Hello and welcome to "Buff my tank!"
The "Buff my tank!" articles are meant as an historical way to look at some tanks considered underpowered in game and ways to improve their combat abilities discussed by the original german engineers.
Beware that while being sometimes ironic in tone, the article treats about both costs and benefits of every choice and it most likely will never be listened by WG as suggestion.
Today we will take a look at another popular german tank, the Panther.
A classic sniping medium, the Panther has often been object of complaints for being poor at closer ranges and having low agility.
Historically, the Panther was a proto-MBT, basically halfway between medium and heavy tanks.
Agile enough for fast tactical relocation, reasonably armored and with good firepower for its introduction, its main enemy was often the unpolished status of many components, rushed to the battlefield without being properly tested and resulting in many tanks being lost before contact with the enemy.
Of course that did not stop german engineers to keep improving on it and even bringing some wildly experimental technology on it, including but not limited to IR sights for night fighting.
Using Spielberger's "Panther & its variants" and "German Jet Engine and Gas Turbine Development 1930-1945", we will explore some solutions adopted or planned in order to push the Panther forwards to its very design limits.
On June 4th 1942, Hitler expressed doubts about the 80mm inclined armor and requested that all vertical front surfaces should be at least 100mm thick.
In February 1943 it was also proposed to increase the front glacis plate to 100mm thickness, which would have added approximately half ton of weight.
This would basically give the tank near Panther II protection levels and definitely make the tank unbalanced as tier VII medium as it would be better armored and more mobile than the Tiger.
The HL 230 engine was originally planned to be made from light weight alloys (alluminium?), so some engine weight could be shaved off in theory.
An hydro-dynamic transmission like that of the E-Series was also planned, increasing tank agility on soft terrain.
In December 1943 Daimler-Benz planned to use a MB-507 engine with 850HP on the Panther chassis.
In January 1945 the 850 HP Maybach HL 234 was planned to be mounted.
Those modifications would basically be the ones implemented in game for the Panther II, yet something even crazier was considered:
From 14 Semptember 1944 until February 1945 experimental development went into trying to fit a gas turbine the Panther's engine compartment.
The turbine development went into different stages from GT 101 to GT 103 and while successful into mounting the engine, fuel consumption was about twice as the original engine, leading to putting fuel tanks in most free space in the tank.
This engine would provide an amazing 1150 HP but as it was bigger than the standard engines and took a lot more fuel storage, it would be balanced by an high fire risk, likely at least 50%.
This would make the tank even more of a glass cannon, meaning that exposing anything else other than the turret would mean a huge fire risk.
IMHO this last solution should have gone into the recon Panther in order to compensate for the hopelessy huge size as anyway light tanks have to rely on not being hit.
As a bonus, it would have its own unique engine sound:
The planned 75mm L/100 is already in WOT, however it's not the only gun improvement planned for the Panther.
In November 1944 the 88mm L/71 was planned to be installed in a Panther schmaulturm, although this was already in game when Panther was one tier higher.
Given that the long 88 was being redesigned for the task to improve shell handling, it would translate into a pretty low DPM in game.
A semi-automatic loader was also proposed and the prototype manufactured, which would have allowed a ROF of 40 RPM as long as the loader could keep the pace.
Now, this could be implemented as a new gun and balance as a 4 round drum loader or with some worsened soft stat, depending on developer mood.
In June 23 1944 a 15cm STUH 43 was proposed to be mounted in a standard Panther turret:
I'd personally see the SturmPanther as a TD, where it could be otherwise balanced.
IMHO the tank is balanced for its specialist role of sniper medium.
A slightly different gun choice could help the tank in the brawling role, however most upgrades would basically cross the tier balance, meaning it would have to give up somewhere else.