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Panther II Tank

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Soon after the Panther and Tiger tanks entered production a new generation of tanks was planned. The new designs were to incorporate lessons learned from the existing ones and to put a high priority on simplified production, reduced maintenance and use of materials, and particularly on the standardisation of components. In February 1943 MAN and Henschel were commissioned by Waffenprüfamt 6 to produce improved designs for the Panther and Tiger. These were to be known as Panther II and Tiger II and were to share as many components as possible.
The Panther II consisted of a new design of turret, known as the Schmalturm, on a modified Panther Ausf G chassis. The most significant change to the chassis was the adoption of the same form of suspension as the Tiger II. The standard Panther twin torsion bar system was replaced with larger single bar assemblies. These were in the same sequence as in the Tiger II, but at wider intervals, and carried the same overlapping resilient steel roadwheels in place of the interleaved rubber-tyred ones of the standard Panther Ausf G. Also fitted were new 18-tooth sprockets and idler wheels which were similar to those of the prototype Tiger IIs except that the idlers had eight spokes instead of six. Therefore, where the Panther Ausf G had six spoke sprockets and six spoke dished idlers, the Panther II had five spoke sprockets and eight spoke open idlers. The track used was the narrow Tiger II transport track, and therefore, unlike on the Tiger II, the track did not have to be changed for movement on railway flatcars.
Because of its shorter length and lower weight, the Panther II was fitted with seven pairs of roadwheels each side, two fewer than the Tiger II. This compares with the eight roadwheel stations on the Panther Ausf G. The Panther Ausf F was to be fitted with resilient steel roadwheels but retained the original eight roadwheel stations and interleaved arrangement.
A number of other changes were made to the chassis included the adoption of various mechanical parts identical to those in the Tiger II. The ball mount in the glacis plate was modified to take the MG 42 instead of the MG 34 and the hull top armour was increased in thickness from 12mm to 25mm. A cowl was fitted to the driver’s rotating periscope. The steering gear and final drive fitted was the L801 of the Tiger II, however in place of the normal friction clutch an electromagnetic clutch and brake parts were used. The Panther II was planned to be fitted with the standard Schürzen as carried on the Panther Ausf G, and also had the low fan cover on the engine deck as seen on many mid-production Ausf Gs.
The Panzerturm Schmal or Schmalturm (Narrow Turret) was an attempt to improve the original Panther turret by reducing it in size and increasing its armour protection, while keeping within the same weight limit. It was developed as a separate project by Daimler-Benz and was very successful. While retaining the same ring diameter and weight limit of the original turret, it took 30 to 40 per cent less time to make and had 30 per cent more armour plate.

Model Id:285
Manufacture:Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) AG, Nürnberg, Bavaria, Middle Franconia, Germany (Sole prototype built August 1943)

1) National Armor and Cavalry Museum, Fort Benning, USA

Number of Photos: 2
Sample Photo from Album Number 71

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Unique ID: 71
Serial Number:
Other Identification:

This Panther II prototype appears to have the chassis number 120417 on the glacis plate (source: L. Archer). It has been fitted with a late-production Ausf G turret (this dates from April 1945 and has a chin on the mantlet). It was in this configuration when it was captured by US forces during World War II, after which it was transferred to the Aberdeen Proving Ground, USA. It carries the turret number “210”.
The Patton Museum acquired it, on loan, from the Smithsonian Institution and then spent three years restoring it to running order. This was done using parts, in particular the engine, from the Panther Ausf G then also held by the Museum. The restoration was achieved despite the differences in transmission, hull dimensions, and so on, between the two vehicles.