Panther Ausf As During Training

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther ausf As during training. The explosion, while dramatic, is designed to kick a lot of dirt around to simulate high explosive shells. The Panzerwaffen (Tank Corps) was one of the most eagerly sought after appointments by young Germans. Once a soldier was accepted to the Panzerwaffen, they spent 16 weeks of basic infantry training then four months of basic tank training at Panzerschule I in Wunsdorf. The top students were sent to officer candidate school or Sergeant's training. Once that was completed, they joined the rest of the Panzertruppen (Tank Troops) in a Panzerersatzabteilung (Tank Replacement Battalion) attached to a Panzer Division. There they would train in platoon, company, and battalion formations. The top students would be sent to the gunnery training school at Putlos, where they would experience live fire exercises against stationary and mobile targets; they were required to obtain one out of four quick, successive hits against targets smaller than the Allied tanks they would oppose. Additionally, night and dusk training missions were required. As the Panther came into service, General Heinz Guderian (June 17, 1888 - May 14, 1954) was appointed Generalinspektur der Panzertruppen (Inspector-General of the Armoured Troops) on March 1, 1943. The same day, a Panther training school was established at Erlangen. He made changes to the training program to speed up deployment of Panther crews. The training schools were soon delivering a battalion a month. As the war took its toll of Panzer crews, training time was shortened and an emphasis on gunnery, above other courses, was required to the exclusion of other courses. The first two Panther battalions lacked training as they worked with technicians from Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg Aktiengesellschaft (MAN AG, a public company) to fix the mechanical problems plaguing the ausf D model. The ausf A model, shown here, while still experiencing reliability problems, was a potent weapon that allowed Panther crews to concentrate on training to fight. 2,200 Panther ausf As were built between August 1943 and May 1944.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Saturday, January 1, 1944