Schmalturm (E2001.797.1)

Schmalturm
vehicle info
Precise Name
Schmalturm
production
Era
World War 2
Nationality
German
location in the museum
Into Germany
The Schmalturm, or narrow turret was an attempt to improve the Panther tank that was inititated by Rheimetall in late 1943. Some months later the project was transferred to Daimler-Benz and further design changes were introduced. It was an ingenious arrangement. Being narrower than the regular Panther turret the Schmalturm presented less of a target area to incoming fire but it had thicker armour if it was hit. It fitted the same turret ring as the standard version and still had sufficient room inside to permit the crew to work comfortably. There was little saving in weight but a considerable saving of between 30 and 40 percent in man hours required to make it.
The plan was to introduce a new version of Panther, the Ausfuehrung F which would carry the new turret but with the same 75mm KwK42 gun as the production Panther but this new version featured a cross turret rangefinder, something the Germans were experimenting with at this time, the armoured covrs for which can still be seen on what remains of the turret. In fact, by the time production was ready to begin the war in Europe was coming to an end and German industry was under sustained and heavy air attack.
At least two turrets survived the war; one went to the USA, the other to Britain where, in due course it was handed over to the Tank Museum. However it was later disposed of and taken up to the Royal Artillery range at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain as a hard target. Some years later the badly damaged remains were recognised, rescued and brought back to Bovington where staff at the Tank Museum workshops cleaned up and repainted what was left.
Early in 1945 the German Panzer Commission announced that a new version of Panther would be built mounting an 88mm KwK 43 gun in a modified Schmalturm. It was one of a number of incredibly advanced projects that seem to have obsessed the German High Command as the real situation for Germany became more and more desperate. In fact, despite encouragement from Hitler this scheme never progressed beyond the wooden mock-up stage when Germany surrendered.