Repair of Jagdpanthers at Normandy – Part I

The 654th Jagdpanther battalion fought in Normandy, on the eastern part of the front. Unlike most German battalion level records, the war diary plus annexes has survived for this unit. At battalion level, the fate of many tanks can often be tracked and this unit is no exception. Included in the annexes is a list of the Jagpanthers lost by the battalion, by chassis number or turret number and which includes date (and often time as well), location, cause, list of items recovered, etc. All information is taken from the war diary and its annexes.

When it started marching from Rocquigny near the Belgian border towards Normandy, it had 25 Jagdpanthers, On 27th July, three command Panthers and one Jagdpanther arrived at the battalion. They first had to be checked by the workshops and on July 29 they were ready for action.

Marching to Normandy took its toll of the battalion. There were several air attacks, which caused losses in the battalion, but none of the Jagdpanthers were destroyed. However, many Jagdpanthers suffered mechanical breakdowns. During the march (approx. 300 km) the following cases of damage was recorded: 18 final drives (a well-known problem), two engines, 2 oil coolers, 3 cooling fans, 1 torsion bar, 4 road wheels, 1 drive shaft, 4 drive sprockets, 2 idler wheels and 109 track links.

The result was that on July 17, the battalion had 8 operational Jagdpanther, 16 in short repair and 1 in long repair. Efforts by the repair and recovery services raised the operational readiness to 23 Jagdpanther on 30 July, 2 in long repair and 1 long repair. This includes one additional Jagdpanther that arrived on this day. Until July 26, the following damage had been caused by enemy action: 1 gear box, 4 radiators, 1 oil cooler, 4 cooling fans, 6 drive sprockets, 2 final drives, 16 road wheels.

It is unclear how many vehicles that were damaged up to this point, as single vehicles could have suffered more than one kind of damage. For example, a hit on a tank could cause damage to more than one road wheel. Before July 31, no Jagdpanther was completely lost.

The 2nd Coy arrived ahead of the rest of the battalion at the front in Normandy and it reported 6 operational Jagdpanther on July 7, when attached to the Panzer-Lehr division. It was however attached to 276th ID when Pz-Lehr left its sector. When moving on July 8, four Jagdpanthers broke down. Two more broke down on July 9, but four were also repaired. On July 11, one Jagpanther was penetrated in the left side armour and three crew members were wounded, but no other damage was recorded. Also, another Jagpanther was penetrated (does not say from which direction). The loader was killed and the commander, driver and gunner were wounded. The crew still managed to drive the tank into safety.

At least one Jagpanther was repaired by the company between 12 and 17 July.

Given the increase in operational Jagpanthers from July 17 and 29 at least 14 must have been repaired. At least five were repaired by 2nd Coy before July 17. So far we have indications of 19 repairs. However, there were further Jagdpanthers damaged between July 18 and 29. On July 20, two were damaged by enemy artillery fire and classified as short repair. Two days later, a periscope on one Jagdpanther was destroyed by enemy artillery fire. On July 26 one Jagdpanther caught fire in the engine room, not by enemy action. Vehicle classified as short repair. Four days later, one Jagdpanther was damaged by artillery fire and classified as short repair.

There were at least five vehicles damaged in this period when the operational readiness rose due to the efforts of the mechanics. We can conclude that at least 24 had been repaired before July 31. But this cannot possibly account for all vehicles damaged Also, it is clear that the kind of damage sustained thus far was of a kind that ought to be repaired and it can safely be assumed that more than 100 % of its Jagdpanthers had been in repair and not a single one had been lost.


P.S. The picture was drawn from this article:


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Niklas Zetterling
Niklas Zetterling

Niklas Zetterling worked as senior researcher at the Swedish National Defence Research Establishment and Swedish Defence College from 1993 to 2007. During that period, matters like combat efficiency, command and control methods and the use of history were extensively studied. A significant part of the work was devoted to mathematical models, both such developed in-house and models developed by other agencies. Nearly 20 scientific articles were published as part of the work at those two institutions. Mr. Zetterling first military history book was published in 1995. Over the last twenty years, 14 books have been authored or co-authored by Mr. Zetterling. They have been translated and released in seven different countries. All books deal with various aspects of World War II and are to a very great extent based on archival research.

Niklas Zetterling’s published works include six English language books in addition to his works in Swedish. His six English language books include two originally written in English in addition to four translated works. His other eight books are in Swedish but not yet published in English. Eleven of these books have been co-authored.

His books published in English are: 1) Kursk 1943 (London: Frank Cass, 2000), 2) Normandy 1944 (Winnipeg: Fedorowicz, 2000), 3) Bismarck – Kampen om Atlanten (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2004), Swedish but also translated to English, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish, 4) Tirpitz – Kampen om Norra ishavet (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2006), Swedish but also translated to English, Norwegian and Danish, 5) Tjerkassy 44 (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2006), Swedish but also translated to English as Korsun Pocket, 6) Hitlers första nederlag [Hitler's First Defeat] (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2011), Swedish, also translated to English as The Drive on Moscow 1941.

Articles: 7


    • Hi

      This is the full James Holland tv program. The comparison of the Bren to the German Mg 34 etc is explained as is the Tiger. Interestingly, he did not quote the work done by the army armour experts, who were surprised and pleased about the poor quality of the Tiger and panther Armor following tests. Their report is worth a read. They established the 75mm tanks could defeat the tiger armour but at under 400 yards, so very challenging. The Firefly and Challenger they were good for 1100 yards.

  1. No wonder why “destroying”, “knocking down”, “knocking out” combat armor was far more complicate issue than mainstream military historians are thinking. As one German soldier who served in tank work shop mentioned: “with exception of burned down panzer” almost all panzers were repairable”.

    I just wonder how many kill claims Allied ground attack aircraft pilots, tank crews and anti tank crews made of this jagdpather battalion during this period.

    • I have preordered Niklas new book on Normandy 44, which will hopefully provide more information. They were heavily engaged with the red foxes 8th Armour Brigade under operation Bluecoat and the capture of Mount Pincon.

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