Tank Clash – The German Panther vs. the Soviet T-34-85

Panther predator? The Soviet T-34-85 hunted the Panzer "Mark V". But which was the better tank? Find out below. (Image source: GermanWarMachine.com)

Panther predator? The Soviet T-34-85 hunted Panzer “Mark Vs” all along the Eastern Front during World War Two. But which was the better tank? Find out below. (Image source: GermanWarMachine.com)

By Ben Hollingum, GermanWarMachine.com

WHEN THE PANTHER TANK first appeared on the battlefields of the Eastern Front, the Soviets did not have an effective weapon to counter it.

They had a new medium tank in development (the T-43) but, having been commissioned in 1942 to counter the Panzer IV ausf. F, it did not have enough firepower or armour protection to go up against the Panther. Furthermore, many within the Stavka (Soviet High Command) believed the war effort would be better served by simply making more T-34s; they argued against even minor modifications in case they slowed production.

With the arrival of the Panther, however, it was clear that something had to be done to improve the effectiveness of the Soviet tank corps. A compromise was reached between the advocates of mass production and those who pushed for new, more powerful tanks. The T-34 would be modified to accept the T-43’s enlarged turret and an 85mm gun that was based on the 52-K anti-aircraft weapon. This tank, known by the designation ‘T-34-85’, became the Panther’s primary opponent for the rest of the war.

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The Panther and the T-34-85 represented fundamentally different approaches to wartime production. The Panther was an all-new design that incorporated many technologies that had never been seen before in German tanks. The T-34-85, by contrast, was the culmination of a long process of incremental improvement designed with high-volume production in mind. On paper, the Panther was by far the superior vehicle. But how did they compare in practice?

It is important to look beyond statistics like armour thickness and gun calibre because, so long as the two tanks were broadly in the same class – as the Panther and T-34-85 were – such qualities were not nearly as significant a factor as you might think. This article looks at some of the less commonly discussed factors that determined the outcomes of duels between these two tanks.

Panther tanks at Kursk, 1943. (image source: German Federal Archive)

Panther tanks at Kursk, 1943. (image source: German Federal Archive)

1. Deaf and Blind

Though the T-34-85’s gun, armour and other major components were significantly better than those in the T-34-76, minor details, like the design of the periscopes and vision ports, had remained largely unchanged. As a consequence, when the tank’s hatches were closed the crew was “deaf and blind”, as one commander put it in his memoirs. The commander could not see very much through the often distorted, cloudy glass of the vision ports on his cupola and was reliant on his binocular periscope. The other crewmen, who had only a single periscope or a narrow vision slit, could see even less.

The Panther, by contrast, had excellent optics including a pair of clear, high quality periscopes for the driver, hull gunner, and loader; a 5x magnification sight for the gunner; and a panoramic rangefinder sight for the commander. This, coupled with the 360º-view provided by the vision blocks in the commander’s cupola, gave Panther crews far better situational awareness than T-34-85 crews.

In most tank-on-tank engagements, the outcome was determined by who held the initiative, rather than by who had the thicker armour or bigger gun. The Panther’s crew, with their superior sights, usually spotted their opponent first, giving them time to move into a good position and set up a shot.

Upgraded T-34-85s had larger turrets with a heaver main gun. (Image source: world-war-2.wikia.com)

The upgraded T-34-85 had a larger turret for a heaver main gun. (Image source: world-war-2.wikia.com)

2. Crew Conditions

The Panther’s crew compartment was relatively spacious. The turret crew sat inside a ‘basket’ with a floor that rotated with the gun. This meant that all the important controls were in the same positions relative to each crewman regardless of which way the turret was facing.

The most important feature of the Panther’s crew compartment were the escape hatches: the driver and the mechanic had large hatches over their seats, the commander had his cupola hatch, and the loader had an escape hatch in the rear of the turret directly behind his position. Only the gunner didn’t have easy access to a hatch; he had to climb up onto the commander’s seat or scramble under the gun to get out.

Even with its larger turret, the T-34-85 was very cramped on the inside. This situation was made worse by the lack of an effective heating system, which forced crews to wear padded overcoats inside the tank. Bulky winter clothing often caught on control levers or, worse still, wouldn’t allow the crew to fit through the escape hatches (one in the front for the driver, two on the roof of the turret, and one tiny hatch in the floor of the hull) when the tank was hit.

The T-34-85 also lacked a turret basket – crewmen in the turret had to stand on ammo crates (which served as the tank’s secondary ammunition storage bins) to perform their tasks. In battle, the crew had to move to keep up with the rotating turret while trying not to trip on open crates and discarded floor panels under their feet.

These design flaws were significant – crew survivability was an important factor in the effectiveness of an armoured force. If an experienced crew could get clear of their disabled tank, they could fight another day. If unable to escape, their experience and training would die with them. The packed interior of the T-34-85 meant that a penetrating strike by an AP round usually killed or mortally wounded most of the crew, and the lack of adequate escape hatches meant that those that did survive often couldn’t get out before the tank caught fire.

A German tank crew conceals their Panther with foliage. (Image source: German Federal Archive)

A German tank crew camouflages their Panther with foliage. (Image source: German Federal Archive)

3. Crew Training

While not as extensive as the training given to tank crews earlier in the war, instruction for Panther crews was nonetheless excellent. Enlisted personnel had to pass an intensive four-month program that emphasized on hands-on practice. Every man had to first train as a driver/mechanic, including lessons in advanced engine maintenance, before moving on to other crew functions. By end of the four-month program each man was proficient in all crew roles and an expert in his assigned position. Soldiers that had shown promise during this stage were selected for additional training as NCOs or officers. Follow-up programs were heavy on the tactical theory and lasted between six and nine months.

Having completed their basic training, graduates were sent to ‘replacement’ battalions within Germany. Here they were formed into platoons and assigned to the tank crews that they would likely remain with throughout their combat service. This was not the end of the training, however. While awaiting combat assignments, crews were rigorously put through their paces, having to carry out constant maneuver and gunnery exercises, often at night or in low-light conditions. The culmination of all this training was the ‘battle run’ – a combined maneuver and live-fire exercise that required crews to engage a series of pop-up targets (some of them moving) at ranges of 800m to 2000m.

The quality of training for T-34-85 crews varied considerably. Commanders were typically well-trained graduates of the Red Army’s tank training schools. They had up to a year’s instruction, which included tactics and theory as well as hands-on practice in driving, gunnery, and maintenance. Furthermore, many commanders were combat veterans, either from the tank corps or from other branches of the Red Army; they were generally quick-witted, observant, and fearless.

Training for enlisted men however was of a far lower calibre. Many drivers had no more than a few hours’ practice at the controls and had never had any instruction in tactical placement. Loaders were equally under-trained, often having had no more than a day’s basic instruction in how to handle ammunition and operate the breech. Instruction for gun commanders was a little better, but they still lacked hands-on experience acquiring targets and firing at moving targets. Worse, conditions in many of the tank training regiments were appalling, with constant food shortages and tyrannical discipline. Loaders sometimes arrived from basic training too malnourished and weak to lift an AP shell.

Some tank crews received good instruction from their commanders once they were assigned to a vehicle, however. There was no official program for this on-the-job training. Towards the end of the war, the long journey from factory to frontline gave commanders enough time to bring their crews up to a basic level of competence.

Infantry hitch a ride on a Panther, 1944. (Image source: German Federal Archive)

German infantry hitch a ride on a Panther, 1944. (Image source: German Federal Archive)

4. Mobility and Reliability

The Panther and the T-34-85 were more or less mirror images of each other when it came to mobility. On the battlefield, the Panther was formidable; its broad tracks distributed the tanks weight evenly allowing the 44-ton machine to traverse swampy ground that would strand a Sherman or a T-34-85. Its good suspension and powerful engine helped it overcome obstacles. The Panther’s maneuverability was also helped by its superior crew visibility and its onboard intercom system, which allowed commanders and other crew to call out when they spotted hidden obstacles and threats.

Surprisingly, away from the battlefield the Panther was a disaster. In theory it could travel 250 km on road with a full tank of fuel, but units in the field quickly found that the actual range was barely half that. More importantly, the Panther’s drivetrain was so prone to failure that crews often stopped for repairs more often than they stopped for fuel. By 1944 the typical combat readiness rate of a Panther battalion was around 35 percent (compared to 80–90 percent in most T-34-85 units).

Having had a large three-man turret and heavier armour bolted onto a largely unchanged chassis and suspension, the T-34-85 was a notoriously poorly balanced vehicle. An emergency stop often resulted in the tank pitching violently forward, sometimes driving the end of its long gun barrel into the mud. This was a major problem because the driver’s viewport allowed him to see “little better than a newborn kitten” (as one T-34-85 commander put it) and therefore he rarely spotted obstacles in time to safely avoid them. The commander had slightly better visibility, but the intercom that linked the two positions was prone to static and unexpected squeals of feedback, so crews often turned it off. Many T-34-76 veterans were accustomed to using a crude but reliable system of communication that consisted of shouting, gesturing, and kicking the driver in the back, but in the T-34-85 the commander sat much further from the driver, making this method impossible.

While rather cumbersome on the battlefield, when it came to travelling long distance, the T-34-85 was excellent. Its range on roads (using internal fuel tanks) was 250 km. With external reserves (which had to be removed prior to combat) it could travel up to 360 km without refueling. Furthermore, the tank was mechanically reliable, having had its engine and drivetrain continually tweaked and improved since the first T-34s rolled off the production line in 1940.

A Panther tank, fresh from the factory. (Image source: German Federal Archive)

A Panther tank, fresh from the factory. (Image source: German Federal Archive)

5. By The Numbers

That the T-34-85 outnumbered the Panther is a well-known fact, but the consequences of this imbalance for individual tank crews are often overlooked. Between the beginning of Panther production in spring 1943 and the defeat of Nazi Germany two years later, 6,000 Panther tanks were built.

During the same period 29,400 T-34-85s rolled off Russian assembly lines. This disparity was increased by the low proportion of Panthers that were operational at any one time due to their poor mechanical reliability.

Consequently, an engagement in which a Panther destroyed four or five T-34-85s before being disabled could still be considered, from a strategic point of view, a Soviet victory. Over the course of the war, the Soviets manufactured 57,000 T-34s (both 76mm and 85mm variants). Of these, around 45,000 were destroyed in battle – a loss rate of almost 80 percent.

A Soviet T-34 assembly line.

A Soviet T-34 assembly line.

What this meant for the crews on the ground is well illustrated by a battle described by the Soviet armour ace Ion Lazarevich Degen. In July 1944, during the East Prussia Offensive, the 19-year-old tank commander was leading a T-34-85 in the 2nd Guards Tank Brigade, a ‘breakthrough’ formation that often spearheaded attacks. He was at the rear of a battalion of 20 T-34-85s that blundered into a German ambush during a nighttime advance. With the help of flares fired by German infantry, a small group of Panthers systematically destroyed almost the entire Soviet formation. Eventually, Degen was able to move around the right flank under cover of darkness and knock the Panthers out with shots to their side armour, helped by additional illumination provided by the flaming wreckage of his battalion. Only three T-34-85s survived the engagement, but the destruction of the Panthers ensured that the offensive could continue.

Conclusion

The details of this engagement from July 1944 bring up one final aspect that needs to be taken into consideration, and this is the morale of the respective crews.

In the big tank battles of 1944 Red Army tank crews were confident of victory and were prepared to take risks and make sacrifices pushing forward in order to get in shots at the Panthers from the side. Given Soviet numerical superiority, this tended to nullify the advantages that the Panther had as a tank to fight in. However, Panther crews still fought extremely well under adverse circumstances, using their technical advantages to good effect. It was not until the battles of 1945 (such as Operation Spring Awakening, the doomed final German offensive in Hungary) that the Red Army was able to assert a clear superiority.


 You can find out more about the Panther vs. T-34–85 tank clash in a free “Rapid Read” eBook Waffen SS Hungary ’45 available for a limited period on the German War Machine website: www.germanwarmachine.com.  And don’t forget to follow them on Twitter: @GermanWarM 

38 comments for “Tank Clash – The German Panther vs. the Soviet T-34-85

  1. 24 March, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I would take issue with the horsepower ratings provided in the comparison chart. The Panther did not actually have 700 hp. Other than the early production versions of the vehicle, most Panther tanks had engines derated to 2500 RPM which limited their HP to 580. This was true of all panther engines built after November of 1943 and it limited the vehicles top speed to 28mph. The chart lists the T34 engine as providing 400 HP. Every source I have seen lists this engine as a 500 HP engine giving the vehicle a top speed of 34 mph.

    • Chris Cornwell
      10 April, 2015 at 8:23 am

      The Panther employed at Kursk was indeed fitted with the Maybach HL 210 engine which was 650hp. Its essentially the same engine as that fitted to the Tiger, but has an easier time due to the panther’s lower weight.
      Some vehicles at Kursk MAY have been the upgraded version started in May 43 which had the 230 engine which did have a 700 HP output….However…whether these vehicles actually ever had the HP output described is a good question given the extremely poor quality petrol they were supplied with.

  2. 21 October, 2015 at 3:23 am

    Most tanks have a theoretical top speed but have rpm governed engines for longevity. ….

  3. Veritas
    19 December, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Excellent article except for the author’s not too subtle argument that the T-34 was more reliable than the Panther. The T-34 was made in haste and was poorly made according to the Germans, who captured large numbers of them but did not deign to employ them. This in of itself is quite an inditement since the Germans usually employed everything they captured.

    Postwar American assessments of the T-34 were equally damning. Engine and transmission failure was often as little as 200 miles. The mechanics were so bad that the T-34 often could not be driven at even half of its rated speed for fear of overheating. The T-34 continued to lack radios and Russian optics were awful.

    As late as the winter of 1944 vastly outnumbered Germans could and did take the offensice against overwhelming numbers of Russians and crush them.

    The T-34 was vastly over rated and there are far too many myths about it that need to be demolished. Sloped armor was not a nw fear and was employed on many tanks prior to 1940. Over 1,000 T-34s were in service on June 22 1941 but they made no strategic impact on the Germans. The T-34, as did the Sherman, overwhelmed German armor. Neither could match them nor outfight later German armor.

    What is remarkable is that even a mediocre tabk like the Sherman could best the T-34.

    • John Barker
      1 February, 2016 at 2:56 am

      Veritas – I think the points you have made are a little outdated and in some cases represent beliefs with no basis. Steven Zaloga recently wrote a book titles “Armored Champion” in which he gives well researched information about WWII armor. While the T-34 of 1942 may have been suffering from many problems due to manufacturing issues these were worked out over time and reliability was no longer the problem you describe. The Panther had many problems and as late as 1945 Gen. Guderian was reporting to Berlin that tank crews had no faith in the mechanics of the Panther. In what is typically referred to as Gen. White’s Report a U.S. analysis of the Panther showed that it would overheat after 30 mins. of combat rpm’s, that the crew was near blind (particularly the gunner) when buttoned up and that the turret rotation was particularly slow. Since it is known that tactics/quick shot win a tank duel and not superior gun and armor the Panther could be bested with the the right tactics.

      • Veritas
        27 March, 2016 at 11:51 pm

        I suggest you read the US intelligence services assessment of the T-34/85s capabilities, merits and defects based on captured examples seized during the Korean war. Mere technical data they focused on such as the quality of steel, manufacturing techniques, reliability, and other unimportant details, that are unquestionably outdated and more reliably left to Mr. Zaloga than the analysists and techncians of the intelligence services flatly stated the performance of these tanks was unacceptable.

        The Panther was so poor that its influence is felt to this day. Contrary to your criticisms, the German tanker, whose life depended on the vehicle he crewed, loved the Pather. Comments from them regarding your particular points of concern are not to be found. But one assumes your sources and your experience outweighs their experiences. I have never seen anything regarding overheating of the main production models due to normal combat power over extended periods. Perhaps like all vehicles demandings placed on engines that demanded maximum power over extended periods might cause over heating.

        This is supposed to be unique? Your comments on crew observation borders on, something Obama’s teleprompter might say. The Germans utilized all their exerience to insure superb visibility and frequently improved theiir Pathers to improve their capabilities in this regard. One criticism that might be made of the Germans was this constant upgrading slowed production and made the same model less than uniform.

        Your final comment defies reason. Experience shows the first shot is important but not what decides things. Superior communications, optics, steadiness of the platform, internal communications, ease of loading and storgae are better indicators of success. And this is the epitaph written on so many T-34s and Shermans that met the Panther.

        The final nail in the coffin of your argument is the number of T-34s destroyed each year compared to their production. This was approximately 90% of each years annaul production. Considering that a T-34’s suriviability was so limited due to its awful ergonomics, there is little wonder German tanks maintained a 3 to 4-1 kill ration in the last year of the war. Replaceing that many crews is no easy task. The same can be said of the iron coffin that was the Sherman. The British losing over 2,000 in Normandy in six weeks alone.

        • John
          1 April, 2016 at 3:11 pm

          Hi! Good to see your reply here, I like a good discussion on this topic. I’d like to make a request if I could; there is a mention of President Obama in your reply and I don’t understand why that would be here. Can we leave such remarks out lest they be confused for political discussion?
          You start out with mention of an assessment by US forces of the Korea T-34/85. I’d like to read this; please share the source, I’d like to point out at this point that T-34/85’s were made in many places over a pretty good time period. Was this a Polish made T-34? Soviet? Chinese? Not often has armor history seen a tank made by so many and to such a variety of quality. What point did you want to make here?
          Let me point out that the Panther had extreme potential in design. The Germans were tremendously frustrated in facing the T-34 in Operation Barbarossa and wanted to do their best to produce the German T-34 (without copying it too closely and infuriating the little corporal!) The design evolution of the Panther, unfortunately, included additions which increased weight with a corresponding increase in power and transmission. Thus this good design would be plagued with engine problems, final drive breakdowns and difficulty bring the gun to bear for a number of reasons.
          You say you don’t find comments like I have made…have you looked well? Do you own accurate books on this subject? Have you looked through GERMANY’S PANTHER TANK-The Quest for Combat Supremacy by Thomas Jentz? Jentz is considered one of the leading authors on German armor of WWII. Look at a little of what he says about the Panther. “The Panther appears to catch fire quickly…A solution to the final drive problem is urgently needed…British examination of 96 Panthers captured from 8 to 31 August 1944 revealed the cause of their loss as 11 by armor shot, 1 by hollow charge projectiles, 1 by artillery high explosive shells, 2 by rocket projectiles from aircraft, 1 by cannon from aircraft, 44 destroyed by crew, 30 abandoned, and 6 due to unknown causes.” (p147), I have to wonder why, if this tank is so loved by the crews using it, are so many destroying or abandoning it? Why is the number far greater of crew destroyed or abandoned vehicles than destroyed by enemy fire?
          At the end of UNITED STATES vs GERMAN EQUIPEMENT by Maj. General Isaac White there is a comparative testing of a captured Panther vs the U.S. M4A3E8. The weaknesses of the Mark V are -Limited visibility by crew members. -Slow traversing speed of turret. -Over-heating of engine during difficult operation. -Bright glow of exhaust stacks at night after engine runs for short period -Difficulty in performing engine maintenance on engine. -Thin armor plate (5/8″) over driver and engine compartment. -Large openings on top of rear deck for cooling fans vulnerable to shell fire and strafing. – Lack of gyro-stabilizer. -Lack of escape hatch. -Heavy gasoline consumption. -No control of turret traverse by tank commander, only by the gunner. -No anti-aircraft gun provided. Under the heading of the subject of visibility this report states that “When “buttoned up” the assistant driver and loader see through periscopes fixed to the right oblique. The driver has a flexible periscope. The gunner has vision only through the telescopic sight. The tank commander has all around vision. The M4A3E8 has greater visibility than the Mark V, which is approximately blind when “buttoned up.”
          You say you don’t like my statement about first shaot in combat. I suggest that you read the studies that are used to make the conclusion. The U.S. Army Operational Research Group (AORG) authored the study “A Survey of Tank Warfare in Europe from D-Day to 12 August 1944.” The second report is titles “Data on WWII Tank Engagements Involving the U.S. Third and Fourth Armored Divisions.” It is authored by the Ballistic Research Laboratory of Aberdeen, Md.
          I don’t think you offer a final nail, I don’t think you offer any nails at all. In order to state that a certain number of T-34’s were destroyed by Panthers you would have to know this is true. How do you know this is true? The Germans fielded multiple AFV’s at the same time that used a 75mm gun so if someone did count up the destroyed Soviet armor and were able to determine how many had fallen victim to a 75mm shot it would still be a mystery as to how they were destroyed. Throw in Germany’s widely used AT gun the PAK 40 and you have a host of sources of 75mm AP fire capable of killing the T-34. This tells us that there is no way to tell what destroyed the T-34’s you mention, unless you want to believe lying panzer commanders who seemed to have destroyed about 300,000 tanks during the war. One thing to remember is that armies on the offensive generally take heavier casualties than the force they assault. We should expect to see the Soviets have a higher casualty rate than the Germans.
          When you are looking at statistics you need to examine the sources. Believing reports BY GERMANS as to the quality of their tanks and the numbers of their kills has a shortcoming. Read the established names in armor research and crossreference what you read. I will answer your other post shortly.

          • Veritas
            27 May, 2016 at 9:01 am

            When I weigh the accessments of actual intelligences services versus authors who usually have not served I tend to favor men whose existence depend on their experiences rather than those who engage in faculty lounge debates. Perhaps this is due to my own background as no doubt your views are based on a long existence pouring over academic tiomes.

            First the Poles nor any of the eastern slave states made the T-34/85 prior to 1953. So the captured and tested vehicles were all made in mother Russia. The American tests were damning indicating limited engine life, inferior metals, faulty construction. In short all aspects of the tank were considered inferior and unacceptable. Contrast this with their analysis of the Panther. Strange hwo the Americans poured over the gun, storage, optics and drive train for ideas they could and did incoporate.

            Russian designs were regulated for later Obama solar energy concepts.

            Realiability was so poor that Russian effectiveness rates seldom exceed 30% and Stalin actually looked at the possibility of sabotage due to the constant breakdowns of the T-34. German problems were caused by a complicated drive train system and suspension system that traded protection and tactical effectiveness providing inmproved protection and superior ride and comfort over reduced reliability. But I have never come across any suggestion that the flaws in the Panther were due to shoddy construction.

            Your comments are based on what? Clearly your assertion that “the Pather caught fire easily” is unique, mentioned in zero Geran veteran biographies nor in any technical assessment provided by the British or American military after the war, Perhaps this explains why the French actually used the Panther after the war when they could have employed Shermans.

            If you cannot understand why a crew might abandon or destroy their own vehicle one can only assume this is the result of a vast exposure to combat situations that allows you reach these conclsuions. Tanks that lose mobility are death traps. Nor do crews love vehivles that are stranded without fuel and have little prospect of being refueled or rearmed while enduring the prospect of an assault by opposition infantyror armor, especially if you are numerically inferior.

            Something tat appears to have escaped your attention regarding the German situation in 1944 on both the Eastern and Western fronts. This never happened to the allies in North Africa r Normandy, right?

            Panther engine maintence was not difficult compared to other tanks and the Germans made a fetish about this aspect of tank design. Traverse was slow compared to what? The kill loss ratios of Sherman vs. Panthers certainly made your claim laughable. One reads the British losses in Normandy and wonders how hundreds of Shermans could be destroyed in a few days of combat by such deficit and outnumbered vehicles, especially since the majority of German armored forces were Mark IVs and StG IIIs and few Panthers.

            Ah details, details. We are all entitled to our opinions but ugly reality and facts do intrude.

            Thin armor plate? So thin that 20mm aircarft mounted guns couldn’t penetrate this armor and post war examination of claims by the British and Americans reveal that the aircrew claims for the destruction of tanks was off by about 95%-and this is confirmed by German records. Another great victory for your expert. No anti aircraft gun was provided? An MG 42 was usually mounted, but your expwert seems to ignore that panzer formations were usually accompanied by specialized anti aircatf vehicles armed with mutliple 20mm AA guns.

            Large vents made the tank vunerable? Guess this acounts for the massive destruction of Panthers by aircraft-approximately zero. As for losses due to shells, show me a tank stuck anywhere by a 150mm gun and tell me what difference the location of the hit makes to the crew inside. Faculty lounge speak.

            300,000 destroyed tanks-again your statements are unique since total allied tank production didn’t approach that number. And your source for this typical, for you, claim is? What is amazing is despite the huge producton of the allies the number of burnt out tank hulks scattered across Europe bear tesimony to the effectiveness of theGerman anti tank defenses. The Russians produced enough to replace their staggering losses.

            In short no one ever held up the T-34 as a model to be followed much less utilized. The influence of the Panther on Western designs is clear. TheT-34 design influece on Russian thought is true today, featuring cramped crew quarters, inferior gun handling and optics, poor protection, limited range and reliablity resulting in glorious victories where Russian tanks meet Western deisgns.

            Clearly you choose to believe the Russian storyline.

    • Mark
      20 February, 2016 at 12:23 am

      The t-34 was a pile. 100 piles of garbage will always overwhelm 10 potted flowers.

  4. John Barker
    1 February, 2016 at 3:34 am

    Ben Hollingum – I’m surprised by your analysis of these two machines and I’d like to point out a few issues. First and most glaring a turret with no turret basket does not require the crew to stand. They have seats. This mistake does not indicate good research as pictures and schematics of tanks are all over the internet and books. Further an analysis of the Panther by U.S. experts stated that the crew of a Panther was nearly blind when hatches were closed, with the exception of the commander. The gunner, who had only a monocular site (depending on model) had little awareness of the battlefield and little ability to acquire a target when ordered by his commander. Lastly the crew training you describe may have existed at some point in the war but by 1944 (one year after the Panther came into the war) the training was drastically reduced. One of the worst aspects of the Panther, its fragile final drive, could be “handled” correctly by an experienced driver but as the war progressed inexperienced drivers were handling the Panther as it broke down…as so many of them did. You do point out the issue of frequent repairs for the Panther but you make it sound somewhat easier then it was. Final drive repairs on the Panther took days because it required removal of the turret and driving compartment. Logistics, one of the most important aspects of war, is an area where the Panther suffered. The Panther was a logistic nightmare.

    • Mark
      20 February, 2016 at 12:30 am

      The only thing about logistics of the 34 were its numbers. A sea of tanks will kill a lake of tanks logistically thinking. The Chinese have more people than America does but that doesn’t make them superior. One question for you; would you rather be in a soft shelled 34; or a panther in a battle where the odds are even? I’d rather strap on a German machine against a soviet machine if the odds were even much greater. Makarov or Mauser? Don’t give me romance. Everything the kraits had was better.

      • John
        21 February, 2016 at 1:53 pm

        I don’t think you truly understand logistics from your comments here. If the Panther is in need of extensive maintenance and this maintenance takes much longer than most other tanks, and it has a high fuel consumption then the Panther will not make it to the battlefield when it is needed. Battles aren’t won and lost based on me in one tank going against another. For that matter the main work done by tanks in WWII was not against other tanks at all, they spent the majority of their time firing HE rounds, not AP.
        No, everything the Krauts made was not better. This is a common statement from someone that does not read quality research material on the weapons of WWII. Read Thomas Jentz on the Panther, Germanys Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy. He points out that as late as 1945 Guderian was reporting to Berlin that Panther crews had no confidence in the Panther mechanically. Check how many were disabled and destroyed by their own crews. Check how they encountered mere Sherman tanks in combat and were beaten.
        It helps to do good research.

    • Veritas
      28 March, 2016 at 12:02 am

      Interestingly Mr Barker claims German tank crews were badly trained. Every source I have seen on the training of German tank crews stress that while training time was less than what the Germans considered optimum it was not seriously reduced. In comparison American Armored formations suffered such serious losses among crews that replacements were drafted who were not trained as tank crewmen.

      Without going into the disastrous US replacement system, it is worth noting that as long as the German Replacement functioned, the Germans still turned out first class units in 1944 and their army performed at such a high level, it is still studied today.

      I find the comments regarding the optics and visibaility of the Panther misinformed. One would assume Mr. Barker is addressing himself to some fantasy, improved T-34. The T-34 was described as blind once buttoned up. The driver was blind for all intents and purposes. The gunner had a poor and generally useless optic. The commander was lucky to have evn a monocular since he didn’t have a cupola. Vision slits were inadequate.

      This is one of the reasons that despite the hundreds of T-34s captured by the Germans, they were rarely used.

      Contrast this with captured, French, British, Italian and US equipment that the Germans always utilized when possible.

      The Germans considered Russian equipment as poor and when employed it was generally turned over to German allied formations and police units rather than front line units. Perhaps the sole large scale use of the T-34 was by the Das reich division at Kursk which employed 12 of them.

      The mistakes of the T-34 were repeated through to the T-72, resulting in disasterous losses where they encountered Western tanks on the battlefield.

      • John
        2 April, 2016 at 2:16 pm

        Veritas – So much to talk about, eh? My understanding of the German training system as it applies to the life of the Panther is that urgency always was an important factor. The tanks were originally sent out in ’43 and were breaking down, catching fire and essentially an engineering disastor that never should have made it to the field without more work. That’s mechanical but as time went on there were other factors that became important as well. Resources were long past the high points of 1939 and 1940. Much had been lost in terms of men, munitions, manufacturing capacity and vehicles. Germany took on the worlds three most powerful industrial nations, she could not compete in war production. Training for the panzerwaffe had to be shortened due to shortages of gasoline and canon ammunition. Be careful bringing up a comparison to the U.S.; the U.S. forces that landed on D-Day had been training since 1942 and I’d have to think any general would love to have tankers with that much time in their machines. Yes, some U.S. replacements may have had little or know training but I don’t think the U.S. was the only nation in a situation like this. If you look at the losses of various U.S. armored divisions you will see that there are those that may have had to resort to replacements like this and those that did not, regardless of what Brad Pitt might say.
        I don’t know where you see the German forces performing at a “high level” in 1944 since they were on on a continuous retreat through the year, often with disastrous losses like Falaise.
        I think your discussion of visibility in the T-34/85 is not accurate. The commander most certainly had a cupola, look at the pictures offered in this article, they clearly show a cupola. It’s the round thing on the turret looking like a … cupola? It had five vision slits and a transversible periscope. I might give a minor edge to the Panther but I would rather not be in either tank. Check my last post for the shortcomings of the Panther’s visibility. The reports are various and easy to find. Again, I don’t think I said anything here about optics.
        I’ve seen a book devoted to Soviet armor in German use and numerous photos in so many other books. A little unit like Das Reich used them but just twelve??? This the tank that gave them so much trouble in 1940 that they nearly copied it completely but instead designed a tank with key features similar to the T-34. The Panther.
        There is a lot of bad information out there, there are a lot of people that think highly of the German forces and blind themselves to the horrors committed by them. Many will think of the Panther as the best tank of WWII while clearly closing their eyes to the engineering an mechanical problems that plagued this machine all through the war. The French army post war used a number of Panthers for approximately two years and it is possible to find their evaluation of the machine online. Google it, it is very imformative.
        Here’s to the truth!

        • GBE
          6 April, 2016 at 2:36 am

          well, germany lost the logistics war and industrial output war, but their tanks were certainly a match to anything the russian fielded. tanks anyways never a really long life, so whether they could work for 250kms or 200 or 150kms makes little difference, especially in a retreating war germany was fighting. Panthers were abandoned, yes some because of their faulty drivetrian, but mostly because german units had no fuel left whatsoever.

        • Veritas
          27 May, 2016 at 9:06 am

          John I believe you demonstrated the breath and depth of your knowledge for all when you described the problems the T-34 caused to the Germans in 1940. With that I believe your scholarship and knowledge is such that only the truly egotistical would attempt to match wits with such a knowledgable fellow.

          I bow to your superior intellect. By the way, you might not have noticed by the Germans reached the height of their production in late 1944, despite all the losses you mentioned.

  5. GBE
    6 April, 2016 at 2:41 am

    Also this article state the panther gun as penetrating 126mm of armor at 500m. really? where does that come from, all the sources have seen say 168mm at 500m and 234mm with apcr. Panther tanks’ guns where marvel for there time, it could knock any russian tanks at normal engagement range +- 800m. in comparison, the t34-85 could not penetrate the frontal plate of a panther, even at 500m, it had to come much closer.

    • John Barker
      11 April, 2016 at 1:55 am

      I think your numbers are a little high, I’d check them if I were you. The Panther’s 75mm was good but not a marvel or superior to everything else. The 88mm of the Tiger II was superior to it and the 17pdr. was in the same ball park. Essentially a tank with a powerful gun and thick armor does not win the fight, the tank using superior tactics does. A sound tank like the T-34/85 or Sherman could run for days with little maintenance and jump into battle while the Panther could not. The Panther could never take long roadtrips to battle (had to be transported by rail) and its reliability was always questionable. While possessing the big gun the Panther had to travel gingerly, its crew was nearly blind, it had slow a ability to respond to enemy action. This tank could be destroyed by Sherman tanks and was on many occasions. The legend of the Panther is far greater than the reality.

      • GBE
        11 April, 2016 at 11:13 am

        First off, i agree that the panther was not a good tank, because it was unreliable. that being said, the 34-85 was still no match facing it, it only had a chance flanking it. About the penetration numbers they come from the book ww2 ballistics – armor and gunnery and the panther gun could penetrate 168mm of armor at 0 degree at 500meters, 149mm at 1000meters. the t3485 had 45mm of armor at 60d giving it 90mm of effective armor. there is also the problem that the panther tanks were not produced in enough quantities, and like i said it would have been better for the 3rd reich to produce more panzerIVJ or StuGIIIG.

        just think for a second the logistic nightmare germany was in, in the last years of ww2 and imagine the situation been reversed and russia had those problems and germany had the usa as an ally, receiving infinite numbers of trucks and fuel and tanks. the panther tank problems would not have mattered much.

        • John
          14 April, 2016 at 11:42 pm

          Hi- The numbers are a little off, not enough to quibble about though. Things to remember about tank combat are 1.) a tanks PRIMARY job in WWII was not fighting other tanks, it would spend approx. 60% of its time firing HE ammo and 2.) tank vs tank battles were won with tactics, not guns and thick armor. Considering the good mobility of the T-34/85 and the overall poor visibility + poor first shot capability of the Panther I’d give the T-34/85 the nod in that fight, just as I would the Sherman tank. It would have been better to have built the Panther as a lighter tank with a smaller gun and better balanced turret.

          I can’t conceive of the USA being allied to fascist war criminals like the Nazis and would rather not entertain “what-if’s” like that.

          • GBE
            15 April, 2016 at 10:07 am

            i agree mostly with what you said, thats why i said germany should have built a lot more stug3 and Pz4H instead of focusing on unreliable panthers. Still, the t3485 could not really destroy a panther tank facing it, it had to flank it. its armor was to thick. and then i agree again that tactics and strategy win wars, but to win wars you need the right allies and good logistics, both of which germany had not.

            then you go on ranting about not being able to “imagine” in a what if scenario how germany would have done over russia if they had had unlimited truck and fuel supply coming from usa.

            because maybe you think allying with Stalin was better? that idiot killed more of his own people than all the nazi combined. not excusing the nazi here, just saying Stalin was worse.

  6. GBE
    6 April, 2016 at 3:14 am

    So other than logistic problems, which actually made germany lose the war, explain how a t34-85 is even a match to a panther tank, when it can not even destroy it at regular engagement range? i mean they had to aim at the small turret front of a panther with is large front plate showing up, to have a chance to defeat it, and t34-85 were no sniping vehicles. Only a lucky shot would work. so in essence they had to flank panther tanks to defeat them, but what tanks would not get defeated by being flanked? none. when tanks get flanked its over, no matter if we are in a russian, german or american tank.

    • John Barker
      15 April, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      GBE- You are making the mistake of grading a tank on its ability to fighgt other tanks, this is wrong. The majority of the work done by AFV’s during WWII was to fire HE. Considering that the T-34/85 fires a much better HE round than the Panther one would have to conclude that the T-34 is the better vehicle. The evolution of e T-34 to the T-34/85 showed improvements that left the Panther in the dust, due to its reliability issues. I would easily rate the T-4/85 above the Panther, especially since the majority of tank kills came by way of side shots.

      • GBE
        16 April, 2016 at 1:02 am

        the panther role wasn’t mainly to fire HE, this is ridiculous. it was a versatile role of destroying enemy afvs and support the infantry or whatever operations they took part in. we are comparing 2 tanks, not how they were used in the desperate situation germany was in in 44-45. like i said, if germany had had good logistics, unlimited fuel for operations and their tanks, things would have been much different. a panther tank could pick up a T3485 at 2km and destroy it, it was a difficult shot, but possible. at 1 km it was easy picking. T3485 was unable to achieve any of this vs the panther. there was 25,000 t3485 vs 5 or 6000 panthers. numbers do the rest.

        why do you think the russian put a 85mm gun on their t34? cos the 76mm was unable to penetrate tiger tanks, no matter how close they came to it. so it was important to have a gun able to destroy enemy tanks. tanks vs tank combats happened a lot more than most people seem to think, its just that usually, there were AT guns, assault guns and TDs accompanying those tanks. so most kills went to AT guns. they were easy to conceal.

        • John
          16 April, 2016 at 12:59 pm

          I didn’t say the Panther’s role was to fire HE, I said that in WWII the major role of an AFV was to fire HE and that to compare two tanks simply on the basis of their gun and armor is a mistake. (Studies show that the winner of a tank v tank duel was not the tank with the better gun and armor but the one that got off the first shot.) The Panther had a bad HE round so it performed badly in the role of support. I am not comparing two tanks in how they would do in a duel, like gunslingers on the streets of Dodge, this is a waste of time. I am comparing them based on the situations of WWII. “we are comparing 2 tanks, not how they were used in the desperate situation germany was in in 44-45.” I don’t even understand this. Of course we are comparing them based on the situation Germany was in, what else would we do? I think you are looking to view Germany as superior, find excuses for their shortcomings, think up ways they could have won. I’m not interested in such discussion. The Panther was a tank that could have been much better but was sabotaged on the drawing board. It was a sign of the losing, desperate state that Germany was in, needing to design tanks to kill other tanks rather than for the dual purpose roll most tanks fir in. Many people have a hard time grasping that a tank like the M4 Sherman was the best tank we would see in WWII because it had such superior all around performance and a great dual purpose gun with one of the best HE rounds used in the war.

          • GBE
            16 April, 2016 at 5:52 pm

            if you compare 2 tanks based on the desperate situation germany was in, it made no sense for them to have built the panther tank at all. So there you have it. if you want to compare a tank vs another tank, which this article is about, then you gotta admit that the t3485 alone vs a lone panther would get destroyed even if the t3485 had the first shot, unless ambushing and attacking to flank it. cos at 1km range and beyond the panther would have destroyed it easily.

            yes i understand that the role of tanks is not always to fight other tanks, but youre like saying my honda civic can do more thing than my ferrari on a daily use for my family, i dont care if the ferrari can go 3 times faster. like i said already, the panther tank should not have been built, so you gotta compare it for what germany intended it to do, destroy enemy tanks and afvs.

            now would i rather have 5 t3485 on my side to fight or a lonely panther tank? id take the 5 T34-85 anytime.

            it would be more interesting to compare the panzer IVH-J to the T3485 and see how these 2 fared.

            or the sherman76 vs the T3485 would make more sense too.

  7. GBE
    6 April, 2016 at 3:23 am

    there real question therefore is, did it make sense for germany to build and produce those monster panther tanks ? not really, they would have been much better building 20,000 more PzIV ausf J which were fairly equal to the t34-85. or 20,000 more StuGIIIG. a good comparison would be the PzIVJ vs the t34/85.

    • John
      19 April, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      GBE – To me the Panther was sensible in its earlier forms. When extra armor was added to the front of the hull and the oversized 75mm gun was chosen, making the turret very unbalanced, the tank was doomed. A tank that is designed around tank killing is a bad move Yes, this author makes the mistake of comparing tanks as if they are standing off at 1000yds and duking it out, as you seem to fixate on. This is not what was seen in the war and tank v tank fighting represented a small portion of the use of tanks in WWII. Most often it was ambush and flanking attack (statistics show that most tanks were destroyed by shot to the side.) If you examine the qualities examined by the author you will see that they give us a picture of how well the tank would perform no matter what its task.

      Ferraris and Civics aside measure of the performance of a tank is not to be measured solely on its ability to kill enemy armor. Measure how quickly it gets off a shot, how well the crew sees the battlefield, and how reliable a vehicle it is. The U.S. Army sent out tank battalions with every infantry division and they were reaking havoc where ever they went, very often not against enemy armor. They would use their 75mm guns on machine gun nests, pill boxes, enemy mortar and artillery and break into the area behind the enemy lines and do a lot of damage there. This is the type of armor use, much like the blitzkrieg offensives of the early war, that won the war. Going on and on about one tank facing another is meaningless because you can’t do any calculation on who is in the tank. Any T-34/85 can take out a Panther if the conditions are right, just as happened with 75mm Shermans. If a well trained, experienced commander out smarted the Panther commander he could get the shot in to kill him.

      Of the tanks you mention at the end I would want, as a general, the Sherman with a 75mm gun. The tank had good automotive reliability, was well layed out inside, was easy to use and the 75mm was a good all purpose gun, the HE round being superb.

      • GBE
        24 April, 2016 at 1:42 am

        the tank wasn’t “doomed” the Reich was, that’s a big difference. If their industries and plants were not constantly bombed or relocated, like it was the case in USA, or having scares resources, they would have made a drive train and a transmission able to support the new weight. that tank was hurried to Kursk on Hitler insistence, it was not ready for battle. i’m telling you, if the 3rd reich had had unlimited supply and good logistics, we would today discuss which one was the worse, the t34 or the Sherman. they could never exploit the panther advantage because, the war was lost in 44-45. give air superiority to the 3rd reich, unlimited artillery shells, all the fuel they want and the panther drive train problems would have been fixed.

        A tank designed to destroyed enemy tanks is not a bad move, thats how the modern tanks are built. the panther tank to be effective needed support from assault guns and self-propelled howitzer, which was what was intended. what we saw during ww2 when the panther came out was the allies dictating the pace of the war and mostly how they wanted it to be fought. so they could avoid most of the times direct engagement combat with german armor at long range. just because they could ambush and flank german tanks, doesn’t mean it would have worked if the allies/russians had been outnumbered constantly. its hard to flank an enemy when we are outnumbered on all fronts.

        if you do not want to compare tank vs tank, it is pointless to compare anything because, wars are won with logistics, men and industrial outputs and to a certain extent the allies we have.

        the tank you would want is irrelevant because, if you have only rookies to drive them they wont perform. and at the end of the war. most experienced german tankers were either dead or mia.

        all in all, past 1942-43, the allies had the tanks they needed to conduct the war they wanted and how they wanted it, thats why their tanks looked good and did good.

        • John
          25 April, 2016 at 12:37 pm

          Yes, the Reich was doomed but that is a separate discussion. The state of their industry is a separate discussion as well. I mean to discuss the Panther, as it was in the WWII that is in the history books. Whether they could have made a better final drive in a different reality is not what I care to discuss. Interesting that you think they could have solved the problems with the final drive but they didn’t have such confidence in themselves, they approached foreign factories for help with the situation.

          I see no point in a discussion of fantasies about unlimited resources, air superiority, etc., etc. It sounds as though you are a fan of the Third Reich and want to think up scenarios where they came out victorious. I have no desire or inclination to see the war differently than what happened. The war was lost long before 1944, by the way.

          Yes, the Panther was one of many signs the war was lost. The winning armored tactics and strategy of WWII were what we saw in the early blitzkrieg and later as the allied forces moved through France and into Germany. Mobile combined arms warfare, armor at its best when exploiting the enemy rear, destroying supply, command, communications and transportation. The Panther, primarily a tank killer, had a small part in this type of combat. I’m afraid you read too much false history, glorifying German equipment as unbeatable and you bring to this exchange a discussion of a WWII fantasy that no one else knows but you. What is the point of this?

          I have no problem comparing tanks, if it is done accurately. I will, if you like, discuss tank v tank fighting, again accurately. No, the tank I want is relevant because I can discuss its advantages correctly. I don’t know where you get this notion of rookies driving the tanks. If you would like to quote from a source that this was the case for one side do so, otherwise please leave more of your fantasies out of this discussion. My preferred tank can be relevant to this discussion if it is easier to use. Complicated tanks are difficult for “rookie crews”.

          • GBE
            25 April, 2016 at 4:54 pm

            my explanations are clear, that you call me a Germany fan boy is ridiculous and stupid at best. That you do not understand the mess nazi germany was in, is beyond me. the allies won the war because of logisitcs, industrial outputs, and simply because they had more men, more equipment and more of everything. not because they had sherman tanks with a 75mm gun.

            have you ever heard that joke of a german soldier on the front: “when you see a white plane its american, when you see a black plane its russian, and when you see no plane its the luftwaffe” that pretty much sum ups everything.

            this joke could be extended to tanks and artillery as well.

            Again tell me how you gonna flank your enemies if you are constantly outnumbered?

            it took the russian how many years again to have a decent t34? 5? when it came out it was plagued with mechanical problems, and thats without talking about the 2 man turret and commanders without radios.

            the panther was rushed into battle and they never really had the time nor the ressources or logistics to exploit it correctly and fix all the problems.

  8. John
    28 April, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    GBE- I can pick out a good number of quotes from this exchange where you have done nothing but made excuses for the Germans and the fate of the Panther. For example: “If their industries and plants were not constantly bombed or relocated, like it was the case in USA, or having scares resources, they would have made a drive train and a transmission able to support the new weight.” Plain and simple, NO! You are saying they had the resources to makes battleships, tanks, fighters, bombers, jets, rockets and more U-boats than one can count but they did not have the industry or resources to correct the final drive? I find that hard to believe and it sounds like one of many cases of making excuses in this exchange.

    I do understand the mess Germany was in. They started the war before the military was ready, They opened a war on multiple fronts and on 8 Dec 1941 doomed any chances they might have for holding the ground they had so wrongly taken. The capable military was forced to make wrong move after wrong move. The industry was pointed in a direction which clearly showed no appreciation of the strategic realities of war with wasted efforts in the areas of jets, rockets, and tanks like the Panther. The German “mess” centered around stupidity, arrogance and one poor choice after another, no surprise when you consider what disgusting people they showed themselves to be.

    The interesting discussion of armor of WWII is that a very simple tank, with what seems like an impotent gun like the M3 75mm is the one of the winning weapons of the war. Your missing this is critical. A winning effort is made with an automotively superior vehicle, with a HE firing gun, with a machine that is easy to use and maintain. The Panther had none of these features. The internet is full of information on the Panther, studies done by the U.S., the British and post use analysis by the French all of which paint a picture of a mediocre tank at best. Cramped, uncomfortable, blind for the crew, poor turret rotation, poor maintenance, disastrous final drive. The gun did have excellent anti-armor performance, of this there is no doubt but this is clearly an attribute that had little use in the war at the time.

    I have not seen an issue of numbers discussed in the studies I have read about WWII armor v armor engagements. My understanding is that most fights were small numbers of tanks, the engagements were rather short in duration and, as mentioned before, won by the side getting off the first shot. Most tanks were killed by shots to the side armor.

    The initial T-34 was flawed by a two man turret and lack of radios but otherwise the tank was good all around. It possessed excellent flotation, well angled armor, a good dual purpose gun, and great mobility. Its size made it a tough target though cramped for its crew. Once the war started the Soviets saw a need to streamline production and quality control and quality dropped for about a year. Eventually (around 1943) quality returned and the tank would do horrendous damage to the Wermacht. It is important to remember that when the Germans invaded the USSR and encountered the T-34 and KV-1 they were shocked and the generals were reported their extreme difficulties and their need to find some means to battle these tanks, since both their tank guns and AT guns could not defeat these tanks under normal fighting conditions (of course the 88mm AA gun could be used.) The Panther was the fruit of the program to best the T-34 and KV-1 and at one point a direct copy of the T-34 of the was on the drawing board. The T-34/85 was a good upgrade from the T-34.

    “the panther was rushed into battle and they never really had the time nor the ressources or logistics to exploit it correctly and fix all the problems.” Yes, it was rushed in to battle but the inability to fix the problems had nothing to do with resources or logistics. The problems were not fixed out of simple arrogance and stupidity. Speaking of which…if there is any more name calling we can just agree to end this exchange.

    • 29 April, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Agreed. I think this discussion has run its course. MHN welcomes reader input, but name calling is not appreciated.

    • GBE
      29 April, 2016 at 9:56 am

      while i agree with mostly what you say, because thats what happened throughout the war, there are a few things i disagree with. Beginning with “The initial T-34 was flawed by a two man turret and lack of radios but otherwise the tank was good all around”. not really, have you read this article? http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.ca/2012/07/wwii-myths-t-34-best-tank-of-war.html . Also the flaws you mentioned on the panther, not having a good HE ammo, that wasn’t its role, and you focus on this. germany had other vehicles to do that, like a StuH42, PzIIIN, PzIVD, StugA-E etc. Again, let me put it this way. if germany had built 200,000 tanks and afvs, and usa and russia combined about 50,000 (the opposite of what happened during the war) you can be sure the vehicles i mentioned would have done their job pretty well, toppled with air superiority and a huge artillery advantage. you are going to tell me you are not interested in the what if, but this is just to make you realize, that no matter what germany would have built, they would have lost. even if they had invented the perfect tank, say a sherman with a 75mm lol, never they would have been able to mass produce it in sufficient quantities to stop 50,000 sherman and t-34 tanks. the panther is so well known, that all the good historians know its flaws, which is not the case with the vast majority of other tanks. most tanks during ww2 were unreliable and required heavy maintenance constantly. those that weren’t knocked out in their first day of battle that is.

      i am not missing the vital role of shermans and t34s, i fully agree they allowed the infantry to move comfortably vs the german troops, who you guessed it, rarely enjoyed armor support. my point that you seem to miss is, i am not making excuses for germany, i am telling you they could never match the output production of the allies, and their logistics was a farce. even tho Russia also heavily relied on horses, just like the 3rd reich, usa only had trucks, to tow and carry everything. what we see in movies, germany with column of tanks and half tracks is a joke, it depicts a powerful german forces, while in reality, proably 80% of artillery and other stuff was towed by horses. There’s also the fact that the western allies sent infinite numbers of trucks and tanks to russia which helped them quite a bit.

      now that you call the high command of the wermacht or the heer or the ss “stupid & arrogant” and this is why they could not fix the panther problems is a little weird. you said it yourself, they made rockets, and battleships albeit not that many, so i am certain their engineers could have found a solution. Given the time and unlimited resources, like more engineers, a suitable environment, nice offices with plenty of time, all of this they had not. heck they lacked a bunch of basic materials for everything. they did not have the luxury of having an ally shipping all the materials they needed plus extra rations etc. Again, the t34 evolved over the course of 4-5 long years, to give the T3485.

      yes the war was lost as soon as it started, as soon as the allies, especially usa, pulled up their sleeves and started to mass produce it was over.

      as a sidenote, i know that the panther was first supposed to be 30-35tons and much look like the t34. The VK 30.02 (M) was the prototype from MAN, if i am not mistaken.

      • John
        30 April, 2016 at 4:19 pm

        I think you need to be careful of what you read on the internet. Anyone can type up something, make it look well researched and believable. This is not always the case. Your article discusses the T-34 after the start of the war, when the factories had been moved and drastically reduced the cost and time required to make the T-34. The T-34 model 1940 and 1941 were not the low quality models seen after the start of the war.

        I am fully aware of the strategic and logistic capabilities of both sides in WWII but that is not what we are discussing, is it? We are discussing the performance and capabilities of the T-34/85 and the Pzkpfw V, what they were able to do in the war and how well their crews could work in them. Everything else is a waste of typing. Whether the final drive could be fixed is a waste of time, it wasn’t. The problem plagued the tank all during its use and was a major flaw for a country like Germany to commit. From what I read in British reports on the Panther the tank was poorly designed from an ergonomic standpoint. Again, for a country with the reputation Germany had for engineering this is hard to understand.

        I don’t see a benefit to compare tanks based on some ill thought concept of how they might meet and what shot might or might not kill the other tank. It is much more sensible, I think, to compare how well they performed the standard armor role, how automotively sound they were and how well a crew could function in them.

  9. Hammad
    1 September, 2016 at 3:36 am

    Guys , it was nice discussion —
    German marvels of engineering set the course for future tech advancements

    Panther was only one of those !

  10. Ante_Mortem
    14 November, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    I really liked the opening discussion. I am writing a review on the T-34-85 I might be using in a World of Tanks commentary review. What I am finding is that the T-34-85 was basically a creature of necessity. The thought process of the Russian army was, Germany has strong armor, lets put better guns on our tanks and keep spamming the crap out of them. That’s what they did with the T-34, turning it into the T-34-57 and T-34-85. That’s what they did with the KV series, moving from the KV, to KV1S, to KV85, to KV2 with its 152mm gun. Not all their projects worked, and none worked perfectly. They had a lot of flaws but they were created in such numbers that ultimately they won.

    The pace of armor development meant that if too much time was spent on a design that it would be obsolete by the time it was mass produced. That is why the Russians used the KV and T-34 designs and just improved upon them. They worked well enough that they kept them and just kept reworking them. By the time the IS line came out the war was pretty much decided.

    Germany started the war too early and bit off too much for it to chew when it declared war on Russia. They should have beaten Europe. Fortified up, set up production and then decided what to do after that. Hitler was a dangerous leader but he was a poor general and the day he took full control of the military is the day he started to lose the war. German Tanks were tough and German crews were excellent, but when swarmed by Russians, or assaulted by combined arms American tactics they just couldn’t keep up their momentum.

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