Panther D is a medium German tank fielded by the Germans from mid-1943 onwards. The tank was developed in response to the Germans encountering the Soviet T-34 tank, which in 1941 and 1942 outclassed the then available German tanks, the Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs. The Panther tank was considered by many to be the best medium tank in the Second World War, combining good mobility with effective frontal sloping armour and a lethal anti-tank gun. It can penetrate the front armour of nearly all Allied tanks it encounters in long-range engagements, the only exception being the Sherman Jumbo. While the ‘big cats’ are usually only fielded in phase C, the Panther D is a notable exception to this rule and can be deployed in phase B, making it a formidable foe to counter.
Overview[edit | edit source]
The Panther was intended to counter the Soviet T-34 and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV. Nevertheless, it served alongside the Panzer IV and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. It is considered one of the best tanks of World War II for its excellent firepower and protection, although its reliability was less impressive due to the tank being rushed in service. Indeed, many early panthers broke down on their way to the battlefield and mechanical reliability would continue to plague the vehicle until the end of the war.
The characteristics of the panther was such that the Allies classified the panther as a heavy tank, while the German designers considered it a medium tank. Mistakenly thought to be only available in little numbers in France, the big cat was not considered to be a real threat to the Americans, and as a result the US army did not adequately equip their tanks and tank destroyers with guns capable of facing the panther head-on. They preferred to rely on their mainstay Sherman tank, as it had performed well in earlier engagements and introducing a new Sherman variant would complicate logistics (another problem was that the American 76mm gun was not as effective against soft targets as the 75mm was). This decision soon proved to be a mistake, as Panthers were produced in much bigger numbers than first anticipated, and Shermans with 76mm guns had to be hurriedly brought in. The British were better prepared to fight the Panther, as they readily had 17-pdrs and Fireflies available in the first months after the Normandy invasion.
The panther was gradually improved upon and mechanical faults were fixed. Several variants of the tanks existed (the variants do not follow an alphabetic order):
The Panzer V Ausf.D (January – September 1943)
The Ausf.D was the very first version, produced in January 1943, and had many teething problems.
The Panzer V Ausf.A (July 1943- May 1944)
Production of the Ausfuehrung A started in July 1943, after Hitler insisted on upgrading the armour, especially the front glacis. At the same time, a whole array of modifications were performed, including solving most earlier problems.
The Panzer V Ausf. G (September 1943 – May 1945)
The last, best and most prolific version came in the fall of 1943, the Ausf.G. It was the sum of battlefield experience and careful fixing of previous issues found on earlier models. The decision came in May 1943, during a reunion with officers at the MAN factory. There was a whole set of modifications for the hull, retaining an unchanged turret. The main concern was to increase the armour protection. As an example, the hull front glacis was raised to 80 mm (3.15 in).
(from tanks encyclopedia)
Each Panzer Division should have one Abteilung with Panther and the other with Panzer IV.
Strategy[edit | edit source]
The Panther D's armor is slightly thinner than the other Panther variants it possesses a slightly less accurate gun, but makes up for this due to it being available from phase B onward. Its powerful gun allows it to destroy nearly any vehicle it encounters, while its 13 frontal armor ensures reliable protection from a wide range of Allied anti-tank units. The player, however, must be careful at all times as to not expose the sides of the panther as they can be very easily penetrated.
The Panther D (and other variants) should be mainly employed in long-range engagements against enemy armor on open grounds. Its gun is less effective against soft targets such as infantry and anti-tank guns.