Tuesday 13 December 2016

76 mm HE

"Artillery HQ
August 11th, 1941
To the Chief of Artillery of the 19th Army

Practice shows that firing 76 mm HE shells with a delayed fuse is ineffective.

Better results are obtained when firing 76 mm HE shells with an impact fuse. Shooting like this can ruin the suspension, destroy armament, and knock out the crew.

In the future, when firing at armoured cars and light tanks from a 76 mm gun at an angle of less than 30 degrees, set the fuse to high explosive action. At the same targets at an angle of 30 degrees or more or medium and heavy tanks, set the fuse to fragmentation action.
When firing 85 mm HE shells from mod. 1931 guns consider that they can penetrate 45 mm of armour at 30 degrees from 500 meters, and 50 mm of armour under the same conditions can be penetrated from 300 meters or closer.

Deliver the above information down to the gun commanders.

Acting Chief of Artillery of the Western Front, Major-General of Artillery, Kamera
Commissar of Artillery of the Western Front, Regimental Commissar"

Via gistory.

It appears that there is a mistake in the document: the mod. 1931 AA gun used 76 mm ammunition, not 85 mm. Both types of gun were used extensively in the anti-tank role in 1941 due to a lack of dedicated anti-tank artillery. In 1943, both guns served as the base for tank guns (the 85 mm D-5 and 76 mm S-54) since their AP ballistics were superior to the T-34's F-34 gun. However, the F-34 proved it capable of penetrating a PzIV's armour at any range with HE, so perhaps the slower muzzle velocity resulted in more reliable detonation.


  1. Is this a full penetration or just the explosive impact gets through?

  2. other than the articles about 122mm/152mm vs the cats, do you have any info on the effect of HE shells on armored vehicles? I'm curious about what, say american 75mm, soviet 76mm or 85mm HE shells would do to various tanks from different aspects. Tanks seem alternatively unstoppable and hilariously fragile at times- the KV at Raseiniai taking numerous penetrating hits and fighting on, in comparison to other reports where tanks are completely disabled by weapons systems that, on paper, have no chance of damaging them. Obviously training and morale are at play here, but still.. curious about the concussive effect on both crew and internal mechanisms of HE and non-penetrating AP

    1. Soviet 76 mm HE: http://tankarchives.blogspot.ca/2013/05/f-34-vs-german-tanks.html
      American 75 mm HE: http://tankarchives.blogspot.ca/2013/04/american-guns-vs-german-tanks.html

      I've never seen a test of 85 mm HE against tanks. As for tanks being unstoppable or fragile, it all depends on many factors, the crew being one of them. I've read stories about the crew bailing out after one non-critical hit, I've read stories about the crew staying in their crippled/burning tank and fighting until their last breath.

      In real life, any tank is more fragile than millimeters of penetration on a table suggest. You can sever a track, you can knock out optics, you can frighten the crew.

  3. Any idea which HE round was used to test the F-34?

    What's the difference between setting for high explosive action versus fragmentation action? Since it mentions a delayed fuse as something different, I'm especially confused.

    1. No idea what round was used in this case.

      My artillery textbook describes the high explosive setting as detonation 0.03-0.05 seconds after impact, while the fragmentation setting detonates the shell on impact.