Wednesday, 27 February 2019

HE vs Tanks

"Due to a shortage of armour piercing shells presently experienced by artillery units, the practice of firing other types of ammunition out of 76.2 mm divisional guns is common.
  1. Armour piercing shot. Penetrates the armour of German tanks from any direction. Insufficient beyond armour effect. Fire and destruction of the tank are only caused if the engine, fuel tank, or ammunition is hit.
  2. Steel cased HE grenade. Can be used in combat against light (in some cases medium) tanks. Aimed at the sides during oblique movement or the turret ring, it destroys or tears off side armour in addition to jamming the turret and destroying mechanisms inside the turret, including optical sights and observation devices. In a number of cases the turret stopped traversing. When howitzers are used, light tank turrets were torn off.
  3. Shrapnel is still one of the most effective anti-tank means, as at a distance of up to 300 meters it can penetrate up to 35 mm of armour, which makes it a viable weapon against light tanks, and at closer range (200 m) against the flanks of medium tanks.
  4. The incendiary shell is insufficiently effective, but in a number of cases can be used when firing directly. It is desirable to concentrate fire of an entire battery firing incendiary shells at one tank.
  5. The steel cased explosive grenade is most effective when firing at the sides of the tank during oblique movement.
  6. The cast iron fragmentation grenade can be used only when firing at the turret to blind the tank.
None of the listed types of ammunition can fully replace armour piercing shells, as they either lack the necessary penetration (at least 60 mm) or beyond armour effect."

Excerpt from "Destruction of the armour of German tanks", June 1942, NII-48


  1. What is the difference between AP and AP shot?
    Is this APHE vs. AP?

    1. AP shells or AP-HE contain a fuse and explosive filler. The intent is that they detonate after passing through the armour to scatter fragments inside the tank and deal more damage.

      AP shot is a solid object and is not filled with explosive. When the projectile passes through the armour, it shatters, and its own fragments, along with fragments of the armour, damage the insides of the tank. If the projectile does not shatter and the armour does not produce enough fragments, the damage to the internals of the tank is slight, and often will not put it out of action. The upside of this type of ammunition is that spaced armour cannot force it to go off prematurely as easily as it can for AP-HE.

      AP-HE can also be used to refer to ammunition with a larger amount of HE filler than regular AP shells. This ammunition is sometimes called "semi-AP" as well. Different countries can use different terminology, even if they speak the same language.

    2. Armour peircing shot is plain AP going by the effect described by the report. So I believe it is safe to assume the "armour piercing shells" in short supply are indeed APHE. This would also be consistent with the traditional definitions of "shot and shell".

  2. I don't believe the Russians used 76.2mm AP. But, maybe they should have concentrated on producing APHE shells and not make so many varieties of other types. I mean HE, frag, incendiary and phosphorus smoke shells. What next illumination? Get the basics first.

    1. What exactly is "shrapnel?" Is it just HE for fragmentation, as Mobius suggests, or is it an actual Shrapnel shell (airbust throwing balls forward) or even cannister?

    2. Shrapnel with balls.

    3. The idea of firing musket balls into the side of a Pz IV is pretty funny ...