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Panther's final drives


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Poll: Panther's final drives (57 members have cast votes)

Was the weak final drive on Panther medium tank variant ever solved?

  1. Never solved (38 votes [66.67%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 66.67%

  2. Solved on late models (7 votes [12.28%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 12.28%

  3. Unknown (12 votes [21.05%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 21.05%

Was the weak final drive problem ever solved on specialist types? (JagdPanther, BergePanther)

  1. It was never solved (20 votes [35.09%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 35.09%

  2. It was solved on late JP's / BP's (19 votes [33.33%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

  3. Unknown (18 votes [31.58%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 31.58%

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Lert #1 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 16:34

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As noted by many a TV program about the Panther, website and this excellent thread, the PzKpfw V 'Panther' had weak final drives. AFAIK they used straight cut spur gears made from low-quality steel designed for a 35 ton tank in what ended up being a 45 ton tank, where a sturdier type of helical cut gear from high quality steel would've been far more preferable.

 

However, was this problem ever solved on later Panthers? Did JagdPanthers and BergePanthers suffer the same problems? I hear references to 'some unreliability problems being solved' on later models, as well as 'unreliability problems never solved'. These seem to conflict eachother.



3d0g #2 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 16:39

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~~ At the same time, the simplified final drive became the single major cause of breakdowns of the Panther tank, and was a problem that was never corrected.

 

Wikipedia

 



AdmiralTheisman #3 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 16:41

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Although I don't know about the actual technical specifications of the Jagdpanther, since it weighed even more than the Panther (Around one ton extra weight) it wouldn't have solved the problem without major modifications. If I recall correctly the European forum had a post about it which said it suffered from the same reliability problems as the standard Panther, so on that vehicle at least the final drive wouldn't have been fixed. Sort of unfortunate really, the Panther was a good design if a bit too far ahead for its era and with a lot of German design flaws (Sights in particular) embedded in it. The German casemates of the late war period seemed to pile on lots of extra armor instead of reducing weight and height like other nations did. 

 

This was the European post:

http://forum.worldof...on-jagdpanther/


Although now that I read over that it says that there were later vehicles with a better transmission, so the Germans at least tried to fix it in the final stages. How succesful they were I do not know.


Edited by AdmiralTheisman, Aug 10 2014 - 16:44.


Lert #4 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 16:45

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View Post03dg, on Aug 10 2014 - 16:39, said:

~~ At the same time, the simplified final drive became the single major cause of breakdowns of the Panther tank, and was a problem that was never corrected.

 

Wikipedia

 

Wikipedia is not a 100% reliable source of information.



Dominatus #5 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 16:49

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The final drives of the Panther remained an issue for its entire service life, including French operation, although the Panther's other issues were largely fixed. The quality of the steel was reportedly tested by the Littlefield collection, who found it satisfactory. The spur gears simply were not up to the task for a vehicle of such weight. In fact, the Soviets reportedly considered spur gears for their T-70 and found them unsatisfactory even for that!

 

View PostAdmiralTheisman, on Aug 10 2014 - 11:41, said:

Sort of unfortunate really, the Panther was a good design if a bit too far ahead for its era and with a lot of German design flaws (Sights in particular) embedded in it.

Panther suffered from a whole host of problems. It had some neat ideas (interleaved road wheels and double torsion bar suspension), but the overall design was flawed basically from the base.



AdmiralTheisman #6 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 16:54

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View PostDominatus, on Aug 10 2014 - 16:49, said:

Panther suffered from a whole host of problems. It had some neat ideas (interleaved road wheels and double torsion bar suspension), but the overall design was flawed basically from the base.

I guess a better way to put it would have been "Panther incorporated some design elements that were quite good for the time period, but also incorporated various continued various flaws of German tank design, such as transmission, sights, turret traverse, and engine compartmentalization resulting in a tendency to catch on fire, and overly stressed the technology of the era to attempt to reach an unnecessarily capable vehicle". 



_Quetzal #7 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 17:07

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View PostLert, on Aug 10 2014 - 11:45, said:

Wikipedia is not a 100% reliable source of information.

its not, but its still fairly accurate most of the time, but its info should be checked by multiple sources.



ChairInAGasket #8 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 17:17

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View PostAdmiralTheisman, on Aug 10 2014 - 08:41, said:

Although I don't know about the actual technical specifications of the Jagdpanther, since it weighed even more than the Panther (Around one ton extra weight) it wouldn't have solved the problem without major modifications. If I recall correctly the European forum had a post about it which said it suffered from the same reliability problems as the standard Panther, so on that vehicle at least the final drive wouldn't have been fixed. Sort of unfortunate really, the Panther was a good design if a bit too far ahead for its era and with a lot of German design flaws (Sights in particular) embedded in it. The German casemates of the late war period seemed to pile on lots of extra armor instead of reducing weight and height like other nations did. 

 

This was the European post:

http://forum.worldof...on-jagdpanther/


Although now that I read over that it says that there were later vehicles with a better transmission, so the Germans at least tried to fix it in the final stages. How succesful they were I do not know.

The Panther was, quite simply, a bad design on all accounts. It was unreliable, a logistical nightmare, a weak and easy target from the large sides/rear, and completely failed in the extremely important infantry support role, the main point of a tank.

 

Here's a comprehensive breakdown written by rossmum, about everything that was wrong with it (~8 pages long):

Spoiler

 



BeingBadNotBeingGood #9 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 17:21

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I don't know about Bergepanthers, but Jagdpanthers did receive a new transmission.

Lert #10 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 17:36

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View Postxiantom, on Aug 10 2014 - 17:21, said:

 Jagdpanthers did receive a new transmission.

Source? And did those new trannies also include new final drives? They're separate mechanical units.

 

 

Engine, transmission, final drive, driveshafts



EnsignExpendable #11 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 17:48

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Interestingly enough, during Soviet testing of the Panther, the final drives never broke down once, but the engine broke three times over 220 km of trials (this tank travelled only 452 km from the factory). 

EmberTheDragoness #12 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 17:48

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View PostLert, on Aug 10 2014 - 10:45, said:

Wikipedia is not a 100% reliable source of information.

NO but the reference post's at the bottom of the articles usually are



Priory_of_Sion #13 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 18:17

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From Forzcyk's T-34 v. Panther

 

In Panzer Tracts 9-3 it states that the final drive and transmission were both reinforced for the Jagdpanther. The final drive was still very finicky as the British needed to be very careful when testing it. In early trials they found it could only go 35 km, but in later trials it went somewhere along the lines of 500. The numbers may be a bit off because I don't have access to that book until tonight. 



Xlucine #14 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 18:21

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View PostPriory_of_Sion, on Aug 10 2014 - 18:17, said:

In early trials they found it could only go 35 km

 

I recall hearing similar figures for JP's with the normal final drive



Priory_of_Sion #15 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 18:38

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View PostXlucine, on Aug 10 2014 - 13:21, said:

 

I recall hearing similar figures for JP's with the normal final drive

I am not certain about JP's with early final drives. It seems that 35 km would be about right for a JP with a Panther's final drive though. Jentz and Doyle's Panther & Variants does state that the reinforced final drive was a production modification. I happened to mine up the quote I made on the Brit JPs and it was 35 km until they "fixed" the issue and could get 300 km out of them. The British also made a bet of $1000 that the Jagdpanther weighed a couple tons over its intended weight. 

 

Here is a quote from 9-3 about a report on the reliability of Jagdpanther which I posted in conjunction with the British JP final drive info. 

"During the approx. 300 km march.. the following mechanical failures occurred in the 25 Jagdpanthers: 18 final drives, 2 HL 230 engines, 3 oil coolers, 3 fan drives, 2 idlers, 1 idler crank arm, 1 torsion bar, 4 road wheels, 4 drive sprockets, and 1 main drive shaft as well as wearing out 109 track links..." 

 

 



Dominatus #16 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 18:58

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I'm wondering of that number of failures with the suspension is normal or not over that distance.

Walter_Sobchak #17 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 19:27

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Block Quote

Soon after the introduction of the Panther Ausf. D into service, the steering unit exhibited reliability problems.  After the war, German tank designers told their British captors that they were well aware of this defect.  Their defense of the steering unit design was based on the belief that the steering brakes would outlast a vehicles transmission and final drives.  Hence, it was not the serious problem to the Germans that the British portrayed in their report. 
 
During World War II, a German prisoner of war informed his British captors that the weakness of the Panther's steering mechanism was well known.  Panther tank drivers were instructed to use the auxiliary skin brakes for steering and to avoid pivot steers.  He went on to say the steering unit problem appeared to be result of the overloading of the steering clutch during tight-radius and pivot steering maneuvers. 
 
A late-war U.S. Army report noted of the Panther's auxiliary skid brake steering ability, "The skid turn feature of the steering system, which is utilized by pulling the seering lever all the way [back] and locking one track, cannot be employed at speeds in excess of approximately 8 to 10 miles per hours, and can only be used when the vehicle is in second gear, as the engine will be stalled if such a turn is made in a higher gear."  
 
British engineers concluded that Panther final-drive units had inadequate bearings and poor housing strength.  IN addition, critical areas of some gears were not hardened properly.  these and other major design and manufacturing defects lead to poor final-drive reliability.  Later information revealed that the Germans had approached a French firm during the war years to investigate the practicality of producing a new type of final drive for the Panther tank.  The French received the assembly drawings, but nothing ever came of the proposed project.  
 
Jaqcues Littlefield talked about what he has learned about Panther tank final drives in the process of restoring a Panther Auf. A:
 
"My understanding is that the final drives were always a problem.  I've heard different things, for instance, that [the Germans] couldn't get the proper alloy, they couldn't heat-treat it properly, or whatever.  When we test ours, the alloy and the strength of these particular gears was as good as what you could make them from today.  [We] looked at maybe duplicating them, using the same physical size, but just using a stronger alloy or better treatment, and the answer we got back was that it was as good then as we can do it now.  
 
 
Part of the problem with the final drives was no doubt due to the vehicle's growth in weight.  It grew in weight from its original goal of 30 to 35 tons to the low 40s.  I'm going to guess that what ended up happening with the final drives is that they were designed for the lower-weigh vehicle, and there wasn't the physical size [available] to where you could make the gears wider and stronger.  Since they weren't able to make them wider, they just left them the way they were originally designed.  
 
 
It is interesting that the American Sherman tank used double-herringbone gears in the final drives, which provides more torque capability for the given width of a final drive.  The Panther uses straight spur gears, so there must have been a manufacturing limitation, as double herringbone gears were well known at the time for their ability to carry larger amounts of torque for a given width."

 

 
 
page 88- 89 "Panzers at War" Michael and Gladys Green

Edited by Walter_Sobchak, Aug 10 2014 - 19:27.


collimatrix #18 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 21:18

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The problem with the panther's final drive is that it's made up of straight-cut spur gears that are too small.

 

The tiger uses a planetary final drive, which spreads the load on the final drives over many more teeth.

 

The sherman does not have planetary final drives, but it does have double herringbone gearteeth, which again spread the load out over a greater area.

Contrary to repeated speculation, the metallurgy of the drives seems to have been fine.  When the Littlefield team restored their panther they had the final drives tested, and found that they were "as good as we could make them today."

 

The panther G did have some improvements made to the final drives, although I'm not exactly clear what those were.  Most of the sources I've been able to find suggest that the housing for the final drives was stiffened up, which did reduce some of the stress and flexing, but didn't solve the fundamental problem.  There were a number of proposals to fix the panther's final drives; either by standardizing them with the tiger or tiger II final drives, or by designing new ones.  The panther II in particular was supposed to share drivetrain components with the tiger II, as well as having common tracks and roadwheels.  None of these proposals ever saw mass production.



Jeeps_Guns_Tanks #19 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 22:02

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So the evidence is very clear, the Panthers final drives were never fixed. 

Meplat #20 Posted Aug 10 2014 - 22:03

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If they were having issues producing helical gearing, all the design improvements in the world would not have helped. 

It's pretty apparent German was bumping the stops of it's industrial manufacturing capacity.

 

Regarding planetary gearsets..

Amusing that the Tiger used spur cut gears in it's planetaries, when the GM Hydromatic was using a helical planetary gearset a year earlier.






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