Monday 17 February 2020

7.5 cm KwK Firing Tables

Like all firing tables in this series, this one comes with a brief general instruction on fighting tanks.

"Principles for firing at difficult to fight vehicles
  1. Keep calm and cool, let the tank approach to a distance from where you can strike at its weak points well.
  2. Strike the enemy tank from hidden positions and unexpected directions. On open terrain fire at enemy tanks "around the corner" of your own tanks, offering the greatest protection.
  3. Combine good aim and rapid fire.
  4. Carefully observe the result of your shots. Not every hit will immediately take out the target. Believe in the power of your weapon!
  5. Aim to pick the most favourable angle of the shell hitting your target. The greatest result is firing directly at the front or side, the least effective result is firing at 45 degrees. When firing at round or conical turrets aim for the middle.
  6. Choose the proper type of munitions according to these firing tables. Fire chiefly HEAT (Hl) ammunition as it has greater penetration power than ordinary armour piercing shells. HE shells with the fuse set to "o V" can damage or destroy a tank if fired at the observation ports, gun mantlet, optics, or running gear. A successful hit at the rear can ignite the engine cooling system.
Types of ammunition:
  • Pz: 75 mm armour piercing shell for the tank gun
  • Hl: 75 mm 38 Hl/A or Hl/B HEAT shell
  • Sp: newly introduced HE shell
  • Solid: destruction
  • Shaded: damage
  • White: none
Areas that can be successfully fired upon are linked with arrows to the type of shell. Data in meters shows the maximum distance that the tank can be defeated at. For HEAT (Hl) shells distance is not given because this shell can penetrate the shaded armour at up to 1500 meters. The effective range can be reduced depending on the target's size, visibility, and enemy actions.

For detailed data regarding various types of ammunition, refer to manual 469/3b."

The "T-34A" (a March-August 1941 production T-34 is depicted) can be penetrated with HEAT shells from the front by hitting the vertical portion of the turret, gun mantlet, machine gun mount, or driver's hatch. The tracks can also be knocked off with HE.

From the side the turret and hull are vulnerable to HEAT, and firing at the road wheels and track with HE is still effective. An armour piercing shell can penetrate if it gets past the wheels and hits the lower hull. From the rear, the back of the turret or the hull are vulnerable to HEAT. 

Live fire trials showed that this table is very optimistic: in practice only the vertical lower side can be penetrated by a German 75 mm HEAT shell. 

A "T-34B (strengthened)" is vulnerable from all the same ranges.

The HEAT shell has greater difficulty penetrating the front of a "KV-1A" (the picture depicts a 1940 production tank), and can only do so if it hits the gun mantlet, driver's observation port, or the machine gun mount. Fire at the tracks is no longer effective.

From the side, the tank can be penetrated by HEAT, but not AP. HE can destroy the tracks and road wheels. The back of the turret as well as the upper rear are vulnerable to HEAT as well. HE can damage the engine if it hits the coolant slot in the back.

The KV-2 offers comparable protection to the KV-1, except it is also possible to penetrate the vertical front turret armour underneath the gun.

A "KV-1C" (the image depicts a KV tank produced post-August 1941) is nearly invulnerable to HEAT. Only weak points from the front stand a chance of being penetrated, as well as the machine gun port and vent in the rear.

Onto the Lend Lease tanks, and the Matilda is up first. It offers comparable protection to the KV-1, but with more weak points in the front. The spaced armour does a good job at keeping HEAT out, but the commander's cupola presents an extra target. Similarly, hitting the air intakes will cause trouble.

Without spaced armour, the Valentine is an easier target. HEAT can penetrate the vertical armour in the front, the side of the turret and the lower hull, and the vertical rear armour. The sloped transmission compartment cover is also vulnerable. A note says that this data is based on calculations.

The Churchill's plethora of vertical plates make it an easy target for HEAT from any side. The upper front armour is invulnerable, but there are still weak points that can be penetrated. The note at the bottom says that this data applies for Churchill I and Churchill II tanks as well.

Now onto the Americans. The Medium Tank M3 is first. It is vulnerable from the front even to AP, but only at 100 meters. The front of the turret as well as highly sloped parts of the transmission cover cannot be penetrated.

From the side, it is very vulnerable, even to AP rounds. The side of the hull can be penetrated at 400 meters, and the rear can be penetrated at 300-400 meters. A note says that the data is calculated.

Only the vertical part of the transmission cover is vulnerable on the Sherman, but the machine gun mounts, ventilation fan cover, and DV slots offer weaknesses. From the side, the tank is more vulnerable than the T-34, vulnerable to AP from 300 meters. From 400 meters AP can penetrate the rear armour. Like with the Lee, the data for the Sherman is calculated.


  1. This is for the 75 mm Kwk 37, right?

    1. I've never seen it called "KwK 37" in any official document, but yes, the L/24 gun.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Also--it seems to me that some of the weak points in some of these kinds of illustrations and recommendations are small relative to the error of the gun at even normal ranges, let alone medium or longer, and thus not really realistic. Unless there is a large inequality in favor of the armor versus the gun (say, a US 76 mm versus a King Tiger), when you're close enough to realistically target and hit some of these recommended places you're near point-blank range anyways and most likely you don't have to be so choosy.

    1. Agreed, the turret and cupola ones definitely suggest that you should aim for the center of the cupola rather than hit the circle, video game style.

  3. That 75mm HL round is not very accurate. From 500m it would be about a 20% chance to hit a T-34 turret.