Armor quality of the Tiger I

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Avalancheon
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Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Avalancheon » 29 Nov 2018 15:27

Not too long ago, I created a thread to discuss the armor quality of the Panzer III and IV. I did this after reading an article from the tankarchives blog, which discussed a ballistics test on those vehicles. This led to an excellent discussion between myself, critical mass, mobius, and others.

We talked briefly about the performance of the Tiger I, and how it compared to the Tiger II. The article from tankarchives shows that it had a rather poor quality. Thats something I would like to go into more detail about now.

Is anyone willing to take a guess how the 85mm gun was able to pierce the Tiger Is glacis from 1000 meters? The Wa Pruef figures state that from an angle of 30 degrees, the 85mm can only penetrate the hull from between 200 and 300 meters. So even at a 0 degree angle, they shouldn't be able to make those kindof shots!

http://tankarchives.blogspot.com/2013/0 ... igers.html

Avalancheon
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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Avalancheon » 30 Nov 2018 06:39

Another thing that interests me is that in his overview of the report, tankarchives did not mention that the 76mm F-34 gun was tested against the Tiger. Maybe it didn't serve his agenda of making all German armor look bad...

I found out that five shots were fired at a target of 100mm thickness, only of which penetrated (when it hit an edge). This had to be either the front turret or the front hull, nothing else on the Tiger I was that thick.

If anyone can translate this for me and interpret what actually happened, I would appreciate it alot!

Image

Image

For those who are interested in reading more, you can download the full report here:
http://www.mediafire.com/file/wo3q5irju ... 77_12.djvu

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Mobius
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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Mobius » 30 Nov 2018 13:09

Holy cow.
I didn't mean to go on a rant about this but I just noticed the Wikipedia on the Russian 85mm gun exclusively uses Lorrin Bird and Robert Livingston calculated penetration data. Actual official data is missing. The data of German guns so far does still include German data along with calculated data, Thankfully we still have Panzerworld data and this great forum to supply good data.

Bad money drives out good money. I hope it isn't that way with data.

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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Yoozername » 30 Nov 2018 14:48

The Soviet 85mm gun, penetration-wise, was comparable to the US 76mm weapon. I believe even the Soviets stated as much also. The 'Yugo-tests' are in agreement as far as their testing on a variety of AFV and armor types. Generally, the US 76mm weapon was not considered as a Tiger-Killer at 1000 meters. This is, of course, not hard data but still I would find that much of what is stated at 'tank-archives' is not worth discussing. I just look to see what the actual reports are, if he links them. I actually saw critical mass posting there and asked him to visit this website.

As far as the actual armor quality of the Tiger I, the frontal armor may have been of a better quality than the sides. I believe I read that the frontal armor was bought and completed in just a few lots. The Germans had just contracted for 1500 machines or so, and the manufacturers obtained it accordingly, so I would think that QC would not be spread out over much time and attempts. The lower frontal hull is more inclined than the upper hull, and designed to have the extra tracks stored across it. Perhaps the designers thinking that the drive components would not be easily swapped out (turret needed removal, etc). The turret front was well armored even if a casting.

Avalancheon
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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Avalancheon » 01 Dec 2018 09:23

Mobius wrote:
30 Nov 2018 13:09
Holy cow.
I didn't mean to go on a rant about this but I just noticed the Wikipedia on the Russian 85mm gun exclusively uses Lorrin Bird and Robert Livingston calculated penetration data. Actual official data is missing. The data of German guns so far does still include German data along with calculated data, Thankfully we still have Panzerworld data and this great forum to supply good data.

Bad money drives out good money. I hope it isn't that way with data.
I think the 50 percent criteria is a useful way to measure the performance of guns from different nations. But its basically just an estimation derived from the official Soviet figures, which wikipedia does not provide.

But I'm curious, are you criticising the Livingston book itself, or the fact that the wiki editors used it as their only source?
Yoozername wrote:
30 Nov 2018 14:48
The Soviet 85mm gun, penetration-wise, was comparable to the US 76mm weapon. I believe even the Soviets stated as much also. The 'Yugo-tests' are in agreement as far as their testing on a variety of AFV and armor types. Generally, the US 76mm weapon was not considered as a Tiger-Killer at 1000 meters. This is, of course, not hard data but still I would find that much of what is stated at 'tank-archives' is not worth discussing. I just look to see what the actual reports are, if he links them. I actually saw critical mass posting there and asked him to visit this website.
Thats concurs with my thoughts too. The 85mm was a good gun that was let down by the poor quality of its shells. Although to be fair, Soviet ammo did improve later on in the war. Even though they never adopted AP caps to raise the shatter velocity of their shells, they did use different manufacturing techniques on the shells that improved their quality.

''In February 1944 the 85mm HVAP shot was perfected in time for the introduction of the T-34- 85 tank. Standard armor-piercing projectiles also were improved in design, but armor-piercing capped types were not produced because of manufacturing problems. Instead, circumferential grooves were machined on the ogive so as to give something like the action of a penetrative cap to prevent the shattering of the projectile on impact.'' -Soviet Armed Forces Review Annual - Volume 14, by David R. Jones. (Page 260)
Yoozername wrote:
30 Nov 2018 14:48
As far as the actual armor quality of the Tiger I, the frontal armor may have been of a better quality than the sides. I believe I read that the frontal armor was bought and completed in just a few lots. The Germans had just contracted for 1500 machines or so, and the manufacturers obtained it accordingly, so I would think that QC would not be spread out over much time and attempts. The lower frontal hull is more inclined than the upper hull, and designed to have the extra tracks stored across it. Perhaps the designers thinking that the drive components would not be easily swapped out (turret needed removal, etc). The turret front was well armored even if a casting.
Thats an interesting point I've never heard before. The fact that the front plates were all manufactured in a single lots would explain why they were of such a consistent quality, while other parts of the armor varied more widely in their strength.

But as for the performance of the Tigers armor, I have a pet theory on what was happening. We know the Soviets were mass producing shatter proof 85mm shells by February 1944. Maybe they were using these shells in May 1943, during their tests on the Tiger tank?

I'm not totally convinced by that idea, but I honestly don't know what else could explain the dismal performance of its armor. Its perhaps the greatest mystery we've seen out of any of those Soviet reports. The fact that they diverge so enormously from the Wa Pruef figures is utterly perplexing.

Peasant
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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Peasant » 01 Dec 2018 10:00

I dont see whats the big deal. In my experience, If a shell can penetrate the Xmm of armor at 30° at 250m, it probably can defeat the same vertical thickness at 1000m (at least for calibers of 75mm and up).

Avalancheon
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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Avalancheon » 01 Dec 2018 11:23

Peasant wrote:
01 Dec 2018 10:00
I dont see whats the big deal. In my experience, If a shell can penetrate the Xmm of armor at 30° at 250m, it probably can defeat the same vertical thickness at 1000m (at least for calibers of 75mm and up).
A target inclined at 30 degrees will obviously offer more resistance than a plate angled at 0 degrees. But this effect is not great enough to account for the results we see here. Remember, the Tiger I glacis plate is flat. So even when you incline it, this doesn't give you those compound angles that really multiply LOS thickness.

The performance variance could have something to do with the shells themselves. We don't know what ammunition was being fired in the Soviet and German tests. For instance, the 85mm used two types of shells. The BR-365K, which is regular AP. And the BR-365, which is APBC.

The APBC ammo seems to have a superior performance to the AP, but thats only if you go by the 50 percent criteria. Apparently, the estimates were obtained through an incorrect interpretation of Soviet data. They will only do that well against FHA plates, not RHA plates.

https://forum.warthunder.com/index.php? ... pbc-shell/


If the Germans were using APBC shells in their tests, that would explain why the 85mm gun was under-performing. APBC had a tendency to break up even at low obliquitys, and the Tiger in question was angled at 30 degrees. So if you remove the obliquity, perhaps they perform significantly better than would be predicted from simple LOS calculations.

The calculations are tricky though, due to the incorrect penetration figures. Despite what the 50 percent criteria would suggest, flat nosed APBC shells actually have no advantage over the sharp nosed AP shells. At least, not against RHA plates. They DO have a better ballistic coefficient, though, which improves downrange performances.

https://forum.warthunder.com/index.php? ... ells-apbc/


This is a penetration chart for the 85mm gun with AP shells against the hull of a Tiger I tank. You can draw your own conclusions on how valid they are. Note the yellow portions of the chart, which indicate the 'shatter gap' effect.

Image

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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Yoozername » 01 Dec 2018 15:59

These pictures seem to show a Tiger I from North Africa that has been hit in the side by various AP weapons. It seems to show clean penetrations but no cracking.

Image

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Mobius
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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Mobius » 01 Dec 2018 16:08

Avalancheon wrote:
01 Dec 2018 09:23
But I'm curious, are you criticising the Livingston book itself, or the fact that the wiki editors used it as their only source?
I criticising incorrect data and that is in the Bird & Livingston book. The wiki editors are presenting it as fact.
It never concerned me as long as it stayed in their book. But, now I'm seeing it in place of historic data.

You have a link to someone on the WT forum also pointing out something wrong with the 85mm data.
I have an entire page on my web site on problems with their 100mm and 122mm gun penetration data.
http://panzer-war.com/page57.html

On the following page I am starting to post historic official data since it is disappearing online.

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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Avalancheon » 01 Dec 2018 19:06

So this story continues to get more interesting. I told you before that there were tests involving the 76mm F-34 gun against the front of the Tiger.

Now, after looking through the Soviet report in more detail, I know exactly what part of the tank was hit: It was the drivers front plate, on the left side of the front hull.

The Soviets fired 76mm HVAP shells against the glacis and failed to score any penetrations. These two pictures confirm it.

Image

Afterwards, they wiped the chalk off and fired 85mm shells against the Tiger.

Image

I still don't know why the 85mm was clobbering the tank like it did. We really need to get critical mass in on this!
Yoozername wrote:
01 Dec 2018 15:59
These pictures seem to show a Tiger I from North Africa that has been hit in the side by various AP weapons. It seems to show clean penetrations but no cracking.
I noticed the same thing in the Soviet report. They tested a 6 pounder gun against the side of the Tiger, and the exact same result was seen. Suddenly, the 'brittle' armor stops acting brittle. The capped ammunition of the 6 pounder is able to make ductile holes.
Mobius wrote:
01 Dec 2018 16:08
I criticising incorrect data and that is in the Bird & Livingston book. The wiki editors are presenting it as fact.
It never concerned me as long as it stayed in their book. But, now I'm seeing it in place of historic data.

You have a link to someone on the WT forum also pointing out something wrong with the 85mm data.
I have an entire page on my web site on problems with their 100mm and 122mm gun penetration data.
http://panzer-war.com/page57.html

On the following page I am starting to post historic official data since it is disappearing online.
Okay, I gotcha. It was just an isolated mistake in an otherwise excellent book.

I misunderstood and thought you were dismissing their entire line of work, LOL.

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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Yoozername » 02 Dec 2018 15:59

I assume the Soviet report is this one? Could we get Russian translation on pages I post?
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

critical mass
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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by critical mass » 02 Dec 2018 16:01

There were two 76mm guns used in the tests: the 76mm ZiS3 and the high velocity 76mm mod.38 AAA (76-мм зенитная пушка обр. 1938 г.).
Due to projectile break up, the AAA was as poor as the ZiS-3 against the TIGER.

The 85mm can perforate the TIGER. I don´t see any inconcurrance between the WaPrüf- and soviet test data.
Even the 76mm ZiS-3 could easily penetrate the TIGER frontally or from the sides -provided it had decent quality APCBC-HE (76mm Pzgr.39 rot) instead of the soviet domestic APBC-shell. The TIGER´s manual danger ranges against 76mm are based upon this german projectile quality.

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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Avalancheon » 02 Dec 2018 17:12

critical mass wrote:
02 Dec 2018 16:01
There were two 76mm guns used in the tests: the 76mm ZiS3 and the high velocity 76mm mod.38 AAA (76-мм зенитная пушка обр. 1938 г.).
Due to projectile break up, the AAA was as poor as the ZiS-3 against the TIGER.
They also tested the 45mm M-42 gun against the side, along with the 6 pounder gun. The 57mm ZiS-4 gun was tested against the front armor, and failed to make any penetrations.

tankarchives believed that it would have succeeded at a range closer than it was tested (I.E., 500 meters), but given the poor quality of Soviet ammo, this is highly unlikely. The 57mm shells would have shattered.
critical mass wrote:
02 Dec 2018 16:01
The 85mm can perforate the TIGER. I don´t see any inconcurrance between the WaPrüf- and soviet test data.
Even the 76mm ZiS-3 could easily penetrate the TIGER frontally or from the sides -provided it had decent quality APCBC-HE (76mm Pzgr.39 rot) instead of the soviet domestic APBC-shell. The TIGER´s manual danger ranges against 76mm are based upon this german projectile quality.
Sorry, I simply can't agree with this assessment. The difference between the German and Soviet tests is too large to be ignored.

Why did the 30 degree obliquity in the Wa Pruef tests cause the 85mm guns range to be cut down so much against the Tigers? 1000 meters at 0 obliquity vs 200 to 300 meters at 30 degrees obliquity is a big difference.

Like I said to Peasant, I think it has to come down to different ammunition being used. Soviets were using special, shatter proof shells in their test. Whereas the Germans must have been using APBC shells, which tend to break up even at low obliquitys.


On the tankarchives blog, I recall that you yourself were skeptical about the results of the Soviet tests. You said that the 85mm gun could not have made penetrations at that range. And that the crater in the lower front plate was an indentation, not an actual hole.

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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Yoozername » 02 Dec 2018 17:24

It would be nice to know what did this damage, and at what range. I suspect this is something of a field test shoot. If you magnify the image, it seems that APCR type rounds are used against the turret front mantlet, leaving a distinctive ring around the holes, and the upper hull has been hit with AP rounds at least 85mm or perhaps larger. The upper hull hits show fragmentation damage around the holes. Perhaps the APHE pre-detonating? The side turret hit looks like some very large HE round set on delay perhaps. It has a distinctive fragmentation arc near the turret viewing port.

This picture clearly shows how thick, and sloped, the 'decking' is above the lower hull, supposedly 60mm. This is probably the best protected area on the Tiger I! It would have been reasonable to have this plate be 40mm and use that extra armor on the nearly vertical upper hull.

Image

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Re: Armor quality of the Tiger I

Post by Avalancheon » 02 Dec 2018 18:02

Yoozername wrote:
02 Dec 2018 17:24
It would be nice to know what did this damage, and at what range. I suspect this is something of a field test shoot. If you magnify the image, it seems that APCR type rounds are used against the turret front mantlet, leaving a distinctive ring around the holes, and the upper hull has been hit with AP rounds at least 85mm or perhaps larger. The upper hull hits show fragmentation damage around the holes. Perhaps the APHE pre-detonating? The side turret hit looks like some very large HE round set on delay perhaps. It has a distinctive fragmentation arc near the turret viewing port.
Good find. The ductile holes indicate to me that it was hit with capped ammunition. So it was probably hit with an American or British gun.

The glacis hits look like the mark of a 17 pounder with APCBC. Or maybe a 90mm with APC? There does seem to be some shrapnel damage around the hits, so thats probably the result of a burster charge going off.


Theres lots of photographs showing Tigers that did not suffer brittle fractures of their armor. And lots of tests stating that their armor was of high quality.

I would like to compile a list of reports on exactly this. But so far, I only know of two tests on the Tigers armor. There was the Soviet test in May 1943 (the one we're all discussing), and a British test in January 1943. If you know of anymore tests, please let me know!


Firing trials in Tunisia against the hull of a Pz.Kw.VI. http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.u ... r/C6144270

This one is restricted access, unfortunately.
Yoozername wrote:
02 Dec 2018 17:24
This picture clearly shows how thick, and sloped, the 'decking' is above the lower hull, supposedly 60mm. This is probably the best protected area on the Tiger I! It would have been reasonable to have this plate be 40mm and use that extra armor on the nearly vertical upper hull.
I've always thought that the Tiger I would have been better off using 'stepped armor' like the KV-1, or the IS-2 (1943 model). A glacis sloped at 30 degrees offers better protection than a glacis sloped at 9 degrees, and it wouldn't affect the volume of the crew spaces very much.

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