Wednesday 4 December 2019

Soviet Zimmerit

"Instructions on combat against German magnetic HEAT mines

Over the last two months of fighting on the Belorussian Front there were many cases of our tanks blowing up when attacked by the enemy.

It was established that:
  1. Tanks blow up only in the event of ammunition detonation.
  2. The ammunition cooks off when the fighting compartment is struck by a magnetic anti-tank HEAT mine.
The magnetic anti-tank HEAT mine consists of an explosive charge weighing about 1 kg in a sheet metal casing arranged in the shape of a cone. A cylindrical detonator is attached to the top of the cone. A fuse akin to hand grenade fuses is attached to the top of the detonator. It has a longer time delay setting (4.5-7 seconds).

The lower part of the cone has three powerful permanent magnets attached with screws. These magnets attach reliably even to the belly of the tank. The mine resembles a watering can or a loudspeaker. 

Magnetic HEAT mines are deployed by infantry by either throwing them at the tank or placing them manually on the side or belly of the tank when it crosses a trench.

Effect of the magnetic HEAT mines

The soldier pulls the cord and throws the mine at the tank. The latter sticks to the armour using its magnets and blows up after the delay. The tank travels 50-100 meters in this time. The powerful explosive wave focused by the cone can penetrate up to 140 mm of armour and get inside the tank. Anything in the path of the wave will be destroyed, flammable liquids will ignite, and ammunition will cook off.

Protection from the mine
  1. When attacking enemy trenches they must be suppressed with machine guns and cannons.
  2. The enemy's infantry cannot be allowed to approach the tank, destroy them with fire.
  3. In winter, cover the tank with an 8-10 mm thick layer of clay. After it freezes paint the clay with white paint.
How to cover the tank to protect it from magnetic mines

The tank's armour must be cleaned (especially from oil) and washed. After that, a small metal spatula is used to apply a layer of clay. If possible, use clean clay without lumps or foreign materials. Mix the clay in water until it has dough-like consistency. Apply it to the armour and let it freeze. The layer should be 8-10 mm thick. If possible, they clay should not be applied evenly. Cover the turret, sloped sides, front plate, and belly. 

This kind of protection will reliably protect against the magnetic HEAT mine. The mine will not be able to stick to the armour and will either fall off in motion or explode without contact with the armour. In this case, it does not do any damage to the tank

The crew must carefully track the state of their clay layer. If the layer is maintained, the crew can be confident that their tank will not be destroyed by a magnetic HEAT mine.

Senior Assistant to the Chief of the Armoured and Motorized Forces of the Baltic Front, Engineer-Major Tsyganov
December 28th, 1943"


  1. Interesting. Is this clay layer noticable in any photos?
    I'm surprised they didn't develop something actually like zimmerit to be applied before the tanks were supplied to the crews.

    1. It's a rather good example of german overengineering. Why waste precious time and resources during production for something that can be handled in a few hours on the field?

    2. Using clay doesn't seem like a perfect solution. Far from it. I imagine it would need maintenance and, if it requires freezing, then would only work in the colder months.

    3. Clay only really works in winter though, in summer you would have to use a blowtorch to dry it properly, which probably takes more like a few days, and the stuff will probably be brittle as fuck and fall off on the first bump.


    ...and that's enough memes for today. >_>

  3. What happens in the Spring and Summer when the water/clay doesn't freeze?