The capture of a Soviet T-34 medium tank on the Eastern Front led directly to the development of the German Panzerkampfwagen V Panther, which incorporated a number of the design elements of the T-34 and became an exceptional armoured weapon in its own right. The Panther was sent to frontline units in the spring of 1943 and first saw major combat at Kursk. With the correction of the production-related mechanical difficulties, the Panther became highly popular with German tankers and a fearsome weapon on the battlefield. Main Armament The primary weapon mounted by the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther was the 75-mm (2.95-in) KwK 42 L/70 high-velocity cannon manufactured by Rheinmetall-Borsig. Turret The Panther tank incorporated an existing three-man turret design that underwent several modifications. Later versions included a cast commander's cupola rather than an early drum-like configuration and a bracket for an MG 34 anti-aircraft machine gun. Engine The Panther's 485-kW (650-hp) Maybach HL 210 P 45 petrol engine was later improved to a 514.5-kW (690-hp) V-12 Maybach HL230 P30 with a top speed in excess of 48 km/h (30 mph) and a range of more than 240 km (150 miles). Suspension The distinctive suspension of the Panther included a double torsion bar arrangement with interwoven road wheels. This allowed the vehicle to traverse difficult terrain more easily. Wide tracks offered greater stability. Ammunition Storage No ammunition was stored in the Panther's turret. However, up to 48 rounds of 75-mm (2.95-in) ammunition were carried in sponsons on either side of the hull. Armour Protection The Panther's frontal armour was up to 80 mm (3.2 in) thick. Its 55-degree slope effectively increased the protection afforded the five-man crew. Side armour, which varied from 40 mm (1.6 in) to 50 mm (2 in), could be considered a defensive weakness. Facts about PzKplw V Panther The high-velocity 75-mm (2.95-in) cannon gave the Panther a main armament which was initially superior to most Allied guns. Daimler-Benz and Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg AG (MAN) competed for the contract to manufacture the Panther. The debut of the Panther at the Battle of Kursk was inauspicious because of mechanical failures.