Panther Ausf. G – Overloon

The Panther Ausführung G was the last version of the Panther to be mass produced. It featured a number of improvement over the earlier A model. Characteristic for this model are the lack of a driver’s hatch in the glacis plate as well as the simplified (one piece) side armour plates. The vehicle at the Oorlogsmuseum Overloon carries Fahrgestell Nummer 128427 which identifies this as the 127th produced Panther Ausführung G assembled by the M.N.H. firm in Hannover in early August 1944. This Panther’s turret was produced at Eisenwerke Oberdonau, Linz as evident by its parallel cut turret armour. After sitting outside for many years, Panther no. 222 was restored over the period 1999-2005. The following pictures taken in 1999 by Edgar Driesen show a relatively complete tank.

Unfortunately, many of the vehicle’s torsion bars are broken or damaged and the tracks were completely rusted solid. Possible due to a lack of funds, attempts to restore the vehicle to running order were ceased. The torsion bars were left as is and the vehicle was placed on a steel construction to keep it upright. Additionally, the engine was sold to the SDKFZ foundation (Weald foundation) to use in their Jagdpanther. Nowadays, the tank is accompanied by a static display model of the  Maybach HL 230 P 30 engine.

The newly restored vehicle was placed in the museum’s entrance hall. At the time, the tracks were mostly missing due to the fact they were mostly rusted together and the process of loosening them was painfully slow. The applied camouflage scheme and Zimmerit patterns were poorly researched and quite unrealistic. The photos below show the Panther in 2008-2010.

When the museum changed its name and chose to focus more on the battle of Overloon, the Panther was ‘tackled’ once again. The Zimmerit layer was removed and the vehicle repainted to a dark yellow colour, matching the colour of factory new Panthers at the end of the war; Dunkelgelb nach Muster. The photos below were taken during the Militracks 2016 and on a later visit in 2018.

Panther no. 222 has had a rather short, but eventful service life.

This Panther served in Panzer-Abteilung 2107 which was part of 107. Panzer-Brigade. Panzer brigades where (re)introduced in July 1944 on order of Hitler. The brigades offered a flexible and rapidly deployable alternative and  to the well established, but large Panzerdivisionen. A total of ten panzer brigades where established starting in July 1944. According to its number, Panther 222 belonged was the second tank of the second Zug (platoon) of the second Kompanie (company) of PzAbt 2107. The panzer brigade only received its first eleven tank on 24 August 1944. Only on 28 August the unit reached its full complement of 36 Panther tanks – three companies of eleven tanks each plus three tanks for the Abteilungstab.

PzBrig 107 which played a crucial role during operation Market Garden. The unit was re-stationed to the Son area, where they arrived on 19 September 1944. The unit participates in an attack on the British bridgehead, but the attack shatters and the unit pulls back. Panther no. 222 was eventually lost a month later, on 13 October 1944, during the battles around Overloon and Venray after being hit by a PIAT. As a result of the encounter two pairs of road wheels were knocked off rendering the vehicle immobile. According to British reports the crew was killed after bailing the vehicle, but German records suggest otherwise. Thanks to the missing road wheels one can take a very close look at the various components otherwise hidden behind them.

Soon after the war, the Overloon warmuseum (oorlogsmuseum) was founded, the first of its kind in The Netherlands. The collection existed of left over equipment scattered around in the area. The Panther’s right track was closed around the remaining road wheels which allowed the vehicle to be towed to the museum premises. A colour photograph taken around 1946, shows the Panther in its original colour in the museum park. In the photo it can be clearly seen that the barrel is painted in a glossy coat of heat resistant lacquer. The image below shows the Panther after it was knocked out. Note the two Balkenkreuze next to each other on the turret side.

The Panther in the newly founded Oorlogsmuseum Overloon in ~1946. Source: J. de Haan, Gemeentearchief Weert via Beeldbankwo2.nl