page 127 Germany’s Panther Tank” by Thomas Jentz
Notes on Panthers During Operation Citadel
Mechanical Deficiencies in the Chassis: Most mechanical failures were defective fuel pumps (20 in Panzer-Abteilung 54 by 8 July). Fuel collected on the floor due to fuel pump leaks and resulted in the total writeoff of three Panthers due to fires. When on the steep side slope, the Panther easily catches on fire. In most cases, the motor fires were extinguished by the crew or the automatic fire extinguisher system activated.
It is actually possible that " Großdeutschland " misused the Panthers. Probably best discussed elsewhere.State of the regiment after 7 days of operations
During the first days our combat forces were reduced drastically due to the action of the enemy as well as casualties due to technical problems.
State on 10.07.1943 at nightfall:
10 operative Panther
25 Panther totally lost 23 by enemy action and subsequent fire, 2 by fire during the march
100 in the workshops and maintenance services ( J-Dienste ) 56 with damages produced by shots and mines and 44 with technical problems. Approximately 60% of the technical problems have been minor breakdowns.
Repaired vehicles and back to the area of operations Approximately 40 Panther
Rest Approximately 25 Panther (not yet registered by the repair and maintenance services)
Given the numbers actually damaged or destroyed by enemy action, the technical issues, while not acceptable, are not the majority. The oft-spouted 'self-immolation' is actually small.
Letter from Oberst Karl Decker (commander of the Panzer-Brigade 10) to the General of the Armored Troops Heinrich Eberbach in order to avoid responsibility for the poor results as well as the very high losses suffered by the Panzer-Brigade during "Zitadelle". Decker openly accuses Oberst Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz, commander of the Panzerregiment " Großdeutschland"and temporary commander of the Panzer-Brigade 10 during the warmer phase of the operations." Interesting, not to mention surprising, is the last sentence of the Oberst Decker in this letter, which betrays a total ignorance of the military situation it was going through. the Axis, or symbolizes a fatal indifference in front of the tragedy that was approaching.
Last paragraph....The Panzer-Brigade has operated within the " Großdeutschland "; the second regiment has been the Panzer-Regiment " Großdeutschland"with 8 companies of Panzer IV and Panzer III 'long' as well as a company Tiger The regimental commander was Graf Strachwitz, the" armored lion "(" Panzer-Löwe") The cooperation with him has been very unpleasant, during the attack it has not been possible to communicate with him by radio and he has operated independently, and I have reached the point where I was ordered to appear before General von Knobelsdorff (commanding general of the XXXXVIII.Pz.Korps) to take responsibility for the non-functioning of the staff During this time Strachwitz assumed the direction of the brigade and used the Panther in a crazy way, with the results of continuous damage by mines as well, because in no time protection was offered to its flanks, Panther destroyed by its weak laterals.
Proven?....I have plenty of oil leaks that just smoked.... exhaust headers leaking and spewing raw hot unburned fuel? Really?Generally it can be said that, although it still has initial problems and that its engine is still too delicate, the Panther is a very good vehicle. Unlike the Tiger, it is not on all sides immune to the 7.5 cm antitank guns. His cannon is formidable. The regiment has destroyed 263 tanks so far, KW-I up to 3,000 meters and almost all of the T-34 at distances between 1,500 - 2,000 meters. I ask General Eberbach to notify me when I have received the report. Otherwise, everything is fine here, life here is very pleasant. If everything here is in order one can not give what happens in Sicily.
Motor fires: motor fires also significantly decreased. the proven causes of motor fires at present are:
Oil leaks from the valve covers due to poor gaskets. The oil drops on the hot exhaust where it ignites.
In several cases, a heavy overflowing from the carburetors was noticed.The spark plugs became wet and didn’t fire. The unburnt fuel was then discharged to the exhaust header and leaked through the gaskets. This caused fire to spread on the outside of the motor.