The Panzerkampfwagen V Panther is one of the best-known German tanks of World War II. The Panther and the Soviet T-34 are considered by many to be the best tanks of World War II.
When in June of 1941, Germany invaded Russia, many KV series and T-34/76 tanks were encountered, which were far superior in firepower and armour protection to any Panzer at the time. It was then decided, because of the constant reports from the Eastern Front to design a new more powerful medium tank, which could be quickly put into production. Two versions were put forward, one closely based on the T34 design, the other (which went into production) a more sophisticated design.
The Panther was the first German-made tank with sloping armour. Although its design was in some ways similar to the T-34/76, the Panther was larger, heavier, and different in many technical aspects. The Panther had large overlapping road wheels and a state-of-the-art suspension system that enabled it to traverse rough terrain at high speed.
The Panther was armed with a 75mm KwK 42 L/70 gun, which was capable of penetrating almost 150mm thick armour at a range of 1000 meter; the Panther’s 75mm gun had penetration slightly better than the 88mm gun of the Tiger.
Although Panzer V Panther medium tanks were designed as a replacement to Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks, ultimately they served on the front lines together. They first saw action at the Battle of Kursk in Jul 1943, where design flaws with suspension systems breaking down and engines overheating and catching on fire were discovered. At that battle, more Panther tanks became casualties due to mechanical problems than those damaged in combat. German armor commander Heinz Guderian later noted that early model Panther tanks "burnt too easily, the fuel and oil systems were insufficiently protected, and the crews were lost due to lack of training", though he also acknowledged that the frontal armor and the weapons were good. Many of the mechanical problems were corrected by late 1943. In Jun 1944, about half of the German front line tank strength was made up of Panther tanks.