Home > Reviews > Germany WWII > Tanks in Detail 3: PzKpfw V Ausf A, D & G Panzer V Panther


Tanks in Detail 3: PzKpfw V Ausf A, D & G Panzer V Panther

by Jonathan Forty

Ian Allan Publishing Ltd, ISBN 0-7110-2941-5, 96 pages.

The third in Ian Allan’s new Tanks in Detail series covers the famous Panther in five chapters. Chapter 1, the longest at 38 pages, deals with design and development in a fair degree of detail. Chapter 2 deals with the chassis, engine and tracks, chapter 3 with the fighting compartment interior arrangements, Chapter 4 with the armament and Chapter 5 with the markings carried.

Unfortunately Jonathan Forty has relied too much upon out-of-date reference works and placed too much trust in old photograph captions written when not much was known about Panthers. Just to set the record straight, Ausf D was the first sub-type produced and was followed by A and G in that order. The A(D1) designation he quotes never actually existed. Their distinguishing characteristics are pointed out in the text, so look at the photographs with those in mind and you’ll have no problems in mentally correcting the captions. If the tank has one-piece sides it’s a G, otherwise either D or A. If there’s a rounded, cast cupola on top of the turret it’s an A, if the cupola is drum-shaped it’s a D. The cast bulge on the glacis for the hull machine gun was introduced part-way through production of the A, so it is not a way to distinguish between D and A. Easy! The only place where these rules will let you down are page 9, where the second prototype is captioned as an Ausf D. The prototype had a different turret to the production tank, with a bulge to accommodate the commander’s cupola, and was also the only Panther to had a single-baffle muzzle brake contrary to what is stated here.

OK, those are the problems. Now for the good bits! There’s a great selection of photographs here, including interior shots and showing many markings. The Bergepanther recovery tank is here, and so is the Beobachtungspanther artillery observation tank. The latter is illustrated not only with a photo of the only one built but with interior photos showing the plotting board and other turret interior items – excellent! The chassis, fighting compartment and armament chapters also include many photographs showing the interior equipment of standard Panthers, which is good news for anyone using one of the available interior detail sets on a model.

The markings chapter gives a reasonable short analysis of the typical tactical marking system, and includes plates showing a number of Abteilung, Regiment, Division and Korps signs. Some of these don’t seem to apply to Panthers, which seem rarely to have carried unit signs anyway, but they are useful if treated as backup to distinguish the signs seen in photographs.
All in all, despite the miscaptioned photographs and mistakes in the text mentioned above, this is a useful low-cost reference for Panther modellers not wanting the last word in detail.

John Prigent