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SdKfz 173 Jagdpanther tank destroyer

Written by Sakhal

The attempts that had been effectuated until that moment of installing the formidable cannon Pak 43, of caliber 88 millimeters and 71 calibers in length, in a mobile chassis had not had much success. The Elefant was overly sized and the PzKpfw IV was excessively lightweight being also poorly armored. Finally it was chosen the chassis of the Panther as the most adequate one for the development of the new tank destroyer that had to mount such large cannon, so a new superstructure was added to the original chassis, transmission and lower hull. The first model was shown to Hitler the 20th October 1943, achieving immediate approval. The new tank destroyer had a well profiled superstructure, inside of which the large cannon spanned across the largest part of the combat room and projected towards the frontal plate with a mantlet protecting the opening. The horizontal firing angle was limited to 11 degrees at both sides from the centerline and the elevation angle reached 14 degrees. Fortunately the utilization of the improved steering system used on the original Panther allowed to turn the vehicle and recover the line of direction quickly, so the limitation in the angle of firing was not so important as it would have been otherwise. Besides, the Jagdpanther had been projected to always face the enemy with its excellently protected frontal part, and it resulted very effective when used in this way.

To simplify production, the frontal plate (glacis) of the Jagdpanther extended up to the top of the superstructure, allowing to use the original hull of the Panther with a minimum of modifications. The side plates in the original Panther were excessively inclined as to leave enough space in the combat room of the tank destroyer fitted with such large cannon, so the inclination of the plates was modified, and in that same angle they were incorporated to the Panther Ausf G as well. To assimilate the additional weight on the Jagdpanther it was introduced a later modification of the gearbox, being installed the AK7-400, which was installed in the tank as well due to the same reasons of weight. The first deliveries of Jagdpanther were made in February 1944 and, albeit it was expected to build 150 vehicles every month, no more than 382 exemplars were produced, by MIAG and MNH. As the deliveries progressed, light modifications were introduced in the project. The mantlet of the cannon was changed at least three times and all of the exemplars, except the ones of earlier production, had installed a cannon with the tube in two pieces, which allowed that the section of the bore that suffered from a rapid deterioration were easily changed.

These vehicles were delivered to special units whose only mission was to destroy tanks and which were kept under the command from higher formations. A battalion of Jagdpanther should have 30 vehicles, but many had to be satisfied with less, due to the difficulties of delivery. This came in handy for the Allied armies, for this one was maybe the most effective tank destroyer produced during the Second World War, and certainly the most powerful one deployed by Germany, excellently armed and protected, built with an effective ballistic profile and blessed with good mobility. Extraordinarily effective in the battlefield, the Jagdpanther was very popular among the crews to which it gave much morale and a more agressive attitude than it could have been possible with less powerful weapon. The weak point was the complex suspension system, for an impact in the wheel arrangement could often immobilize the vehicle, which would then become an easy target for any tank or anti-tank weapon in general that could approach it from the flanks or the rear without any danger.

SdKfz 173 Jagdpanther tank destroyer

This side view of the Jagdpanther shows clearly the fine design of its profile, which as in the case of the Panther tank on whose chassis it was based, was very influenced by the development of the Soviet armored means.

SdKfz 173 Jagdpanther tank destroyer

Jagdpanther from the 3rd Kompanie of the 1st Abteilung of the Panzer Lehr Regiment 130. In February 1945, this unit used the Jagdpanther on its 3rd Kompanie, whereas the 1st and 2nd Kompanie had the Panther. Towards the end of the war the proportion between tank destroyers (or assault cannons) and ordinary tanks became increasingly larger.

Crew: 5

Armament: One Pak 43/3 71-caliber 88-millimeter cannon; one MG 34 7.92-millimeter machine gun in the hull

Ammunitions: 60 for 88-millimeter cannon; 600 for 7.92-millimeter machine gun

Armor: 15-80 millimeters

Length (total): 9.87 meters

Length (hull): 6.92 meters

Width: 3.27 meters

Height: 2.72 meters

Weight: 45.5 tonnes

Ground pressure: 0.9 kilograms/square centimeter

Engine: Maybach HL 230 P 30 gasoline engine with 12 cylinders in V, refrigerated by water, developing 700 horsepower at 3000 revolutions per minute

Power/weight ratio: 15.63 hp/tonne

Maximum speed (in road): 46 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed (in countryside): 24 kilometers/hour

Maximum operational range: 160 kilometers

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.45 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.91 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 35 degrees

Maximum fording: 1.55 meters

Categories: Tanks - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-06-21

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