Emplaced German Tank Turret, Italy, 1944

Emplaced German Tank Turret, Italy, 1944

Emplaced German Tank Turret, Italy, 1944

Here we see a Canadian soldier examining an emplaced German tank turret being used as a fixed fortification somewhere on the Italian front in the summer of 1944. This picture shows the shell holes that knocked out this particular turret.


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Tank turrets as Bunkers – Wargaming fantasy?

recently, it was announced – or rather leaked – that the Stronkhold mode will – with one of its iterations – bring defensive turrets, controlled by bots. These turrets are made of tank turrets on concrete rectangle and look something like this:

Some players started claiming that such a setup is nonsense, because it’s Wargaming fantasy. Well, is it?

No, it is not. Using tank turrets as fixed emplacements is nothing new – it was actively done in the war and after the war with various turrets. The Germans actually used this kind of setup heavily, turning obsolete tank turrets into defensive emplacements. Such a setup in German was called “Turmstellung” was used for example in Scandinavia, but also in France, when the Atlantic Wall was being fortified. One of the earliest examples is the Panzer II Turmstellung:

These setups sometimes used the original tank armament, sometimes they did not, some of the Panzer II turrets were for example converted to use flamethrowers. Same thing happened to the obsolete Panzer 38t turrets. These were no ad-hoc buildings by the way, the use of turrets in this way was actually planned, along with their specific concrete foundations. Here, you can see a setup of the 38t turret foundations.

These 38t turret setups were used in Norway, in France (the Atlantic Wall), in Greece, but also later on river Odra during the final days of the Third Reich. Their remnants can occasionally be found in the countryside.

As funny or strange as these bunkers look, they were actually quite effective. The turret provided only a small target, it could turn around and was difficult to knock out – and even if you did damage it, it did usually not kill the soldiers inside the bunker, unless the turret was obliterated by an artillery shot or engineers, so you still had the bunker itself to deal with. Of course, not only obsolete turrets were eventually planned for fixed positions. Turrets of knocked out heavier tanks were used as well. Here for example a Panther turret fixed installation in Berlin, 1945:

Some suggested that Wargaming is making stuff up with that E-100 turret emplacement shown above – after all, E-100 turret as a bunker? That has to be a nonsense, right?

It is not actually, although it was the Maus turret, that was planned this way.

On the conference with Albert Speer and Hitler in late September/early October 1943, it was proposed that modified Maus turrets were to be used as fortification turrets, since the original fortress turret variants were extremely steel requiring. In November 1943, Krupp prepared the plan above for a fixed Maus turret installation, but nothing ever came of it.

The praxis of using obsolete tank turrets continued well after the war. Some regions of Europe were practically infested with them. One of the best known cases is the Bulgaria-Turkey border, where many armored vehicles were dug in this way.

These fortifications “survived” (of course in disrepair) practically to this day, some of the dug in tanks were recovered (mostly German stuff – a StuG, a Panzer IV). The last active use of tank turrets as fortifications took probably place in Golan Heights during the 1973 war, when Syrian forces employed obsolete tanks (even Panzer IV’s) as fixed fortifications. These did actually fire apparently and some were knocked out by the Israeli forces.


Though it seems a relatively modern idea, the oscillating turret design actually goes back as far as the First World War, to a designer by the name of Arnold H. S. Landor. Landor, a British inventor living in Italy, who designed a new armored car in 1915. It featured possibly the first ever oscillating turret, which was armed with 65 or 75mm gun (specifics unknown) mounted on the vehicle’s roof. This was closely followed by an Armored car designed by Joseph Gonsior, Friedrich Opp, and William Frank. A joint project between the USA and Austro-Hungary from 1916, it had a machine gun in an oscillating turret. The elevation/depression was controlled via hand-cranks.
The next time such a component would appear would be in the early 1940s on the French armored car prototype, the Panhard 201. After the German invasion of France, the prototype was evacuated to northern Africa. This armored car was topped off with an oscillating turret that was manually operated and armed with an SA35 25mm gun.

The Panhard 201 with a simple oscillating turret. Photo: SOURCE
Late in the in the Second World War, the turret type was used again, this time as part of the German prototype Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun, the Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz. This prototype was named after its turret the name translates to “Lightning Ball”. It consisted of an armored ball mounted on an armored collar connected to the turret ring. The ball, mounting dual 30mm MK 103 cannons, moved independently in elevation, allowing it to target aircraft.
Post Second World War and during the early stages of the Cold War, the French began to lead the way in the development of this type of turret. They invested a great deal of time and money in designing such turrets for light tanks like the AMX-13 and armored cars such as the Panhard EBR (descendant of the 201). The French became the leaders in this technology and was the first (also one of the few) nation to employ this type of turret on a vehicle that saw active service.
Though they were never used on a serial production vehicle, the United States of America also began experimenting with oscillating turret designs in the late 1950s. Such turrets were developed for Light, Medium, and Heavy Tanks. Several prototypes were built to test these turrets, but they were never adopted. This was largely due to the fact that the Americans found no real advantage in using these turrets over the conventional format.

A scale model of the Kugelblitz produced by the designers. Photo: panzernet.net

BREAKING: King Tiger Buried Since 1944 to be Recovered by Author Gary Sterne

There had been a year of uncertainty, but now the fate of WW2 German Army King Tiger No. 124 has finally been decided by the French Government and it is coming to Normandy….

After a struggle between a local re-enactment group and the local Council, author & historian Gary Sterne the owner of the Maisy Batteries in Grandcamp-Maisy, Normandy – the regional Governor of Yvelines has now confirmed (for the second time) that the tank must have a new home.

The location of the Tiger II (lost in combat in August 1944) had been known about for the last 17 years as it is located was under a road near Paris – but there were objections to it being recovered. Negotiations had taken place with the German Government and the French Ministry of Defence for over 4 years and in 2017 the Regional Governor – Prefet Serg Morvan gave his permission for the tank to be recovered.

Regional Chairman Pierre Bedier and his council unanimously confirmed this decision in June 2017 at a public meeting and the matter became legal 2 months later. However, a re-enactment group and a local amateur historian subsequently questioned the process. This brought about a stand-off between the group and the Council, which meant Council Chief Bedier asked that the argument be settled once and for all again by the Regional Governor Mr Morvan.

Panzerkampfwagen VI somewhere in the Northern France. Photo Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-721-0398-17A / Wagner / CC-BY-SA 3.0/

A senior lawyer for Yvelines Council Mr Kauffmann stated “all decisions of the County Council pass the control of legality of the prefecture”… and Mr Bedier and DRAC (French Department of Cultural Affiairs) publicly agreed to be bound by the Prefet’s final decision.

The whole project was therefore re-investigated by the Regional Governor’s office which has spent almost 6 months re-looking into the affair from a legal perspective. The long awaited deliberation arrived after consultation with all Government bodies, including the Ministry of Defence, Army, Ordnance Department, Mayor, Gendarmerie, Police etc.

As one of the last things he did before moving on to a more senior Government post – Prefet Morvan repeated his authorisation giving the tank to Mr Sterne for display in Normandy – and he confirmed that this tank will not become a State claimed trophy of war.

Tiger II tanks in France. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-721-0359-35 / Vennemann, Wolfgang / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The fate of Tiger 124 in August 1944 is reasonably well known. During the retreat of the German army towards Paris and the river Seine the King Tiger II’s of the 101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion were at the forefront of the fighting. Whilst in combat near the small French town of Fontenay St. Pere Tiger 124 commanded by Fritz Zahnner was retreating into a wooded area along a road when it came under attack by US fighter-bombers.

It was fired upon and fell into a shell crater and the crew bailed out leaving the tank to be later destroyed by advancing Allied soldiers. The Panzer crew returned to their unit minus the tank and took on roles in other vehicles. The turret of Tiger 124 was blown off and the barrel was removed leaving the body in the road and the turret in the ditch nearby.

A year later when the road was being repaired it was simply easier to push the remains of the Tiger into the shell hole and build the road over it, than it was to remove it.

Tiger II tank on display in Tank Museum, Bovington, England. Photo: Makizox / CC-BY-SA 4.0

The recovery project already has the written agreement of the German Ambassador to France, the German Army and the French MoD and it is being financed from a number of sources including a US D-day Veteran and a US Veterans Association. The Groupes Lourds Association (WW2 French Heavy Bomber Group) had also campaigned in support that the tank should be raised from the ground by Mr Sterne and put on display, and they were delighted by the news.

The local mayor had supported the idea of a recovery project because there are munitions known to be onboard and the towns administration do not want to leave the munitions in place. They are concerned in case they explode and cause injury to local people or a passing motorist – and the risk is one they were not willing to let continue any longer.

The Army Bomb Disposal Department headed by Commander Berthelin had already been given the authorisation to clear the site by the office of the Prefet and it will be their experts that will deal with anything dangerous.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied expeditionary forces, inspects an overturned German tank left by a roadside in France by the retreating enemy.

Mr Sterne stated “It has been a long time of negotiation and it was important that we spoke to everybody who could have an interest. In particular we made sure that the council also informed everyone – including the French department of DRAC back in 2017.

We want to put this tank in a new museum – on display for the public, so we have worked with the authorities to ensure they were happy with what we were doing. This is a rare historical item and we have given firm assurances that it will remain in France – on public display.”

Part of the tank’s turret was recovered from the side of the road 17 years ago but then the turret has stayed in a local garden ever since – but new changes in French law prohibit the private ownership of armoured items like this, so it too must go into a museum.

A local group had been campaigning against the tank being dug up and at first they wanted it to stay in the ground – and then later they wanted it to become a monument at the roadside. But the local authorities were concerned that it did not become a place of homage – and a number of French veterans wrote to the Prefet in support of Mr Sterne’s project.

The wife of highly decorated WW2 French bomber pilot Jean Calmel wrote to the Prefet stating “we should not put the machines of our enemies on display as monuments to them – this tank should be in a museum where it can be studied and not glorified”… and her concerns have been repeated by others.

Tiger II photographed in the Musée des Blindés, France.

The Governor’s office also received letters of support from representatives of the RAF, and even US D-day veterans who landed on Omaha Beach – as well as senior military figures in France & Germany, all supporting the Prefets first agreement that the remains should be recovered by Mr Sterne – they too have welcomed this final decision.

A number of Paris newspaper articles appeared earlier this year wrongly suggesting the tank was going to be sold – but Mr Sterne confirmed that “Those articles were 100% incorrect. The tank will never leave France – and that was an assurance that we gave to the French authorities 4 years ago”… “the tank is part of French history and it will stay in Normandy” he added “but it is very annoying that the turret has now been vandalised”.

Last month a publicity stunt organised by someone with access to the turret went badly wrong and the turret was painted yellow to draw attention to the monument idea. The sad part is the painting took place only days before the Prefet’s final decision was announced.

The re-enactors who has been looking after the turret have not commented on who has painted the turret this colour, but photographs appeared in the Paris press confirming that the turret is now a bright yellow colour and it has lost its original camouflage.

Close-up at Tiger II turret. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-680-8282A-09 / Keiner / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Sterne stated: “The turret is from Tiger No 124 of the 101st Heavy Panzer Battalion and the rare Zimmerit (anti-magnetic paste) and camouflage colouring was unique to this tank. It was painted during the war by the crew and as such it offered historians a unique look at how the Germans tried to hide their vehicles. The damage done to the turret by this new paint is immeasurable and it has literally changed the history of the vehicle. It is a great shame this was done.”

The 2nd letter of authorisation from Prefet Morvan has now been sent to Yvelines Council Chief Pierre Bedier. It confirms that the Council must comply with earlier agreement and the same letter has been received by Mr Kauffmann in Yvelines legal department. This decision is legally binding and it allows Mr Bedier to put an end to the ongoing debate between the council and the re-enactors.

The recovery work is scheduled to begin later this year. www.maisybattery.com will post more details in the future.

It is hoped that the turret can be restored back to its original colour. This photograph taken from on the internet – click here – shows the turret in a garden where it was used as an object of amusement for some time. This is not what the Yvelines Council wanted to see happen at the side of the road.​

This photograph appeared in the French press and on the internet last week – click here – and it shows the turret has been painted a yellow colour with some the original Zimmerit having been damaged. A spokesman for the Tank Museum, Bovington, England was shocked and dismayed when he saw the photograph.

“A great piece of history has been damaged and I only hope it can be restored – but we are delighted that this long awaited recovery project can now take place and we cannot wait to see another original Tiger II on display in Normandy.”

World War Photos

Panther Ausf D 1944 Eastern Front Panther Ausf G tanks of 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg winter camo Alsace December 1944 German Panther Ausf D on road Panther Ausf A with zimmerit
Panther Ausf A right side Stavelot 1945 Panther and PaK 40 Panther Ausf D 1944 and crew member Panther Ausf A Eastern Front 1944
Destroyed Panther Ausf. A number 112 of the Fallschirm-Panzergrenadier Division 2 Hermann Göring. East Prussia February 1945 Panther Cologne March 1945 Duel at the Cathedral Panther Ausf D tank number 914 1943 Panther during the Russian “Rasputitsa” muddy season
Panther tank Ostpreussen 1944 Destroyed Panther Northern Luxenburg January 22 25 1945 Panther tank rail transport 2 Panther tank upside down France 29 July 1944
Panzer Panther Ausf G number 402 Eifel 1945 US Soldier and KO Panther Ausf G Tank in La Gleize Belgium 1945 destroyed Panther Ausf D tanks Kursk July 1943 Panther tank winter
KO Panther Ausf D 52nd Panzer Battalion and Sd.Kfz 263 Battle of Kursk 1943 Captured German Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Ausf G Somewhere In France 16 August 1944 Oberst Langkeit Panzer V 󈫱” of Panzer Grenadier Division Grossdeutschland Romania 1944 Aschaffenburg Germany Panther Tank and Submarine Plant
Panther Ausf D Medium Tank Panther Ausf G of 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf Panther Ausf G Medium Tank Panther Ausf A of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking Bahntransport Summer 1944
Panzer V Panther Ausf D Medium Tank German tank Panther Ausf D Panther Ausf G in river Panther Befehlswagen
POWs and knocked out German Panther Ausf G Sinz 94th Inf 3rd Army Panzer III Panzer IV And In The Background Panther tank 1945 column of Panther Ausf A tanks from Grossdeutchland division Romania Tank Treads And Panther Tank Turrets 1945
Panther Houffalize Belgium Destroyed Panther tank somewhere in germany at the end of the war Panzerkampfwagen V Panther with Zimmerit Pantherturm by ARNO RIVER Italy
Panther Tanks Part Of A Column Smashed In A Vally South Of Stavelot Abandoned Panther Ausf G Ardennes Panther Ausf D number 131 on flat car Panther Ausf G number 332 Eastern Front September 1944
Panzer V Panther Ausf G of Fallschirm Panzerkorps Hermann Goring Panther Ausf D 1944 Panther Lair At Hanover Germany Complete Turret Assemblies color Tank Panther Ausf A of the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf Poland 1944
Panzer V Panther Ausf G number 415 1944 Befehlspanzer V Panther Ausf A 1944 Panzer V Panther Ausf D 2 Abandoned Panther Ausf G tank from 19th Panzer Division Poznan 1945
Italy 1944 Panzer V Panther with zimmerit destroyed Panther Ausf D number 312 Kursk Panther Ausf A of the Panzer Regiment 4, Rome 1943 Panzer V Panther Sd.Kfz 171 in Belgium 1944
Panther Ausf G and Panzer IV 611, Hotton Belgium 26 December 1944 Panther and crew 1944 Hungary Panther Ausf A with Zimmeritt of Waffen SS 1944 Panther Ausf D 112 Kursk
Panther Ausf G transport Panther Ausf A Outside Cologne Cathedral 1945 German Column 6 Panzer V Panther Ausf A tanks along road Panther Ausf D od Waffen SS 1944
Panther Ausf D number 434 51st Panzer Battalion Kursk 2 Abandoned German Panzer V Panther in Paris Knocked Out German Panther Tank at Cologne Cathedral 1945 destroyed Panther Ausf D Kharkov August 1943
Panther tank France 1944 2 Panther Ausf G 1944 rail transport Panther Ausf A France1944 Panzer V Panther Sd.Kfz 171
Panther Ausf G of 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler tank number 221 with steel road wheels Ardenes Oberst Karl Lorenz and Panzer V Panther Ausf A of Panzer Grenadier Division Grossdeutschland destroyed Panther Ausf D number 745 1943 Panther Ausf G number 111 and Panzer IV Belgium 1945
Panther Ausf A number 109 Panther Ausf G Luxembourg February 1945 Panther Ausf D number 634 Kursk Panzer V Panther with Zimmerit
Panther turrets Aschaffenburg Railroad Yards In Germany Captured tank Panther Ausf G Panzer V Panther number 415 Panther Ausf G number 111
Abandoned tank Panther Ausf G, Munich 1945 Abandoned Panther tank destroyed tank Panther Ausf D Panther tank number 413
Abandoned Captured German Panther Tank in French Street 1944 Panther Ausf D number 434 51st Panzer Battalion rear view Kursk Panther Ausf A with zimmerit 1944 Destroyed Panther number 512 Kursk Eastern Front
Panther Ausf A 1944 Hungary US GIs Climbing on Captured German Panther Ausf G Tank destroyed Panther Ausf D number 102 of Panzer Grenadier Division Grossdeutschland 1943 Panther ausf A number 123 winter
Burning Panther Tank Panther tanks Eastern front Winter Panzer V Panther of Panzer Regiment 2 Panther of 5 Waffen SS Panzer Division Wiking
Panther number 33 1944 45 Germany Panther Ausf A tank from II/Panzer Regiment 33, 9th Panzer Division, Cologne Germany Panther ausf D number 732 Panther commander cupola winter camo
Panther Ausf. G front view Panzer V Panther with Zimmerit Eastern front 1944 45 Panther ausf A Panther Eastern front
Panther winter camo Panther of Panzer Regiment 3 Panther ausf D tanks 732 and 721 Panther tank and crew
Panther of 5 Waffen SS Panzer Division Wiking Kowel 1944 Abandoned Panther ausf D Panther ausf A of Waffen SS France Panther ausf D tank Germany july 1943
Panther ausf D of the 51st Panzer Battalion, tank number 121 – Eastern front Panther in France, august 1944 Grossdeutschland division Panther tank M8 GMC and Panzer Lehr Division Panther tank, St Gilles France july 1944
Panther tank in France 1944 Panther tank number 421 with zimmerit (special anti-magnetic paste), 1944 Panther tanks are loaded aboard flatcars for transport to the front Panthers Panzertransport France 1944
Panther pzkpfw V Panther tank with zimmerit (special anti-magnetic paste) Panther tank ausf A pzkpfw Panther tanks
pzkpfw Panther 2 pzkpfw Panther Italy Panther tank commander Panzer V Panther Italy
Destroyed Panther Ausf A of the Panzer Lehr Division – Normandy July 1944 Panther road wheels France Pantherturm Italy 1944 Panther Ausf D number 434 of the 51st Panzer Battalion Kursk
Panther tank in winter camo German tank Panther Ausf A of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Arc de Triomphe Paris 1944 Panther Ausf A tank of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in Flandres Belgium June 1944 Panther panzer V ausf D
Panther tank San Giovanni Italy 1944 pzkpfw Panther Panther Ausf A tank number 511 winter camouflage, 1944 Panthers on Ssyms 50 ton flatcars in the factory railway yard
Panzer V Panther ausf G with IR Sights Panther tank Rhine 1945 Panther tank commander Italy Panther Ausf A tank of the 9th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht), Argentan France August 1944
Pantherturm Italy German tank Panther Ausf A of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Arc de Triomphe Paris Panzer V Panther G Panther from I/Panzer-Regiment 4 in Rome, August 1943
Panther Ausf A tank number 412 France Panther tank on rail car Panther tank near Autrey France 1944 Pantherturm Italy 2
Pantherturm Italy 1944 2 Panther Ausf A ank number 511 with typical winter camouflage scheme Panzerketten for Panzer V Pantherturm Italy Heinrich von Vietinghoff
PzKpfw V Panther Panzer V Panther 028 1 Panther tank number 631 Panther tank with hit marks
Panther tank east front PzKpfw V Panther tank, Palais Rohan, Strasbourg Panther panzer Panther tank turret
StuG Ausf G and Panther Italy Nettuno Panther tank number 501 of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking Panther tank knocked out, combat zone Periers Normandy July 1944 Panther Ausf A tank number 102 of the 4th Panzer Regiment and Elefant, Italy February 29, 1944
Pantherturm Italy 1944 4 Prototype Panther Zimmerit on Panther tank Panther tank ausf D
Panther tank ausf A late Panzer V Panther boneyard Aschaffenburg Germany 1945 Panther tank camouflage Panther tank destroyed
Panzer V Panther ausf A east front Panther tank number 432 France 1944 Panther tank 2 Panther tank camouflage east front
Panther tank number 613 Panther Ausf A tank number 511 winter camouflage 4 German Camouflaged Panther Tank Of 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking Panzer V Panther Italy 2
German tank Panther Ausf A of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Paris 1944 Panther tank ww2 Italy Panther panzersoldaten east front Panther Ausführung A tank number 511 winter camouflage
Pz kpfw V Panther Panther tank photo Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Italy Panther tank number 334 Italy
Panzer V Panther Italy 3 Russian Panther tank Panther tank befehlspanzer pzkpfw 5 panther
Panzer V Panther ausf D Sherman and Panther Mont Ormel 1944 Panther rear Sdkfz 171 Panther tank in North France
Panthers unternehmen Zitadelle Panther tank number 232 Panthers Panzertransport France 1944 Panther tank number 815
Sdkfz 9 Famo towing Panther Panther Ausf D number 435 of the 51st Panzer Battalion Kursk Panther panzer V ausf D 2 Panther tank
Panther Ostfront Sud Panzersoldat Panzer V Panther ausf D east front winter Panther tank number 438 east front Panther tank number 114 with zimmerit Italy
Panzersoldat Italy Panther pzkpfw V 2 Panther tank in Hungary Pantherturm Italy 1944 3
Panthers Panzertransport France 1944 4 Panther tank ausf G Panther ausf G of the 9th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht) France 1944 2 Panthers tanks knocked out in Normandy 1944
Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Panzer V Panther Ausf A tank from II/Panzer Regiment 33, 9th Panzer Division, Cologne Germany Panther Ausf A tank number 412 France 1944 Panther rhine 1945
Panther tank Kelberg Germany 1945

150 were lost, mostly because of the failure of the drive and motor (50 not even communed to the battlefield). However battles have shown that Panther has high-quality protection armor and weaponry. After eliminating manufacturing defects, Panther has quickly become a danger opponent for the Allied armored forces.
The idea of building a new medium tank Panther came up in 25th November 1941 year. It happened due to fear waking reports that were coming from the east front. On the eastern front the German crew with tanks Panther III and IV encountered tanks KW-1 and T-34, which were exceeding German armored vehicles in terms of armor and weapons. Originally was idea to copy T-34 tank, which was ultimately rejected. Special commission was sent, which got known Soviet tanks. On the basis of the committee’s report requirements for the new tank were defined. Engine tank was to have the power of 650-700hp, armor would be 40 mm and the speed of 55 km/h. The first project was developed by Daimler-Benz (VK 3002). However, it was rejected due to too big similarity to the T-34 . The second project was developed by MAN. For the first time in a German tank was used armor plates welded with an angle of 50 degrees. Chassis was consisted of a large-diameter wheels overlapping on each other. Tank weighing 35t, his maximum speed was 55 km/h and was armed with a 7,5 cm gun KwK 42 L/70. As the drive unit was selected Maybach engine HL 210 P45 witch had 654hp. Serial production was to be carried out in: MAN, DB, Henschel and MNH plants. Series production started in June 1942. It was planned that till May 1943 about 250 tanks will be built. The first mass- produced version was the version ausf. D. Tanks in this version had thickened up to 80 mm armor and a more powerful engine Maybach 230 P30 with 700 hp. Tanks produced in the second half of 1943 were equipped with armored sheet that protected chassis. The tanks also had a new type of commander cupola, equipped with seven periscopes. There was also fixing bracket on the tower for MG34 so-called “Fligerbeschussgerat”, which allowed shoot the airplanes. The second mass- produced version was the ausf A version. The tanks were manufactured since September 1943 till March 1944. Spherical mounting bracket for MG34 was installed (in tanks version D MG was extendible ) and hole to eject shells was cancel. Panther ausf G was most numerous produced version. From March 1944 till January 1945 3740 tanks were produced. Angle of the hull armor plates was increased to 61 degrees and armor thickness was increased to 50 mm. The driver received one rotating periscope instead of two motionless. Part PzKpfw V “Panther” Ausf G tank were equipped with wheels entirely made from steel. Shape of the mantlet was modified to prevent turret jamming as a result of enemy fire.
Total production:


Due to the desperate conditions in Germany, the number of armored units was reduced on November 1, 1944. Consequently, each Armored Company (Panzerkompanie) had only 17 (2 tanks for the command company and three platoons of 5) or 14 (2 tanks for the command company and three platoons of 4) Panzer IVs, compared to 22 tanks for each Company in 1943. Many Panzer Divisions returned to 2 companies equipped with Panzer IVs, as in 1939. With the war progressing, the losses increased and, on April 1st, 1945, each company was reduced to only 10 tanks (1 tank for the command company and three platoons of 3).

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.


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


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.

Armament Modifications

The KwK 44/1 in a special mount used for firing tests. Source:- https://www.oocities.org/
The Schmalturm turret was designed to carry a derivative of the deadly 7.5cm Kw.K.42 L/70 tank gun. In order to accommodate this powerful cannon, modifications had to be made to the recoil system. Škoda of Pilsen, Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren (English: ‘Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’) (German-occupied Czechoslovakia) with assistance from Krupp managed to create a new version of the canon with a more compact recoil system mounted on top of the gun. This was designated as the 7.5cm Kw.K.44/1 L/70. This allowed the gun to have +20/-8 elevation/depression. The usual muzzle brake was also removed from the barrel.

Vehicle designs

Designs of the Panzerjäger vehicles varied based on the chassis used, which could be of three types:

  • Early war open-topped superstructure on a light tank chassis
  • Mid-war fully enclosed crew compartment on a medium or heavy tank chassis, as an added-on entity not usually integral to the original hull armor
  • Late war unarmoured or shielded mounting on a half-track chassis

Notable tank destroyers in the Panzerjäger classification were:

  • Panzerjäger I – 47 mm PaK on Panzer I chassis
  • Marder I – 75 mm PaK on captured French chassis, the Lorraine 37L
  • Marder II – 75 mm PaK or reused Soviet 76.2 mm gun on Panzer II chassis
  • Marder III – 75 mm PaK or reused Soviet 76.2 mm gun on Czech-built Panzer 38(t) chassis – 88 mm PaK on composite Panzer III/Panzer IV chassis
  • Sturmgeschütz IV
  • Elefant, the last Panzerjäger vehicle so designated

The later Jagdpanzer designation was used from the beginning for the following more integrally armored vehicles:

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