World War II – Panther Crew

wwii panther crew black and white
WWII German Panther Crew

The Panther was a German medium tank deployed during World War II on the Eastern and Western Fronts in Europe from mid-1943 to its end in 1945. It had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. Until 27 February 1944, it was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther when Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral “V” be deleted. Contemporary English language reports sometimes refer to it as the Mark V.

The Panther was intended to counter the Soviet T-34 and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV. Nevertheless, it served alongside the latter and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. It is considered one of the best tanks of World War II for its excellent firepower and protection. Its reliability was less impressive.

American M10 Tank Destroyer

m10 tank destroyer black and white ww2
M10 in action near Saint-Lô, June 1944

US combined arms doctrine on the eve of World War II held that tanks should be designed to fulfill the role of supporting infantry in forcing a breakthrough, and then exploiting the breakthrough to rush into the enemy’s vulnerable rear areas.

The anti-tank warfare mission was assigned to a new branch, the Tank Destroyer Force. Tank destroyer units were meant to counter German blitzkrieg tactics.

Tank destroyer units were to be held as a reserve at the corps or army level, and were to move quickly to the site of any massed enemy tank breakthrough, maneuvering aggressively and using ambush tactics to destroy enemy tanks.

Another King Tiger

Another King Tiger

As with yesterday’s post, here is another two King Tigers, this time a year later and on the Eastern Front.

After it had received forty-five new Tiger IIs in December 1944, the detachment was attached to IV SS Panzer Corps, which was preparing an attempt to relieve the encircled garrison of Budapest. Launched on 18 January 1945, the operation was ultimately a failure. During the operation, the 509th had lost forty of its forty-five Tiger IIs, with ten being total losses.  The road signs indicate that they’re  45 kilometers from Budapest, and this is tank #300.

King Tiger from Schwere Panzer Abteilung 507 that defended the woods around Padeborn 1945

King Tiger from Schwere Panzer Abteilung 507 that defended the woods around Padeborn 1945

During World War II, Paderborn was bombed by Allied aircraft in 1944 and 1945, resulting in 85% destruction, including many of the historic buildings. It was seized by the US 3rd Armored Division after a pitched battle 31 March – 1 April 1945, in which tanks and flamethrowers were used during combined mechanized-infantry assaults against the city’s southwestern, southern and southeastern approaches

German Troops Enjoying Their Fire – Ardennes Forest 44/45

German Troops Enjoying Their Fire – Ardennes Forest 44/45

Deep in the Ardennes forest a Panther crew and some German infantry enjoy the warmth of their fire during “Operation Watch on the Rhine” – Hitler’s last gamble to halt the Allies in the west, hoping to force them to the negotiating table.

Despite early successes, the battle of the bulge failed in almost all of its objectives.  Running out of fuel a kilometer before the largest fuel dump in Europe, not being able to dislodge the US troops at Bastogne – all of these small failures compounded and ended up costing the German’s deeply, by the time the bulge was squeezed out many precious tanks and vehicles had been abandoned, countless lives had been wasted and nothing had been gained.