German tank regiments that headed towards the Normandy beached after the D-Day landings normally had their 1st battalion fitted out with Panther tanks whilst the 2nd battalion had Panzer IV tanks. There were more Panzer IV tanks used in Normandy than the feared Panther and Tiger tanks.
Panther Ausf. A tank inside the Overlord Museum near Omaha Beach
The nearest village to the Overlord Museum is Colleville-sur-Mer. It is on the D514 costal road Hameau du Bray. You cannot miss it as there is a M4A1 Sherman tank, M10 Wolverine Tank Destroyer and British Sexton self-propelled artillery gun outside the front by the roundabout. It is very near Omaha Beach and the American Military Cemetery.
This Panzer V Panther tank Ausf A was built by Daimler-Benz and has the chassis number 152451. It was built between April and May 1944. It is believed that this Panther was originally one of the 12 Panther tanks given to the French Tank Museum in Saumur. In 1988 it was exchanged for a Sdkfz 251 German Halftrack that belonged to the Musee Aout 1944 military museum in Falaise, Normandy. This Museum left the Panther sitting outside rusting away. When the Museum closed in 2012 it was rescued by the Overlord Museum who partially restored the tank to be placed in a diorama representing a field repair unit of the Wehrmacht, along with an original German field gantry crane.
It arrived in January 2013 and work started to remove the rust and repaint the vehicle. The 75mm tank gun barrel came from the Perpignan area of Southern France. The Panther's turret is not the same one that was fitted to the chassis when it was built in 1944. The original turret from this hull was used to restore French Tank Museum in Saumur's Panther Tank number 254. This Panther served in the French army after the war, probably until 1955.
The high velocity long barreled 75mm gun on the Panther Ausf A Tank could knock out all Allied tanks.
The Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Tank Ausf A (Sd.Kfz. 171) was powered by a V-12 Maybach HL230 P30 petrol engine that produced 690 hp. The tank had a top road speed of 46 km/h (29 mph)and an operational range of around 250 km (160 miles). The Panther tank had a five man crew: commander, gunner, driver, loader, hull machine gunner/radio operator.
It was armed with a powerful long barreled high velocity 75mm KwK 24 L/70 gun that could fire high explosive HE shells as well as armour piercing AP rounds. It was fitted with two 7.92mm MG 34 machine guns. One was installed next to the main gun in the turret and the other in the hull. Its armour was slopped and ranged in thickness from 40mm to 80mm. This version of the Panther tank, the Ausf A, was produced between August 1943 and June 1944. The German's manufactured 2,953 Ausf A Panther tanks.
This Panther Ausf A Tank has been placed in a diorama representing a field repair unit of the Wehrmacht, along with an original German field gantry crane.
The Story behind the Museum
The Overlord Museum and the Falaise Museum were set up by members of the Leloup family. The Leloup story is an interesting one. The collection was started by the late Michel Leloup. He he was involved in logging timber after World War Two. He had access to scrapped and abandoned German Army vehicles and engines. Michel decided to collect one or two and start his own private collection before they were all turned into scrap metal. The collection grew from there.
They were housed and put on display at an old Cheese factory in Falaise, Normandy, France. That museum was called Musee Aout 1944 . His dream was to build a new museum near the Normandy beaches as the Falaise building was not in a good location and was needing lots of money spent to repair it. His son, Nicolas Leloup, took over the collection when Michel died just as the family were in the early stages of securing a new museum site at Colleville. It was a shame Michel did not live long enough to see his dream come to life.
The Panther Tank's road wheels were highly engineered but problematic to change when they got damaged by mines.