German "Panther" Main Battle Tank:

"DAMN! Will you look at the SIZE of that gun! Are you sure it won`t keel over when we fire it?"

- Unknown tanker, upon seeing a Panther for the first time.

Although the Leopard III was a magnificent tank, it was still based upon old technology, and was by all accounts a huge tank. Even with its wide tracks it simply could not go everywhere that it was needed to go, and at the end of the fifties research was well underway to create a new tank which would have all of the leathality of the Leopard III, but in a much smaller and more survivable package.

The Panzerkampfwagen X or "Panther" as it quickly became known was a remarkable machine. Although it weighed twenty tons less than the Leopard III, it still had the same level of armor protection, and boasted improved weaponry.
The 140 mm smoothbore of the Leopard III now fired Electrothermally ignited ammunitions, which allowed for smaller casings. This in turn allowed for a smaller turret. To improve servicability and to reduce cost a simplified autoloader was used, which could handle only a single type of ammuntion. Originally this was meant to be APSFDS, because the main target to use the smoothbore on were other tanks. Later on loads of HEAT and even Plasma were sometimes carried. But although the tactical flexibility of the cannon had been reduced, this mattered little. For instead of mounting a coaxial railgun, the Panther had a independantly elevated 40 mm autocannon. This weapon fired both AP and HE munitions, and was meant to be used on targets for which the smoothbore would be overkill, like personell, unarmored, and lightly armored vehicles.

The engine of the Panther was a nuclear turbine with a effective lifespan of around 20 years. This was mounted in the front of the tank, to improve the survivability of the crew compartment behind it. Both the hull and the turret featured modular armor, which could be quickly repaired or replaced. This would also make upgrading the tank much easyer. Electronics featured were essentially those of the Leopard III, including the radar and the ECM system. A cooling system reduced the Panthers Infrared signature. This feature was sufficiently succesfull that a more advanced version would later be employed on the the Tiger HBT.

Ultimately the Panther replaced the Leopard III completely. Later on it would play a secondary role to the Tiger HBT, but it was a sufficiently successful design that it stayed in service until the Rifts came. Even today hundreds can be found in depots across much of the NGR, and the NGR sells them for quite reasonable prices to reputable mercenary services or overseas buyers. They are quite wanted on the black market too.

Model Type: Krauss-Maffei Pzkw X "Panther"
Vehicle Type: Main Battle Tank
Crew: Three (Driver, Gunner, and Commander).

M.D.C. by Location:

[1] Tractor Treads (2):120 each
[2] Weapons Turret:350
140 mm Electrothermal Smoothbore:110
Tri-barrel Laser:90
8 mm turret mounted Railgun:40
40 mm Autocannon:90
Infra-red Laser Jammers (2):45
[3] Aft Radiators:150
Reinforced Crew Compartment:200
[4] Main Body:700

[1] Depleting the M.D.C. of a tread will immobilize the tank until it is replaced. Replacing a tread will take 1D6x10 minutes by a trained crew (2 replacements are carried on board) or three times as long by the inexperienced. Changing the tread is only advisable when the vehicle is not under attack.
[2 ]The turret IS manned by the crew, notably the commander and the gunner. Destroying it knocks out the weapons, although a ammunition fire/explosion will blow out of the top of the turret, since it is designed with blow-out panels. Since the commander and the gunner are separated from both ammo and cannon they are not endangered until the reinforced crew compartment is also destroyed. without otherwise damaging the vehicle. This makes the tank very survivable, and it can retreat and have a new weapon's turret fitted relatively quickly.
[3] Destroying the radiators means that the tank loses its IR Stealth, but otherwise imposes no penalties. Due to their small size and difficult location, the radiators are -3 to strike, and ONLY on a called shot.
[4] If all the M.D.C. of the main body is depleted, the vehicle is completely shut down and is unsalvageable.
Special: As the tank’s armor is modular, it can be easily replaced with other types of armor. The standard armor was special "Dorchester" armor, a steel/ceramics/depleted uranium laminate. All damage done by Explosives and Kinetic energy weapons is reduced by 25%. Directed energy weapons and plasma weapons inflict full damage.
A popular replacement kit for this armor (for those able to afford it) is a set of Glitter Armor. This armor adds 20 percent more M.D.C. to the TURRET and HULL, and adds the usual 50% reduction in laser damage of the Glitter Armor. It costs a staggering 2.5 million credits though...

Ground: 74.8 mph (100 kph) maximum road speed; 50 mph (80 kph) maximum off-road speed. The vehicle is designed to traverse virtually all terrain and can climb at up to a 60% grade although at a much slower speed (About 10% of maximum road speed). It can also climb barriers and ford trenches. The vehicle can also handle side slopes of up to 30%.
Maximum Range: Unlimited (Nuclear Fusion power supply with 20 year duration)

Statistical Data:
Height: 9.33 feet (2.8 meters) to top of turret.
Width: 12 feet (3.6 meters)
Length: 22.9 feet(6.88 meters) (hull only)
Weight: 61 tons (55 metric tons) fully loaded
Power Source: Nuclear fusion reactor; Must be refueled every twenty years, otherwise effectively unlimited.
Cargo Capacity: Minimal, enough for equipment with crew. Extra storage rack on back of turret, seldom used in combat.
Black Market Cost: 7,500,000 Credits was the production price originally, and for this price the NGR sells them to reputable buyers. Remaining tanks sell for up to triple that on the black market; reasonable availability.

Weapon Systems:

  1. Main Gun: The Panther enjoys a +3 to strike for the main gun using the laser targeting sights and radar, and because of its gyrostabilisation the gun can be fired without penalties "on the move". The cannon can angle from -5 degrees to +15 degrees up, and the turret can rotate through 360 degrees.
    1. 140 mm Electrothermal Smooth Bore Cannon: Mounted in the tank’s turret and fully automated, this was a rather old (and refined) weapon capable of knocking out any tank then in service. The projectile is loaded into the barrel, behind which there is a “propellant,” which is a dot of light metal. A powerful electromagnetic force is applied to the metal, which causes its atoms to “switch” directions. This happens so violently that the metal turns to plasma, and this expanding gas then drives the projectile forward. The autoloader handled only one type of ammunition, and normally only APFSDS munitions were loaded, since the main target would be other tanks. Smaller targets would be engaged with the 40 mm autocannon.
      Later on the payload was sometimes switched to other rounds, like a All HEAT loadout. For long range engagements APSFDS was preferred though.
      Maximum Effective Range: Direct fire range is 8202 feet (2,500 meters) for HEAT or Plasma, but 14763.7 feet (4,500 meters) for APFSDS. Indirect fire for all rounds is 36089.2 feet (6.8 miles / 11,000 meters). Indirect fire for all rounds is 11,000 meters.
      Mega-Damage: (HEAT): 3D4x10, blast radius of 10 ft. (APFSDS): 3D6x10+40 (optional rule is that cannon gets a critical on a natural 18, 19, or 20 due to its high penetration). (PLASMA): 3D6x10, blast radius of 30 ft. Fragmentation: 6D6, blast radius of 40 feet.
      Rate of Fire: Three times per melee.
      Payload: 42 gun rounds, all one single type (APSFDS, HEAT, Frag or Plasma). Also note that plasma only became available just before the Rifts, and before that the tank sometimes carried Fragmentation rounds.
      Bonuses: +2 to strike at all times with cannon shells from the laser sight and fire control computer, including when on the move. For indirect long-range fire has a +1 to strike, but only when standing still.
    2. Tri-barrel Pulse Laser cannon: This weapon is sometimes substituted for the 140 mm smoothbore. Essentially all of the ammunition storage for the 140 mm rounds is converted to hold a fusion powerpack and a Capacitor. The laser has less range and power than the smoothbore, but is not dependant on ammunition. It is also markedly shorter than the smoothbore, making for easyer turret traverse.
      Note that this weapon was never fitted in pre-Rifts times, and is only available as a conversion option in the NGR.
      Maximum Effective Range: 10,000 feet (3000 meters)
      Mega-Damage: 1D4x10 per barrel, usually fires bursts of 3 pulses for 3D4x10.
      Rate of Fire: Three bursts per melee.
      Payload: Unlimited
  2. 40 mm Autocannon: Mounted next to the large smoothbore cannon, the 40 mm autocannon was meant to be used on "softskinned" targets like APCs and lighter vehicles, or basically anything not worth hitting with the smoothbore. The autocannon could fire both single shots or bursts, and had a dual ammunition feed, firing both fragmentation and armor piercing rounds. The cannon had independant elevation from the smoothbore cannon (but still rotated with the turret). Maximum elevation was 55 degrees, allowing the weapon to be used against flying targets.
    Maximum Effective Range: 8,000 feet (2,400 m)
    Mega Damage: 6D6 for Fragmentation with a blast area of 12 ft and 1D6x10 for Armor Piercing with a blast area of 3 ft, burst of 5 rounds does 2D4x10 for Fragmentation with a blast area of 40 ft and 3D6x10 for Armor Piercing with a blast area of 8 ft.
    Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner
    Payload: 120 rounds, usually 60/60 fragmentation/AP
    Bonuses: +2 to strike.
  3. Defensive 8 millimeter Railgun: Mounted atop the main turret, this gun has a 360 degree swiveling fire-arc and is capable of tracking aerial targets even directly overhead the Leopard. It can be fired manually, or from within the turret with computer guidance. As such, it is a somewhat crude but efficient CIWs for use against missiles and aircraft as well as ground personell.
    Maximum Effective Range: 4,920 feet (1,500 meters)
    Mega Damage: Single shot does 2D4 and 20 round burst does 1D6x10
    Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner
    Payload: 1600 rounds (80 bursts).
  4. Infrared Laser Jammers (2): These are jamming devices designed to stop incoming missiles, though actually the lasers fire wide beams of IR light at incoming missiles. When an IR guided missile is hit by the lasers its seeker is blinded.
    Effect: Upon firing there is a 50% chance that any IR guided missiles are blinded, and miss the tank. Does 1D6 S.D.C. damage to anyone within the effective radius. Watch out for unprotected eyes! Rate of Fire: Twice every round.
    Maximum Effective Range: Around tank only; Rough distance of 200 ft (60 m) around tank.
    Payload: Effectively unlimited.
  5. Firefly Chaff Launchers (2): Located on the sides of the turret in the box-like structures. The launchers fire decoys straight up. This system is designed to confuse incoming missiles. The launchers do this by launching both flares and active radar decoys. Chaff isn`t actually in use any more, but the name sticks around. The decoys and the flare rockets float down by parachute; Effects last for one minute (4 Melee rounds.)
    Rifts Earth decoys systems are assumed to not operate on Phase World missiles due to technological difference. Reduce effects by 20% against smart missiles (Add +20% to rolls for smart missiles.)
    Maximum Effective Range: Around tank only; Rough distance of 80 ft (24 m) around tank.
    Mega Damage: None
      01-35 - Enemy missile or missile volley detonates in chaff cloud - Missiles are all destroyed..
      36-60 - Enemy missile or missile volley loses track of real target and veers away in wrong direction (May lock onto another target.)
      61-00 - No effect, enemy missile or missile volley is still on target.
    Payload: 18 each for a total of 36.


Special Notes:

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