Panther ultimate evolution – Panther Ausf.F

Hello everyone,

there seems to be a lot of confusion about the Panther and its historical properties. Partially, it’s because it’s such a legendary machine and partially simply because it’s German and – for some reason – over the decades since the WW2, numerous hoaxes, legends or simply confusions sprang up about the possible Panther upgrades.


Panther Ausführung F (Ausf.F or Panther F) was to be the ultimate evolution program for the Panther vehicle. Its prominent feature was supposed to be the Schmalturm (narrow turred) depicted above (however, the picture does NOT show Panther Ausf.F, it’s a regular Ausf.G hull with second version of Schmalturm with S.Z.F.1/1b targetting device).

Now would be a good time to actually make a thick line between realistic, designed and proposed upgrades for the Panther. Panther F was a concept incorporating various improvements, but it was NOT to have everything that could be mounted in a Panther. For example, the German GT series gas turbine was also intended for a Panther, but not specifically for Panter F, it was an experimental program only and it was never meant for serial production.

Back to Panther F then: the need to upgrade the Panter goes as far back as 1943, when it was recognized that the thin sides of the Panzer IV and Panther tanks are too vulnerable to the anti-tank rifles, that were punching thru them, wounding or killing crew and destroying internal equipment. Since these AT rifles were issued in huge numbers on the eastern front, the designers thought of way how to counter them. The obvious one was to increase the side hull thickness, which led to the Panther II development – it was later rectified by the Schürzen side armor for much lesser cost (one of the great myths is that Schürzen were to protect against HEAT – they weren’t, they were designed to counter AT rifles) and Panther II project became obsolete, but not before producing some interesting parts, usable for regular Panthers. However, the Schmalturm was not one of them.

The initial idea that Schmalturm was to be used for Panther II came from W.Spielberger – later research by T.Jentz however showed, that the turret that was to be used was a modified Panther Ausf.G turret.
The Schmalturm was developed independently and was considered for both the Panther and Ausf.J Panzer IV


There were several versions and its evolution could cover an entire article by itself, but that’s a story for another time. Its full name was “Turm mit schmale Blendenausführung” and first drawings were dated to 7.11.1943.

This is another spot where we should stop and explain one thing: in the books by Walther Spielberger, otherwise very well renowned author, there’s a drawing of Panther II with 88mm L/71 in a Schmalturm. This was not realistic, it was Spielberger’s mistake (one he later actually rectified) and Tom Jentz (who worked closely with H.Doyle) called him on that. By the time Panther II was projected, not even first Schmalturm design proposals were laid down, Panther II was simply never intended to have this turret or this weapon. The Schmalturm mit 88mm L/71 proposal came in fact much later, in December 1944 and it came from Krupp (but it required some modifications, like 10cm larger turret ring). It is ironic that while the Americans were critisized for putting a regular Ausf.G turret on the Panther II chassis (currently sitting in the Patton Museum in Fort Knox if I recall correctly), it his in fact more historical look than the Schmalturm Panther II. This is how it would have looked in real life, according to T.Jentz:


Back to the Panther Ausf.F.

While the previous new type of turret was developed by Rheinmetall, it was not exactly successful. The turret development was then (in February 1944) moved to Daimler-Benz, where the name “Schmalturm” was invented. There were several goals for the development, as defined by Waffenprüfamt 6:

- to eliminate possible shot trap under the mantlet
- to increase the protection without increasing the weight of the turret
- to reduce the turret frontal plate size as much as possible while keeping enough room for the crew to work in
- to add a stereoscopic rangefinder
- the usual MG34 machinegun was to be replaced by MG42
- to make the turret easy to convert for command tank version (Befehlpanzerausführung) and for IR device installation
- to keep the common Panther turret ring diameter (1650mm)
- to make the whole thing easier and faster to produce
- and, last but not least, to make it cheaper

This new Daimler Benz design was to be mounted on Panther G hull and this combination was to be redesigned to Panther Ausf.F – yet another stop here: there are people on various forums spreading “ideas” that the Panther F was to be some sort of “super Panther” with massive armor increase. It wasn’t. The Schmalturm was a way to actually decrease production time, save money and simplify the production as much as possible. The armor was that of the regular Panther Ausf.G (80mm frontal plate, 50mm lower frontal plate, 40-50mm sides) with Schmalturm mounted on it (150mm mantlet, 120mm turret front, 60mm turret sides and 60mm (Spielberger) or 40mm (Jentz) turret rear). The hull was only slightly modified – the hull top thickness increased to 40mm and the engine cover was 16mm thick.

In order to accomodate the powerful (and completely sufficient for its time!) 75mm L/70 gun, modifications had to be made. Škoda (Czechoslovakia) developed a new version of the KwK 42, designated KwK 44/1 – with shorter recoil mechanism, allowing the Schmalturm to have +20/-8 elevation/depression. The muzzle brake was also removed. The turret was rotated hydraulically, allowing for full traverse in 30 seconds. It had a modified commander’s copula (it was made lower). Originally, T.Z.F. 13 periscope targetting device by Leitz was proposed, but the series vehicles were to recieve the S.F.Z.1 devices (5 prototypes were made by the end of 1944). Furthermore, the Schmalturm was to be equipped by a stereoscopic Zeiss rangefinder (1320mm wide), but the prototypes were not finished before the war was over.

There were some further modifications, like the improvement of the crew hatch shapes. The vehicle was to be powered by a 700hp Maybach HL230 P30 engine, allowing it to go as fast as 50km/h. It carried the FUG 5 radio station and could mount the FG1250 infrared device. In February 1945 it was decided that the vehicle would have only whole-steel roadwheels – no rubber.

The vehicels were to be produced by MAN, DB, Krupp, Niebelungenwerk (Porsche’s playground) and M.N.H (Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover GmbH). Some reports state that several hulls were actually finished in the final days of war by Daimler-Benz in Berlin and (with Ausf.G turrets) actually fought between 20.4. and 23.4.1945 with II./Panzer-Regiment 2, fighting the Soviets near the Daimler Benz factory. Two turret prototypes were captured, one was taken to the USA after the war and one was taken to Great Britain, where it was used for target practice (its remains are in Bovington today).


In World of Tanks

You can’t have Panther F today in World of Tanks, because the Panther hull on tier 7 has unhistorical armor (85mm frontal plate instead of 80mm), but you can get close by mounting the top engine (albeit incorrect designation) and Schmalturm on Panther along with the stock gun (75mm L/70):

Panther I_11-12-29

Of course, the Panther F would make a fine tier 7 premium vehicle (if it had its historical armor that is). Yes, it would be a copy of one of the Panther variants, but I think it would still be nice.

What is not a Panther Ausf.F

What was described up was the historical Panther Ausf.F, the ultimate historical Panther development. It wasn’t an Ahnenerbe UFO with unproved tech, it was a solid project, that simply came too late.

There however have been various other (more or less – often less – realistic) upgrade proposals for the Panther. These are NOT a part of the Ausf.F program, no prototypes were mostly made or tested and most of them were born of desperation. These upgrades include:

- an automatic loader for the KwK 42 L/70 (planned for April 1945)
- stabilized gunsights (April 1945)
- Biwa infra-red scope and searchlight to be integrated with the rangefinder (May 1945)
- mine clearing variant (utilizing flail)
- 900hp Maybach HL234 (August 1945)
- 700hp Argus LD220 air-cooled diesel engine
- 720hp Simmering Type Sla.16 diesel

Further upgrades were also considered, but even the Germans admitted these were simply a “wish list” and most fall into the “pipe dream” category:

- diesel Deutz engine (unknown hp, presumably over 1000hp)
- stabilized gun
- hydrostatic and hydrodynamic steering units

Furthermore, in January 1945, a Schmalturm for Panther with KwK 43 (88mm L/71) was proposed by Daimler Benz. The first drawing of the DB turret actually comes from 18.10.1944 and based on that, DB recieved a contract to develop this variant and it was in January they presented the results. It was to have a -8/+15 elevation and depression and was to be equipped with SFZ2 or SFZ3 stabilized gunsights. And all that while the whole thing weighted only a ton more than the current Panther turret. However, the work on that never got beyond wooden mockup, that was found in the DB plant after the war.


And last, but not least: the gas turbine. There is a decent article about it on wikipedia. Basically, the Germans developed gas turbines, that could fit into a Panther. GT101 produced 1150 horsepower, but at the cost of high maintenance and almost a double fuel consumption. As such, the project was unreasonable even by German standards.

110 thoughts on “Panther ultimate evolution – Panther Ausf.F

    • As far as I know that just has to do with the German production system, apparently there were always some slight variations in the dimensions of their vehicles (ie one panther being a few cm wider or taller than another ect). Although I did have a metallurgist friend of mine speculate that the extra 5mm could be to do with the decreasing quality of German wartime steel alloys

      • That is part of the reason some of the plates began to creep up in thickness but not exactly in stopping power. Lack of ideal alloys meant that the armor tended to spall more and more often when hit as the war went on and critical alloys went into projects with higher priority’s and could not use alternatives. So that while the armor on the panthers and others got thicker between 43-45 it does not always mean that the armor was actually that much better as the increased thicknesses would lead most people to believe.

    • There’s just so much Panther variants… Even in BF1942 (with FHSW mod) there are 10-12 different Panther variants, including this infamous Panther Ausf. F

  1. A very great article :) That 88 in the last picture would seriously have some horrible depression problems :P

      • that was the project goal, there is nothing in the article to show that the set-up shown has these characteristics

        • Well at least -8 fits just fine on those images by Doyle. Try it yourself if you don’t believe, copy the barrel, rotate 8 degrees and paste. Even leaves some room to spare.

            • Harder to tell. Would need an image of the complete gun in scale. Also knowing the exact pivot point would be nice. But just by eyballing it might actually fit too.

            • Played around some more. Used a tiger 2 drawing for the gun with the breach (also from Doyle) and tried to scale it correctly (kinda messy so no guarantees) but looks like the breach fits too.

  2. As a premium? No, There is allready a premium ersatz Panther, there will be a premium captured T-5 Pantera, too… no need in annother one.

    Except if its not a premium turbo-panther at tier 8. That would be interesting.

          • No, that makes no sense.
            Even a short 10.5cm due to weight issues makes no sense. There is just not a lot of room in the newer 8.8cm turret for a 10.5cm. And besides it would already have a turbine. Use its speed and flank.

      • As a Premium? Nice to train crew with it and make some crew with it. I don’t mind it would be a copy of an already existing variant. Type 62 is also a copy, WZ-131 with that T VII gun. The 85 mm on the Type has the exact same specs as WZ-131′s gun. But with a different name. Further specs are also the same. So no problem if the Panther Ausf. F comes as Premium. But it wouldn’t count on it. Germany has enough Premiums already. Although an arty Premium would be welcome.

      • half?! are you blind or something?

        the type 59, the wz-120 and the wz 121 are the only tanks to copy the T54.

        only two of these are a part of the Chinese tech tree ,meaning that they make up less than 12% of the Chinese tech tree.

        learn 2 maths bro.

      • Only the WZ-120 (type 59) is a copy of the T-54. Yet their gameplay is worlds apart.
        The rest are genuine Chineese models, excepting the T-34, wich is still modified in a way.
        Having a THIRD premium tier 7 panther with the 7.5 L/70 would be ridiculous. (Assuming the T-5 will come out sometime, and counting the PzV/M10 Ersatz)

    • No, definitely not. It wasn’t possible to mount it even on a regular Panther, it required 1750 turret ring. Panther has 1650mm and VK3002 had even smaller (1500?)

      • Funny enough the Pz IV had the same turret ring size as the panther depending on the source and Ausf. production letter the tank was (some sources say 1600mm, others 1650mm and yet others 1680mm)

        I suppose that would explain why they tried to do the Schmalturm for it.

    • I doubt it.
      Even if the turret ring was large enough it would make the tank massively front heavy

      • I doubt the front heaviness. Just compare to T-54, which has equally heavy gun mounted in front on suspension of similar capacity.

        • Eh, the T-54 turret sits *rather* more in the center of the hull…

          It occurs to me that even if the gun fit the ammo load would probably be pretty small – the “Dragonball” isn’t a particularly large vehicle and certainly wasn’t designed to ship shells that big.

          • So it’d be just what it’s supposed to be – German remake of a Soviet tank.

            For another example, SU-100 has equally heavy gun projecting forwards from front wheel, and seems to work just fine.

            • Actually it didnt; the soviet SPG/assault guns, between their heavy frontal armour and forward slung guns, were always wearing out their front road wheels and suspension prematurely.

      • Less front heavy then you think. But the extra weight of the turret, 1 ton, plus the redistribution of load from the long gun to the front would make the transmission even more of a sad joke then it already was… no real top gear driving with a 8.8 L/71 thats for sure.

        • Actually it was determined that the front of the ISU was not loaded(balanced) well enough) it was proposed to add armor to the front to even it out .

    • It was never seriously considered. In January 1943, Hitler personally demanded the 75mm L/100, but nothing came of it. It was just a thought as far as I know.

      • If the L100 was no more than a Hitler thought bubble it should really be removed. But what else is there?

        • Unfortunately nothing, because the L/70 is SERIOUSLY inadequate for a tier 7 medium (and the L/100′s a joke anyway). The only alternative I could think of would be the (non-historically-accurate) 75 mm Konish gun, which has performance similar to the L/100 (except that the premium ammo is VERY expensive by comparison).

          • You say the the L/70 is inadequate but look at the Comet’s gun. It’ pretty much the same thing. I agree tho that in order to give the Panther the L/70 and keep it competitive it would need bufs in other areas like camo and mobility.

            • Comet can somewhat make up for lacking penetration with nice mobilty, -13 gun depression and somewhat small profile

              BTW. Replace 75mm L/100 with “late 75mm KwK 42 L/70″ firing APCR as default ammo, with some sort of “super APCR” or HEAT with +-240mm pen. Or simply new ammunition with improved dmg/pen over regular L/70, something along 150dmg 170pen

  3. DB also designed an “alternative” Schmalturm with 100 mm of frontal armor and 50 mm side/rear armor. Can be found in PT 5-4. Diagrams of the Panther II with the Panther II turm can also be found in 5-4 which even compare the Panther II to the Ausf. F.

  4. We already have a real Panther in tier 7, the Panther M10, it is a stock panther, or at least has the stock turret and 75mm L70. Don’t know about armour, engine and other stuff.

  5. Wasn’t the Schmalturm for PzKpfw IV different from the Panther Schmalturm? I remember Tuccy posting in Czech forum section long time ago about it being smaller and with weaker armour.

    • No, it was the same. Strangely enough though, it was proposed by Krupp and not Deimler Benz. It’s possible that it was the 100mm front version, but I think it was the same turret (source: Panzer Tracts 20-1). Maybe someone mixed it up with Vereinfachter Turm (simplified turret proposal for Panzer IV)?

    • No. KwK 42 L/70 was not a specifically Ausf. F project. Now, I wouldn’t say it was never planned for Ausf. F, but it was a separate project related to Panther in general instead of the specific Ausf. F model.

  6. Škoda (Czechoslovakia) developed a new version of the KwK 42….

    There was no Czechoslovakia back then, unless you mean Beneš and I doubt he would be happy about identifying this company contribution for German warfare with his government.

  7. “Turm mit schmale Blendenausführung” it must called “schmaler” not “schmale”, it refers to Turm.

  8. WG should give the Panther II the Gun 12,8 cm KwK 44 L/55. Why? Easy to say, almost ever battle is like tier 9 and 10. Its almost not possible to penetrate frontplate of heavy targets and Panther II is not mobile enough to get enemies from side. I won’t fight with APCR-ammunition.
    Thx for nothing, WG!


    • Yeah you know what, might as well give it the 17cm PaK, autoloaded with a 9 shot clip that reloads in 3 seconds (1 second latency between each shot), silver APCR, buffed to 500 pen, 90° traverse speed, no aim bloom, and an aiming time of 0.5 seconds.

    • true I play a panther II and to buff it, dont add a 128 gun, but the jadgtiger 8.8′s modified l/71 gun that was supposed to be fitted. Another option is to buff high-tier mediums in general, they contribute too little to the game to make a difference

    • Buff my AMX-13 so it can fire ATGMs. What? It’s more historically accurate than the Panther II 128mm!

  9. Wouldn’t schurzen help against HEAT as well despite being designed to defeat AT rifle shots? After all similar designs are used against RPG rounds nowadays. Or were HEAT detonators back then too stiff to react to such a “thin” metal sheet?

    • nope not really, they are really thing and not of armor grade steel. HEAT shell would just knock right trough them without much hindrance.

      now a high speed AT rifle bullet would hit them and go out of balance and loose enough speed to not actually penetrate the real armor.

      • No and no. Even much weaker cage armor will either damage or prematurely fuze HEAT warhead, so skirts would kind of work. Problem is with WW2 slow-acting HEAT, that would need more standoff distance to really neutralize.

        Anti-AT-rifle effect of skirts is based on standoff armor separating core of APCR bullets.

  10. “As such, the project was unreasonable even by German standards.”

    Unreasonable is the definition of powerful tanks in WOT, see auto-loading tanks. They get all the benefits with none of the significant drawbacks, for example many of the auto-loading tanks should have a reload penalty while moving or the timer shouldn’t go down unless stopped.

    • That “many” would amount to the two AMX-13s pretty much. And it’s not like human loaders seem to have any problems wrangling big shells out of racks and into breeches in spite of the tanks going full tilt in rough terrain and probably taking hits to boot…

  11. “The turret was rotated hydraulically, allowing for full traverse in 30 seconds.”
    Its sad that I here by note that so many people missed just how important this above line is…
    Previously on the Tigers and most of the other German tanks the turret rotation it tied directly.. to the RPM of the engine in the tank. The hydraulics is a big improvement in German tanks. It means that the turret can be rotated by something other then by hand cranks when at idle. I would say that it is more important then any modification to the armor despite the issues that come with high pressure hydraulics…

    • would make the tank more stealthy for sure, no revving your engine up just so you can turn your turret faster.

    • IIRC the French postwar assessments also had something to say about turret weight distributions and “rotatability” on inclines…
      BTW weren’t most others using electric engines for traverse? Not something the Germans would’ve been big on given their chronic copper shortages granted.

    • Well… there was plies of engines sitting around and development plans on the books… And then French did take a number of Panthers… If you got the parts and plans for upgrades… why not? Plus the HL234 was still in development it was competitive idea to the proposed/partly developed GT103.
      Also with any engine figures from Germany the 900 hp of the HL234 was with NO accessory’s mounted to the engine.

    • I should also say that the Germans knew the war was lost but on the hopes of a much longer war laid out the plans for future developments and implementation of those developments into actual production runs of future tanks.

  12. Something about a improved final drive of the panther which, according to some sources, broke down every 150km?

    • There was a plan to improve that, but in defensive war realities, where the vehicles were basically supposed to be stationed in German, it was not as bad a problem as when you used them during mobile warfare.

      • Given that they still had to be shifted around from one trouble spot to another, and the fact the RAF and USAAF were doing quite a number on the railroad infrastructure, I’d say it was kind of a problem there too.
        Just a hunch but I’d guess the practical reason for leaving the final drive design alone, no matter what its problems, oughta been the desire to avoid production interruptions and the overriding need to churn out materiel to replace losses.

  13. If Schurzen was developed to counter AT rifles what is the reasoning behind the “mesh”-style Schurzen? I imagine it would still have a decent effect against most rifle shots (were the Soviet ATRs 7.62, 7.92, 12.7mm?) but surely there must have been some kind of worry amongst the crews? Depending how wide the holes were of course.

    • I am not actually sure they worked, could have been something the Germans simply tried. But if they worked, the point was to destabilize the bullet, by doing that you lose a lot of penetration potential.

    • Saved metal and weight for one. Anyways, a dense enough mesh ought to have much the same effect on the bullets and no difference regarding HEAT, which oughta been something of a headache by that point – “skirts” were after all used when fighting the Democracies too, and those had tossed AT rifles a while ago but issued copious amounts of bazookas and PIATs instead.

  14. Are you sure about the proposed road wheels being all-steel? I had read of the steel-rimmed road wheels, but these have a thin layer of rubber sandwiched under the steel rim and the rest of the wheel.

    All-steel road wheels would have done awful things to the tracks and ride quality.

  15. Just as an FYI, the majority of the Patton Museum’s tanks, including the Panther II, have been moved to Ft Benning, GA.

  16. Okay, it’s time to invade this blog.

    Well i’m kinda intrested in Panther for diffrent reasons but I have always wondered couple of things about model F.

    1. Why 75L70 (KwK 42) didn’t have muzzle brake on model F why others had it?

    2. Was there really plans to upgrade all (at the time) serving Panthers to model F standards?

    3. If model F would started production (well some say that about 5-10 we’re actually made) what would have been rate of production when compared to model G?

    • 1. A muzzle brake is a way to reduce the recoil. If you have a reworked recoil mechanism (KwK 44/1) that can cope with the full recoil, there is no need to reduce it. Potentially it means the KwK 44/1 was more powerful, but I think it was roughly on equal terms with KwK 42 due to other factors

      2. There is no direct evidence of such a program and it’s unlikely, as Germany couldn’t well afford to pull back Panthers for upgrades en masse. They were needed at the front.

      3. Only a few F hulls were made according to Panzer Tracts and fitted with Ausf.G turret. Ausf.F tanks production was planned to start gradually from April to October 1945 with possibly 50 vehicles completed in March, 150 in April, 400 in May, 520 in June, 570 in July, 610 in August, 670 in September, 730 in October and from November on, 760 vehicles per month. In 1945 however, these plans were pure fantasy.

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