The Jagdpanther (German: "hunting panther") was a tank destroyer built by Nazi Germany during World War II based on the chassis of the Panther tank. It entered service late in the war (1944) and saw service on the Eastern and Western fronts. Many military historians[who?] consider the Jagdpanther to be one of the best tank destroyers of the war due to the combination of the very powerfull 8.8 cm KwK 43 and the well armoured Panther chassis.
A heavy tank destroyer design based on the 8.8 cm Pak 43 gun and the Panther tank chassis was ordered in late 1942 as design SdKfz 173. Production started in January 1944; in February Hitler specified the Jagdpanther name.
To accommodate the heavier-calibre gun, much as on previous Jagdpanzer-style unturreted tank destroyers, the glacis plate and sides of the Jagdpanther were extended up into an integral, turretless fixed casemate as part of the main hull itself to provide a roomy interior. The Jagdpanther had side armour of increased thickness to offset the slightly reduced angle of the side armour necessary to provide enough interior space. The new (April 1944) Panther Ausf. G had the same feature, to harmonize production and increase protection.
It was armed with an anti-tank version of the same long-barreled 8.8 cm gun as the Tiger II "King Tiger" and a single 7.92 mm MG-34 machine gun in the front glacis plate for local defence. The Jagdpanther had a good power-to-weight ratio and a powerful main gun, which enabled it to destroy any type of Allied tank. Based on the existing Panther chassis, the vehicle did not suffer too many mechanical problems - it had an upgraded transmission and final drive to counter the Panther's main weakness. It was manned by a crew of 5: a driver, radio-operator, commander, gunner and a loader.
Two main variants can be distinguished, the earlier (1944 model) G1 with a small internally-bolted main gun mantlet and a modified Panther A engine deck, and the later (1945 model) G2 with a larger, outside-bolted mantlet and a modified Panther G engine deck, though late G1s also had the larger mantlet. Early Jagdpanthers had two vision openings for the driver, whereas late versions had only one. The main gun originally had a monobloc gun barrel but later versions were equipped with the Pak 43/4 gun with a 2-part barrel. Early G1s (to September 1944) were coated with the distinctive resin paste 'zimmerit' in a distinctive 'small-squared' pattern.