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.

Two Tiger II tanks on a Paris street 1944

Two Tiger II tanks on a Paris street 1944

The heaviest tank on the battlefield, the Tiger II or Königstiger was a formidable foe, but it had its fair share of shortcomings.  From over-complicated engineering, not enough power for the weight of the beast and the lack of quality raw materials led to this monster not being able to perform to its fullest.
However that being said, wherever this tank was deployed, it devastated its opponents.

In this photo two King Tigers of the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion are passing through a Paris street on the way to the Normandy front in August 1944, ultimately however nothing the German’s threw at the invading Allies was enough to halt their advance, and once Operation Bagration was launched it was really only a matter of time before the war for Germany was over.

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.

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.

Knocked Out Soviet KV-1 Tank

Axis forces pose next to a knocked out KV-1 tank

The KV series of tanks in the Soviet arsenal took the invading Germans by surprise, finding their anti tank weapons to be totally ineffective against these heavily armored monsters.

Anecdotally the 37mm Pak Gun became known as the doorknocker as you could sit there all day and it would have no effect on the tank or the crews inside.

Point of View from a Tiger I turret

Here’s a gif for you today, a camera mounted on the turret of a Tiger I traverses across an open field with another four Tiger I’s in the foreground.

One has to remember that all of these images and videos that provide us with a glimpse into the past; in this case the second world war, were captured by men and a few women on the front lines of combat.  Many of whom paid for their footage with their lives.