Panther Ostwallturm

The Panther Ostwallturm was a fixed fortification based around the turret from the Panther medium tank. Three versions were developed, of which two were actually used. All three used the same basic idea – a bunker would be sunk into the ground, with a Panther turret mounted on the roof. Only the turret would be visible above the ground.

Two versions of the Panther Ostwallturm was actually used – the Pantherturm I (Stahluntersatz (Steel support)) and the Pantherturm III (Betonsockel (Concrete base)), with a reinforced concrete base. Both were used in roughly equal numbers – by 25 March 1945 143 Pantherturm Is and 125 Pantherturm IIIs were in use. The third version – the Panther-Turm A (Schnelleinbau (Fast Installation)) – would have been built over a wooden bunker.

The Pantherturm I was built over a two level emplacement, 10ft 11in long and 9ft 3.5in wide. The upper level contained the fighting compartment. It was 96cm tall, and contained those parts of the turret normally found inside the hull of the Panther. It was bolted on to the top of the lower compartment, apparently without an intervening floor or roof. The lower compartment contained the living quarters for the three crew, a storeroom and the entrance way, with a ladder up to the fighting compartment. Normal access was via a long slit trench beginning forty feet behind the embedded turret.

Despite its name most of the east wall turrets that were produced were used on the Atlantic Wall, the West Wall defences of Germany and the defensive lines in Italy – only 36 went to the Eastern Front.

The Panther Ostwalturm was a very effective anti-tank weapon. It was almost invisible from a distance, and often came as a nasty surprise to advancing troops. The thick frontal armour of the Panther turret could not be penetrated by the Allied 6-Pounder or 75mm tank guns. The best way for an Allied tank to destroy the Panther turret was to hit the side armour.  

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 September 2008), Panther Ostwallturm , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_panther_ostwallturm.html

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