Sunday 17 March 2013

IS-2 vs Ferdinand

My previous article talked about the effects of the IS-2's gun on various German tanks. However, a popular character, the Ferdinand, is missing. This article is going to remedy that.

"Photo #35. Front of the assault gun "Ferdinand" hit by a 122 mm shell. The first armour plate, 100 mm in thickness was penetrated. The shell ricocheted from the second plate. Distance: 1400 meters.

Photo #36. Turret of the assault gun "Ferdinand" hit by 122 mm shells.
1. Dent 100 mm deep, a bump formed on the other side. Armour thickness here is 200 mm.
2. Penetration, the shell is stuck. Armour thickness here is 150-180 mm. Distance: 1400 meters."

The Ferdinand is a formidable opponent, even for the powerful D-25 gun. However, we see the flaw in Soviet penetration metrics. The shell that penetrated the Ferdinand penetrated the armour, and produced spalling that would have killed the crew. And yet, the shell itself is stuck in the armour. This does not count as a penetration by Soviet standards. If you look at the table of penetrations, the IS-2, theoretically, cannot penetrate this much armour.

Let's see how these test results apply to real life. An IS-2 from the 71st Guards Heavy Tank Regiment of the 3rd Guards Tank Army encountered a Ferdinand belonging to the s.Pz.Jg.Abt 653 on July 22nd, 1944, near the city of Magerov. From the report:

"At 13:30, the regiment received a new objective: the 53rd Guards Tank Brigade was to move toward Nogortse, Veryny, Turnnko, Dobrosin, Magerov, Shezehts, Yavorov, and must be ready to deflect a counter-attack from the Zhulkev and Nemirov direction.

In the region of Nogortse and Turnnko, about 15-20 km in the march, the terrain became extraordinarily difficult for heavy tanks, due to a large amount of swamps, lowlands, and completely destroyed roads. Due to this, the regiment crossed this section all night, and only made it to the highway at Dobrosin in the morning.
Moving forward, elements of the brigade were ambushed next to Magerov. Without engaging, the attacking forces were ordered to go around Magerov from the North-East, and regroup at their original destination 3 km away from Magerov. At the same time, a platoon from Ryzhinkiy's tank company, acting with the 53rd Tank Brigade, was ordered to destroy the ambush, and clear the road to Nemirov.

Lieutenant Slunayev's tank, under the cover of another tank, moved to the crossroads north of Shestaki, and observed the enemy ambush for 10-15 minutes. It was thoroughly camouflaged on the clearing in the forest south of Borki. After detecting all threats, Slunayev's tank opened fire from 1000 meters, and destroyed it in several shots. As a result, a Ferdinand SPG and an APC were burned, along with 2 guns. The path to Magerov was open."



  2. What was the point of including this battlefield report, when the report does not describe where the Ferdinand was hit or what "destroyed" actually means? Seriously, without any detail the report is meaningless to the subject of effectiveness of the 122mm against the Ferdinands armor.

    1. It does say the thing was "burnt" - which in Russian is more serious than just a lost. At the very least it was disabled and that's the point.

      It is true the hit angle was not determined. On the other hand, it may be presumed based on the above that crews are taught that they can take the Ferdinand head on with good chances of success. Will you be running around for a flank shot?

    2. Yes, you would attempt a flank shot especially on an observed target that does not realize you are there. It would be insane and foolish to attempt to close on the Ferdinand if it is manned and active, from the front.

      Soviets were not stupid, they would not attack it from the front if the above criteria were true. No country would attack frontally unless they had no other choice.

      Again, the point remains that this battlefield report does not describe where the Ferdinand was hit, and as such should not be included in this article as it provides us nothing objective.

      A T-34-85 can knock out a Ferdinand, depending on distance and where it is shooting at. The question though, is the effectiveness of the 122mm on the frontally, or more specifically on the frontal casemate of the Ferdinand.

    3. I agree, the Report in the end is pointless.

    4. >Yes, you would attempt a flank shot especially on an observed target that does not realize you are there. It would be insane and foolish to attempt to close on the Ferdinand if it is manned and active, from the front.

      If you start out at the front, and give up that shot chance, you will give the Ferdinand an extra chance to spot you as you work into the flank.

      But never mind that. It is actually possible to locate the probable place of action. You can actually find Dobrosin, Magerov and Borki (under different spellings) in the Lvov/Lviv Oblast of modern Ukraine on Google Earth.

      And studying the terrain there, you can see it would have been pretty hard to arrange for a 1km flank or rear shot against a Ferdinand hiding in the woods to the south of Borki (which also means it is south of the road - in essence it is firing northward to interdict the road). Which may be why they didn't bother putting in a direction - people that are familiar with the terrain will know this, unlike us.

    5. Uh, guys the report specifically says 'the front plate'.

  3. The distance was 1400 m and 2 shots beounced from 200 armour but dents in the armour are quietly deep (100 mm dents in 200 mm armour is close to penetration) and at closest range under 1000 m D25 should penetrate front hull armour.
    But of course the AP amunition is not just one kind of amunition that IS 2 should use against tanks. If HE was fired to the ferdinants
    superstructure the blast with fragments would demage gun and destroy front hull roof armour but ferdinant shouldnt do it to the IS 2 because there is practically no front hull roof armour on IS 2 :)

  4. lol propagande bullshit and desperate thing to demolish the ferdinands armor with that report about an IS2 who got a Ferdi. Who knows if the ferdi didn´t break down or caught fire because of it´s complex engine? Ferdi armor was appereantly to much for russian d25 122mm gun, but the vehicle had trouble on its own...

    1. "Proganda bullshit" fiendishly hidden from public view by those dastardly "commies", biding their time until well after the collapse of the Soviet Union so that they could achieve their ultimate aim--subversion of all right-thinking military simulation games!!

      (snark mode off).

  5. At 1400m the 122mm AP shell fired from the IS-2 has a velocity of 609m/s and such shell would penetrate around 180mm of armor.
    The shell failed against the 200m portion but had ennough energy to get stuck in the 150-180mm part of the armor where a gun mantled should have been.
    The result can be expected since the plate is also angled around 20° to the vertical.
    However due to AP shells breaking up at high velocity it's questionable if the 122mm AP round could even penetrate the superstructure at closer range.

  6. What does it say in the pictures beneath the 122mm?
    I put it into google translate and I get "ArmorB".
    Does that refer to the BR-471B shell or did they use the sharp nosed BR-471?

    1. "Бронеб." short for бронебойный, armour piercing. I don't think BR-471B existed at this point.

    2. Why does it say in photo 36 that the armour is 150-180mm thick? I thought that the Ferdinand's superstrucutre was 200mm thick. Is there something obvious that I'm missing here?

    3. The Ferdinand's armour is a little more complicated than it seems. The armour diagrams you see today are based on preliminary Soviet measurements that were sent to the UK way before anyone who spoke English saw a Ferdinand in the field. Measurements taken by Soviet and British specialists later (when the latter met them in Italy) were much different. Whether it is a difference in individual tanks or the initial measurements were off, I can't say.