In Panther, Martin Block and the late Roddy MacDougall combine a multitude of sources to present a single volume containing all contemporary knowledge about the Panther, its external appearance and design changes. It is not out of place in the list of standard works on the Panther like the Panzertracts 5-x series and Germany’s Panther Tanks by Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle as well as Walter Spielberger’s Panzer V Panther und seine Abarten and Frank Köhler’s Panther – meilenstein der Panzertechnik . This book is truly a must have ‘overview volume’ for real Panther tank fans.
The book, published by Abteilung 502, has a landscape form factor which does justice to the more than 200 full page photos. The clear black and white photographs depict design progressions carried out at assembly plants or in the field. The text is divided in nine chapters. The first chapters deal with the development history to a limited extend and continue to discuss production and quality control measures enforced at the assembly plants. The next chapters each deal with a major design variant of the Panther. Changes are discussed on a month by month basis, the descriptions of which often include relevant drawing and chassis numbers. A number of visual design changes is accompanied by detailed line drawings showing the precise alterations to parts and mountings.
Major sections of the book are dedicated to Zimmerit and factory applied camouflage. The book explains how the application and texturing of Zimmerit on a Panther reveals a lot about the tank’s assembly plant. Similarly, each assembly plant used their own unique camouflage pattern and national insignia placement. The camouflage patterns are depicted using large coloured profile drawings. These chapters give armour enthusiasts and modellers alike the tools to accurately distinguish between Panther manufacturers from period photograhs. While camouflage patterns have been discussed before in literature (e.g. Duel in the Mist and AFV magazine), this book surely presents the most complete overview on this subject matter to date.
However great this book may be, there are a few things to be left desired. It is apparent that the text has not been properly edited. There are clear continuation issues where sentences or even paragraphs are repeated multiple times in the same section. In some sections, the continued use of German terms (and the compulsory need of the authors to provide a translation each and every time) does not contribute to readability. Moreover, there is not a single page reference in this book pointing to the correct page, all of them should be interpret with a plus four page offset. The minor lay-out issues where the shade of blue of the font suddenly changes do not bother me as much, but take away from the overall quality of the book.
All in all, this book will look good on any Panther enthusiast’s bookshelves. It is a shame the authors have let down on the finishing touches this much. If the authors had just dotted a few more i’s and crossed a few more t’s this, otherwise extraordinary work, would have been even better.
Panther – External appearance & design changes by Roddy Macdougall & Martin Block
Publisher: Abteilung 502
Format: Hardcover, landscape
Unofficial Errata and clarifications
The remainder of this post will serve as an errata to Panther | External appearance & design changes, collecting and correcting mistakes or otherwise filling in gaps left by the rather vague references made in footnotes. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any additions to this errata.
Table of contents
The original table of contents is rather sparse. To find your way in such a thick volume it would have been nice to see a more elaborate listing including any of the chapter sections. No big deal, I have created an alternative version of the ToC for your convenience including all subsections, drawings and profiles which you can download here.
The page references in this book are a complete joke. Rule of thumb is that each reference differs four pages (as four pages were added before the Table of Contents). Some references, however, differ by a completely random amount of pages. Below is a quick reference to find the correct pages.
|Page||Text reference||Correct reference|
Page 51 – Profile: M•A•N Panther Ausf. D Fgst.Nr. 210008
This profile of a very early Panther Ausf. D in an overall coat of Dunkelgrau is based on an photograph published on page 155 in Repairing the Panzers volume 1 by Lukas Friedly. The photo was taken in Erlangen in May 1943.
Page 105 – footnote 15: “Fgstl.Nr. 120305″
Panther Fgstl.Nr. 120305 is referenced here which should be featured in Nürnberg’s Panzer Factory. However, to the best of my knowledge, this Panther is never shown in said book.
Page 153 – footnote 3: “Disc camouflage”
The article by Manus Galagher referred to is titled “Spot On” and appeared in AFV Modeller #16 published in 2004. The article is available online from the AFV modeller store.
Page 154 – footnote 8: “Cuckoo”
A reference is made to Panther “Cuckoo” captured by the Coldstream guards. It is mentioned that it is a well known example of a Panther using the new vertical ribbed Gepäckkaste mounted by M.N.H. It should be noted, that such a ribbed bin was only mounted to one side of the vehicle. The starboard side uses the old X reinforced storage bin. A detail drawing of the bins can be found on page 146. Cuckoo can be seen in the video below starting at 2m35s.
Page 161 – footnote 16
This footnote is misplaced and belongs to the next paragraph treating October 1944. The Schürze and Gepäckkaste painted in the typical M.N.H. camouflage scheme are the following items:
The side plate is believed to belong to the collection of missing-lynx member Mirko Bayerl. The photo of the bin had been posted by the previous owner Daniele Tirelli on the Wehrmacht-Awards forum. A sharper photo of the bin has been posted in 2016 as part of an advert on Milweb.net.
Page 168 – footnote 28
The article by Tom Jentz referred to is titled “Facts about German Camouflage Paint in World War II”, published 1 June 2012.
Page 174 – footnote 36
The referenced colour shot of an M.N.H. produced Panther taken in April 1945 in Bad Kötzingen, Bavaria can be seen in the following photos.
The Panther depicted on page 205 was moved down the road some 50 m after it was knocked out in Humain, Belgium in December 19441. Below are is a pictures clearly showing its camouflage pattern using which the authors were able to recreate the colour profiles found on pages 248 and 249.
High-res scans of Fgst.Nr. 128998 are available online via the digital archive of the regional archives of Ostrava, Czech republic.
A mention is made of the mounted Absatzkrümmer hoods for the Flammenvernichter which are out of view in the photo. The photo below shows the backside of Panther “Siggi” which clearly shows the installed hoods. This Panther is covered in much more detail in AFV Photo Album vol. 3 (p. 68-71).
Page 276 – M•A•N Fgstl.Nr. 121455
A colour film of this Panther is available at Gettyimages clearly showing the tank’s camouflage colours. Most likely this was used as reference by the authors for the colour profile on page 276-278.
More information about this Panther can be found at the site of the Patton Museum.