Bef. Panther is a German Tank unit. It is one of the most powerful command tank units in the game, as it combines excellent firepower with frightening accuracy. As a leader unit, it inspires nearby units but is a formidable adversary in its own right. Interestingly enough, its cost remains the same as that of a normal panther G, making it a very valuable unit for its price.
A completely new medium tank design, the Panther was the result of a rapid development program meant to reestablish tank parity on the Eastern Front. Although initial work started in 1938, it wasn't until the superior T-34 and KV series tanks demonstrated the need for a new tank capable of fighting them on equal terms. Two competing designs were submitted by Daimler-Benz and MAN, with the contract eventually awarded to the latter. The prototype was completed in September 1942, with the first Panthers rolling off the assembly line in January 1943.
The Panther was conceived in order to counter the Soviet T-34 and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV. Nevertheless, it served alongside the Panzer IV and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. It is considered one of the best tanks of World War II for its excellent firepower and protection, although its reliability was less impressive due to the tank being rushed in service. Indeed, many early Panthers broke down on their way to the battlefield and mechanical reliability would continue to plague the vehicle until the end of the war.
The characteristics of the Panther was such that the Allies classified the Panther as a heavy tank, while the German designers considered it a medium tank. Mistakenly thought to be only available in little numbers in France, the big cat was not considered to be a real threat to the Americans, and as a result the US Army did not adequately equip their tanks and tank destroyers with guns capable of facing the panther head-on. They preferred to rely on their mainstay Sherman tank, as it had performed well in earlier engagements and introducing a new Sherman variant would complicate logistics (another problem was that the American 76 mm gun was not as effective against soft targets as the 75 mm was). This decision soon proved to be a mistake, as Panthers were produced in much bigger numbers than first anticipated, and Shermans with 76 mm guns had to be hurriedly brought in. The British were better prepared for fighting the Panther, as they readily had 17-pdrs and Fireflies available in the first months after the Normandy invasion.
On the Eastern Front, the Panther's initial performance was abysmal. Operation Zitadelle at Kursk was delayed by two months in order to deploy the first batch of 200 Panthers, allowing the Soviet Union to prepare an intricate system of defenses in depth. Mechanical failures also resulted in a fraction of them being actually committed, which contributed to the dismal failure of the Nazi offensive and forever crippled their ability to conduct strategic offensives. However, once the teething problems were resolved, the Panther became a respectable adversary: Its excellent options and powerful gun enabled it to fight Soviet tanks even while outnumbered and seemingly outgunned.
The Panther Ausf. G was introduced in March 1944. It was the most powerful variant of the Panther, featuring a revised hull, a modified turret that eliminated the shot trap present in earlier models, and modified hatches for the entire crew. Over 2 900 Panther Gs were produced, making it the most numerous Panther variant in German service, respected by friend and foe alike.
Ironically, when it came to formulating a response, the Soviets responded by simply upgunning their T-34s to use 85mm guns, bridging the firepower gap cheaply and efficiently.
The 14 frontal armour and the gun (accuracy 7) indicate that this command vehicle is a modified Panther G.
The Bef. Panther is the answer to nearly all Allied armour, as it is a two-star veteran unit sporting a very accurate and powerful gun. These two factors combine to create a frighteningly accurate tank that can usually win any duel at range. In addition, it is a leader unit, making it a very powerful unit that does not cost more than a normal Panther G, and its Leader trait allows it to boost the power of nearby tanks, making it even more valuable.
While the Bef. Panther will have no trouble dealing with enemy tanks, anti-tank guns remain a problem. It does not possess a powerful HE shell capable of quickly knocking out soft targets and the 17-pdr is capable of frontally piercing its armor. Always keep in mind that the smallest anti-tank guns are able to punch through the weak side and rear armor.
As with all Panthers is is also vulnerable to airstrikes, which can easily panic this elite unit, and given its formidable reputation (making it a valuable target), it is smart to bring AA guns or fighters to protect it.
The Bef. Panther could be used to form the center of an armored thrust or as an enhanced Panther G. Only one pack of one Bef. panther is available for battlefield deployment, so this prized unit should not be squandered.