The Panther was produced as a reaction to the tanks encountered by German forces during Operation Barbarossa. Having considered Soviet tank designs to be obsolete, German tank crews were stunned when they came up against concepts like sloped armour on the T-34 and the sheer size and brutality of the KV-1. The Panther, designed as a kind of multi-purpose tank, took Soviet innovations and supersized them.
Entering the battlefield from 1943 and weighing in at around 45 tonnes, this was a huge machine. It was technologically ambitious, seeking to combine armouring with speed and firepower. It mounted one of the best guns of the war – the dependable 7,5 cm Kw.K 42 L/70.
However, in needing the tank on the field as quickly as possible, many shortcuts were taken in the manufacture and testing of the Panther. Reliability problems and mechanical failures became the bane of its crews. It was an over-engineered design that left no room for cutting corners. Roughly 6000 Panthers were made, but arrived too late to make a difference. It cannot be denied that if it had arrived earlier, and with all its high-tech features operational, the path of history would have deviated.