Corgi CC60215 German Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. D Medium Tank - Panzer Abteilung 2, Panzer Brigade 107, Bamberg, Northern Bavaria, April 1945 (1:50 Scale)
"If the tank succeeds, then victory follows."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
In many respects, the Panther tank was viewed as the finest armored fighting vehicle of the Second World War. Based in large part upon the Soviet's highly successful T-34 medium tank, the PzKpfw V Ausfuhrung G (Type G) was built by several manufacturers including MAN, Daimler-Benz, and MNH. Mounting a fearsome 7.5cm KwK42 L/70 cannon and two 7.92mm MG34 machineguns, the Panther Ausf. G represented the third and certainly the most impressive installment in the Panther series.
The weight of the production model was increased to 43 tons from the original plans for a 35 ton tank. Hitler had personally reviewed the final designs and insisted on an increase in the thickness of the frontal armor - the front glacis plate was increased from 60mm to 80mm and the turret front plate was increased from 80mm to 100mm.
Once the problems caused by the vulnerability of the engine and the transmission were solved, it proved to be a very effective fighting vehicle. The crew was made up of five members: driver, radio operator (who also fired the bow machine gun), gunner, loader, and commander.
Pictured here is a 1:50 scale replica of a German Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. D medium tank that was attached to Panzer Abteilung 2, Panzer Brigade 107, and deployed to Bamberg, Northern Bavaria, as part of a last ditch defense of the Reich during April 1945. The vehicle was pressed into service by the British 4th Armoured Battalion, 6th Guards Tank Brigade.
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Historical Account: "Under New Management" - Created as part of the Guard Armoured Division, the 6th Guards Tank Brigade was made an independent brigade when the latter was reorganized according to the new armored division's TO&E in 1942. As such and equipped with Churchill tanks, it fought in the latter stages of the Normandy campaign, then Northwest Europe, and finally finishing the war in Lubeck where it had accomplished the unusual feat of capturing a U-Boat. After the failure of the Arnhem offensive, the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade was engaged in heavy fighting with the German forces. During this time, the 4th Armoured Battalion found a fully operational Panther of the Panzer Abt.2, Panzer Brigade 107 in a barn.
As Allied forces advanced deeper into German territory during the spring of 1945 and inexorably towards the heart of the Third Reich, their overwhelming numerical superiority was gradually wearing down remaining pockets of resistance. The Wehrmacht counter-attacks which took place in the weeks and months following D-Day had left armored units hugely depleted and with the net of war closing around them, there was little hope of replenishing even a fraction of these losses. As Allied armored units approached the town of Bamberg in Northern Bavaria, they would face a hastily assembled collection of German armor and assault guns from various units, including several early Panther tanks taken from nearby Training and Reserve Tank Divisions. Used to train crews destined for the heavy tank battalions, these units operated some of the first Panthers to enter service, often inheriting them after they had been sent back from front-line units for maintenance or upgrade.
Indeed, at this stage of the war, it was common to find the latest tank deliveries utilizing components from much earlier variants of the same vehicles, such was the pressure on German manufacturing at that time. This fascinating Panther, which served during the Battle for Bamberg, is sporting a replacement barrel for its 75mm gun and has hastily applied camouflage to its turret and gun only. The prominent placement of the Balkenkreuz at the front of the turret served to identify the tank to other local Wehrmacht units, presumably as some may have been relatively inexperienced in combat -- it would have also clearly marked it as a target for the approaching US and Russian forces. Despite being one of the oldest Panther tanks still in operational service, these fearsome weapons were still capable of taking a heavy toll of Allied armour and their swift destruction would have been a priority.