Strabokran, which was indispensable to maintain the Panther tank in the field. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-244-2323-25A / Waidelich / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Many units found it difficult to keep more than 50% of their Panthers serviceable. The Ausf. D Panthers rushed into service for the Battle of Kursk had an average serviceability of just 16% in July 1943. This was improved to 37% by the end of that year.

Any planned journey of 25 km (over 15 miles) or more was undertaken by rail if at all possible to avoid the risk of breakdowns. Reliability of the Panther did improve as the war progressed, but it was never impressive.

When a batch of new Ausf. A Panthers were delivered to SS-Leibstandarte in Italy in September 1943, all were rejected as having serious faults which made them unsuitable for combat. General Heinz Guderian reported that 60-70% of early Panthers deployed on the Eastern Front were lost due to mechanical failures rather than to enemy action.

US soldiers celebrate with a captured German flag in front of a destroyed Panther tank. The group of infantrymen were left behind to “mop-up” in Chambois, France, last stronghold of the Germans in the Falaise Gap area.

The Panther was also prone to fires. On early models, the fuel pumps, carburetors, and fuel lines were prone to leakage which led to gasoline pooling in the engine compartment. Driving up a slope could cause this to slosh onto hot engine parts and catch fire.

When tanks were being gathered for the Battle of Kursk in July 1943, two Panthers were destroyed by fire while they were being unloaded from railroad wagons – not an auspicious start for any new combat system!

The risk of fire during combat was even higher and more Panthers were destroyed by fires than the American Sherman, which is often identified as a tank which was particularly vulnerable to fire.

Wrecked Panther tank with a destroyed engine, Normandy, 1944.

Panther II on display at Patton Cavalry and Armor Museum, Fort Knox. Photo: Fat yankey / CC-BY-SA 2.5

Overall, when fully operational a Panther was a formidable anti-armor weapon. However, hasty early production and changes to the basic design meant that Panthers were often inoperable for a number of reasons.

If we add to this the Panther’s unsuitability as an infantry support weapon and its other flaws, it is very difficult indeed to nominate this as the all-around best tank of World War II.


Panzer V ausf G/ Panther I 'Cuckoo' - History

“Cuckoo”, a Panther G in British service

By T.J.M. Schers, The Netherlands

Published originally in “De Tank” Issue 103, August 1993.

Translated by Rob Plas, notes in text by the author

All trough the history of warfare, soldiers always knew how to make good use of captured equipment. Clothing, food, and inevitably, weapons. The latter were especially attractive if they were easier to obtain and of better quality then the ones issued to troops originally. Using the enemy’s weapons did mean on the other hand that ammunition and spare parts were sometimes hard to get, and in the case of vehicles, one had to be careful not to be shot by friendly forces.

During World War II the German forces made extensive use of captured equipment. (1) This started directly after invading Czechoslovakia and it also took place in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. I am referring to vehicles like the LT vz.38 Skoda, later used by the German 7th and 8th armoured divisions, the French Char B1bis, the Somua S-35 and the Renault R-35. [The Germans made good use of some DAF M38 armoured cars, captured in The Netherlands during the Blitzkrieg in 1940, and transported to the USSR, and deployed in the fights against the soviet partisans ]
The Russian T-34 tank was used a lot by the German forces, usually with very large white Balkenkreuz markings to prevent being shot by their own comrades. In North Africa also, British and American equipment and vehicles were used by the German forces, often to compensate for the huge shortages of material.

Also in the ETO, German forces made good use of captured vehicles, a very well known example being the use of American vehicles by Otto Skorzeny’s 150th armoured brigade during the Ardennes offensive. (2)
Although not as often as their counterparts, the allied forces also used captured vehicles. First they had good, reliable resources and resupply, and more than enough armoured vehicles of their own. Second the almost impossible to get spare parts and ammunition played a role in this. Last but not least, the bigger chance to get shot by the own troops was also not an encouraging thought.
Some of the vehicles that did see action under allied flag were Sdkfz 250 and 251’s, as well as a battery of 3 - 88mm Flak 18 Anti-Tank guns, in the southern county of Limburg, The Netherlands. (3)
There was very little deployment of tanks and tank destroyers. Known is the use of a Stug III by American soldiers from the 104th Infantry Div. (4) It is therefore worth noticing that the extended use of a Pzkpfw V Panther Ausf G must be considered as a rare event. This Panther was captured and used by the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade, and often photographed. This Panther can be a very interesting subject in scale. (5)

Cuckoo with his new owners.

In the aftermath of the failed Arnhem offensive the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade was engaged in heavy fighting to gain control of the small Dutch village called Overloon. It was during these fierce battles that tankers of the 4th Armoured Battalion - Coldstream Guards, one of the 2 tank battalions in the brigade, entered a large barn, only to find a Panther tank of the PanzerAbteiling 2, Panzer Brigade 107. This Panther was in running order and quickly put to work in the staff units of the brigade. The use of this captured vehicle was a unique event, so it appears more than once in the official history of the brigade. (6)

After some adjustments were made to the appearance of the vehicle (more about that later) this Panther was used to help the artillery barrage on the Geijsteren castle, just north of Venlo, on the Meuse River. The tank was christened “Cuckoo”, which seems to be an appropriate name for such a strange “bird”


Cuckoo is in the back of this column of Churchill tanks, normally a sight like this would cause panic amongst the british crews.

In the artillery bombardment on the castle, Cuckoo proved to be a worthy newcomer. After an infantry attack at the castle failed, the decision was made to bombard the castle with artillery. This barrage proved to be not very successful, as the relatively small target was hard to hit with artillery. The 75mm tank guns and 6-pounders were more accurate, but too light to do real impressive damage to the thick walls of the castle.
The Panther tank on the other hand did an outstanding job: “ The 95mms were a great success, but “Cuckoo”, [………], did best of all, hurling its shells through selected windows with unfailing precision.”
Later, during operation “Blackcock” (In an area to the south of Venlo) Cuckoo was deployed again, now to join in on an attack on the German town called Waldenrath. Cuckoo preformed very well again, it’s mobility was especially noticeable.

The historian wrote “The road conditions were abominable all day, but whereas the Churchill’s and the Crocodiles, with no ice bars, slid into ditches at every possible opportunity, “Cuckoo” the Panther, eight tons heavier, trundled merrily along with no difficulty at all.”

The next theatre of operations for the 6th Guards Tank Brigade,and the Panther was during operation "Veritable", better known as the battles for the Reichswald. Here Cuckoo's career ended in a sorry way. When heading towards the east of Kleve in Germany the fuel pump broke down, and due to lack of a spare pump the tank had to be abandoned.


A colour impression made by Øyvind Leonsen after reading the original version of this document.

Cuckoo originally belonged to the German Panzerbrigade 107, a unit that only saw action in the Dutch county of Limburg, and the eastern part of Noord Brabant. (Roughly the area between Eindhoven, Venlo and Roermond, in the south east of The Netherlands. [RP])
After retreating behind the River Meuse (Maas) the remains of this brigade became the base where around the new 25th Panzergenadier Div. was formed.
For references about the appearance and deployment of the Panther tanks in this unit I would like to recommend the articles I wrote on the subject, and that were published in the MIP, the magazine of the Dutch chapter of the IPMS (7)
This unit mainly consisted of Panther Ausf G tanks, the earliest version. These tanks (and this includes Cuckoo) were not yet supplied with the so-called “chin” on the gunmantlet (Geänderter Walzenblende in verstärkter Abweisserleiste) nor the raised air inlet fan cover on the left hand site of the engine deck. Pictures of the tanks in this unit show them in an overall sand yellow base coat, or in a “cloud shaped” 3-colour scheme. The photographs also depict a 3-digit number on all (?) tanks, combined with a black cross.


The left hand side turret, also by Øyvind Leonsen

It is not clear if, and how this Panther in British service was camouflaged, but from the original pictures it is clear that Cuckoo was painted in a single colour. Which colour is not absolutely sure. The original dark yellow (Dunkelgelb) was acceptable, presuming that nobody bothered to completely repaint the vehicle, but as there are no signs of digits and/or crosses on the tank, nor visible proof of any local shade variations, which would most certain be visible if these were covered with fresh paint, it can be assumed that Cuckoo was repainted overall in the same shade (Khaki Drab) as the Churchill’s in the unit. This would explain the lack of German markings, and a paint job like that wouldn’t be a problem at all for the brigade’s workshop units. When comparing the shades of grey on the original black and white prints I can’t see any significant differences in tone. I therefore support the idea of Cuckoo being repainted, before put to work for it’s new owners. ( (Repainting captured vehicles was a common practice in World War II even civilian cars got that treatment [RP])

If we let the subject of repainting rest, the first thing that was changed in the appearance of Cuckoo was applying a large white 5-pointed star in a white circle, the allied (air)recognition sign. (Often this sign was not used, or hidden, because enemy gunners used the star as a bulls-eye for easy aiming) The star was applied to both sides of the turret. The remaining markings related to the vehicles position in the British organisation: unit number, vehicle number and the name Cuckoo. The Unit serial number used by the Coldstream Guards was 153. This number was applied to the toolbox on the right hand side at the rear of the tank in white paint. Normally this number was painted on a background that consisted of a green field with a horizontal white band below it. This to show that the brigade was part of the second British Army corps.
I didn’t find any proof of these markings on Cuckoo. The tank was named Cuckoo, and this name was painted on both lower sides of the turret, in white or another light colour. On the picture the tone looks a little darker than the white star. (9)
“Cuckoo” wasn’t just made up all vehicles in the staff unit had bird names. The CO’s tank was named Eagle, his warrant officer’s tank named Seagull. The ACV (Armoured Command Vehicle of 2nd I/C (second in Command) was called Vulture, while the troop commander drove Owl. (10)
Cuckoo was deployed to the bombardment of Geijsteren castle looking like described above. During operation "Blackcock" in January 1945, the roads and fields were covered with a thick blanket of fresh snow, so the unit’s vehicles were camouflaged to cope with that.

Cuckoo3.JPG (27376 bytes)
Cuckoo in a hastily applied snow camouflage scheme

Some of the units Churchill tanks were covered with white sheets Cuckoo received a rough coat of white chalk. On the picture you can see this, the hull seems to have got a even coat of white, whilst the turret received some broad white bands on the forward half it. Clearly visible on the original print is the side of the gun mantled, which was still in its original colour. On it’s next battles during operation "Veritable", Cuckoo is back in green again, only the serial numbers on the back seems to have disappeared totally.

T.J.M. Schers, 1993
You can contact Theo if you are interested in this subject of captured vehicles
You can send him an E-mail

(1) For a long time “beutepanzer” were more or less ignored but recently more literature about this subject has become available. Look for: W. Regenberg en H. Scheibert, Beutepanzer unterm Balkenkreuz: Franzosischer Kampfpanzer (Waffen Arsenal bd 121), and RussicheBeutepanzer (Waffen Arsenal Bd116) both by Friedberg 1990 Beute farzeuge und -Panzer der Wehrmacht, (Militaärfarzeuge Bd 12) Walter Spielberger.

(2) See: B. Perret, The PzKpfw. V Panther (Vanguard 21) London 1981, colourplate G2 and page 37-39 London 1981

(3) Photographs in J. Piekalkiwitz, Die 8,8 Flak im Erdkampf-einzets Stuttgart 1978

(4) Photograph in W. Auerbach, Last of the Panzers, German Tanks 1944-45 (Tanks Illustrated 9) Polish, 1984, Picture 66

(5) In Italy the 145 RAC also captured and used a Panther tank, named DESERTER! Perret, PzKpfw V, p34.

(6) P. Forbes, 6th Guards Tank Brigade: The story of Guardsmen in Churchill tanks, London, z.j. The historian's quotes are from this book

(7) T. Schers, Panthers in Nederland: 107e Pz.Brigade in N. Brabant en Limburg, herfst 1944, MIP 13 1984, pp 16-18 and 32-36, Panthers in Nederland, een vervolg, MIP 20, 1991 pp 107-109

( B. Perrett, PzKpfw. V, Colour plate, G1. He believes Cuckoo has a dark yellow background (“Factory Yellow”), the original colour.

(9) Perret, PzKpfw. V, page 37, yellow as main colour.

(10) B. Perrett, The Churchill tank (Vanguard 13, London 1980) Colour plate E1 and E2: Churchills of the 6th Armoured Brigade, Normandy.

Øyvind Leonsen got really excited after reading this article some time ago and mailed me these pics of Cuckoo in 1/35 scale.

ccoo12.jpg (63578 bytes)
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Hybrid Panther - information

Post by Arhad » 06 May 2007, 15:50

with my friends we are looking for pictures of Sd.Kfz V Panther Ausf.D ( our link http://modelforum.upce.cz/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12080 ) and we have photo from internet with very strange Panther . the turret is from Ausf.D , but tank hull is from Ausf.G ?

Post by Lannes » 06 May 2007, 16:03

Post by Arhad » 06 May 2007, 16:27

Post by brano » 06 May 2007, 16:46

Post by Dubliner » 07 May 2007, 04:35

The turret on the hybrid panther in the first post may not have come from a Panther Ausf. D. The "dust bin" type copula was also used on a number of early Panther Ausf. As, see Jentz's Panzer Tract 5-2.


Watch the video: IL-2 Tank Crew. V Panther Ausf. D Medium Tank


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