Investigation of four German Panther tanks knocked out in the Malmedy area in the
December breakthrough in Belgium revealed that the tanks were carefully and cleverly
disguised as U.S. M10 gun motor carriages.
After inspecting the tanks and realizing the amount of time, work, and materials involved
in order to imitate the appearance of the M10, Ordnance intelligence investigators expressed
the opinion that these disguised tanks, used in the proper tactical situation and at the
proper time, would have caused considerable damage.
Because the false vehicle numbers of the tanks knocked out
were B-4, B-5, B-7, and B-10, investigators
concluded that at least ten similarly disguised tanks might have been in action.
Inside the one tank which was not blown up too badly to be inspected were found items
of U.S. clothing such as a helmet, overcoat, and leggings. To heighten the deception,
U.S. stars were painted on both sides and also on the top of the turret, the entire
tank was painted O.D., and U.S. unit markings were painted on the false bow and rear.
In disguising the Panther the distinctive cupola was removed from the turret and two
semicircular hatch covers were hinged in its place to the turret top in order to cover the
opening. In addition, it was necessary to remove extra water cans, gas cans, the rammer staff
container, and other external accessories.
The tank then was camouflaged or disguised with sheet metal, that used on the turret and
upper bow being three twenty-seconds of an inch thick and that on time sides of the hull
being nine sixty-fourths of an inch thick. The lower part of the false bow was thicker,
possibly made of double plates. To accomplish the deceptive modifications, which pointed
to at least fourth or fifth echelon alterations, the work probably was done by maintenance
units rather than at a factory. The work probably was divided into four sections: turret,
bow, rear, and sides.
|Top view of Panther tank disguised as U.S. M10 gun
carriage, showing hatch covers used in place of cupola.|
The turret was disguised by using five pieces of sheet metal, two of which were cut to
resemble the distinctive sides of the M10 turret and then were flanged on the edges, bent
to shape, and stiffened with small angle iron. The gun shield was carefully formed
from another sheet to the exact shape of the M10 shield, and a hole was made to the
right of the gun hole in the shield for the co-axial M.G. 34, a hole which
does not exist in the M10 shield. Two pieces of sheet metal made up the rear of the
turret, one representing the bottom slant surface of the rear and one representing the
counterweight. The pieces representing the sides and rear were joined together and braced
with angle iron, and the whole was attached to the turret. The false gun shield was
attached to the Panther gun shield, and all the lifting rings, brackets, extra-armor
studs, etc., found on the M10 turret were carefully duplicated and welded to the false turret.
|Left front view with turret reversed. Note false
final-drive housing at bottom of bow and false side apron.|
Approximately four pieces of sheet metal, shaped to imitate as closely as possible the
contours of the M10 bow, made up the false bow, necessary because the Panther bow is
bulkier than the M10. The false bottom was shaped to give the characteristic appearance of
the front drive sprocket housing of the M10, and the top was shaped carefully and
various component pieces attached to the front of the tank. All the brackets, lifting
rings, towing devises, etc., of the M10 bow were also imitated. A square opening was
cut in the false bow to permit the use of the bow M.G. 34, but a removable
cover attached with a small chain was made for this opening.
|Front view showing plate over machine-gun opening, false
lifting rings and brackets, and markings.|
False Rear and Sides
The false rear was made of sheet metal. It was a faithful duplicate of
the M10 rear except for two holes to permit the twin exhaust elbows of the
Panther to protrude.
An attempt was made to imitate the skirting armor of the M10 which appears to
hang lower than the side armor of the Panther and is bevelled in at the bottom. A long
flat strip of sheet metal was attached to the sides parallel to the ground, and
a vertical sheet strip was attached at right angles to this strip to give the
appearance of low skirting armor.
|Rear view showing false tail plate. Note exhausts and dummy
Features which aid in recognizing disguised Panthers and which cannot be camouflaged
1. The distinctive Panther bogie suspension. (The M18 motor gun carriage now has a
somewhat similar suspension.)
2. The muzzle brake on the 7.5 cm Kw.K. 42.
3. The wide and distinctive track of the Panther tank.