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"New Heavy Tank: The Pz. Kw. 5 (Panther)" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   U.S. intelligence report on German Panzer V (Panther) tank, from the Intelligence Bulletin, January 1944.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]



When the Pz. Kw. 6 (Tiger) became standard, the Pz. Kw. 5 (Panther) was still in an experimental stage. Now that the Panther has joined the German tank series as a standard model, a general description of this newest "land battleship" can be made available to U.S. military personnel. Much of the data presented here comes from Russian sources, inasmuch as the Pz. Kw. 5 has thus far been used only on the Eastern Front.

The Panther (see fig. 1) is a fast, heavy, well-armored vehicle. It mounts a long 75-mm gun. Weighing 45 tons, the new tank appears to be of a type intermediate between the 22-ton Pz. Kw. 4 and the 56-ton Pz. Kw. 6.[1] The Panther has a speed of about 31 miles per hour. It corresponds roughly to our General Sherman, which the Germans have always greatly admired.

The following table of information regarding the Pz. Kw. 5 will be of interest:

Weight _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   45 tons.
Width _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 11 ft 8 in (same as the Pz. Kw. 6).
Length _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 22 ft 8 in (1/2 ft longer than the Pz. Kw. 6).
Clearance _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 ft 8 in (3.9 in more than the Pz. Kw. 6).
Motor _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ gasoline, 640 hp, in rear of tank (the gas tanks are on each side of the motor).
Cooling system _ _ _ _ water.
Ignition _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ magneto.
Caterpillar section _ _ _ drive sprockets at front, rear idlers; 8 double rubber-tired bogie wheels, 33.5 in in diameter, on either side; torsion suspension system; hydraulic shock absorbers inside tank; metal caterpillar tread 25.6 in wide.
Armor _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ front of turret and cannon shield, 3.94 in; upper front plate, 3.45 in, 57 angle of slope; lower front plate, 2.95 in, 53 angle of slope.
Armament _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 75-mm gun, long barrel; one 7.92-mm machine gun (MG 42).
Ammunition _ _ _ _ _ _ 75 rounds (AP and HE).
Maximum speed _ _ _ _ approx 31 mph.
Range _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ approx 105 mi.
Crew _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 5.

It is believed that the 75-mm gun is the Kw. K.[2] This tank gun is a straight-bore weapon with a muzzle brake, and has an over-all length of 18 feet 2 inches.

[Figure 1. New German Heavy Tank: the Pz. Kw. 5 (Panther).]
Figure 1.—New German Heavy Tank: the Pz. Kw. 5 Panther Tank.

Although equipped with the same motor as the Tiger, the Panther has lighter armor and armament. For this reason it is capable of higher speed and greater maneuverability. The Panther is also provided with additional armor plate, 4- to 6-mm thick, (not shown in fig. 1) along the side, just above the suspension wheels and the sloping side armor plate.

When a flexible tube with a float is attached to the air intake, the Panther has no difficulty in fording fairly deep streams. There is a special fitting in the top of the tank for attaching this tube.

Like the Pz. Kw. 6's, the Pz. Kw. 5's are organized into separate tank battalions. During the summer of 1943, the Germans used many of these new tanks on the Russian front.

Although the Russians have found the Pz. Kw. 5 more maneuverable than the Pz. Kw. 6, they are convinced that the new tank is more easily knocked out. Fire from all types of rifles and machine guns directed against the peep holes, periscopes, and the base of the turret and gun shield will blind or jam the parts, the Russians say. High explosives and armor-piercing shells of 54-mm (2.12 inches) caliber, or higher are effective against the turret at ranges of 875 yards or less. Large-caliber artillery and self-propelled cannon can put the Panther out of action at ordinary distances for effective fire. The vertical and sloping plates can be penetrated by armor-piercing shells of 45-mm (1.78 inches) caliber, or higher. Incendiary armor-piercing shells are said to be especially effective, not only against the gasoline tanks, but against the ammunition, which is located just to the rear of the driver.

The additional armor plate above the suspension wheels is provided to reduce the penetration of hollow-charge shells. According to the Russians, it is ineffective; antitank grenades, antitank mines, and Molotov cocktails are reported to be effective against the weak top and bottom plates and the cooling and ventilating openings on top of the tank, just above the motor.

However, it should definitely be stated that the Pz. Kw. 5 is a formidable weapon—a distinct asset of the German Army.

1. With certain alterations the Pz. Kw. 6 may weigh as much as 62 tons. For an illustrated discussion of the Pz. Kw. 6, see Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 10, pp. 19-23.
2. Kampfwagenkanone—tank gun.


See Also: The Pz-Kw 5 (Panther) Tank, The Heavy Mobile Punch, Ferdinand & the Panther
Keywords: Panther, Panzerkampfwagen V Panther, Panzer V, Pz.Kpfw. V, Sd. Kfz. 171

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