Jagdpanther

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Jagdpanther
Jagdpanzer V Jagdpanther 1.jpg
Jagdpanzer V Jagdpanther
TypeTank destroyer
Place of originNazi Germany
Service history
In service1944–1945 (Nazi Germany)
1945–1960s (France)
Production history
Produced1944–1945
No. built415
VariantsG1, G2
Specifications
Weight45.5 tonnes (100,300 lb)
Length9.87 m (32 ft 5 in)
Width3.42 m (11 ft 3 in)
Height2.71 m (8 ft 11 in)
Crew5

Armor80 mm (3.14 in) frontal
100 mm (3.93 in) mantlet
50 mm side
40 mm rear
Main
armament
1 × [8.8 cm Pak 43
Secondary
armament
1 × 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34
600 rounds
EngineMaybach HL230 P30 (V-12 petrol)
700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW)
Power/weight15.4 PS (11.3 kW) / tonne
Suspensiondual torsion bar
Operational
range
200 km (99 miles)
Speed46 km/h (28.6 mph)

The Jagdpanther (German: "hunting panther"), SdKfz 173, is a tank destroyer built by Nazi Germany during World War II based on the chassis of the Panther tank. It entered service in 1944 during the later stages of the war on the Eastern and Western Fronts. The Jagdpanther combined the 8.8 cm Pak 43 cannon, similar to the main gun of the Tiger II, and the armor and suspension of the Panther chassis,[1] although it suffered from the general poor state of German ordnance production, maintenance and training in the later part of the war, which resulted in small production numbers, shortage of spare parts and poor crew readiness.

Development[edit]

The Jagdpanther had been preceded by two attempts at mounting an 8.8 cm gun as a self-propelled anti-tank weapon; Ferdinand using the 91 leftover Porsche-built VK 45.01 (P) chassis from the Tiger tank competition it had lost to Henschel in 1942, and the Nashorn using a Panzer III/IV chassis. Ferdinand proved to be too heavy and Nashorn too lightly armoured and underpowered.[2]

A heavy tank destroyer design based on the 8.8 cm Pak 43 gun and the Panther tank chassis was ordered in late 1942. The full-size model by Daimler-Benz was demonstrated in October 1943 before Hitler. MIAG-built prototypes followed in October/November 1943.

Production started in January 1944; in February, Hitler specified the simpler Jagdpanther name instead of its original "8.8 cm Pak 43/3 auf Fahrgestell Panther".

Front of early production Jagdpanther coated in Zimmerit, Imperial War Museum, London.

To accommodate the heavier-calibre gun, much as on previous Jagdpanzer-style unturreted tank destroyers, the glacis plate and sloped hull sides of the Jagdpanther were extended up into an integral, turretless fixed casemate as part of the main hull itself to provide a roomy interior. The Jagdpanther had side armour of increased thickness (50 mm) to offset the slightly reduced angle of the side armour necessary to provide enough interior space. Lower frontal hull armour was reduced to 60 mm while upper hull frontal armour was kept at 80mm. The chassis armor changes were also introduced on the main Panther tank assembly lines with the Panther Ausf. G in spring 1944.

It was armed with the long-barreled 8.8 cm Pak 43/3 L/71 gun, similar to the main gun of the Tiger II "King Tiger". The gun was mounted in a central mantlet, which gave it a limited traverse of 12 degrees to each side. A single 7.92 mm MG 34 machine gun for local defence was in a ball mount on the right side of the front glacis plate. The machine gunner was also the wireless operator. The driver sat on the left. The gunner had a rangefinder and a periscope telescopic sight. The periscope - linked to the gun mount - was under an armoured housing on the roof.

The Jagdpanther had a good power-to-weight ratio and a powerful main gun, which enabled it to destroy any type of Allied tank. Based on the existing Panther Ausf G chassis, the vehicle did not suffer too many mechanical problems. It was manned by a crew of five: a driver, radio-operator, commander, gunner and a loader.[3]

Jagdpanther in Northern France.
  • The two main variants can be distinuished, the earlier G1 1944 model has a small welded main gun mantlet, one piece Pak 43/3 gun, a modified Panther A engine deck and had two vision openings for the driver. The G2 JagdPanther used a Panther Ausf. G engine deck, a larger gun mantlet bolted externally (to cut down on production time?) and a two piece KwK 43/4 L/71 gun. Some later G1 models may have possessed G2 features such as the larger G2 mantlet because changes to the design were implemented gradually and lack of spares turned many Jagdpanthers into 'hybrids'. Zimmerit was applied to G1's up to September 1944, when it was withdrawn for fear of fire risk and to speed up production time. Early Jagdpanthers' had two vision openings for the driver, whereas late versions had only one. The main gun originally had a monobloc gun barrel, but from May 1944 on it was gradually replaced by a two-part barrel which was more economical as barrel wear was not even.[3]

Early G1s (to September 1944) were given Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine coating in a distinctive "small-squared" pattern.

Production and service[edit]

A Jagdpanther in France, 1944.

A total of 415 Jagdpanthers were produced from January 1944 by three manufacturers. MIAG in Braunschweig produced 270 from January 1944 until the end of the war. Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) produced 112 from November 1944. Maschinenbau und Bahnbedarf (MBA) in Potsdam produced 37 vehicles from December 1944.[4] Planned production had been 150 a month, but the disruption to German manufacturing had made this impossible.[3]

The last 'production' Jagdpanthers were produced at the factory by German staff just after the end of World War II under the supervision of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) using available components. 9 Panthers and 12 Jagdpanthers were produced and shipped back to Britain for post-war trials. A complete Panther and a complete Jagdpanther produced this way are now at the Bovington Tank Museum, Dorset, with brass plates on them, explaining their history.

Jagdpanther equipped heavy antitank battalions (schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilungen) and served mainly on the Eastern Front.[1] In the West, they were first encountered in very small numbers late in the Battle of Normandy, where the German 654 schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung ("654th Heavy Antitank Battalion") deployed about 12 Jagdpanthers against British units. Later, significant numbers were concentrated in the West for the Ardennes Offensive.

Survivors[edit]

Jagdpanther at Imperial War Museum (London), from above. Note the three shell holes in the side.

Three surviving Jagdpanthers have been restored to running condition. Two German museums, the Deutsches Panzermuseum at Munster and the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung (WTS) at Koblenz, each have a running Jagdpanther. The SDKFZ Foundation in the UK has restored one Jagdpanther to running condition, using two wrecked Jagdpanthers to complete one. The other wreck will also be restored[5].

There are at present seven other known surviving Jagdpanthers, which are on display at:

See also[edit]

  • Elefant, another enclosed German tank destroyer mounting the PaK 43.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Higgins, David R. (2014). Jagdpanther vs SU-100. Eastern Front 1945. Osprey Publishing.
  2. ^ AFV Profile No. 10 p17
  3. ^ a b c AFV Profile No 10 p19.
  4. ^ Spielberger, p. 196
  5. ^ http://preservedtanks.com/Types.aspx?TypeCategoryId=130&Select=1
  6. ^ "Accession record for Museum collection".
  7. ^ Imperial War Museum. "Sd Kfz 173 Jagdpanther (Tank Destoyer [sic])". Imperial War Museum Collections Search. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  8. ^ http://www.wheatcroftcollection.com/home.html.

References[edit]

  • Spielberger, Walter, Panther & Its Variants, 1993. ISBN 0-88740-397-2
  • Chris Ellis & Peter Chamberlain, AFV Profile No. 10 - Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Profile Publications.

External links[edit]