what were the panther tank flaw?

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by Cult Icon » 18 Mar 2021 12:40

The biggest flaw was the armored protection. The Tiger I was a much better tank in combat.

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by AKahl » 24 Mar 2021 19:15

Insomuch as we are already talking about a complicated and expensive vehicle, I think it would have been money well spent to give it a steering wheel, like a Tiger I or Tiger II. The driving with two levers has been described as clumsy and taxing, and I have seen a video with the panther mechanic from the Saumur armored museum driving their panther, and it does look sub-optimal. Mind you this guy is extremely well acquainted with his vehicle and seems to love it, but I think most conscript drivers, who may have had little to no experience driving any vehicle, could really have trouble with this. Otto Carius' observation that the ponderous looking Tiger I drove like a car sticks in my mind. Maybe a more ergonomic and user-friendly method of driving might have led to less mechanical problems and damage to transmissions and final drives. Even if it didn't help with preserving the vehicle mechanically, the drivers could probably have moved their tanks a little more seamlessly on the battlefield. As a disclaimer, I was an infantryman and have never driven a tank, so I may only know enough to confuse myself.
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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by valentine III » 30 Mar 2021 19:31

Panther: Big target, heavy cost in man-hours and scarce resources, very heavy and so difficult to recover (in fact requiring use of a much needed first line tank built instead to Bergepanther: more than 200), over engineered and innecessary overlaping wheels, weak transmission needing long repair time...and, to me, the most important point: putting so much eggs in a basquet that could be cracked (by the side) by such a gun like the soviet 45mm gun at normal combat ranges.

Yes, front armour was excelent and KwK 42 also was great if you fought at long distances in Ukraine or in a bowling alley...when you came to fight at less than 400m and in more restrictive terrain any gun or bazooka like weapon can better you.

I don't think it was worth it.

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by AKahl » 31 Mar 2021 00:49

I have read (trying to remember where...) that when battalions were designated as either Panther (usually 1st Battalion) and Panzer IV (usually 2nd battalion) that the more experienced crews were usually designated to, or held for, the Panzer IV battalion, presumably since they would be operating a more vulnerable and less advantageous tank, and crew maturity was more important. Let me stress that I don't know whether this selection tendency is actually true, or it could also be units deployed in combat sending a Panzer III battalion off to be trained on Panthers and wishing to keep their best tankers in the field with the Panzer IV battalion. It could also be more often applied to leaders than crewman. Once the dual medium tank division composition was established, I assume that any experienced Panther or Panzer IV crewman would tend to remain assigned to their respective tank type, for obvious reasons, and to provide a competent cadre for an influx of largely untrained recruits.

Aside from the better serviceability rates which favor the Panzer IV (like approx. 60% for Panzer IV, approx. 49% for Panther; I think this comes from Feb. 1945), it sometimes seems that the Panzer IV equipped units acted in a more measured fashion, and actually met with more success, at least on the Western Front and in Italy. Maybe the crews were well convinced of their own mortality, and acted in a more sober and tactical fashion as a result. It seems startling how quickly some units in the west wrote down their Panther battalions (Panzer Lehr, 1st SS and 12th SS come to mind) with what seems like cavalier handling. Am I off on feeling like the Panzer IV units often seemed to be more adroitly handled?
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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by Cult Icon » 31 Mar 2021 01:12

AKahl wrote:
31 Mar 2021 00:49
I have read (trying to remember where...) that when battalions were designated as either Panther (usually 1st Battalion) and Panzer IV (usually 2nd battalion) that the more experienced crews were usually designated to, or held for, the Panzer IV battalion, presumably since they would be operating a more vulnerable and less advantageous tank, and crew maturity was more important.
It seems startling how quickly some units in the west wrote down their Panther battalions (Panzer Lehr, 1st SS and 12th SS come to mind) with what seems like cavalier handling. Am I off on feeling like the Panzer IV units often seemed to be more adroitly handled?
I have never heard or suspected of what you say, it would be interesting to see the source if you can find it.

The attacks at Bretteville and Norrey in the first days were a mess and lead to lot of Panther losses. However later attacks did not have such a bad result.

The 12 SS more often used their Panther battalion (1st battalion) as a counterattack force of 1 or 2 companies. The Panther battalion was somewhat more offensively oriented. The Pz IV battalion (2nd) was spread out to hold the Caen front. The data provided in their war diary shows a similar level of enemy tank claims (each claimed around 200) during the campaign and significantly few personnel losses in the Panther battalion. The preservation of crews is important, too. It also must be noted that there were a lot more Pz IVs than Panthers in SS-PzR 12. Serviceability levels of both models were similar. Operational numbers were pretty good compared to the Eastern Front and the unit's tank regiment had decent strength in June-July.

The LAH Panthers were used effectively in counterattacks during Operation Goodwood, helping to blunt it.

Not sure what you are thinking about regarding Pz Lehr. The counterattack circa June 26th? I recently ordered Tilly-sur-Selles about Lehr's high intensity defense against 49th, 50th, and 7th Armoured divisions and Operation Perch. This should provide more information than the mediocre unit history by Ritgen.

The fighting in the Bocage was overall a poor place to use Panther tanks- this is complained about by Bayerlein (Pz Lehr), Jurgensen (I./SS-PR12), and other reports. The typical engagement ranges caused by the compartmentalized terrain was short (under 400 meters) and were basically close combat compared to East front conditions. The Panzers were not used like they were in North Africa and Russia. Instead they were used more like "Panzerjager" and "Stugs", spread out among the infantry.

Also Jurgensen, like the others, complain that the Bocage is very disfavorable for the employment of massed tank attacks. I think the combat history favors this opinion.

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 31 Mar 2021 02:31

I'd argue the turret was in desperate need of improvement.

The frontal thickness was approximately 100-110mm, with an additional spall catcher of unknown thickness and material behind it (Anyone got any sources on this?) and the side thickness was 45mm, enough to stop an anti tank rifle and not much else.

The M4A3 Sherman, a much lighter tank had just as much frontal turret armor, and 60mm+ side armor.

For its weight the Panther should have had, at least 130mm protection on the front, rendering it basically immune to anything smaller than an 85mm to near point blank range. The Schmalturm fixed this to some degree but it was a monolithic 120mm plate, at the time when curved pieces of armor was becoming especially common, and more effective layouts of armor was available.

Its strange that the Germans went for a rather modern 'slopes everywhere!' design for the hull, but then dropped the ball with the huge mantlet design ala the Tiger 1.

What was the first German vehicle to use a 'small mantlet' design turret? The Puma?

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by AKahl » 31 Mar 2021 03:39

Cult Icon wrote:
31 Mar 2021 01:12

I have never heard or suspected of what you say, it would be interesting to see the source if you can find it.

The attacks at Bretteville and Norrey in the first days were a mess and lead to lot of Panther losses. However later attacks did not have such a bad result.

The 12 SS more often used their Panther battalion (1st battalion) as a counterattack force of 1 or 2 companies. The Panther battalion was somewhat more offensively oriented. The Pz IV battalion (2nd) was spread out to hold the Caen front. The data provided in their war diary shows a similar level of enemy tank claims (each claimed around 200) during the campaign and significantly few personnel losses in the Panther battalion. The preservation of crews is important, too. It also must be noted that there were a lot more Pz IVs than Panthers in SS-PzR 12. Serviceability levels of both models were similar. Operational numbers were pretty good compared to the Eastern Front and the unit's tank regiment had decent strength in June-July.

The LAH Panthers were used effectively in counterattacks during Operation Goodwood, helping to blunt it.

Not sure what you are thinking about regarding Pz Lehr. The counterattack circa June 26th? I recently ordered Tilly-sur-Selles about Lehr's high intensity defense against 49th, 50th, and 7th Armoured divisions and Operation Perch. This should provide more information than the mediocre unit history by Ritgen.

The fighting in the Bocage was overall a poor place to use Panther tanks- this is complained about by Bayerlein (Pz Lehr), Jurgensen (I./SS-PR12), and other reports. The typical engagement ranges caused by the compartmentalized terrain was short (under 400 meters) and were basically close combat compared to East front conditions. The Panzers were not used like they were in North Africa and Russia. Instead they were used more like "Panzerjager" and "Stugs", spread out among the infantry.

Also Jurgensen, like the others, complain that the Bocage is very disfavorable for the employment of massed tank attacks. I think the combat history favors this opinion.
Sorry, I just lost everything I had written. DOH!

I'll find where I got that about Panzer IV crews often being the most experienced available. It'll be from a book, rather than a primary source.

As for Panzer Lehr, I was thinking of their counter attack at Le Dezert on July 11, 1944, where a Kampfgruppe built around a panther company was cut off and destroyed. I believe the story went that they were attempting to retreat down a canal or cultivated field road with a ditch on either side, and a panther broke down. A second panther tried to go around it, with one track on the road and another in the ditch, and blew out it's final drive. A third panther tried to do the same thing on the opposite side, and it's final drive also failed, blocking the road, but good this time. There's a picture of this, probably taken by a U.S. photographer afterwards, which pretty well sums up the automotive fragility of the vehicle, and is also a cautionary tale as to how not to use these tanks. Maybe someone can post the photo.

You listed some of the examples with the 12th SS Division's use of its Panther battalion, some of which seemed almost non-sensical. Like, "let's bumrush the enemy, with minimal infantry support, expose our flanks and toss aside every advantage our tanks have."

You may have hit on one of the issues though, which was the use of Panther battalions as counterattack forces, since so many counterattacks in Normandy seemed to be hasty, ill-conceived, and dismissive of enemy strengths, scale of firepower and support. It took them a while to grasp that Eastern Front tactics were the wrong formula and didn't often yield success in Normandy. It seems like Hitlerjugend's most successful counterattack was at Authie and Buron on June 7, 1944, and it was supported by the Panzer IV's of their 2nd battalion.

Contrasted with its own counterattacks by Panther's, HJ's 2nd battalion's use of it's Panzer IV's, usually defensively, often from ambush positions, and complementing one another, almost seems genius by comparison. As less and less of their PAK guns survived, they needed armor to hold ground, and as you said, most of the successful examples seem to have been conducted by Panzer IV's. Maybe some of the more successful defensive uses of panthers by them in Normandy are just not well documented.

12th SS also lost a lot of their panthers in the Ardennes Offensive at Rocherath-Krinkelt, in attacks that were just sloppy and ill-conceived. Their leadership should have known better and have been more imaginative.

As for LAH, I was also thinking of the Ardennes Offensive where Kampgruppe Peiper hemhorraged a lot of their panthers before even reaching La Gleize and Stoumont. Then they were cut off and had to break out on foot abandoning the rest of their vehicles. Pallud said that 17 panthers were found in and around La Gleize and Stoumont.
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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by Cult Icon » 31 Mar 2021 04:37

AKahl wrote:
31 Mar 2021 03:39

You listed some of the examples with the 12th SS Division's use of its Panther battalion, some of which seemed almost non-sensical. Like, "let's bumrush the enemy, with minimal infantry support, expose our flanks and toss aside every advantage our tanks have."
Significant to this had to do with the chaotic and fragmented movement of the Pz divisions as they approached the landings. The allied air offensive made their approach to the beachheads poorly organized. Once there, they threw in hasty attacks with available assets to immediately lock down the Allies, which is typical of German combat doctrine (When confronting enemy attacks, Act first think later). The rest of their divisional elements were still in-transit. All three Panzer divisions (12.SS, 21.Pz, Pz Lehr) were not successful in challenging British-Canadians and their attacks were disorganized and hasty. However, they did lock down the British-Canadians and stop them from progressing further and taking Caen.
You may have hit on one of the issues though, which was the use of Panther battalions as counterattack forces, since so many counterattacks in Normandy seemed to be hasty, ill-conceived, and dismissive of enemy strengths, scale of firepower and support. It took them a while to grasp that Eastern Front tactics were the wrong formula and didn't often yield success in Normandy. It seems like Hitlerjugend's most successful counterattack was at Authie and Buron on June 7, 1944, and it was supported by the Panzer IV's of their 2nd battalion.
This is basically not correct, the 12. SS HJ- and other armored units in Normandy- had many successful (albeit small, at the platoon and company level) armored counterattacks in those 3 months. Their most unsuccessful ones were in the beginning of the campaign. A successful battalion sized counterattack was the one they used to contain TOTALIZE- KG Waldmuller which destroyed the Worthington Force.

This is how they held the Caen and its environs for so long- by counterattacking. EPSOM-CHARNWOOD-JUPITER-TOTALIZE etc..

After Rommel gave up after the failed counterattacks by the three Pz divisions, basically the whole German concept of defeating the Allies was just to draw them into a battle of attrition and kill as many of them as possible. They lost initiative right then and there & were responding to Allied developments. If you look at the circumstances at which these counterattacks were launched (the most significant was the II SS Pz Korps counterattack in response to EPSOM) there was no way other than to be hasty. I mention June 26th as the Pz Lehr division was moved to the US sector and its infantry battalions were already cleaned out.

Tank strengths in the Normandy front were relatively good in June-July. It was the INFANTRY that was in trouble. As they were holding their positions they were being attacked and bombed. The Panzer Lehr division's infantry battalions were cleaned out in 2 weeks in June. The 17.SS PzG lost most of their infantry strength in two weeks. The 12.SSHJ and 21.Pz was similarly effected. The 3rd FJD at St. Lo was also cleaned out in 2 weeks. 10.SS "H"'s infantry was cleaned out in 2 weeks while holding Hill 112.

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by AKahl » 31 Mar 2021 05:55

I found the photo from Le Dezert counterattack by Panzer Lehr in Normandy, and it was two Ausf. A Panthers which had blocked the road, each with one track in the ditch and one on the road. Sorry, I had a mis-recollection and thought it was 3 tanks in total. One of my books attributes the photo to the Patton Museum. I've also seen it on the internet, but don't know whether I can post it.
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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by AKahl » 31 Mar 2021 06:18

OK. I managed to find the obscure quote that I was referencing. I was able to narrow it down to 4 books.

It's from German Panzers of World War II - The Authoritative Illustrated History by Jorge Rosado and Chris Bishop, Pg 34.

Under the 2nd Panzer Division chapter, it shows an illustration of a long barreled Panzer IV with schurzen, numbered 821, and the text reads:

"Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H (Sd Kfz 161/2)
Pz. Rgt. 3 / II Battalion / 8th Company / 2nd Zug / Tank number 1
By 1944, the Division had consolidated all Pz.Kpfw IV tanks into the II Abteilung. German commanders usually assigned their best crews to older model tanks, the reasoning was that their experience would compensate for any mechanical inferiority."
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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by Michael Kenny » 31 Mar 2021 07:17

Cult Icon wrote:
31 Mar 2021 04:37
A successful battalion sized counterattack was the one they used to contain TOTALIZE- KG Waldmuller which destroyed the Worthington Force.

The penetration was so dangerous that every available tank had to be rushed to contain Worthington Force. The Shermans established a defence in a field and held off all German attacks for 14 hours and they ran out of ammunition. Several vehicles were able to make it back to their own lines after the order was given to abandon the position at 21:00. The German tanks used to surround Worthington were not able to stop the advance on the western side of the main road. For sure it was an Allied defeat but not as easily gained a victory as many believe.

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by Michael Kenny » 31 Mar 2021 07:21

AKahl wrote:
31 Mar 2021 06:18

By 1944, the Division had consolidated all Pz.Kpfw IV tanks into the II Abteilung. German commanders usually assigned their best crews to older model tanks, the reasoning was that their experience would compensate for any mechanical inferiority."
Nothing to do with crew choice and I remember reading (I think von Rosen) complaints that young inexperienced crew replacements were being supplied to the unit. There is a photo of Tigers waiting to cross The Seine where one crewman is extremely young.

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by Michael Kenny » 31 Mar 2021 07:38

Cult Icon wrote:
31 Mar 2021 01:12
Operational numbers were pretty good compared to the Eastern Front and the unit's tank regiment had decent strength in June-July.

That depends how you read the numbers. The number of tanks in service (Panther & Pz IV) had shrunk from 139 to c. 60 at the end of the EPSOM fighting and stayed at that level until August when in effect 20 tanks was the most is could put in the field. The mistake many make is to count the 'In Repair' tanks as if they were able to be used in action. Add in those and you could double the total of tanks with 12th SS and create a false impression about the number of tanks it lost.

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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by Michael Kenny » 31 Mar 2021 10:36

Cult Icon wrote:
31 Mar 2021 01:12
.

The attacks at Bretteville and Norrey in the first days were a mess and lead to lot of Panther losses. However later attacks did not have such a bad result.
2 Pz Div would not agree with you.
They came unstuck when the bumped into an Infantry Unit during EPSOM

https://youtu.be/Pbq1V9l-1-A?t=120

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item ... 1060008149 at 0:52s

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item ... 1060008140 at 0:13s


Air view post-war showing 4 of the Panthers are still in place
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Re: what were the panther tank flaw?

Post by Cult Icon » 31 Mar 2021 14:43

AKahl wrote:
31 Mar 2021 03:39
Contrasted with its own counterattacks by Panther's, HJ's 2nd battalion's use of it's Panzer IV's, usually defensively, often from ambush positions, and complementing one another, almost seems genius by comparison. As less and less of their PAK guns survived, they needed armor to hold ground, and as you said, most of the successful examples seem to have been conducted by Panzer IV's. Maybe some of the more successful defensive uses of panthers by them in Normandy are just not well documented.
This is not correct either. Although it was used in some 1-2 company attacks, the I./SSPR12 (Panther) was mostly used in the defense in the normandy campaign like the II./SSPR12, spread out at the platoon & company level. The funny thing is the SSPzJ12 (PzJ IV) which came to the front late, participated in counterattacks in August- was their most wildly successful unit per their war diaries. The PzJ654, equipped with Jagdpanther also came late in the campaign (late July) and fought well per their war diaries and histories of BLUECOAT.

"The 116.Panzer-Division's Panther Battalion July-August 1944 in Normandy" by Didier Lodieu has a combat history focused on a single Panther battalion. This unit also came to the Normandy front late (late July) and had some moderate attack successes in the first 13 days of operations largely against Task Force 1 (US 3rd Armored Division) with 49 American tanks damaged and destroyed for 19 total loss (10 to Shermans, 1 to AT gun, 3 to artillery, 3 by air attack, 1 by mine, 1 abandoned).
12th SS also lost a lot of their panthers in the Ardennes Offensive at Rocherath-Krinkelt, in attacks that were just sloppy and ill-conceived. Their leadership should have known better and have been more imaginative.

As for LAH, I was also thinking of the Ardennes Offensive where Kampgruppe Peiper hemhorraged a lot of their panthers before even reaching La Gleize and Stoumont. Then they were cut off and had to break out on foot abandoning the rest of their vehicles. Pallud said that 17 panthers were found in and around La Gleize and Stoumont.
The tank to tank fighting in the Ardennes was mainly in the form of skirmishes at the small unit level like in Normandy. This factor of the Ardennes campaign was not the decisive one. The Das Reich Panthers had numerous successful fights in the Ardennes although the division's progress in the offensive was nowhere as ambitious as that attempted by the I SS Pz Korps.

Of note is the situation regarding the leadership of 12 SS Pz division. In Normandy it was lacking some 48% of its required NCOs and even the NCOs at hand were new teenage recruits who completed a crash course. The situation was even worse- due to huge losses- prior to the Ardennes if you look at the leadership cadre of the division. The planners shouldn't have assigned this unit it such a difficult objective despite its "legendary" reputation in Normandy.

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