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

by Jonathan Forty.
Published by Ian Allan Publishing.
Hersham, Surrey, KT12 5RG, England
Soft covers, 96 pages. ISBN 0 7110 2941 5

Review by Peter Brown

Third entry from this new series covers one of the best German WW2 tanks. if not the best. It follows the same format as the earlier books by the same author on the Panzer IV and M3 Stuart, separate chapters describing the vehicle's development and history, chassis/automotive components, fighting compartment and armament with a final section on markings. I do not think it measures up to the previous ones for content or style.

The text is to be honest dated and includes mistakes typical of those found in older studies of Panther. It tries to list the "missing" sub-marks and describes a limited pre-production series which are now thought to be down to faulty wartime intelligence. Typical bad mistakes are facts like Panther Ausf D having a pot-style muzzle brake when this was found only on the prototype, and there are smaller errors like the Ausf A having the ball-mounted hull machine gun when early vehicles used the same flap-type found on the D. In similar fashion, the modified mantlet profile with lower "chin" to reduce shot deflection described for the Panther G was not found on all tanks, none of the photos in the book even show it. Some of the photos are good, such as the four-view sequence showing a captured Ausf A from several angles, but others are printed so large that they appear very grainy and lose much of their detail. Too many are printed across two pages which as usual leaves part of the shot hard to see across the spine of the book. Some are poorly or wrongly captioned, a photo of the prototype is miscaptioned as a production Ausf D while one heavily airbrushed wartime Allied recognition shot described as a D is in fact an A if it is anything. Some detail close-ups are included showing different cupolas, others show the engine and engine decks and there are several of the interior both from wartime sources or photos of the Tank Museum's vehicle. However, anyone wanting a complete view or seeking information to model the interior of a Panther will need to find more photos elsewhere.

Coverage is mainly of the gun tank versions, Jadpanther is mentioned though that will be included in a promised book on Panzerjagers. Variants of the tank are covered with photos of the Panzerbeobachtungswagen artillery observation vehicle including three views of the interior equipment, three photos of the Bergepanther with one retouched one across the spine and also four stock shots showing Panther turrets used as pillboxes. Seven factory views of vehicles being built are included with four if them double page spreads, interesting they might be but surely too many for a fairly short study of the tank and maybe the space could have been better used. Alongside the black and white photos are some line drawings showing design changes and a four-view plan of Panther G by Hilary Doyle, a smaller set shows one of the small number of tanks disguised to resemble an M10 Tank Destroyer during the Battle of the Bulge offensive. Colour is limited to two photos of the Panzermuseum Munster's Ausf A in action though we also get six pages illustrating late-war unit markings which were usually either white or yellow and would have been as well show in black and white.

Summing up, those who already have books on Panther will find little new here as well as finding the information in it confusing, unless they only have studies which are very dated. Those new to the tank will not get the best introduction into the subject, and this is not a book I would recommend for either modeller or enthusiast. Far better to pay more and get Tom Jentz's "Germany's Panther Tank - The Quest for Combat Supremacy" (Shiffer Books, USA 1995) or his more recent Panzer Tracts series reviewed elsewhere on this site

For information on ordering this book and others, see the web site.

Page created 26 May 2003

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