Back in early October friend of the site P. M. Knight shared with us a wartime British report on the reliability and performance of a German Panther tank. That report was based on the testing of a single early model Panther provided by the USSR and the tests end early due to mechanical failure. P. M. Knight has provided us with photos of a second report, this one being conducted in the immediate post war period based on tests of five Panthers (two Panther tanks, two Jagd Panthers, and one Panther ARV.) Much like the first report, the end result is the same, trials were ended prematurely due to mechanical failures. The primary problems noted are failures of the steering mechanism and engine fires.
Report text below:
F.V.D.D. Cover Sheet to F.V.P.E Automotive Wing Report
Panther – Performance Trials
These trials were arranged with a view to gathering data which would afford a direct comparison with current British Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
Despite the fact that no less than five vehicles were available for test, very little information of any value was obtained from the trials owing to the extreme unreliability of the Panther tank. Two main troubles were encountered, viz. the unreliability of the steering mechanism, and the tendency of the engine to catch fire.
The weakness of the steering system were apparently well known and it appears that German tank drivers had instructions to use only “skid steering” when driving Panther tanks. Efforts had been made to develop alternative transmissions and steering mechanisms for Panther, and pilot models of both electric and hydraulic transmissions were found by the investigating teams after the German collapse.
From the maximum speeds measured in gears 1 to 6 and the known gear ratios, the governed speed of the engine would appear to lie between 2710 and 2770 r.p.m. This agrees closely with the power curve in Report W.S.413.
In top gear a maximum speed of 29.4 m.p.h. was recorded, which corresponds to an engine speed of 2600 r.p.m. Comment has previously been made (see Running Gear Branch Report No. 65/1) that the Panther tank is geared too high, and it would appear that even on a stretch of level road, governed speed can barely be reached in top gear. Top gear in this machine is essentially a road gear only and even so, would probably be little used on an undulating route. It is extremely doubtful if it could ever be engaged when operating on cross country.
The measured turning circle radii agree reasonable well with the estimated figures published in Report TN. 65/1. It was found to be impossible to measure accurately the turning circle radius in top gear, which is not surprising, since the estimated figure is 398 ft.
Miles Hill Slope No. 4 has a maximum gradient of 1 in 2.46 (22.12 degrees) and the fact that the brakes failed to hold on this slope suggests that they are incapable of providing a retardation of 0.37g.
Owing to the general mechanical unreliability of the Panther and Jagd Panther tanks, insufficient test results were obtained to enable an accurate assessment of the performance of these vehicles to be made.
This project may now be closed.
FIGHTING VEHICLES PROVING ESTABLISHMENT
AUTOMOTIVE WING REPORT
PANTHER – PERFORMINCE TRAILS.
F.V.D.D. Project No. G.7/RG.1E.
F.V.D.D . File No. 192/75/2.
It was required to ascertain the performance of the German Panther tank whilst operation under conditions similar to those set down in the specification for standard A.F.V. acceptance trails.
Three types of Panther were to have been tested – The Gun Tank, the Jagd Panther S.P. 88mm and the Panther A.R.V. To this end, two Panther tanks, two Jagd Panthers and one Panther A.R.V. were made available. To assimilate fully stowed conditions they were loaded to gross weights as shown below.
Panther Tank 44.5 tons.
Jagd Panther 46 tons.
Panther A.R.V. 42.5 tons.
With the exception of engines, no spare parts were available for those vehicles when the trials commenced.
The two Panther, and both Jagd Panther machines were new vehicles when first received at P.V.P.E., having been constructed by No. 823 Armoured Troops Workshop, R.E.M.E. B.O. A .R., in 1945.
In the case of the Panther A.R.V., this vehicle had run 632 kilometers prior to its arrival at F.V.P.E., and it was found necessary to install a new engine before commencing trials.
(a) On commencement of the trials it soon became apparent that, owing to the inherent unreliability of the steering mechanism and the proclivity of the engine to catch fire, it would be impractical, if not impossible, to cover the full trials programme.
The original intention of testing the three types in the Panther series, i.e. Panther Tank, Jagd Panther and Panther A.R.V., had therefore, to be abandoned and efforts directed to obtaining such data as could be obtained from those vehicles which could be induced to run, using the remainder as a source of spare parts.
The results given in this report are, therefore, those derived from tests carried out on four vehicles – two Panther Tanks, Model G, and two Jagd Panthers. Even so the results are incomplete as the trials had to be abandoned when all available vehicles when out of action due to major mechanical failures.
No road tests were attempted owing to the unreliability of the steering mechanism.
Interrogation of German P.O.W. disclosed that the weakness in the Panther steering was well appreciated by the Germans and had resulted in an instruction to German tank drivers to confine themselves to “skid steering” avoiding the use of the radius turn. The defect appears to have been due to the overloading of the steering clutch in the process of making the radius turn. Engine compartment fires occurred in each of the four vehicles involved in this trial, in the majority of cases more than once. The fire, generally starting in the vicinity of the carburetors has been attributed to a tendency to carburetor flooding, the actual conflagration breaking out as a result of a back fire. To such an extent was the danger of fire present that drivers instead of switching off, adopted the procedure of stalling the engine by engagement of the engine clutch with the vehicle in gear. Whilst under way, carburetor flooding was indicated by the omission of long jets of flame from a white hot exhaust system.
(i) Maximum speed in all gears. (Flying start).
Note. The following speeds are representative of those obtained from Panther and Jagd Panther.
1st gear. 2.3 miles per hour.
2nd gear. 4.7 miles per hour.
3rd gear. 7.5 miles per hour.
4th gear. 11.7 miles per hour.
5th gear. 16.8 miles per hour.
6th gear. 23.4 miles per hour.
7th gear. 29.4 miles per hour.
Reverse gear 2.27 miles per hour.
(ii) Average speed over 1/4 mile – standing start.
Vehicle averaged. 19.2 miles per hour.
(iii) High speed road run and fuel consumption.
Not attempted due to unsafe steering at speed.
(iv) Cross-country (25 miles at maximum safe speed) ; cooling and fuel consumption.
No satisfactory figures obtained due to mechanical unreliability of the vehicles.
(v) Turning circles in each gear.
1st gear. 22 ft.
2nd gear. 52 ft.
3rd gear. 84 ft.
4th gear. 134 ft.
5th gear. 207 ft.
6th gear. 295 ft.
7th gear. Too large for accurate recording
Reverse gear 35 ft.
(vi) Hill climbing, Miles hill slopes and brake holding.
In the course of these trials the brakes failed to hold the vehicle on No. 4 slope. It ran out of control and mounted a tree stump. As a result, one torsion bar became broken and penetrated the gearbox. The trials were not repeated as the last vehicle available for tests had to be withdrawn owing to gearbox failure whilst attempting 25 miles C.C. No spares being available trials had to be suspended. The two other vehicles had already been cannibalized to provide steering clutches etc., and so were not available for test mileage.
- Results of Test:
Owing to the general mechanical unreliability of the Panther and Jagd Panther tanks insufficient test results have been obtained to allow any accurate assessment of the performance of these vehicles to be made.
- Future Action:
It is recommended that this project be closed.