Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Panzers: Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I

The Tiger was built, like the Panther, in response to the Soviet T-34. But, unlike the Panther, it did not have sloped armour, making up for the defect in strength and thickness rather than sloping. Its armament of one 88mm gun in a revolving turret made it one of the most feared tanks of all time. Soviet Tankers, however, figured out that a Tiger could be killed in a ramming attack, as the T-34 was also very fast. In action, the tiger was a formidable defensive weapon, as its gun could kill any tank that the allies could bring up, the only Allied tank with superior firepower and armour being the Soviet IS-3 Pike, which arrived on the battlefield too late to have any noticeable effect. After 1945, the Tiger was, to my knowledge, never used again, and some Tigers can be seen in various museums around the world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Panzers: Panzerkampfwagen V Panther

The Panzer V was designed in 1942 to counter the Russian T-34. The winning proposal, by  MAN, had a turret centered relatively far back in the hull and sloped armor on the front, sides and turret sides. its main armament was a long 75mm gun. Its main problems laid in the unreliable and complicated engine and suspension, meaning the tank was prone to breakdowns. THE PANTHER IN SERVICE. The Pzkpfw V saw its first major action at the battle of Kursk, where most of the tanks broke down. Many of the problems of the early -D models were corrected in the most common model, the Ausf. G. This model gave excellent service, and was in many ways at least marginally better than its closest competitor, the up-gunned T-34/85. In 1945, a new Panther using the new small turret was planned, but never went into service. However, the Patton museum of Cavalry and Armor in Ft. Knox, KY, has one Panther II fitted with an Ausf. G turret.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Panzers: Jagdpanzer 38t Hetzer

The Panzerkampfwagen 38t had so many variants that I shall not be able to concentrate on them all. So, I have decided to write about one of the last variants, the Jagdpanzer 38t. This was a small, low tank destroyer armed with a 75mm gun and a radio operated machine gun. Originally designated as an artillery vehicle, the Jagdpanzer (tank hunter) branch of the German army took over the project, the first vehicles rolling out of the factory in spring 1944. They were well protected with all sides being sloped above the tracks, although the front plate was thicker than the rear and sides. They were probably the most effective German tank destroyer of the war. Thankfully, they arrived too little and too late to do any real damage to the Allied war effort. After the war, many more were produced for the Swiss, Czechoslovak and Swedish armies, some of which were used into the 1960s.