The Panther Tank – Hitler’s T-34 Killer
By Anthony Tucker-Jones
Series – Images Of War Special
Illustrations by David Lee Hemingway
Published by Pen and Sword Military
Copyright © Anthony Tucker-Jones 2016
Pages – 120
ISBN – 9781473833609
MSRP – £ 14.99 / $24.95
Pen & Sword Books’ Images of War is an ongoing series books on the campaigns and formations of the Second World War. The writers bring together a collection of graphics and often rare photographs supported by text and insets to bring their subject alive. The Images of War Series is not limited to WWII as the collection of books span WWI and the Korean War alike.
Highly accomplished and well-renown author, Anthony Tucker-Jones have a slew of titles under his name and a growing number of titles within the Images of War Series of books. Adding to this popular series, the author has presented his latest work in a Special Edition titled, The Panther Tank – Hitler’s T-34 Killer. This is a soft cover book packed with over one hundred period photographs spread out over 120 pages.
Introduction – Hitler’s Problem Child
Chapter One – Poor Start – Ausf D
Chapter Two – Combat Improvements – Ausf A
Chapter Three – Third Time Lucky – Ausf G
Chapter Four – Stillborn – Ausf F and Panther II
Chapter Five – Panther Variants
Chapter Six – Baptism of Fire
Chapter Seven – A Roman Holiday
Chapter Eight – In Calvados Country
Chapter Nine – Panthers in the Bulge
Chapter Ten – Panther or T-34
Chapter Eleven – The Panther Fate
Anthony Tucker-Jones has compiled a vast pictorial collection of one of the more visually iconic tanks Nazi Germany pressed into service during the Second World War, the Panther tank laying it all out in a chronological visual look at these behemoths in this latest edition to the Images of War Series, The Panther Tank – Hitler’s T-34 Killer. Contained within, the author discusses Hitler’s need to stop the Russian built T-34 tanks gaining ground in the winter of 1941 and the birth of the Panther tank design by Heinz Guderian. The design process is discussed thoroughly in the Introduction: Hitler’s Problem Child. Jumping straight into the three main production variants of Panther tanks, Chapter One, Two and Three show chronologically the development of the Ausf D, A and G models produced. Each chapter discusses the strengths and weaknesses each model possessed as well as brief operational histories of these variants. Each chapter contains textual content defining these tanks and are also filled with dozens of period photographs of these armored vehicles as seen both in operational and knocked out statuses. Each of the photographs provided contain supporting text identifying what is seen within each photo.
Chapter Four discusses the proposed late war versions of Panther tanks, the Ausf. F and Panther II variants. In both cases, rough prototypes were in fact created but these projects were abandoned along with a proposed panzerjager for increased production of proven tanks, such as the Panzer IV and the development of the E-50 and E-75 programs. Moving forward into Chapter Five, the author lays out a brief written and pictorial section showing the small list of Panther Variants created on the existing Panther chassis. In Chapter Six, Baptism of Fire, we are given a glimpse into the first deployments of Panther tanks onto the field of battle as they would be heading off to prove themselves in the largest tank battels the world had ever seen at Kursk. This first chance for the tanks to prove themselves on the field of battle would be the beginning of the end some could say, as crews were not experienced enough having little training; added to the problem, the Ausf. D was highly problematic forcing designers back to the drawing board.
At the tail end of Chapter Six, there is a hidden Chapter called Colour Plates. I say ”hidden” because it is not actually listed in the Table of Contents. Color profiles are provided in this section by David Lee Hemingway and give the reader a visual color display of how these tanks looked at the time. This section includes profiles on the separate Panther variants such as the Jagdpanther and Bergepanther tanks as well. Chapter Seven, A Roman Holiday, discusses the role of the Ausf A Panthers first deployment on Italian soil in early fall, 1943. Sticking to the chronological layout of the Panther lifespan, Chapter Eight, In Calvados Country, shows a detailed accounting of the summer of 1944 deployment of the Ausf A and Ausf G versions of Panther in Normandy.
By early 1944, it seemed designers had greatly improved the reliability of the Panther tanks within the Ausf G model. However, as discussed in Chapter Nine, Panthers in the Bulge, supply of these tanks, and fuel of course, was not there. With a lack of supply of the Panther tanks on one side of the fight, there was a relentless, overwhelming supply in numbers of allied tanks. Despite the Panther’s strength over the less powerful Sherman tans, and in many cases preforming rather well, it all comes down to supply. There was just not enough tanks or fuel to overpower the endless supply of equipment and men from the allied forces. In Chapter Ten, Panther or T-34?, the author outlines key points to both tanks and while the T-34 was undersized to the Panther, lesser firepower and deficient in many other areas, the numbers don’t lie. The T-34 was easily built, readily available, far better mobility and undeniably more reliable than its German counterpart. In the final chapter, The Panther’s Fate, the author outlines Hitler’s failed attempt to turn the tide, and while the Panther tan alone did not bring the Reich to its knees, overwhelming allied bombing of factories disrupted production of new tanks and much needed spare parts leaving very little room for developments of armored resources. This all culminated with the eventual surrender of German in 1945. At which time, each of the allied forces to a piece of the pie securing the German war technologies such as the mighty Panther tanks. Each of the allied forces used this technology to further and strengthen their own military’s armored designs.
Anthony Tucker-Jones has given another brilliant book in the Images of War Series with The Panther Tank: Hitler’s T-34 Killer. The information provided in this book is on point and accurate and shed light on the Panther tanks of the Second World War and the delicate balance of warfare and part it played, especially again the Russian T-34. From front to back there are over one hundred period photographs, many from private collection including the author’s own. This Special Edition if Images of War would make a fine addition to anyone’s personal library.
Modelers Social Club and the MSC Review Connect would like to thank Pen and Sword Books for providing a copy of Anthony Tucker-Jones’ The Panther Tank: Hitler’s T-34 Killer.