The Panther was a German medium tank deployed during World War II from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the Soviet T-34, and as a replacement for the Panzer III and Panzer IV. While never replacing the latter, it served alongside it and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. While the Panther is considered one of the best tanks of World War II due to its excellent firepower and protection, it was less impressive in terms of mobility, reliability, and cost. It was used by the Coalition of Independent States as a second-line battle tanks.
Until 1944, it was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther and had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. On 27 February 1944, Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral "V" be deleted from the designation. It is sometimes referred to as the "Mark V" in contemporary English language reports.
The Panther was a compromise. While having essentially the same engine as the Tiger I tank, it had better frontal hull armour (the sloping glacis was equivalent to 140 mm (5.5 in) of vertical steel plate), better gun penetration, was lighter and faster, and could traverse rough terrain better than the Tiger. The tradeoff was weaker side armour, which was less than that of the T-34. The Panther proved to be effective in open country and long range engagements, but vulnerable to flanking fire. Also, the 75 mm (3.0 in) gun fired a smaller shell than the Tiger's 88 mm (3.5 in) gun, providing less high explosive firepower against infantry.