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Production Modifications

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Sd.Kfz. 171

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Tamiya's Panther G Late Production

For most German tanks during World War II, modifications to the initial design were frequently introduced during production runs to improve overall performance, simpify manufaturing, or in response to material shortages. The aim of this page is to provide useful information to tank modellers and enthusiasts, on key official changes that affected its external appearance. Illustrations wll be provided where available. It is not intended to be exhaustive and does not include the numerous changes to the interior and internal components as well as unofficial modifications made by crews in the field. The modifications are listed roughly in the order in which they occurred headed by the component most affected. Approximate dates are given where they are known.

Introduction

The Panther tank was designed and developed as a direct result of the German tanks being outgunned by the previous unknown Russian T-34/76 and KV-1 tanks encountered during Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. It incorporates key design features copied from the T-34 such as sloped armour, wider tracks and high velocity overhanging main gun. It was put into production as the new standard medium tank in a relatively short time. However it was introduced prematurely into Operation Citdel, the Battle if Kursk, at Hitler's insistence. This led to numerous problems and breakdowns as a result. Despite the insuspicious beginning, it was nevertheless widely regarded as one of the best tanks used during World War II.

Panther Ausf. D

The first production series of the Panther was designated the model or Ausf D. About 850 Panther model Ds were produced in total. Main distinguishing features are the drum-shaped commander's cupola, vertical letter box hatch for the radio operator/machine gunner, communication and pistol ports around the turret, smoke launcher on early models, twin headlights and twin aperture on mantlet for binocular gun sight.

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Panther Ausf. D
Turret
& Cupola
The first 20 Panther Ausf D had a turret with a large bulge in the left turret side for the drum-shaped commander's cupola. The cupola was moved inboard to eliminate this bulge in subsequent vehicles. Access was provided through hatches in the cupola and the turret rear. An exhaust fan was mounted on the front right turret roof.
Turret Sides
Vison devices was provided for the crew inside the turret for all round viewing. The gunner had a binocular gun sight and a small pistol pors to hisleft. The loader had a pistol port to his right. The commander had all round vision blocks in the cupola, a pistol port to his rear, and a communication port to his left. The communication port was later eliminated.
Turret Smoke LaunchersEarlier Panther Ausf Ds were fitted with twin smoke launchers either side of the turret front. They were later eliminated when it was found that small arms fire could set them off and smoke entering the tank through opened hatches could incapacitate the crew.
Escape HatchThe escpae hatch was located to the rear of the turret offset on the right.
Mantlet &
Main Gun
The Ausf D mantlet mounts a 7.5cm Kw.K.42 L/70 main gun and is distinguishable by the two holes to the left of the gun barrel for the binoculor gun sight. A co-axial MG34 machine gun is mounted to the right of the main gun.
Bosch
Headlights
Earlier Panther Ausf Ds were fitted with twin bosch headlight left and right of the glacis plate just behind the front mudguards. The right headlight was later deleted as an economy measure.
Driver &
Radio Operator /
Machine Gunner
The driver had direct vision through a rectangular port cut into the glacis plate. When this is closed during battle, vision is provided by two fixed periscopes on the super-structure roof.The radio operator /machine gunner likewise has a vertical letter box port cut into the glacis plate through which he can fire the MG34 machine gun. He is also provided with two fixed periscopes which mirror that of the driver to his left. Two pop up and slide hatches on the superstructure front roof provided access to the driver and radio operator / machine gunner.
Tool Stowage Tool racks either side of the hull provided stowage for essential tools. A tube container near the centre on the left hand side provided stowage for the gun cleaning tubes and spare aerials.
Spare Tracks HolderSpare track links were carried on rack on the side of the rear hull beside the engine deck.
Gun Travel LockA gun barrel travel lock was installed on the centre front of the superstructure roof above the cover for the exhaust fan.
Production Modifications As a result of battle experience, later Panther Ausf D have schurzen or armoured side skirts fitted to protect the weaker side armour against Russian anti-tank rifle fire. A ring mount was added to the commander cupola for an anti-aircraft machine gun. 16 additional rivets were added to the 16 rim bolts to reinforce the roadwheels.

Panther Ausf. A

The second production series of the Panther was designated the model or Ausf A. About 2200 Panther model As were produced in total.
Main distinguishing features are the new cast commander's cupola with rail for anti-aircraft machine gun, ball mount for front hull machine gun, anti-personnel grenade thrower on turret roof, Zimmerit paste on later models, and single aperture on mantlet for monocular gun sight.

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Panther Ausf. A
Turret
& Cupola
A new turret was desigend for the Panther Ausf A but the chassis remain the same as the Ausf D. The new turret incorporated a new cast cupola with seven all round periscopes and a mounting rail for the MG34 anti-aircraft machine gun. a new fixed periscope was also added to the turret roof for the loader. The new cupola was retrofitted to the Ausf D. The hull is the same as Ausf. D.
Close Defence Weapon
An anti-personnel close quarter grenade launcher was mounted to the right rear of the turret roof fro defence against attacking infantry above and around the tank.
Ball Mounted Hull Machine Gun
The letter box opening on the glacis plate was replaced by a ball mount for the hull machine gun. Because the machine gun mount had its own sight, the forward looking fixed periscope for the radio operator / machine gunner was eliminated
Turret Traverse
The main improvement of the Ausf A over the Ausf D was the variable speed turret traverse drive tied to the engine which throrectically enable faster target acquisition by the gunner.
Rear Hull Panel

Tow coupling was added to the rear engine access hatch. This neccessitated the resiting of the jack from a horizontal mount below the two exhaust pipes to a vertical mount between the two exhaust pipes. Cooling pipes added either side of the left rear exhaust pipe.

Zimmerit Paste Later Panther Ausf A have Zimmerit, which is a concret-like paste, applied to the hull and turret side to counter hand-placed magnetic anti-tank bombs used by Russian soldiers.
Production Modifications During the Ausf A production run, the 3 turret pistol ports was dropped . The binoculor gun sight in late Ausf A was replaced by a new monoculor gun sight so now only one hole is visible on the mantlet for the gun sight. A rain guard was also added above the gun sight opening to stop water getting into the turret.

Panther Ausf. G

The third and final production series of the Panther was designated the model or Ausf G. About 2950 Panther model Gs were produced in total by the time the assembly plants were captured by the allies in April 1945.
Main distinguishing features are the new 'chin' mantlet on later models, elimination of driver's hatch and new periscope arrangement with new rotating driver's periscope, new hull design with steeper side (to allow base hull to be used by the Jagdpanther), new front hatches, new engine deck layout with raised crew heater on right air intake fan.

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Panther Ausf. G
New Hull Design A new simplied hull design with the side made from a single plate was introduced for the Panther Ausf G. The sides had a steeper angle to allow the base hull to be used by the new Jagdpanther in the planning stage. The rear deck was also redesigned with new colling air intake and exhause louvres. The turret is the same as Ausf A.
Front HatchesNew hatches for the driver and radio operator / machine gunner that were hinged on the outer side was installed.
Driver's Periscopes
The driver's vision hatch and 2 fixed periscopes was replaced by a pivoting traversable periscope.
Rear Hull Panel

Armour guard shields were installed to protect the rear exhaust pipes. Mufflers were also installed on the end of the pipes to hide exhaust flames from enemy at night.

Crew HeaterA crew compartment heater was added over the right engine cooling fan to give the distinctive raised tower featured on late-production Ausf. Gs.
Late 'Chin' Gun MantletA new mantlet was introduced in later models with a 'chin' to eliminate the shot trap that deflects incoming anti-tank fire into the hull.
Zimmerit Paste The application of Zimmerit paste was eliminated when it was rumoured that it could catch fire in some circumstance. This was never substantiated but nevertheless the practice ceased towards the end of the war.
Other
Production Modifications
During the Ausf G production run, A rain guard was installed over the driver's rotating periscope. A debris guard was added between the mantlet and the turret to stop dirt from falling in

The lower hull of the Panther G share many common features with the Jagdpanther on which it was based.


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See also: WW II German Tanks WW II German Tanks WW II Allies Tanks WW II German Tanks Heavy Tank Battalions Dragon 1/144 Can.Do Tanks SS Panzer Divisions SS Panzer Divisions Army Panzer Divisions WW II German Tanks German Tank Useful Information WW II German Tanks

 
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