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Jagdpanther's final drives

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  • Jagdpanther's final drives

    It's well-known that the Panther's final drives were it's main mechanical issue throughout the war, but how well did the Jagdpanther fare?

    On a gamer-forum (I know, not the best place for an accurate historical discussion based on sources) someone stated that because of the Jagdpanther being nose-heavy, the final drives on the early vechicles, which were the same as that of the Panther, only had an average lifespan of 35 km. (!!!)

    He then goes on to say that in late 1944 a reinforced final drive was put in some Jagdpanthers, not all apparently, which enabled them to drive over 600 km without failures.

    True or not? It's hard to imagine what you can do with a tank that can only drive 35 km....

  • #2
    Originally posted by oldngruff View Post
    It's well-known that the Panther's final drives were it's main mechanical issue throughout the war, but how well did the Jagdpanther fare?

    On a gamer-forum (I know, not the best place for an accurate historical discussion based on sources) someone stated that because of the Jagdpanther being nose-heavy, the final drives on the early vechicles, which were the same as that of the Panther, only had an average lifespan of 35 km. (!!!)

    He then goes on to say that in late 1944 a reinforced final drive was put in some Jagdpanthers, not all apparently, which enabled them to drive over 600 km without failures.

    True or not? It's hard to imagine what you can do with a tank that can only drive 35 km....
    If I understand correctly it was not so much the ability to 'trek' distances that was the problem as withstanding the harsh and abrupt changes in a combat situation that strained the drive
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #3
      Heavy AT battalion 654 (equipped with Jadpanther) had a pretty respectable operational rate according to their war diaries. Over 50%
      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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      • #4
        Was it really that bad? Considering how labour intensive it was to remove them, perhaps such jobs were relegated to the bottom of the list.
        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
        Ernest Hemingway.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
          Was it really that bad? Considering how labour intensive it was to remove them, perhaps such jobs were relegated to the bottom of the list.
          Hilary Doyle covers that briefly here:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwaCkaxw7So

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          • #6
            Originally posted by oldngruff View Post
            On a gamer-forum (I know, not the best place for an accurate historical discussion based on sources) someone stated that because of the Jagdpanther being nose-heavy, the final drives on the early vechicles, which were the same as that of the Panther, only had an average lifespan of 35 km. (!!!)

            He then goes on to say that in late 1944 a reinforced final drive was put in some Jagdpanthers, not all apparently, which enabled them to drive over 600 km without failures.
            600 km is still pathetic though, as the final drives of contemporary Allied tanks were expected to achieve a minimum of 5000 km.

            I was previously under the impression that the reinforced final drives for the Jagdpanther were somewhat better than this.
            "Looting would not be tolerated within the Division, unless organised with the knowledge of C.O.'s on a unit basis."
            - 15/19 Hussars War Diary, 18th March 1945

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Don Juan View Post

              600 km is still pathetic though, as the final drives of contemporary Allied tanks were expected to achieve a minimum of 5000 km.

              I was previously under the impression that the reinforced final drives for the Jagdpanther were somewhat better than this.
              Hey, 600 km means you get drive around a bit -- 35 km renders the Jagdpanther into basically a very heavy self-towed anti-tank gun!

              To be more serious though, the guy on the forum said they had reported having covered this distance with no breakdowns so far, so who knows what the actual lifespan was.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                If I understand correctly it was not so much the ability to 'trek' distances that was the problem as withstanding the harsh and abrupt changes in a combat situation that strained the drive
                AFAIK it was the combination of a weak final drive design combined with the abrupt changes in direction when using the clutch-brake steering system, that was grafted onto the otherwise quite cleverly designed geared system. That transferred more force through the final drives than they could handle. The nose-heavyness of the Jagdpanther may have caused more stress in general.

                The could patch up the final drive, strengthen parts of it, improve lubrication etc. but the only real remedy would be a redesign using heeringbone gears, planetary gears etc. instead of the straight-cut gears they had to use due the bottlenecks in using the necessary machining tools.

                IIRC, we've covered this before in a thread, the conclusion being that the Germans basically made a dogs breakfast out of the design of this part for various reasons.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post

                  AFAIK it was the combination of a weak final drive design combined with the abrupt changes in direction when using the clutch-brake steering system, that was grafted onto the otherwise quite cleverly designed geared system. That transferred more force through the final drives than they could handle. The nose-heavyness of the Jagdpanther may have caused more stress in general.

                  The could patch up the final drive, strengthen parts of it, improve lubrication etc. but the only real remedy would be a redesign using heeringbone gears, planetary gears etc. instead of the straight-cut gears they had to use due the bottlenecks in using the necessary machining tools.

                  IIRC, we've covered this before in a thread, the conclusion being that the Germans basically made a dogs breakfast out of the design of this part for various reasons.
                  The final drives were also made from low quality steel, causing more weakness in a weak design. I heard in a documentary that tank crews also found evidence of sabotage, cigarettes and metaldust put inside sensitive parts, gearteeth that had been broken off and glued back on. The sabotage was done so that the tank could appear to work when driven after being completed, but it would soon break down. I don't know how common the sabotage was though.

                  The French armys report about the Panthers they used for training after the war, that says the final drive had an average lifespan of only 150 km, doesn't seem true in the German experience from what I've read from historians like Nicholas Moran. Maybe the Germans were better at driving the Panther carefully. There are some outliers also that shows things weren't always bad with the Panther's endurance, such as two cases mentioned in Jentz's book on the Panther: one Panther that had driven almost 3000 km and one Bergepanther that had driven almost 5000 km, and neither of them had needed any spares.

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