Thursday 26 September 2013

Spring HEAT

"Memo on the question of armour-burning shells

Scraps of information of armour-burning shells used in the German army appeared back during the events in Spain (1937-1938). Additionally, a German patent for such a device is known.
The attempt to recreate the patent, and special research of the question, performed over 3 years at the Leningrad Chemical-Technological Institute, Red Army Artillery Academy, Scientific-Investigative Institute #6, and the Special Technical Bureau of the NKVD (letters are rubbed off and hard to make out, it might not be NKVD) gave no satisfactory results.
According to the latest information, the Germans allegedly have a shell capable of burning through armour, but no such shells were found among captured trophies. On March 31st, a HEAT shell was found for the German 76 mm gun, which, according to latest information, also exists for the 75 mm infantry gun. 
The shell is currently being examined by the Artkom GAU and NII-6.
In order to increase the armour piercing power of our 76 mm regimental gun, it is reasonable to finish development of a HEAT shell for it. 
At the same time, it is necessary to continue examining armour-burning objects of the thermite type."

As Soviet intelligence noticed, these HEAT shells were, in fact, difficult to obtain.

“After meeting with the general staff and divisional commanders of the 4th Panzer Group, Feldmarshal von Kluge once again asked to allow the use of “red-tipped” shells, giving the following as the reason:

“Holding back Russian tanks in an attack, particularly T-34s and heavy tanks, demands great effort on the part of our exhausted and battle-worn infantry. The existing methods of fighting T-34s and heavy tanks are insufficient. If the infantry’s load is lightened, they can resume completion of their objectives, despite their smaller numbers. ”

I can only support this request.

General von Bock”

"Red-tipped shells", or Pzgr Rot (tank grenade red), were HEAT shells. 

Franz Halder's diary also mentions HEAT shells. 

“December 22nd, 1941. 184th day of the war.

Forces of the south flank of the 4th army, south-east of Kaluga, are encircled by the enemy, who is also advancing on Tarusy. The condition on this section of the front is grave. It is not known when this crisis can be resolved. Regardless, the order to retreat was not given. The only order given was on the use of HEAT shells. {349}

{349} Hitler still disallowed use of these new shells”

“January 11th, 1942 (Sunday). 204th day of the war.

Hitler: hold Merdyn and cover the breach in the north. Attempt to do so before the front at Merdyn wavers. Move forces from the rear. Advance with the 9th army to cover the breach at Rzhev. There is no time for preparations of defensive positions. Any time we manage to win is to be used to cover breaches in our lines. Holding Suhinichi takes priority. Should we use shells with the red tip? {407} A counterattack from the south still remains our goal.

{407} Those were the markings of a HEAT artillery shell.”


  1. Are you sure about "Pzgr Rot" being HEAT shells? German and US catalogs of German ammunition show that the late war HEAT shells were olive drab (some with white markings). The 75mm and 76mm shells labeled ’Rot’ appear to be APHE shells black with red band.

    From the 1944 report on exploding T-34 fuel tanks: "..high explosive part of 75mm armor-piercing shell with red ring (80 gramms of trotyl..." seems to be AP.