The Jagdpanther was the most powerful of a series of tank destroyers produced in Germany during the Second World War, carrying the same gun as the Jagdtiger, but on a vehicle 24 tons lighter, 91cm/ 3 feet shorter and 8km/hr faster.

Krupp were already looking at ways to mount the 88mm gun on a fully armoured chassis during 1941, before work on the Panther began. On 6 January 1942 they submitted their first design for the Panzerselbstfahrlafette IVc (Pz Sfl IVc 2), based on larger version of the Panzer IV chassis. As late as 9 June 1942 they were awarded a contract to produce three prototypes of this vehicle, but on 3 August 1942 WaPrüf 6 (the Office of Weapons Testing) told Krupp that the new vehicle was to be based on the Panther chassis, with 60 per month to be produced by Krupp-Gruson.

Jagdpanther Jagdpanther

The use of the Panther chassis as the basis for the new 88mm Panzerjäger forced Krupp to begin their design almost from new. This was the first of a series of delays that would plague the Jagdpanther programme. Krupp expected to have their plans ready in January 1943, the first chassis was to be completed in June 1943 and series production to start in the next month, but on 15 September the Army Weapons Office (Heereswaffenamt) decided to transfer the development of the vehicle from Krupp to Daimler Benz. This was done because production was now expected to begin at their Berlin Marienfelde factory, and it was believed that it would be easier if the design and production were carried out by the same company.

This move caused a five month delay. The design of what was then called the 88mm Panzerjäger 43/3 (L/71) Panther was not finalised until June 1943, the first wooden mock-up was ready in October, and production did not begin until January 1944. Soon after this, on 27 February 1944, Hitler changed the name of the new weapon to the Jagdpanther (Hunting Panther).

The Jagdpanther was based on an unmodified Panther chassis. The fighting compartment was created by extending the sloped armour upwards, giving the new vehicle a height of 2.72m. This was only 26cm lower than the Panther itself, so a low profile was not one of the advantages of the Jagdpanther (in contrast the Jagdpanzer IV was 83cm lower than the Panzer IV). The powerful 8.8cm PaK43/3 L/71 was mounted on the front plate of the superstructure, with the opening protected by a small metal collar. The gun had a fairly limited range of movement – 11 degrees to either side (for a total of 22 degrees of movement) and a horizontal range of -8 to +14 degrees. It had the same 80mm sloped frontal armour as the Panther.

Jagdpanther from front-right
Jagdpanther from front-right

The sources do not agree on the total number of Jagdpanther’s produced, but the different figures are all fairly similar, and the differences can be explained by the chaotic situation in Germany in the last months of the war. Production began at MIAG in January 1944, and they produced 270 tanks. Spielberger gives the following figures - MNH (Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover) started production in November 1944, and managed to produce 112 vehicles in a very short period. Finally MBA (Maschinenbau und Bahnbedarf) started production in December 1944, and produced 37 vehicles. The difficulty of giving precise figures is amply demonstrated by the difference between the total of 419 vehicles given by these figures and the overall figure of 415 given by the same author!

The Jagdpanthers entered service with the schwere Heeres Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 654. This unit was given three companies of 14 vehicles and was sent to France, while the vehicle's debut on the Eastern Front was delayed until 1945. The Jagdpanther was seen by many as a more effective method of using the 88mm gun than the much more expensive and complex Tiger II, but it entered production too late to have any significant impact.

Panzerjäger für 8.8cm Pak43 auf Fgst Panther I
Jagdpanther (Sd Kfz 173)

Number produced: 392-415
Produced: January 1944 – March 1945
Length: 9.9m
Hull Width: 3.42m
Height: 2.72m
Crew: 5
Weight: 46 tons
Engine: Maybach HL230P30
Max Speed: 46 km/hr
Max Range:  160km
Main Armament: One 8.8cm PaK43/3 L/71
Secondary Armament: One 7.92mm MG34 L/71






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German Weapons of World War II, Stephen Hart . Covers a wide range of the weapons used by the Third Reich during the Second World War, from the pistol up to the battleship Tirpitz, and including a wide range of tanks, armoured vehicles, aircraft, artillery etc. All supported by a mix of full colour illustrations and contemporary photographs, giving an idea of vast range of weapons produced by the Germans during the war (Read Full Review)
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 September 2008), Jagdpanther , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_jagdpanther.html

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