When it comes to the tanks of World War 2 few can be said to have had the abilities of the Panther tank. While it is true that the T-34 had a direct lead up to the design of the Panther tank it was the Panther that took it to a whole new level and created arguably the best tank of World War 2 when you consider the combination of armour, speed and hitting power. Haynes manuals via Mark Healy has now turned their attention to the Panther tank and released a title that will be a perfect accompaniment to the Tiger 1 manual released previously.
This offering from Haynes is of the same standard as the car manuals that made their name. It is a hard-backed book of 172 pages of roughly A4 in size. The paper has a glossy finish and is of good quality. The author of this title is Mark Healy. The contents of this title are laid out as follows:
The Panther Story
Dealing with Russia – a lesser affair than France
Flawed German assumptions about the Red Army tank force
The KV1 and T-34 shock
The panzer commission to Russia
There can be only one
The essentials of the Man Panther
Production of the Panther and its Variants
Production of the Panther
Panther variants: part one – The production status of the Panther and the emergency Panzer programme of January 1945
Panther variants: part two
Panther variants: part three
Anatomy of the Panther
Part one – the hull exterior
Part two – the hull interior
Part three – the turret and main armament
Panther at War
Our problem child
Into combat – the Panther at Kursk
The Panther in Italy
Panthers in action on the eastern border of Poland, late summer 1944
Preparing for the invasion in the west
Panthers in Normandy
Ausf G Specifications
The first chapter of this new offering from Haynes looks at the conditions German panzers faced when they entered Russia and came up against the Soviet KV and T-34 tanks which had superior armour and could be almost considered immune to German armour. It is well known that the 88mm anti-aircraft gun was the preferred and most reliable way of dealing with the KV tanks. It looks at the conditions that lead up to the Panther tanks birth and the vehicle designs considered prior to the vehicle we know now as the Panther tank.
The next chapter looks at the various Panthers and even the Jagdpanther which is really an area for a dedicated title I feel and I hope Mark Healy is looking at this prospect. This chapter of the book looks at a number of areas of the Panther with exhaust layout being an especially well covered aspect. This section covers a lot in a small area and is done very well considering the space available that the author should be congratulated on.
The third chapter of the book looking at the anatomy is a lovely inclusion covering the Panther inside and out. The photographs covering the various area of the Panther tank provide some excellent reference both visual and written that will help to raise the detail present on your model and provides the potential to lift your modelling to a higher degree. The interior is by far the best covered and the aspect that this area will help the most with from a visual side. I rather enjoyed reading this section of the book as it made a great effort to cover a very wide range within a limited amount of space as even areas such as the Schmalturm are covered. I will say I would have liked to have seen the areas covered in greater detail, but I have to commend the effort put into to covering the most within the limitation of the book itself.
The walk-around section looks at the Bovington Tank Museums Panther G, Munsters Panther A and the Koblenz Panther Ausf G. The photographs of the vehicles are mixed rather than in sequence and have been presented to help the viewer pick out differences in the vehicles. I thought I would not approve of this display method, but I was wrong as it helps to clear the fog in your mind and quickly spot the differences. The written captions have been very well written and leave you fully informed as to what exactly you are looking at and what to note. I will add here as it is the area where the effect is most present, the author has provided excellent captions throughout the title and it is I am sure very difficult to get all of the information to make the photographs so informative.
The next chapter of the book is what I consider the last chapter of the book as a modeller and looks at the Panther at war in various conflict zones. I was particularly interested in the issues that the early Panthers suffered from as it is an aspect that I am personally interested in. I have read about engine fires occurring due to fuel fires and this is mentioned in the book. Moving on to areas of conflict in which the Panther participated and how the Panthers conducted themselves in Italy, Eastern and Western European fronts. The Panther tank very quickly proved itself to be an exceptional fighting vehicle being hard hitting and hard to destroy; it is very much a case of there just not being enough Panthers available and the Allies having air superiority preventing day time movement. The photographs in this area of the book I found very visually appealing and I cannot remember having seen many of them previously. The captions are good for the most parts with the author doing a good job of placing pictures to accompany the main text present.
The Panther tank is a hard area to cover in just one book of this size due to just how much information there is available on the Panther and not to mention the off shoots such as the bergepanthers. The Panthers service was not that long during World War 2 but it made a great name for itself especially with its enemies and forgetting about its service after the war with the French. The text is well written, and the author has made the most of the available space open to him and I must congratulate Mark Healy on producing a title that covers a broad area to a high degree and keeping it interesting and informative. The photographs have been well chosen with most being period images in black and white, these are then enhanced via the well written captions that provides clear detail to the reader. I enjoyed this title greatly and can but hope that Mark Healy with Haynes manuals look at covering other aspects of the Panther as stand alone titles.
Highs: Very good captions providing information on the photographs.Lows: Just not enough pages to enable the author to cover the Panther in great depth, but it has to be said Mark Healy made the most of the available space.Verdict: Another great title for adding to the Haynes library.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...