Big Cat Hunters – Jagdpanthers in Bulge Germans

The Jagdpanther makes its long overdue return to late war with the Bulge German book and Lee takes a look at jagd-ing those Panthers.

The Jagdpanther

The Jagdpanther is an iconic WW2 tank destroyer, represneting the pinnacle of the German doctrine of taking its standard tank hull and putting a bigger gun of a fixed casement.  Whilst the Jagdtiger would come after it with its 125mm main gun, it was in nowhere near the same numbers or to the same effectiveness.

The Jagdpanther marries the Panther’s hull with the long barrelled 88 we normally see being sported by a Konigstiger.  The result is to create a hard hitting yet nimble tank destroyer than can detroy any Allied tank at any range whilst sporting enough armour to be able to shrug off the majority of return fire from anything save a dedicated tank destroyer.

Side Armour five reminds us that we need to keep ourselves very much “face towards enemy”, using the 48″ range to its maximum, ideally.  We also shouldn’t get any illusions about assaulting infantry positions either as we are still only top armour 1 and counter-attacking on a 5.

The Formation

Given I was expecting a Nordwind focused formation, the Jagdpanther’s formation is actually surprisngly versatile for creating a variety of Jagpanther units after the retreat from France.  This mostly comes down to the options in the second compulsory box which can be:

  • More Jagdpanthers – good for any unit
  • Hornisse tank hunters – proving a cheaper, if more vulnerable, long 88 option, the Hornisse of 525 Schwere-panzerjaeger were added to 654 Schwere Panzerjager prior to Nordwind.
  • StuG – a budget option that can still handle the medium tanks used by the allies in mid-44.  559 Schwere-panzerjaeger in the Netherlands received StuG for its second company and they proved just as worthwhile as the bigger panzerjaeger in closing Hell’s Highway and would also be present when the battalion was attached to Panzer Lehr for the Wacht Am Rhein offensive.
  • PzIV/70 – these were added to the 559th to make up losses after the Bulge.  They provide a halfway house between the bulk of the StuG platoons and the lethality of the Jagdpanther and are certainly a useful addition when allied mediums gain weight and lethality in the Bulge!

Our final optional box, the fourth, provides our AA options which can further tailor our force to represent the two Jagpanther Battaltions doing most the fighting in the west.  559 was equipped with Whirbelwinds for the fighting in the Netherlands.  654 also had Whirbelwinds but also the older Mobelwagon.  You may say that the Mobelwagon isn’t an option, but it is!  It’s just hidden, like so much good stuff, in the Command Cards.  We can basically swap the Ostwind/Whirblwind option in the fromation for the Bagration Mobelwagon.

The second compulsory box having non-Jagdpanthers goes a long way to making the formation viable as it means we can field four units (with HQ and AA) which is generally considered the minimum number of units you’d want to start a game with.

So lets takes a look at a couple lists:

559th in the Netherlands

Jagpanther Company
HQ Jagdpanther – 12
Platoon 1 – Three Jagdpanthers – 37
Platoon 2 – Four StuG III – 23
Platoon 3 – Three Whirbelwind – 7

Beach Defenders Company (representing 59th Infantry Division)
Beach Defemders HQ with Panzerfaust – 4
Beach Defenders Platoon with Rifle/MG, Panzerfaust and Panzerhrek – 7
Beach Defenders Platoon with Rifle/MG, Panzerfaust – 6
Beach Defenders Mortar Platoon with 4 x 8cm mortars – 4

The Jagpanthers are not quite a one dice reserve so I’d elect to have the HQ, StuG and Whirbelwind in reserve, depending on the anti-air threat.

The 59th infantry will be responsbible for holding the line and keeping the enemy from getting onto my Jagdpanther flanks whilst the heavy tanks thin out the enemy tanks.  The 8cm mortars provide some handy smoke and HE support.

654th in Nordwind

Jagpanther Company
HQ Jagdpanther – 12
Platoon 1 – Three Jagdpanthers – 37
Platoon 2 – Three Nashorn – 24
Platoon 3 – Three Mobelwagon – 8

Support
Volkgerenadier Rifle Platoon with seven panzerfaust rifle/MG stands with Panzershrek – 8
Volks Artillery battery with for 10.5cm guns – 7
OP PzIII – 1
SdKfz250 Scout Platoon – 3

In the formation itself, I opted for Mobelwagons over Whirbelwind as the extra hitting power to protect flanks against cheeky Stuarts is very welcome.  I dithered between having two Jagdpanthers over three Nashhorn (both the same points) but elected for the open top model for the extra two shots.  Battlefield experience may see that changed.

The support options are mostly based on the force I had in mind for Nordwind in v3.  Volksgrenadiers provide a solid unit to secure an objective on.  Two panzerfausts and a panzershrek should keep tank assaults honest.  The 10.5cm provide a cheap HE and smoke barrage option.  
The Scout Halftrack Platoon is a cheeky addition as its not something the force ever had in reality.  Its really there to make up a reserve with the Jagdpanther platoon.

Emotional Support Jagdpanther

The above two forces are based around the Jagdpanther but, at 37pts for three, a unit provides a near one-drop reserve.  The book has lots of contenders for best (near) one-drop reserve.  Two Heer Konistigers or four SS Panther (late) seem to be lead favourites but I think the Jagdpanther offers an interesting option having, as it does, all the firepower of the Konigstiger and all the speed to get it in the right place from reserves.

A force I may try is:

Volksgrenadier HQ – 4
Volskgrenadier Assault Platoon – 8
Volskgrenadier Assault Platoon – 8
Volskgrenadier Rifle Platoon – 7
Volskgrenadier Scout Platoon – 8
Volskgrenadier Mortar Platoon with four 8cm mortars- 3
Volskgrenadier Anti-tank Platoon with 4 PaK-40  – 10

Support 
Volks Artilery Battery with four 10.5cm – 7
Volks Artilery Battery with four 8.8cm – 10
Three Jagdpanthers – 37

The 88s and PaK-40 provide a base of fire whilst the mortars and 10.5cm guns aim to disrupt.  Four infantry platoons (including the Scouts) hold the line although one of them will be off table in reserves with the Jagdpanthers.

Meanwhile, in France…

Finally, a small moan.  After the Task Force Alpha card appeared in the Bulge book, I was hoping we might see a card for 654 Schwere-Panzerjaeger in France.  Unreliable tank hunters, Panther HQ tanks and halftrack AA all seemed an easy mix to put on a card.  Alas we don’t get that so it will be up to the community to fix that.  Maybe Battlefront can add it later!

Category: Battle of the BulgeD-DayFlames of WarLate WarList DiscussionMarket GardenRamblingReviewsV4

4 comments

  1. I intend to do a jagpanther formation as I just love the models … and already have them due to crafty purchase … are one tank hqs a viable thing ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Article by: Lee

Wargaming since Rogue Trader in 1990; I made the move to Flames in 2006 and have been with it ever since! I play at the Brighton Warlords most weeks.