Foto Pz. Schiesschule Putlos Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Okt. 1943

Last month, these photos of a Panther Ausf. D showed up on Ebay. According to the seller, the photos were taken in October 1943 at the Schießschule (shooting school) Putlos. They show a very clean example of an early production Panther, and are of particular interest because the chassis number is included, making it possible to date the vehicle.

The chassis number shown is 212 033, indicating this Panther was produced by Henschel in April 1943. Henschel started Panther production in March 1943, alongside their existing Tiger production in Werk 3 located at Kassel-Mittelfeld.

This particular vehicle has the interim tool bracket with pegs for a vertically mounted towing clevis. This type of bracket is known to have been fitted during April, before an updated design for a larger clevis became available.

Looking at the running gear, the tracks are of the early type, without any chevrons on the grouser face. You’ll also find that the road wheels are of the early design, featuring only 16 bolts. The sprocket hub cap is of the initial type.

Note that the smoke dischargers have been removed (leaving only a small strip of metal on top of the turret). The commander’s cupola has been retro-fitted with a Fla-ring for mounting an air defence machine gun.

Since its location is given as Putlos, this Panther was most likely used to familiarize new crews with the Panther’s armament. The Schießschule der Panzertruppen Putlos, produced multiple pamphlets with instruction about the 7,5 cm KwK 42 and its shooting procedure (see above).

Panther Production at Henschel & Sohn1

In 1942 Henschel was asked by the Heereswaffenamt to submit a factory lay-out to set up Panther production at the Berlin-Falkensee plant. This plan was never actually implemented. Instead, starting in April 1943, Falkensee became the scene of Panther remedial work, carried out by Demag. This was necessary to solve some of the Panther’s worst teething issues.

While Demag later entered the Panther programme as an assembly firm, no new Panthers were ever assembled at Falkensee – although many appear to think they were2. In reality, Demag assembled Panthers far away from Berlin, in their Benrath plant in Düsseldorf.

M43 Panther manufacture
Collage of Panther production going on at Henschel Mittelfeld’s building M43.

According to Heydekampf3, the original plan had required Henschel to operate both the Falkensee and their Mittelfeld plant simultaneously. He thought the plan was unattainable, and said Henschel simply didn’t have the manpower to cover both factories. In the end, Henschel instead converted part of the locomotive tender shops at Werk 3 (Mittelfeld) to allow for Panther production.

Panther production at Henschel was short-lived. After producing 200 Panthers, Henschel dropped out of the Panther programme at the end of 1943. The last 70 vehicles were finished without a turret as a recovery variant, the Berge-Panther.

Henschel Tigers and Panther
Completed Tiger and Panther tanks side-by-side at the Henschel factory grounds.


Von Heydekampf, Stieler, and Karl Otto Saur. Report 52 – Supplement I, The German Tank Industry. Interview by FIAT Economic Branch, December 10, 1945.‌


  1. Von Heydekampf and Saur, Report 52 – Supplement I, The German Tank Industry.[]
  2. You’ll find this mistake in some literature, e.g. Research Squad’s “The Panther Project Vol 2: Engine and Turret[]
  3. Stieler von Heydekamp was managing director of Henschel and was appointed president of the Panzerkommission in 1943[]