Tank duel between the Cologne Cathedral Panther and the T-26 Pershing

Started by Louis Gardner · 76 · 16 hours ago
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    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    This is a project that I have been wanting to do for MANY years now. Every since I first saw the video and read about this story, I started gathering some kits and bits to make it happen in 1/35 scale. The game plan is to get these tanks built and ready to post in the headline section on March 3, 2025.

    This will be the 80th year anniversary of when this happened back in 1945.

    This project has a lot of personal meaning for me. I am a former US Army “tanker” and my dad also served in Armor as well as the Infantry. During the time when my Dad served in the Army, they trained some soldiers with a dual "MOS". Dad's primary job was Heavy weapons, Infantry. But he had secondary training as an Armor crewman. My Dad was a Korean War combat veteran, and he finally told me in his last two weeks of life about how he had four different tanks knocked out or disabled by mines in Korea and how he managed to survive. Not everyone in his crews were as lucky. Dad served in both the Sherman’s and the Pershing’s while he was in Korea.

    Years later, when I joined the US Army, I served in the M-60A1’s, but I was able to be a crewman in the M-48 series since they were similar to the 60. My last few months serving in the Army were spent transitioning into the marvelous and at the time brand spanking new M-1A1 Abrams. It was like going from your Grandfather’s old farm truck into a 1970 Challenger R/T SE with a 440 six pack and all of the bells and whistles. If it could have cooked and I wasn't already married... well. You get the idea. I fell in love with this tank.

    I almost reenlisted because of the M-1. We were the first unit in the Army to get the new up gunned 120MM version. The only reason why I didn’t re-up was because of my wife. Now she is an “ex wife”, so In hindsight I should have raised my right hand again and signed up for another hitch (or 4).

    My dad served later in the M-46, M-47 and M-48A2. So between he and I we had covered all of the tanks fielded by the Army from the Sherman’s to the modern day Abrams.

    The tank battle between these two is a good documentation of how brutal tank warfare is. It was caught on film and if you want to check into it, try searching for the “Cologne Panther duel”.

    There’s several very good videos of it available on YouTube if you’re interested. This is a screenshot of the Pershing as it was firing on the Panther.

    I have seen some tanks that have been fired on and in the case of the ones that I saw, the “silver bullet” sabot drilled through one side,(front slope), through the engine and out the back, ending up who knows where. I have also seen some tanks where the turret has popped off and flown away quite a distance. I can only imagine what it was like for the people who were inside of any tank that was hit.

    Tank warfare is not pretty.

    This is why I want to build these.

    As a tribute for all tankers of all Nations, former, present and future.

    This is the kit that I will be using for the Panther.

    This is the one that I will be building for the Pershing that knocked out the Panther. This is the tank that Clarence Smoyer was the gunner in.

    Just before this historic tank engagement, the Panther had knocked out two different Sherman’s, killing three men.

    I’m going to building up several different Sherman’s of various types. This “Jumbo” one.

    This is one of the Sherman’s that I will be building too. I am 99 percent sure that this is the same type as one of the Sherman tanks that was knocked out.

    It turns out that this unit was operating several different types of Sherman tanks at this particular time.
    I spent some of my time in the tank crew as a driver and then after I had logged over 2,000 miles and was promoted I became the gunner. This is what I did for most of my career.

    Finally I was trained as a tank commander. So I have a personal connection with Mr. Smoyer.

    This is a picture of me in the commander position. It’s also the first time I ever took a tank down range. We did a good job that day and we qualified with a distinguished rating.

    I had a great crew. That’s what matters.

  • Profile Photo
    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    I have been doing a lot of research about this tank duel. It turns out that the Panther was the late model A version.

    The Panther used 4 different styles of Zimmerit anti magnetic mine coating on them. The design of the pattern was different based on the model of the tank and the factory where it was made.

    This picture shows all of the different styles of the Zimmerit that was used on the various German armor vehicles.

    After close study of the pictures I found online that showed the Panther tank after it was knocked out and quit burning, I’m going to make an educated guess and say it was this type of Zimmerit pattern that was used on the Cologne Panther.

    Here’s a good close up photo showing the pattern.

    It’s almost as confusing as the late war Bf-109 …..

  • Profile Photo
    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    So I started building the basic hull and turret for the Panther. I was only going to build it as far as needed so that I could start adding the Zimmerit on the plastic.

    This is a good picture showing the bare hull.

    The rear of the hull has a round bolt on plate that allows the crew to gain access to the rear of the engine. It was also covered by Zimmerit too.

    You can see the round plate just below where it goes. I’m not adding it just yet because it’s going to be easier to add the Zimmerit on it before it gets installed.

    This will allow me to add the Zimmerit on the rear of the hull easier too since it’s not going to be in the way.

    The same thing applies to the front slope. I purposefully left the driver vision slot armored cover off for the same reason.

    This next picture shows the nice detail on the front slope glacis and the final drives. I have a small gap on the front of the hull. I probably could have squeezed it together tighter and made it disappear. But since this will be covered with Zimmerit, I didn't bother.

    Overall the fit on this Dragon / DML kit is pretty good. Good enough for me even though this kit is getting a bit older... Hey, after all aren't we all ? 😉 It sure beats the alternative of not getting any older.

    This shows the side of the hull just below the sponson's. I have not installed any of the road wheel arms yet because this area gets a coat of Zimmerit too.

    These are the aforementioned driver’s and engine access covers.

    I have assembled the turret as well. I’m leaving the rear of the turret off and the main gun mantlet off for now because it will be easier to cover it with Zimmerit this way.

    You can also see the loaders hatch in this picture. It is the round circular part.

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    Greg Kittinger said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    This will be an awesome project Louis!

  • Profile Photo
    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Usually I have been using a product called Zimmit Right. It’s a two part product that has worked great for making the Zimmerit on my previous armor builds.

    Sadly it is getting old (like me), and no longer pliable. In fact it is rock hard. Not good. Sort of like my back is ….

    So I’m going to try a different product to see if it works, if it works at all for this. I’m hoping that it does. I picked this up at Hobby Lobby. It is a two part deal and it looks very similar to the original Zimmit Right stuff that I was using before.

    Several years ago I scored this set of Zimmerit rollers and stamps. They’re designed to apply the different types of Zimmerit patterns to your putty of choice.

    I had to purchase one of these rollers and stamps separately. What you see here is a combination of both items.

    This is a great close up photo of the one that you can use for the “waffle pattern” that was used on several of the Stug assault guns. I’m actually a bit anxious to try this one out on a Tamiya Stug, so stay tuned for a different article in the future for this one.

    Here you can see the roller and the stamp that I am going to use for the Panther. I’m thinking that this will be the best one to use for the Zimmerit pattern that is required for the Panther.

    I was chomping at the bit to try this out. So I mixed up a little ball of milliput and applied it to the loaders hatch for the rear of the turret. I wanted to see how it would work.

    I had enough left over to cover the driver’s vision slot cover.

    The moment of truth ! I first took a short steel ruler and pressed a row of vertical lines into the putty to create the vertical lines that are visible in this pattern.

    Then I took the roller and made a few passes, being careful not to get off line.

    This is the end result. I’m very excited about how this is turning out. I’m going to let it dry and then I’ll see what it looks like afterwards.

    If it looks good I’ll continue with the process on the rest of the Panther.

    This is now up to date and shows the place where this project is at right now.

    As always comments are welcome and encouraged. Thanks for stopping by.

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    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Thanks Greg !

    Greg Kittinger (@gkittinger)

    I’m starting on it now because I’m planning to wrap up everything by March 3rd of 2025. I want to post it on the 80th anniversary of this event.

    Please continue to follow along as I am going to be posting regularly.

    Thanks again my friend.

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    Paul Barber said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    This is going to be brilliant! I know you can’t build a scale model of the Cathedral, but I’m interested to see what bases, if any you choose to involve for the tanks in the duel. Any plans?

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    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Paul Barber (@yellow10)
    Hey Paul ! It's great to hear from you. Funny thing you mentioned a base...

    Yes I do have a base in mind for this. I have been working on several different bases that I want to start using to take pictures of my completed models on.

    But also like you said, I don't want to even attempt to scratch build the Cathedral. That is something that our good friend

    Michel Verschuere @michel-verschuere

    would be better much at than I. His scratch building skills are incredible.

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    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    My Dad has a connection to the units that were fighting in and around Cologne (or Koln as the German's call it).

    On my Dad's 3rd enlistment in the Army, he was assigned to Company A, 36th Armored Infantry Battalion. Combat Command A, 3rd Armored Division during February of 1953. This would have been shortly after he returned back from Korea on his second tour of 9 months. He was in Korea twice, and he told me that they were always raising the number of points needed to come back to the States.

    I found this picture of him several years ago. I have zoomed in on it to show Dad here, who was a Private at this time...again.

    Dad was in Second Platoon at the time...

    He told me that he might as well had Velcro on his sleeves, because he would be promoted, and then get into a fight and / or be drinking and would be busted down again. This was likely from what we would call PTSD today after the things he saw and did in Korea.

    This is Dad's original enlistment photo. It was taken in 1948. Look at how young he was... and then compare it to the picture when he was in 2nd Platoon, and how much he had aged in only a few years.

    Dad told me that he was promoted to the rank of E7 Sergeant First Class (SFC) while in Korea... twice. Both times these promotions were what they called "battlefield promotions". This happens when the person holding the rank was killed, captured or wounded, and removed from the unit. He ended up getting demoted from E7 both times, and spent a lot of his time in Korea as either a Sergeant E5 or a Corporal E4 rank.

    Here are some pictures that break down the unit my Dad served in early 1953, but as they were deployed as they were there at the Battle of Cologne when this epic tank duel took place. They were most likely the Infantry supporting role, but they could also have had some Armor there at the time since they had both available.

    The more I started digging into this, the more personal connections I found.

    Here is another picture I found of my Dad along with two of his buddies. These guys were all serving in the Army at the same time, and were childhood friends, having grown up together.

    This is another picture showing my Dad a few years after that... and one that my mom absolutely hated to see, so it was kept hidden away from us.

    This is because mom was not the lady in the picture ! It was one of Dad's former girl friends... Oh well...

    On a final note about Dad. He ended up becoming a drill Sergeant at Fort Knox. He served in this position for two years and did well, not getting into trouble any more. In the late 1950's Dad was part of a Special Forces Group in Berlin. He was part of the Berlin Brigade and a part of Detachment A. On his last DD-214 it shows this clearly.

    Dad finally got out of the Army after serving 12 years. The reason why he did was because as a Special Forces soldier, his next set of orders, (had he re enlisted) were going to send him to a little far away place that was called South Vietnam back then. He was going to be training the South Vietnamese how to fight the Communist North.

    Dad told me that it was time for him to come home, because he didn't want to trudge around in any more rice paddies. He said his days a being a "Rice Paddy Daddy" were over... so he came home. Dad evidently saw the writing on the wall and where the Army was heading.
    This was probably a good thing, because had he not done this, something worse could have happened, and I might not be here today.

    Everything happens for a reason.

    As always, comments are encouraged, and greatly appreciated.
    Thanks for stopping by.

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    George R Blair Jr said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Glad to see you posting again, Louis (@lgardner). Very interesting modeling ahead. I always wondered why a former Army guy didn't build more armor. Looking forward to the rest.

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    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    George R Blair Jr (@gblair)
    Hey George ! It's great to hear from you.

    I have unfortunately been very sick over the past few weeks. At one point I thought I had the blasted Covid again. I was tested for it, but it didn't come back as a positive result. So I likely came down with something else that came from who knows where. It was all I could do to get out of bed, and I had a fairly high fever too, along with some other things that you don't need to hear about.

    While I was sick, I did a lot of thinking about things when I wasn't sleeping. I realized that I should be building the things that I have really wanted to make for a long while. I also realized that the 80th Anniversary date of this epic tank duel was coming up sooner than later. If I waited too long, I wouldn't be able to make everything that I wanted to, with the pair of Sherman's, (maybe even 3), the Panther, and Pershing builds to wrap every angle up.

    I was thinking that my time was running out, and I didn't want to get stuck in a bad spot having to rush things. March 3rd, 2025, will be here before we know it.

    I do build armor, but not as much as I should. I think this is because my heart is really in aviation. You know, sort of like how the painter's house needs painting and the mechanic's car doesn't run. I got to "play" in the real tanks so building armor is not as exciting for me ... I guess. Heck I don't know. 😉

    Don't get me wrong, as I do like Armor. In fact during the last week I have built up both a Michael Whittmann Tiger tank, and an Otto Carius Jagdtiger in 1/35 scale using Tamiya kits. I’m 95 percent done with these two.

    You should see an article on the Tiger on August 8th in the headlines section.

    I had forgotten how easy it was to build tanks... and just how fast they go together. Nothing like what we are used to with aircraft builds. You can "slam" a tank model together in a day or two if things go well. Spray paint it, then dirty it up and you're done. Not so fast with a plane it seems.

    I am going to be working on the 1/32 Revell P-51D as "LOU IV" also. I want to get it done so I can post it on August 12th. The famous color photos of his Mustang and the "Bottisham Four" were reportedly taken on July 26 / 27, 1944. If I get it done in time, I just might post the article then rather than wait for the anniversary of his death. I wanted it to be a tribute to this great man, who like many before and after him have given their lives for our freedom that we enjoy today.

    Thanks again for stopping by. I hope that you continue to do so. I also hope to be more active on Imodeler again. My being sick, combined with numerous doctor visits for both the misses and I have been keeping me away from the bench. Hopefully those days are behind us now.

    Take care buddy, and I appreciate everything you have done for me. I will also be working on the Lufthansa Ju-52 soon as well. I'll give you a heads up when I do. 🙂

    7 attached images. Click to enlarge.

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    Matt Minnichsoffer said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    @lgardner this is going to be one for the ages to be sure. All your personal connections and the research sure helps make the WIP fun for us to follow along. I'll be sure to keep checking in.

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    Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Matt Minnichsoffer (@coondog)
    Thank you ! I sincerely appreciate your kind words. You are correct. I didn't realize just how much I was "connected" to this build until I started digging into the events, the units, and my Dad's military service history. I don't know how to describe it, but I feel like it is my duty to do this project, and then tell the whole story once everything is said and done.

    I'm seriously considering getting a copy of Adam Makos' book about this story called Spearhead.

    gary sausmikat (@gwskat)

    Our friend and fellow Imodeler Gary Sausmikat has built a fantastic model of Mr. Smoyer's Pershing tank "Eagle 7". He also had the fantastic opportunity to meet both the author and Mr. Smoyer... who I believe personally autographed his copy of the book... Talk about front row seats ! Man oh man what a day that must have been.

    Spearhead signing
    Check this out... 🙂 And here is his Pershing model
    75 Years Ago Tribute / On This Day
    Thanks again buddy ! I sincerely appreciate your visit here. 🙂 Please stay tuned for updates. I have a question for you about your 3D Excelsior motorcycle project. How is it coming along ? Have you finished it up yet ? I am simply blown away at your skills to not only design the parts but at how good they look once assembled. Dude, you rock and are way out of my pay grade. You have some serious skills.
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    Spiros Pendedekas said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Superb project, my friend @lgardner! As always, your research is supreme! Looking forward to it!

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    George R Blair Jr said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Sorry to hear you have been sick, Louis (@lgardner). I am assuming you feel better now. My wife and I were at our neighbor's house a week ago and found out yesterday that both of them have Covid. Now we get to see how effective the shots are.

    My Dad was in the Army for over 30 years and spent a large part of that in armor, but when he first joined the Army he was in the cavalry, with horses and sabers and all that stuff. I have a photo of him when he was a young man on maneuvers and living in a pup tent. I have been know to build a tank or two. My all time favorites are the Panzer III, Panzer IV, Sherman, and Grant/Lee. I watch the movie Sahara (with Bogart or Belushi, take your choice) 3 or 4 times a year just to watch the tanks. I have the Miniart model of the M3 Lee with all of the figures that represent the people in the more recent version of Sahara. It is in the queue, but still a ways down.

    Anyway, looking forward to this build and watching you use your magic on some armor. Cheers buddy.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.