The Weald Foundation is a charitable foundation established in 1997 by Mike Gibb. To begin with, the Foundation focused mainly on the restoration of WW2 German armoured vehicles, but in recent years has expanded its scope to include WW1 vehicles from all nations - and a Renault FT17 is currently nearing completion, with restoration due to start soon on a British Mk IV. The Weald Foundation collection includes the Jagdpanther featured on this page, a Stug III and Rommel's actual staff car from the North Africa campaign.
The Foundation regularly carries out restoration work for other Museums and collections and most recently carried out a full rebuild of the engine of The Tank Museum's Tiger 1, restoring it to full running order.
The performance of the 8.8cm PaK gun and the need for effective, mobile anti-tank weapons was well understood by the Germans.
From 1943 on various attempts had been made to combine the two, but without great success: the Ferdinands were built on the original chassis for the Porsche version of the Tiger I and the Nashorn was built on a hybrid Panzer III/IV chassis. Neither was a success, for different reasons.
Although the Panther could not take the 8.8cm KwK 43 in its original form, experience with earlier tank destroyers and assault guns had shown that by dispensing with the turret and mounting the gun in a fixed superstructure, this could be overcome. So, in October 1943, a prototype version was shown to Hitler and promptly approved for production.
With its superlative gun, heavier armour and by now much-improved transmission, it was an immediate success. Deliveries began in early 1944, and the Jagdpanther was produced right up to the end, April 1945 by MNH in Hannover.
Originally intended to be produced at a rate of 150 per month, total production was far lower due to the dislocation of German industry in the final years of the war. With its ability to destroy any known Allied tank and enhanced armour protection, this was very fortunate.