HEAT rounds

TMO

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Hi Gunnar, the first link states anti-tank (obviously) and anti-building capability. Kind of implies anti-personnel capability minimal. Thanks for your always knowledgeable and incisive contributions.

Regards

Tim
 

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... and anti-building capability. Kind of implies anti-personnel capability minimal.

That's how the Germans and Russians used the Panzerfausts during the Battle of Berlin. The Russians had captured large stocks during the German retreats when they pushed past Warsaw, most likely at HASAG branch factories in Poland, which used to be run as slave labor facilities, if I am not mistaken.
If hollow charges hit walls, then the speed/might of the jet stream (8000 meters per second) created by the explosion (which was then followed by the plasma stream, which was a mix of the disintegrating tank armor, the inner metal lining of the Panzerfaust cone and - in some shaped charges, usually in post-war shells - sometimes even an additional metal penetrator/rod) probably removed one or another brick, so that a pretty small section of the wall could be removed through the sheer speed of the process, but then the soldiers needed to use additional force (hands, tools, hand grenades, feet, rifles), most likely.
Technically, the force of the explosion focuses on a pretty small point:

erlc3a4uterung-der-hohlladung-der-panzerfaust-1.jpg



Face-hardened steel acted differently than a wall, of course, the hole created by a Panzerfaust was pretty small, actually, the impact area was only ~ 50 mm in diameter (1.96 in?). The pic below shows a Sherman tank that was knocked out by a Panzerfaust, the scale on the armor seems to indicate a hole of somewhat over 2 inches in diameter. As you can see, some of the shaped charge's beam particles scratched the armor's surface (in the middle of the pic), this could be the result of a slighty angled shot, but it's also possible that the warhead had hit squarely and that then a fraction of the beam particles could "escape" near the hole (check the square part of the armor, it protrudes from the rest of the side armor), as the warhead cone had a width of 149 mm :

DAZGJzcEl8nfz7NMD8XFznpbziL4YwuDzcYQMpoIUio.jpg


Since the Panzerfaust 60 and 100 could pierce through 200 mm of face-hardened tank armor, it also proved to be ideal to penetrate (some) bunkers. The German Army's modern Panzerfaust 3 can penetrate hardened/reinforced concrete bunkers with thicknesses from 30 cm to 70 cm (depending on type of round) and up to 900 mm of tank steel, regular concrete will be penetrated up to a thickness of 1.6 meters (with the bunker buster round, I suppose).

I can't find a reference for the WW2 Panzerfaust's performance against bunkers and walls, but I just found a reference to a field test of the German Bundeswehr, conducted with their light Panzerfaust (with DM 22 HL round):

The round created a 15-cm wide hole in a brick wall (with a thickness of 28 cm), and a 10-15 cm (width) hole in a (modern german) hollow block wall (where the hollow blocks either contain air or - sometimes - light insulation material). Obviously, both types of walls were fully penetrated.

When used against a concrete wall, the DM 22 HL round created a hole with a width of 3 cm, and 30-cm concrete walls were fully penetrated. The DM round contains a penetrator rod. When used against a brick wall, the penetrator of the round got stuck in the wall on the other end of the hallway, which was 8 meters away. The same happened to the penetrator of the round that had pierced through the concrete wall, it got stuck in the wall on the other side of the room.
None of the tested walls collapsed or lost stability.
In WW2, quite a few buildings (say in villages, suburbs) were half-timbered houses, walls would often consist of a mix of clay and brushwood, or plaster and wood, along with bricks at the base of the building or as outer walls (with probably only 1 layer of bricks). I could imagine that it was pretty easy to tear down such walls after they got hit with a PF.

Hollow blocks came up in the 1850s (British patent from 1850) and may have been used in Berlin's suburbs and in smaller bldgs in the city quite often, but the bulk of the appartment buildings inside the city may have been built with bricks. It took some more work (or hits with several PFs) to create entry points in those hollow block walls, most likely.

In older buildings (18th/19th or early 20th century bldgs) the mortar between the bricks was old and brittle, so it was probably easier to use the Panzerfausts on such walls.
Still, I wouldn't be surprised if the Germans/Russians needed to fire several Panzerfausts or lob one or another grenade through the hole created by the PF, to create an entry point for the squads. If an enemy soldier was hiding behind the wall, and if he got hit by the beam, he was toast, most likely. But spraying particles propably had the potential to incapacitate a soldier hiding near the impact point, already, though.

I used my example in my previous post, where I described the penetration as "liquification", as this is the easiest way to explain/visualize the tremendous speeds that are involved in the process, and how a seemingly very hard material (ie. face-hardened tank armor) reacts if it's exposed to such extreme pressure (8000 meters/second on a very confined area/part). The material doesn't actually liquify, but it's easier to understand what forces are involved if they hit within a 2-inch circle.

Quite a few ppl describe the plasma beam as ultra-hot beam that burns through the armor, but that's only half true, because the jet stream creates a pressure of 10 million kg per square centimeter and this pressure creates a temperature of 8,000° Celsius which will melt/remove the armor at the impact point, and the high kinetic energy of the jet stream then creates a metal beam consisting of the particles (remnants) of the melted armor and of the rest of the metal lining in the warhead's cone. The beam will then enter the vehicle, and it will pull (additional) splinters and the mentioned particles inside. After exiting the entry "tunnel", parts of the beam may lose their integrity, means (hot) splinters may "spray" and even ricochet on the inner walls and may then hit an ammo rack and ignite one or another tank round.

The splinters and particles have the potential to hurt or kill crew members, but the rest of the beam still has plenty of kinetic energy, so that it will proceed to pierce through pretty much everything: crew, shells, devices and appliances, etc., but in a straight line only.
There are quite a few pictures where you can see Shermans or Panthers with Panzerfaust/Bazooka entry points on one side and exit points on the other side, and where the beam (or spraying particles) may have hurt or killed a crew member or destroyed a radio, but where it had not hit any other crucial part of the tank, let alone ammunition, before it had exited the tank hull on the other side.
 
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GoodGuy

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I can't find a reference for the WW2 Panzerfaust's performance against bunkers and walls, but I just found a reference to a field test of the German Bundeswehr, conducted with their light Panzerfaust (with DM 22 HL round):

The round created a 15-cm wide hole in a brick wall (with a thickness of 28 cm)

The size of pre-war bricks was standardized (in the 1850s I think), and varied by region, but there was also the "Reichsformat" (1872), where the bricks were 24 cm long and 11.5 cm wide (which was the thickness of a wall that consisted of 1 layer of bricks), so it's obvious that the walls in those field tests consisted of 2 layers (walls) of bricks. I guess such double layers were used on load-bearing walls which also separated buildings, and I am guessing that quite a few walls in Berlin consisted of Reichsformat bricks, so they were "only" 23 cm thick and maybe even only 11.5 cm (1 layer) on demising walls (between appartments). There was also a regional format in the Berlin/Brandenburg area, but I don't know its width.
The historic widths of Bavarian, Austrian and German monastery bricks were 14.5 (also 16.5) cm, 14 cm and 14 to 15 cm, respectively, so the field tests may have been conducted on Bavarian training grounds.
 
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GoodGuy

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In terms of munitions, it creates a fantasy if an AP round has a ... 1).... "blast radius" greater than the impact point, and 2) a HE round has an armor penetration number in a radius greater than a direct hit.

I overlooked these 2 statements.
1) The Germans (and the Western Allies) developed APCBC-HE rounds for tank guns and AT guns which contained something between 18g and 25-30 g of HE (the German rounds, at least). If you compare this amount of HE to the amount of a HE in a US Mk.2 hand grenade (the original Mk2 contained 52 g of TNT, the improved version was filled with 21 g of EC powder, the EC was replaced by TNT - amounting to 52 g - in 1944, again), then the HE filling in the AP round amounted to half or a bit less than half of the amount of HE in the Mk2. The HE would go off inside the tank after it had pierced through the armor. The blast radius probably amounted to 50% of the hand grenade's blast radius, so if such round would have ignited outside the tank (which it usually didn't), then the blast radius would have been surprisingly "big". Inside the cramped tank interior, it usually created quite some inferno/carnage, as its splinters/blast either ignited some ammo rounds or flew all over the place.

The Russians developed APHE rounds (3.6 kg of HE, a quite large amount, where I tend to think that this round was initially meant to be used against bunkers) and APHEBC rounds (kg?) for the D-25T (used on the IS-2), for instance.

2) Generally, it takes a massive amount of HE to penetrate face-hardened tank armor. With lower calibres, such rounds just "knock" on the armor plates.
The more HE is involved, the more "knocking power" (through the blast). Still, it takes large calibres (and sufficient amounts of HE) to really penetrate thick tank armor. I described the speed/power of fragments from the Russian 300-mm Katyusha rounds, where the amount of HE was sufficient to propel the fragments at speeds that were sufficient to penetrate 10-13 mm of armor on German tanks. Important detail here: The rounds went off NEAR the german tanks (which I described in my other post), they did not actually hit the tanks, means the fragments needed some space to fully develop those "max speeds".

The HE round on the 122-mm gun on the Russian IS-2 could actually knock off turrets on (all) German tanks, but the round could not penetrate. There is one picture of a Panther turret with a side part (or corner) and a part of the rear armor missing, and while many Russians claim it was achieved by firing a regular HE round, such devastating effect was probably achieved with the anti-concrete round (2.2 kg of HE), IF the Panther was actually hit by an IS-2, where then the impact might have ignited the ammo rack in the turret's rear, where the explosion of the ammo storage then deformed or removed additional armor sections.

Whatsoever, the explosion of a large calibre HE round would only pierce holes or even remove armor sections on relatively thin armor, ranging from armored cars, halftracks to light tanks. Turrets of medium tanks or even heavy tanks were just knocked off by the actual blast of the explosion, not by the kinetic energy of the shell.

The explosion of a high calibre HE round on a WW2 medium tank (and possibly on a heavy tank as well) could create a massive shock, knock out crew members, or it could cause evil concussions, ruptured ear drums and broken arms, or it removed/damaged sprocket wheels and/or tracks, if it didn't knock off or lift up and misalign the turret (in the turret ring).
And despite all the composite armor and bottom mine shields, Abrams crews in Iraq who survived road-side bombs (as in 500 kg - 1,000 kg aerial bombs turned into IEDS) still suffered bleeding noses, bleeding ears or even broken limbs/hands, before the tanks got the urban upgrade packs (additional skirts, additional plates for blast protection, anti-RPG cages, etc.). Heavier bombs (1,500 - 2,000 kg) disabled a number of Abrams. I don't think the insurgents ever destroyed an Abrams with an aerial bomb (IED), though.
 
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TMO

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Just noticed in the Estab Editor that the M4 105mm howitzer has a blast radius of 15m for its aarm HEAT round (probably a typo). In light of the above discussion this should be changed to 0.

Regards

Tim
 
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TMO

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Hi Jim, as I'm sure you know, assault gun platoons for US tank bns, cavalry sqns etc. employed M4 105mm and HMC 75mm M8 assault guns. Both of these vehicles are equipped with howitzers - low velocity guns compared to regular tank or tank-destroyer guns (which have a muzzle velocity about two to three times higher than the howitzers!). High muzzle velocity gives you K.E. for armour penetration and greater accuracy.

As such these assault guns use HEAT rounds as AP because of the low velocity of these rounds . So the typo was the blast radius as the aarm tab shouldn't have one whilst the aper (HE) should . Both M4 fired HE, HEAT and smoke

https://reenactorpro.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/FM-17-25-Assault-G. un-Section-and-Platoon.pdfFM 17-25 Assault gun section and platoon (reenactorpro.org)

Regards

Tim
 

TMO

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By the way, the M8 HMC for AP (as it fired HEAT) should show the same armour penetration regardless of distance. HEAT rounds because of their low velocity weren't very accurate.

Regards

Tim
 

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It's a typo.

One M4 variant carried a howitzer tube for infantry support, so the round should be an HE rather than an HEAT.
https://www.tamiya.com/english/products/56014sherman/sherman_expl.htm

The "M4 (105)" received HEAT-T rounds (M67) which offered sufficient penetration power to pierce through 101.6 mm (4 inches) of armor (at 0 degrees = vertical homogenous armor plate, and if such vertical plate was hit squarely). Even though the round delivered the mentioned armor penetration across the board (500-2000 yards), as TMO mentioned, the round lacked punch (see below). Generally, and as far as I know, the heat round for the "M4 (105)" was strictly meant (and supposed to be used) for self-defense (only) initially, as the tank was designed/deployed as assault gun to support the infantry, and not as tank destroyer, obviously.
Combat reports and veteran accounts seem to indicate that in late 1944 and early 1945 the heat round/the 105 variant was used more often (than expected) in anti-tank combat, though, but the loadouts included just a few HEAT rounds, initially. I could imagine that some M4 105 crews upped their HEAT stocks somewhat, a) to be prepared for encounters with German armor, generally, and b) because the number of German tanks in the field decreased constantly so that even the 105s could dare to engage German tanks in early 1945, not just in defense situations but also if there were no inf support missions.

By the way, the M8 HMC for AP (as it fired HEAT) should show the same armour penetration regardless of distance. HEAT rounds because of their low velocity weren't very accurate.

Regards

Tim

Hey Tim, that's correct. The HEAT-T (M66) round for the M8 HMC had a terribly low velocity of ~305 meters/second (regular HE round: 385 m/sec). So I am pretty sure that this low velocity forced the tank gunners to select pretty curved trajectories at medium ranges (say 600 or 800 - 1,200 meters), already, which made aiming very difficult.
The M67 and the M66 HEAT round lacked punch:
While these HEAT rounds could barely pierce through the vertical parts of the frontal (100 mm) armor of say a Tiger (under perfect conditions: square hit at 90°, flat trajectory/straight shot), it could not penetrate the sloped frontal armor of the Panther. The Panther's sloped armor (80 mm at 60°) equaled ~120 mm (someone else should do the exact math here) of vertical armor and its slope also increased the chance that such HEAT round would just bounce off (partially due to the low shell velocity, but also due to the design of the impact fuze) - despite the fact that the HEAT principle didn't need a high kinetic energy/high shell velocity.
EDIT: I wouldn't rule out that it was possible to score a hit on longer distances (above 1,000 or 1,200 meters), where the gunners than had to aim higher and use pretty curved trajectories and where then the angle of the shell/flight path (say 30° from horizontal) might have created more favorable impact angles. Problem here: the Allied tank optics (and their inferior lenses), as outlined in my tank optics thread.

The curved gun mantlet of the first Panther revision had a thickness of 100 mm (110 mm on some spots), only the second revision received less curved gun mantlets, as the original had the tendency to deflect AP rounds downwards, right into the crew compartment, so only the 2nd revision got a tick more vulnerable there, but the M4 105 heat round then still had to go through some 100-110 mm of tank armor. That was rather lottery/physics number crunching than a guarantee to score a penetration on a Panther's mantlet. Also, the aiming difficulties (due to the heat shell's low velocity) made an aimed hit (at the turret) a very lucky shot, at medium distances, already.
In contrast, side or rear shots on German medium tanks were quite successful, it seems, well IF the 105 Shermans managed to approach their sides/rear ends (at favorable distances).
 
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Hi Jim, as I'm sure you know, assault gun platoons for US tank bns, cavalry sqns etc. employed M4 105mm and HMC 75mm M8 assault guns. Both of these vehicles are equipped with howitzers - low velocity guns compared to regular tank or tank-destroyer guns (which have a muzzle velocity about two to three times higher than the howitzers!). High muzzle velocity gives you K.E. for armour penetration and greater accuracy.

As such these assault guns use HEAT rounds as AP because of the low velocity of these rounds . So the typo was the blast radius as the aarm tab shouldn't have one whilst the aper (HE) should . Both M4 fired HE, HEAT and smoke

https://reenactorpro.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/FM-17-25-Assault-G. un-Section-and-Platoon.pdfFM 17-25 Assault gun section and platoon (reenactorpro.org)

Regards

Tim
Read paragraph 12 about unit target priorities, particularly the part how every combat unit has the same kind of emergency targeting..

https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/FM/PDFs/FM17-25.PDF
 

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Read paragraph 12 about unit target priorities, particularly the part how every combat unit has the same kind of emergency targeting..

https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/FM/PDFs/FM17-25.PDF

What page? That thing has 75 pages. :)
This version of the field manual was issued in September 1944, the first version was issued in 1942.
Between September 1944 and early 1945, quite a few approaches/roles changed, either due to lack of targets or due to enemy action (ie. the offensive in the Ardennes, where the Germans scraped together all tanks they could find/spare). With the latter, quite some US units (especially in the Bastogne area, or later on - in early 1945, when the Allies pushed against the Bulge) were forced to engage enemy armor, or - later on - even encouraged/inclined to engage armor (also in Italy, afaik, where Allied armor mostly faced StuG and Pz.IV tanks, and where many Stugs were frequently dug in on fixed fronts), due to the lack of targets and regardless of their projected/individual roles. Some makeshift methods/roles became official secondary roles (eg. as experienced with TD units in Europe being used in the artillery support role), others were just local/regional field habits or even individual approaches/flavors of individual Allied units/divisional commanders.

I recommend to check out AARs of M4 (105) units, afaik there are reports from very late 1944 and very early 1945 indicating that 105s engaging enemy armor (with HEAT of course) was a more common thing than you might think. Also, the 105s used HE against unarmored vehicles and lightly armored cars and halftracks, whereever they encountered them. So in this case, you have to look at the actual field practice and not just look at the projected use/role/priorities defined in the field manual.
 
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What page? That thing has 75 pages. :)
This version of the field manual was issued in September 1944, the first version was issued in 1942.
Between September 1944 and early 1945, quite a few approaches/roles changed, either due to lack of targets or due to enemy action (ie. the offensive in the Ardennes, where the Germans scraped together all tanks they could find/spare). With the latter, quite some US units (especially in the Bastogne area, or later on - in early 1945, when the Allies pushed against the Bulge) were forced to engage enemy armor, or - later on - even encouraged/inclined to engage armor (also in Italy, afaik, where Allied armor mostly faced StuG and Pz.IV tanks, and where many Stugs were frequently dug in on fixed fronts), due to the lack of targets and regardless of their projected/individual roles. Some makeshift methods/roles became official secondary roles (eg. as experienced with TD units in Europe being used in the artillery support role), others were just local/regional field habits or even individual approaches/flavors of individual Allied units/divisional commanders.

I recommend to check out AARs of M4 (105) units, afaik there are reports from very late 1944 and very early 1945 indicating that 105s engaging enemy armor (with HEAT of course) was a more common thing than you might think. Also, the 105s used HE against unarmored vehicles and lightly armored cars and halftracks, whereever they encountered them. So in this case, you have to look at the actual field practice and not just look at the projected use/role/priorities defined in the field manual.

The page is the one that has the paragraph "12. Types of Targets" You can get a hint of where it's near by looking at the Table of Contents.

AARs define what occurred in battle, and provide a basis for adjusting doctrine, but at the time of the combat, units were designed, outfitted, and deployed to address the combat doctrine rather than what may be documented in the AARs. The only surprise is if that unit encounters something other than what is described in paragraph 12 as the hierarchy of targets for that unit.

If, as you describe "Approaches were changed" it would be documented in the subsequent doctrine which apparently hadn't been distributed or there'd be a change to the Field Manual posted with it in 1945. .
 

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Hi Jim and Gunnar, just in case I've caused a bit of confusion, when I said AP in my earlier posts I meant armour piercing not anti-personnel.

Regards

Tim
 

TMO

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I think Jim means section 12 not paragraph 12. Section 12 is in Chapter 2 'Training' page 19. Correct Jim?

Regards

Tim
 

TMO

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Actually Jim you're right! For some reason sections are labelled paragraphs in the document when in the conventional sense they're not paragraphs. Hopefully confusion cleared up.

Regards

Tim
 

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The page is the one that has the paragraph "12. Types of Targets" You can get a hint of where it's near by looking at the Table of Contents.

AARs define what occurred in battle, and provide a basis for adjusting doctrine, but at the time of the combat, units were designed, outfitted, and deployed to address the combat doctrine rather than what may be documented in the AARs. The only surprise is if that unit encounters something other than what is described in paragraph 12 as the hierarchy of targets for that unit.

If, as you describe "Approaches were changed" it would be documented in the subsequent doctrine which apparently hadn't been distributed or there'd be a change to the Field Manual posted with it in 1945. .

You might have misunderstood my post. You stated that the tank's loadout in the game should contain HE only ("should be an HE rather than an HEAT").
And that's where I objected, as HEAT rounds for self-defense were part of the standard loadout on M4 (105) tanks, regardless of the tank's projected role. I am sure there are some Army sources or books documenting the exact/standard split.

For instance, German combat tanks and AT gun sections carried a particular amount of tungsten rounds, but due to the increasing scarcity of tungsten those rounds made up a comparatively small portion of the full loadout (which mainly consisted of APx and HE rounds) in or after ~1942, eventually. Even after the production of tungsten rounds was halted (to save that precious resource for the production of other products), combat tanks and AT gun sections could still carry such rounds, but individual tanks/sections would then just carry say 1-4 tungsten rounds, or whatever amount their respective Army depot had hoarded/could spare and distribute.

It's very likely that M4 105s carried a somewhat higher amount of AP rounds (here: heat rounds) in their standard loadouts, as the US did not suffer of ammunition shortages due to lack of resources or due to low production outputs (for the most part, at least, most ammo supply problems derived from logistic failures, especially in July/August 1944 - in France), where then the exact amount of HEAT within a standard loadout would have to be researched.

The rest of my post was simply supposed to outline that combat reports indicate that M4 105s engaged German combat tanks and (generally) lightly armored/unarmored vehicles, either with HEAT or with HE. So I don't question your find in the FM, but I just pointed to reports about engagements/loadouts to tell you that your statement (quoted above) was incorrect.
You are half right, if you point to the defined role (via FM), but that doesn't tell the whole story of the tank's capabilities/loadout composition or how the issued loadout was actually used - hence my general remarks regarding additional usages or roles (my TD example).
It's irrelevant whether anti-vehicle combat was made an official (additional) role for 105s in an FM or Army regulation, or not, and I never claimed that such engagements had become official tasks, I just pointed to habits in the field and the actual composition of a 105 loadout, when you suggested that there was no AT capability.
It's pretty obvious that 105s weren't shifted towards a TD role, the low velocities and unfavorable trajectories (which made it hard to aim) of the HEAT rounds prohibited such additional role - they were still assault gun tanks with fat 105 mm guns and not capable (long-barreled) StuG tanks ... but the AT capability was there and .....*drum roll* ... was used.
 
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