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SdKfz 171
Panther

Considered by some to be one of the best tanks of the war, the Panther was developed to counter the superior Russian tanks the German army encountered as it reached deeper into the Soviet Union. The Panther arose from a head to head design competition between Machinefabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg (M.A.N.) and Daimler-Benz. The M.A.N. design was accepted and production began with deliveries scheduled for December of 1942. The Panther featured sloped armor and a long barrel 75-mm main gun. Additional armor was incorporated into the design for maximum protection for the crew. Early models suffered from frequent mechanical failures, but by 1943 those problems were beginning to be ironed out and the Panther emerged as one of the best tanks of World War II. In addition to the main gun, the crew of five had a coaxial 7.92-mm machine gun in the hull and another at the top of the turret for anti-aircraft defence. 5,500 Panthers were built during the war in all varieties including the Ausf. A and the Ausf. G, both pictured here.

Observations by Ron Owen Hayes Concerning the Ausf. G Photo

In September of 2011, Lost Images of World War II was contacted by Ron Owen Hayes from the U.K. who had some very interesting and detailed information that could be determined from studying the above photograph of the Panther Ausf. G. Ron has spent considerable time researching and compiling information on Panther tanks and very graciously allowed me to share his observations with visitors.

"This Panther appears to be from the M.A.N. factory as it has the factory-applied Balkenkreuz (German cross) just visible on the right-hand stowage bin. Daimler-Benz applied theirs to the left-hand bin, and though MNH occasionally also placed the cross on the right-hand bin this is not the MNH Zimmerit pattern. So a M.A.N. vehicle. The bump of the turret left-hand pilz fitting for the 2-ton crane is just visible midway along the turret top, which dates this June 1944 production or later. A Zimmerit antimagnetic coating is apparent on the rear hull and bin area. The damaged edges of the Zimmerit can be seen between the exhaust guards, and some white (actually cream colored) patches of same can be seen on the ground around the rear. The Zimmeritted area also has evidence of the disc-pattern factory ambush camouflage applied by M.A.N. over Zimmerit between 19th August and 7th September 1944, so this effectively dates the vehicle.

Small arms appear to have peppered the hull and turret side/rear thus removing the Zimmerit from these areas. The early-type 600-mm diameter rear idler has received a hit which has cracked-off parts of both rims, revealing the eccentric axle connecting it to the hull that enabled the track tension to be tightened by the crew. This could be the hit that disabled it as the track has also broken at roughly that point. Several of the roadwheels have been punctured by high-explosive or small arms. The turret splinter-guard, all the left-hand hull tools and tool racks, spare track racks, drive sprocket hub and left hand rear bin are also missing, possibly by HE or from the extensive fire that has removed the rubber from the outer roadwheels and softened the torsion-bars, thus lowering the whole tank. The only item remaining on the hull side is the rearmost combined schürzen hook and rail support.

Debris including the spare aerial/gun cleaning rod container tube, driver’s hatch, rubber rims from the tires, the spare tracks and possibly even the turret splinter-guard are visible on the ground at left. The ruined rear stowage bin hangs down to the right of the idler. Some items such as the towing cables and hooks, 20-ton vehicle jack, rear central towing pin and two forward outer roadwheels have been removed, possibly by locals (which was common as panzer roadwheels could make a good farmcart carriage, and a jack is a jack). One of the access panels on the rear plate is open, as is the lid of the righthand stowage bin.

A very unusual feature of this Ausf. G is the very early pattern of Ausf. A-type rounded cast exhaust bases with a small raised square embossed piece at the top of each casting (though it was common on early Jagdpanthers). These are combined with the later stub fixings (no visible straps) and steel guards (fitted to lower the tank’s heat signature at night), both fitted from June 44.

The structure behind this Panther appears to be one of the Maginot Line blockhouses such as at Verbusch East in the general area of Metz, which would put the timescale of this photograph being taken up to late December 44, as the unit of Jerry Pinkowski was in the Metz area over the late Autumn and Christmas period. The vehicle could have been knocked-out as early as October 44 in this area, and I would place it as well before Christmas as there is no evidence of snow on the ground."

Research by Ron Owen Hayes September 2011


Sources: Doyle, David. Standard Catalog Of GerM.A.N. Military Vehicles. Iola, WI: KP Books, 2005.
"Panther Tank." www.militaryfactory.com. July 22, 2009. Oct. 24, 2010. http://militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=73