Tuesday 5 December 2017

HEAT Protection

Conventional internet wisdom dictates that WWII era standoff armour was, at best, ineffective against the Panzerfaust, or even accentuated its effects by improving the standoff distance. However, there was no internet back in the day, so tankers had to make do with experimental data.

Let's start with the Soviets. In 1942, when researching protection against 75 mm HEAT, it was discovered that 4-5 mm mild steel screens 100-600 mm away from the armour worked in protecting the lower side of the T-34. In Berlin, so called "bedspring armour" (in reality, purpose made anti-Panzerfaust mesh screens that were made from 0.5-0.8 mm wire, positioned 200 mm from the armour) was, according to Soviet reports, effective in combat. 

A tank with its driver and fighting compartments protected from Panzerfausts.

Meanwhile, the British were trying to come up with their own solutions, some of them rather unconventional.

The sandbags worked. The first shot grazed the edge of the sandbag and penetrated the turret on impact. A second shot hit a sandbag and only left a 12 mm deep indentation in the main armour. However, it was not known whether it was the sandbags that did the trick, or just the plates. The testers could not establish that, as they ran out of Panzerfausts. 

The angled plate also worked. It's interesting to note that the thickness of the plates was 5 mm, same as the Soviet solution. Seems that the idea of angled armour didn't live long.

In 1943, the design that was used was more advanced than just a net, as it was a whopping 30 inches (762 mm) away from the main armour, and thus needed to be resilient to branches and other natural hazards that they could get stuck on.

Seems that this idea was not the best, but the concept of a mesh screen stood the test of time.

Much like the Soviets, they installed a screen 12 inches (305 mm) away from the main armour in 1945. Although the objective, initially, was to cause the warhead to bounce off instead of go off too far from the armour, the principle of the Canadian armour was the same as the Soviet solution. Amusingly, the Panzerfausts that were shipped to test this armour went missing.

1 comment:

  1. Zaloga in 'Armored Thunderbolt' cites some field tests with panzerfausts against a Sherman reinforced with concrete or cement on the front glacis. The panzerfaust still hit and penetrated, but the after-armor splash of molten metal (paraphrasing the testers' words) was reduced to nearly nothing.