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 ‘222’ was restored over the period 1999-2005. The following pictures taken by Edgar Driesen in 1999 show a relatively complete tank.
Unfortunately, many of the torsion bars were broken or damaged and the tracks were completely rusted solid. Possibly due to a lack of funds, attempts to restore the vehicle to running order were ceased, but now before all wheels received brand new tires. The torsion bars were left as is and the vehicle was placed on a steel construction to keep it upright. Additionally, the engine and gearbox were sold to the Weald foundation (formerly SDKFZ foundation) to use in their Jagdpanther ‘411’. Nowadays, the tank is accompanied by a static display model of a 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 the process of loosening the rusted tracks was painfully slow. The applied camouflage scheme and Zimmerit pattern 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; RAL 7028 ‘Dunkelgelb nach Muster’. The photos below were taken in 2016 and 2018. Note that the ball MG has been installed the wrong way around; the opening for the sight should be on the left hand side (like that of the gun).
Panzer Brigade 107 and Panzer Abteilung 2107
Panther 222 belonged to Panzer Abteilung 2107 which was established on the 30 July 1944 near Mława (Mielau), Poland. Panzer battalion 2107 was subordinated to Panzer Brigade 107 . Panzer brigades were an alternative to the classic panzer divisions introduced in July 1944 . In contrast to the large and sluggish divisions, brigades offered more flexibility and could be (re)deployed faster.
The panzer battalion of a panzer brigade consisted of four armoured companies. The companies were outfitted in correspondence with KStN 1177 (freie Gliederung), which meant that each would contain either 11 Panthers or Panzerjäger IV (L\70). The battalion’s first three companies contained Panther and the last one Panzerjäger. Additionally, the battalion’s staff was appointed three command tanks – also Panthers.
2107’s first eight Panthers were received on 26 August 1944. On 29 and 30 August another eight Panthers and, 3 Befehlswagen Panther of the battalion staff arrived respectively. On the first of September the Panther companies conducted live-firing exercises with their brand new tanks. On the same day, the remaining 17 Panther tanks were picked up at the Mielau railway station, meaning that the unit had reached its full compliment of 36 Panther tanks. The day after, all 11 Panzerjäger arrived at once .
As soon as Panzer Brigade 107 is subordinated to Kampfgruppe Walther it is entrained and ordered to the Noord-Brabant area, The Netherlands. There it is to stem the rapidly advancing Allied Market Garden offensive. On 18 September 1944, 1./PzAbt 2107 arrives at Venlo and the other companies disembark in Roermond. The unit’s first objective on the 19th is to capture the bridge at Son and Breugel, but a Panther is knocked out and the attack shatters. On the 22nd and 23rd the brigade takes part in repeated attempts to retake Veghel, a choke point along what would soon be named Hell’s Highway . After the continued advance of VIII Corps, Kampfgruppe Walther is threatened to be surrounded. On order of the Armeekorps on 25 September the Brigade beats a hasty retreat in eastern direction. They move towards a new defensive line in the area of Boxmeer, Oploo and Overloon near the Meuse.
During the continued fighting the battalion loses more than half of its armoured fighting vehicles. By the end of September, 12 Panthers have been knocked out and only 13 Panthers and 5 Panzerjäger are operational1.
Between 30 September and 14 October a heated battle takes place for the city of Overloon in which the battalion is involved. On the 12th the city of Overloon is given up by the German troops. According to some sources, 222 was lost on the 13th, however, the war diary of Panzer Abteilung 2107 makes no note of any losses this day. It is far more likely that this Panther was hit by a PIAT during the intense fighting in the city on the 12th and captured the day after2. 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 are not clear on this matter.
A remarkable feature of 222 is the occurrence of double Balkenkreuze on its turret sides. Photographic evidence suggests the practice of applying a second Balkenkreuz over the factory applied one was not uncommon on Panthers of Panzer Abteilung 2107. Additionally, many of their tanks seem to lack any camouflage and remained in their standard yellow base colour. Panther 222 was the second vehicle of the second platoon (Zug) of the second company.
Soon after the war, the Overloon oorlogsmuseum was founded, the first of its kind in the Netherlands. The collection existed of left-over equipment scattered around 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 1947, shows the Panther in its original colour in the museum park. Notice the barrel is painted in a glossy coat of heat resistant lacquer.
- Leibenfrost and Höcker, “Kriegstagebuch der Panzer Abteilung 2107 umbennant in Panzer Abteilung 5,” , Jul. 1944.
- T. Anderson, Panzer V Panther: Geschichte – Technik – Erfahrungsberichte. GeraMond Verlag, 2016.
- J. Didden and M. Swarts, Kampfgruppe Walther, and Panzerbrigade 107, 2nd ed. Zwaardvisch Publishers, 2018.