Panther on the Eastern Front 1944

Panther on the Eastern Front 1944

One source has cited the cost of a Panther tank as 117,100 Reichmarks (RM). This compared with 82,500 RM for the StuG III, 96,163 RM for the Panzer III, 103,462 RM for the Panzer IV, and 250,800 RM for the Tiger I. These figures did not include the cost of the armament and radio. Using slave labour on the production lines greatly reduced costs, but also greatly increased the risk of sabotage. French army studies in 1947 found that many Panthers had been sabotaged during production.

The main gun was a Rheinmetall-Borsig 7.5 cm KwK 42 (L/70) with semi-automatic shell ejection and a supply of 79 rounds (82 on Ausf. G). The main gun used three different types of ammunition: APCBC-HE (Pzgr. 39/42), HE (Sprgr. 42) and APCR (Pzgr. 40/42), the last of which was usually in short supply. While it was of a calibre common on Allied tanks, the Panther’s gun was one of the most powerful of World War II, due to the large propellant charge and the long barrel, which gave it a very high muzzle velocity and excellent armour-piercing qualities — among Allied tank guns of similar calibre, only the British Sherman Firefly conversion’s Ordnance QF 17-pounder gun, of 3 inch (76.2mm) calibre, and a 55 calibre long (L/55) barrel, had more potential hitting power.

A grave for fallen comrades

A grave for fallen comrades

A German panzer crewman stands over the grave of two fallen panzer crewmen – potentially from the Panzer I in the background.

Most likely this photo is taken in 1941 during Operation Barbarossa, as the black panzer beret – the schutzmütze – was phased out and production had ceased in 1941, however it continued to be worn after that date for a while.  The surviving crewman is wearing the newer style of panzer crew headgear which was introduced in early 1940.

Abandoned Flak 41 inspected by American soldier at Magdeburg – 1945

The Flak 41 was a Rheinmetall improvement on the famous Krupp “eighty-eight”, resulting in a more powerful version than any of the previous ones.  Only very few numbers were produced, but this prompted Krupp to respond with another prototype which ended up becoming the feared Pak 43 & KWK 43 – mounted on the Elefant, Jagdpanther and the Tiger II.

Panther D 1944 – Snow

Two Panther Ausf. D from III. Panzerkorps in Northern Ukraine

III Panzer Corps was formed in June 1942 from III Army Corps and attached to Army Group A, the formation tasked with capturing the Caucasus as a part of Fall Blau. After the loss of the 6th Army at the Battle of Stalingrad, III Panzer Corps took part in the battles around Kharkov as part of Army Group Don. During Operation Citadel, the Corps was the striking force of Army Detachment Kempf as they attempted to protect the right flank of the 4th Panzer Army. It was involved in the retreat from Belgorod to the Dniepr.

At the beginning of 1944, the Corps participated in the relief of the forces trapped in the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket. In March the Corps was encircled in the Kamenets-Podolsky pocket, along with the rest of the 1st Panzer Army. III Corps drove the breakout and escape. Due to heavy losses, from November 1944 to January 1945, the corps was redesignated as Gruppe Breith, after its commander General der Panzertruppen Hermann Breith.

In late 1944, III Panzerkorps participated in Operation Konrad, the failed attempts to relieve the German and Hungarian garrison at Budapest. The corps then took part in Operation Spring Awakening in Hungary. After its failure, the corps retreated through Austria, surrendering to the U.S. Army on 8 May 1945.