The "Littlefield" Panther.
The Panther Ausf A of Jacques Littlefield began it's post war life in a Eastern European scrap yard. It was one of several Panthers that lay forgotten at this location, but it had been spared the cutters torch.
There does appear to be several versions of this Panthers history. Roy Hamilton, of the Littlefield restoration team recounts thus; "When the Panther first arrived (in USA), it was in a very sad shape as would be expected from spending the better part of 40 years under water and suffering from the effects from the demolition charge set off in its interior when abandoned. The turret was pieced together from parts of the original turret". (The turret was in fact so badly damaged that much has been rebuilt by the guys in USA). "Other damage caused by this explosion included blowing the bulkhead between the fighting compartment and the engine about 5 inches into the rear! This also broke most of the torsion bars, tearing loose and moving the upper deck support forward, breaking and blowing down part of the bottom of the left sponson. Many of the seam welds also failed; blowing up the deck itself, plus lots of other damage. The first job was to completely disassemble the tank and all of its componets to ascertain what was salvageable and what had to be found or made from new. New metric steel was ordered and a new top deck and all its components was made along with new bulkheads, sponson bottom, deck support, engine compartment etc. After all this had been re-fitted the entire hull was sandblasted and all of the rust pits were filled in. At about the same time a "new, old stock" turret ring was located and brought from France".
Above is a view of the damage to the sponson caused by the crew of the Panther blowing it up. Roy Hamilton continues; "New torsion bars were ordered from the original company in Germany and then installed. The swing arm bushings for the torsion bars had to be made new and were duling manufactured out of original phenolic material. Road wheels were found and fitted. The Panthers transmission was in surprisingly good condition and only needed some bearings to be replaced! The final drives were not as easy, and new gears had to be cut. The gear box under the turret basket which drives the hydraulic pumps for the steering assist, had the top blown out and was pretty sad. However, it was pieced back together with some new pieces added and rebuilt. Much of the interior had to be made afresh, including heat ducting, shell racks, lubrication tubing etc. Zimmerit has been applied behind the road wheels and will shortly be applied to the whole hull. As for the turret (as noted earlier), the original was in such a poor state that after salvaging the mantlet, the gun mount, commanders cupola and other pieces a completely new turret is being made".
Below: View looking through the aperture left by the removed turret. The torsion bars are bent and broken. This gives you just some idea of the huge amount of work that had to be done. Below: The Panther hull after it's first coat of paint. Compare this with the photo at the top of the page. The transformation is incredible.
Greg Taylor of Reno, Nevada is the driving force behind the Panthers restoration. His other projects can be seen elsewhere on this site. Since the compilation of this original article the military vehicle restoration fraternity and the world at large has had to mourn the untimely passing of Jacques Littlefield as a result of cancer. The now completed Panther stands as a memorial not only to those original men of the Panzerwaffe but also of the tireless dedication and expertise of Jacques and his team to keep history alive for many years to come.
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