T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Discussions on all aspects of the USSR, from the Russian Civil War till the end of the Great Patriotic War and the war against Japan. Hosted by Art.
Art
Forum Staff
Posts: 6336
Joined: 04 Jun 2004 19:49
Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by Art » 16 Dec 2020 21:32

LachenKrieg wrote:
14 Dec 2020 16:39
I am currently interested in the topic of battle effectiveness of the 50mm L/60 gun mounted on the PzIII M against T-34/Sherman tanks, and found this thread to be a very interesting read. The discussion still leaves room for questions though, and I was hoping that anyone with more insight on this topic might be able to provide some of the answers for me.

To start, the above bold text states that of the 89 hits to the upper front detail that were examined, approximately 30 of them were caused by 50-mm shells. Is the 11% of cases where penetrations occurred referring to 11% of the 50-mm hits, or the 11% of the total number of hits on the front detail?
The document is available here:
https://t34inform.ru/doc/1942-11-03_NII-48_T-34.html
As far as I can tell there were 109 examined "hits" of the upper front armor, of them 43 were attributed to 50-mm guns. Of them 5 were dangerous (penetrations) and 38 safe which gives than 11:89 proportions. Of the total 109 hits, 89 were "safe" and in 20 cases the armor was broken and penetrated. Naturally, the numbers were pretty small to derive some reliable statistics.

LachenKrieg
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: 14 Dec 2020 16:00
Location: Canada

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by LachenKrieg » 18 Dec 2020 01:54

Art wrote:
16 Dec 2020 21:32
LachenKrieg wrote:
14 Dec 2020 16:39
I am currently interested in the topic of battle effectiveness of the 50mm L/60 gun mounted on the PzIII M against T-34/Sherman tanks, and found this thread to be a very interesting read. The discussion still leaves room for questions though, and I was hoping that anyone with more insight on this topic might be able to provide some of the answers for me.

To start, the above bold text states that of the 89 hits to the upper front detail that were examined, approximately 30 of them were caused by 50-mm shells. Is the 11% of cases where penetrations occurred referring to 11% of the 50-mm hits, or the 11% of the total number of hits on the front detail?
The document is available here:
https://t34inform.ru/doc/1942-11-03_NII-48_T-34.html
As far as I can tell there were 109 examined "hits" of the upper front armor, of them 43 were attributed to 50-mm guns. Of them 5 were dangerous (penetrations) and 38 safe which gives than 11:89 proportions. Of the total 109 hits, 89 were "safe" and in 20 cases the armor was broken and penetrated. Naturally, the numbers were pretty small to derive some reliable statistics.
Thanks for the link. Translating the body text was easy enough, but I had a little trouble with some of the tables. And yes, the low numbers are not helped by the fact that the number of hits registered for each caliber was based more or less on a subjective assessment. But all the same, 11-12% is remarkable considering at least some of the hits registered must have been fired from beyond 200m's. Unfortunately we will never know how many of the 43 shells that hit had velocities of 780+ m/s on contact, and how that correlates with the 5 that penetrated?

Considering the date from which the sample of battle wrecked tanks was taken from, I am assuming that these were units taking part in the defense of Stalingrad. And the numbers given sort of make sense in that regard because there were a lot of 50mm Pz III's/PaK 38's there, which could account for the high number of 50mm hits registered. But that leaves about a 23% pen rate for the remaining shots. The L/43 in service at that time should have been more successful at penetrating the T-34's front then the 50mm canons, but I guess there were probably some 75mm L/24 variants and other smaller caliber guns as well.

But all of this supports the notion that after having considered all the theoretical performance stats of any given shell, events that occur on the real world battlefield between the start and endpoint of a shells trajectory also come into play.

DavidFrankenberg
Member
Posts: 1061
Joined: 11 May 2016 01:09
Location: Earth

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 18 Dec 2020 12:19

Hitler and Goebbels were of the opinion that T34 changed the course of the war because the German infantry had no antitank weapon able to face T34 on the battlefield.

The 18 April 1944, Göbbels diary (my own translation) :
"The Soviets have a terrible advantage with the T34, an extraordinary efficient tank. He can go on snow, on ice, on mud, all that our own tanks can't do. For the moment we have nothing to face the T34. (...) (in 1939) We knew all soviet tanks used in Europe. Only the T34 was unknown to us. The Soviets were very smart not to show it during the Finnish war (...) Today facing the masses of T34 our infantry has no valuable antitank weapon. That's why we have to use our own tanks in order to defend our infantry. That is our big issue on the Eastern front. That's why we have, at all cost, to give our infantry some new antitank weapon. Current antitank weapons of the infantry are either too light and unefficient against T34, or efficient but too heavy and not mobile enough. The best antitank weapon is the 88mm canon. We have to build it massively. (...) an infantry able to face Tanks will hold the front, and so our tanks could be used offensively at last."
Last edited by DavidFrankenberg on 18 Dec 2020 22:06, edited 1 time in total.

Art
Forum Staff
Posts: 6336
Joined: 04 Jun 2004 19:49
Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by Art » 18 Dec 2020 15:38

LachenKrieg wrote:
18 Dec 2020 01:54
Considering the date from which the sample of battle wrecked tanks was taken from, I am assuming that these were units taking part in the defense of Stalingrad.
Data were collected from examination of tanks undergoing repair in repair bases of Moscow (base no.1 - 61 tanks, and base No.6 - 26 tanks) in August-September and factory no. 112 (Sormovo shipbuilding factory at Gorky - 91 tanks). So rather these tanks were damaged in the summer battles in the central part of the Eastern Front.

LachenKrieg
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: 14 Dec 2020 16:00
Location: Canada

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by LachenKrieg » 20 Dec 2020 01:09

Art wrote:
18 Dec 2020 15:38
LachenKrieg wrote:
18 Dec 2020 01:54
Considering the date from which the sample of battle wrecked tanks was taken from, I am assuming that these were units taking part in the defense of Stalingrad.
Data were collected from examination of tanks undergoing repair in repair bases of Moscow (base no.1 - 61 tanks, and base No.6 - 26 tanks) in August-September and factory no. 112 (Sormovo shipbuilding factory at Gorky - 91 tanks). So rather these tanks were damaged in the summer battles in the central part of the Eastern Front.
I was thinking that because the T34 production facility in Stalingrad was destroyed during the battle, that it was possible damaged vehicles were recovered to other areas for examination, but you are right, the dates don't really support that.

LachenKrieg
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: 14 Dec 2020 16:00
Location: Canada

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by LachenKrieg » 20 Dec 2020 01:17

DavidFrankenberg wrote:
18 Dec 2020 12:19
Hitler and Goebbels were of the opinion that T34 changed the course of the war because the German infantry had no antitank weapon able to face T34 on the battlefield.

The 18 April 1944, Göbbels diary (my own translation) :
"The Soviets have a terrible advantage with the T34, an extraordinary efficient tank. He can go on snow, on ice, on mud, all that our own tanks can't do. For the moment we have nothing to face the T34. (...) (in 1939) We knew all soviet tanks used in Europe. Only the T34 was unknown to us. The Soviets were very smart not to show it during the Finnish war (...) Today facing the masses of T34 our infantry has no valuable antitank weapon. That's why we have to use our own tanks in order to defend our infantry. That is our big issue on the Eastern front. That's why we have, at all cost, to give our infantry some new antitank weapon. Current antitank weapons of the infantry are either too light and unefficient against T34, or efficient but too heavy and not mobile enough. The best antitank weapon is the 88mm canon. We have to build it massively. (...) an infantry able to face Tanks will hold the front, and so our tanks could be used offensively at last."
Well I am not sure the course of the war had already been decided when German forces first met the T34, but it certainly had a role to play in German tank design after the fact. The T34 is viewed by many to be the most influential tank of the 2nd world war. It was the first to successfully demonstrate the proven value of sloped armor and reduced ground pressure, and is was the primary driving force behind the Panther's design. But all the same, T34 tanks were still lost to 50 mm anti-tank weapons.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8858
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Dec 2020 03:33

LachenKrieg wrote:
20 Dec 2020 01:09
... I was thinking that because the T34 production facility in Stalingrad was destroyed during the battle, that it was possible damaged vehicles were recovered to other areas for examination, but you are right, the dates don't really support that.
The earliest T34 tanks examined by the Germans were those encountered and captured on the battlefield in 1941. When writers comment that the Germans were "shocked" or surprised by the T34 on has to remember this was in the context of these were tank leaders who were operating the assorted aging tanks available in the summer of 1941.

The US Army had a few T34 given cursory examination by liaison officers with the US embassy at various times from early 1942. A through examination did not occur until a T34 & a KV1 arrived at Ft Aberdeen in 1943. Search hard enough & you can find a 650 page report, in Russian, compiled by a Red Army officer giving details of the US examination. There are brief translations of fragments of this report in circulation. Generally not more than a page or two of out of contexts bits, these translations give a distorted picture of what the US Army automotive/armor engineers actually thought of the T34 & KV tanks.

By the time of the Ft Aberdeen inspection of the T34 the US Army had already written specifications for the next generation of tank designs, the T20 - T26 series. Prototypes for several of these were under construction by the start of 1943. Limited production of test batches was underway in early 1943. The result of the T20 tanks design project was a limited production run of the electric drive T23 - 250 vehicles, and a larger production run of the M26 Pershing tank.

I've seen a claim the British in very early 1941 inquired of the USSR about purchasing Soviet made tanks. If this is true then maybe the Brits got a look at the T34 then. However I've not found collaboration of this story & have doubts this 'secret' would haven revealed this way.

DavidFrankenberg
Member
Posts: 1061
Joined: 11 May 2016 01:09
Location: Earth

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 20 Dec 2020 19:57

LachenKrieg wrote:
20 Dec 2020 01:17
DavidFrankenberg wrote:
18 Dec 2020 12:19
Hitler and Goebbels were of the opinion that T34 changed the course of the war because the German infantry had no antitank weapon able to face T34 on the battlefield.

The 18 April 1944, Göbbels diary (my own translation) :
"The Soviets have a terrible advantage with the T34, an extraordinary efficient tank. He can go on snow, on ice, on mud, all that our own tanks can't do. For the moment we have nothing to face the T34. (...) (in 1939) We knew all soviet tanks used in Europe. Only the T34 was unknown to us. The Soviets were very smart not to show it during the Finnish war (...) Today facing the masses of T34 our infantry has no valuable antitank weapon. That's why we have to use our own tanks in order to defend our infantry. That is our big issue on the Eastern front. That's why we have, at all cost, to give our infantry some new antitank weapon. Current antitank weapons of the infantry are either too light and unefficient against T34, or efficient but too heavy and not mobile enough. The best antitank weapon is the 88mm canon. We have to build it massively. (...) an infantry able to face Tanks will hold the front, and so our tanks could be used offensively at last."
Well I am not sure the course of the war had already been decided when German forces first met the T34, but it certainly had a role to play in German tank design after the fact. The T34 is viewed by many to be the most influential tank of the 2nd world war. It was the first to successfully demonstrate the proven value of sloped armor and reduced ground pressure, and is was the primary driving force behind the Panther's design. But all the same, T34 tanks were still lost to 50 mm anti-tank weapons.
The discovery of the T34 by the Germans led to a study group about it. The conclusions served to the creation of the Panther aka Panzer V.

LachenKrieg
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: 14 Dec 2020 16:00
Location: Canada

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by LachenKrieg » 21 Dec 2020 15:22

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Dec 2020 03:33
LachenKrieg wrote:
20 Dec 2020 01:09
... I was thinking that because the T34 production facility in Stalingrad was destroyed during the battle, that it was possible damaged vehicles were recovered to other areas for examination, but you are right, the dates don't really support that.
The earliest T34 tanks examined by the Germans were those encountered and captured on the battlefield in 1941. When writers comment that the Germans were "shocked" or surprised by the T34 on has to remember this was in the context of these were tank leaders who were operating the assorted aging tanks available in the summer of 1941.

The US Army had a few T34 given cursory examination by liaison officers with the US embassy at various times from early 1942. A through examination did not occur until a T34 & a KV1 arrived at Ft Aberdeen in 1943. Search hard enough & you can find a 650 page report, in Russian, compiled by a Red Army officer giving details of the US examination. There are brief translations of fragments of this report in circulation. Generally not more than a page or two of out of contexts bits, these translations give a distorted picture of what the US Army automotive/armor engineers actually thought of the T34 & KV tanks.

By the time of the Ft Aberdeen inspection of the T34 the US Army had already written specifications for the next generation of tank designs, the T20 - T26 series. Prototypes for several of these were under construction by the start of 1943. Limited production of test batches was underway in early 1943. The result of the T20 tanks design project was a limited production run of the electric drive T23 - 250 vehicles, and a larger production run of the M26 Pershing tank.

I've seen a claim the British in very early 1941 inquired of the USSR about purchasing Soviet made tanks. If this is true then maybe the Brits got a look at the T34 then. However I've not found collaboration of this story & have doubts this 'secret' would haven revealed this way.
I think you might have missed something in the conversation above Carl. You can go back and read, but I was discussing the information in a linked article provided by Art. The linked article is basically describing the post-battle assessment the Russian's did on their own tanks in an attempt to determine failure rates and what caused them. But yes the history on this topic is fascinating, especially in the way it unfolded.

LachenKrieg
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: 14 Dec 2020 16:00
Location: Canada

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by LachenKrieg » 21 Dec 2020 15:25

DavidFrankenberg wrote:
20 Dec 2020 19:57
LachenKrieg wrote:
20 Dec 2020 01:17
DavidFrankenberg wrote:
18 Dec 2020 12:19
Hitler and Goebbels were of the opinion that T34 changed the course of the war because the German infantry had no antitank weapon able to face T34 on the battlefield.

The 18 April 1944, Göbbels diary (my own translation) :
"The Soviets have a terrible advantage with the T34, an extraordinary efficient tank. He can go on snow, on ice, on mud, all that our own tanks can't do. For the moment we have nothing to face the T34. (...) (in 1939) We knew all soviet tanks used in Europe. Only the T34 was unknown to us. The Soviets were very smart not to show it during the Finnish war (...) Today facing the masses of T34 our infantry has no valuable antitank weapon. That's why we have to use our own tanks in order to defend our infantry. That is our big issue on the Eastern front. That's why we have, at all cost, to give our infantry some new antitank weapon. Current antitank weapons of the infantry are either too light and unefficient against T34, or efficient but too heavy and not mobile enough. The best antitank weapon is the 88mm canon. We have to build it massively. (...) an infantry able to face Tanks will hold the front, and so our tanks could be used offensively at last."
Well I am not sure the course of the war had already been decided when German forces first met the T34, but it certainly had a role to play in German tank design after the fact. The T34 is viewed by many to be the most influential tank of the 2nd world war. It was the first to successfully demonstrate the proven value of sloped armor and reduced ground pressure, and is was the primary driving force behind the Panther's design. But all the same, T34 tanks were still lost to 50 mm anti-tank weapons.
The discovery of the T34 by the Germans led to a study group about it. The conclusions served to the creation of the Panther aka Panzer V.
Well that is an interesting point, isn't it. Thanks for pointing that out.

DavidFrankenberg
Member
Posts: 1061
Joined: 11 May 2016 01:09
Location: Earth

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 23 Dec 2020 12:08

According to Guderian in Panzer Leader, the 50 mm could kill the T34 only by shooting in a precise place at the rear of it. The 37 mm could nothing.
Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven in his book states that the 50mm could kill it by shooting the sides but at a very short distance.

Peasant
Member
Posts: 569
Joined: 16 Oct 2018 17:21
Location: Italy

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by Peasant » 22 Apr 2021 10:50

This is not the german 50mm ATG but close. For comparison in the Yugo tests the critical distance against 57mm AP was rated to be 320m.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

LachenKrieg
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: 14 Dec 2020 16:00
Location: Canada

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by LachenKrieg » 18 May 2021 03:08

Contender wrote:
11 Jan 2008 17:27
Well lately been reading a lot of conflicting information about the ballistic capablities of the 50mm L/60 some praise it stating "the 50mm L/60 was the only arm that could effectively destroy a T-34 and even a heavy Kv tank with Pzgr40 at close range", others however state it was a scaled up 37mm door-knocker with no effective penetration power against the "new designs" except from the flanks or rear. From What I have read so far about the Second World War saying that the 50mm L/60 was incapable of penetrate the T-34/76 frontally due to the 60 degree slope conflicts with the sheer amount of T-34's that were wrecked or put out of action by the 50mm kwk 38/38 L60: look here:
Surely not all these were from the flanks:
Image- From Red Army's Handbook

Also accorrding to pretty decent source: Osprey's T-34/76 tank 1941-1945: it states that the T-34 could be penetrated from 500meters frontally and below. It gives its armor rating at 75mm due to the "extreme slope" (60 degrees from horizontal). Although not from reliable sources I've read many claims that due to the inferior steel quality that the strength of the armor was slightly under that 66mm-72mm.

So what Im asking for is for combat accounts of the Pak 38 or the Panzer III Ausf J/1-M vs Russian armor mainly the T-34 and perhaps t-34 (1940-1944 not including the "E or Stz" up armored kind) armor ammounts from creditable sources any help is appreciated and my apologizes if this topic is similar to an older one.
Bumping this post because it is such an interesting topic. I know in general, the 5cm L/60 was considered inadequate against the T34, especially beyond 350 meters, but the PzIII Ausf J made up such a major part of the German offensive in the summer of 1942 that it must have contributed to the nearly 2500 kills in the early weeks of operation blue.

Out of 1100 PzIII's present on the Eastern front in June of 1942, approximately 600 of them were equipped with the 5cm L/60, while there were only about 200 L/43 equipped PzIV's.

The linked video shows the personal account of a PzIII Ace on the Eastern front.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLdgwA31qXQ

rcocean
Member
Posts: 532
Joined: 30 Mar 2008 00:48

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by rcocean » 18 May 2021 15:10

DavidFrankenberg wrote:
18 Dec 2020 12:19
Hitler and Goebbels were of the opinion that T34 changed the course of the war because the German infantry had no antitank weapon able to face T34 on the battlefield.

The 18 April 1944, Göbbels diary (my own translation) :
"The Soviets have a terrible advantage with the T34, an extraordinary efficient tank. He can go on snow, on ice, on mud, all that our own tanks can't do. For the moment we have nothing to face the T34. (...) (in 1939) We knew all soviet tanks used in Europe. Only the T34 was unknown to us. The Soviets were very smart not to show it during the Finnish war (...) Today facing the masses of T34 our infantry has no valuable antitank weapon. That's why we have to use our own tanks in order to defend our infantry. That is our big issue on the Eastern front. That's why we have, at all cost, to give our infantry some new antitank weapon. Current antitank weapons of the infantry are either too light and unefficient against T34, or efficient but too heavy and not mobile enough. The best antitank weapon is the 88mm canon. We have to build it massively. (...) an infantry able to face Tanks will hold the front, and so our tanks could be used offensively at last."

Hello David,

What is your source for the Goebbels Diaries and why did you have to translate it? Is it a published book? Any idea why there isn't an English version? Given that portions of the 1943 and 1945 Diaries have been published in English, its odd that the 1944 hasn't been ( or has it?)

Thanks in advance.

PS. Great Discussion!

DavidFrankenberg
Member
Posts: 1061
Joined: 11 May 2016 01:09
Location: Earth

Re: T-34 frontal armor vs 50mm kwk 38 or 39 L/60

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 24 May 2021 13:36

rcocean wrote:
18 May 2021 15:10
DavidFrankenberg wrote:
18 Dec 2020 12:19
Hitler and Goebbels were of the opinion that T34 changed the course of the war because the German infantry had no antitank weapon able to face T34 on the battlefield.

The 18 April 1944, Göbbels diary (my own translation) :
"The Soviets have a terrible advantage with the T34, an extraordinary efficient tank. He can go on snow, on ice, on mud, all that our own tanks can't do. For the moment we have nothing to face the T34. (...) (in 1939) We knew all soviet tanks used in Europe. Only the T34 was unknown to us. The Soviets were very smart not to show it during the Finnish war (...) Today facing the masses of T34 our infantry has no valuable antitank weapon. That's why we have to use our own tanks in order to defend our infantry. That is our big issue on the Eastern front. That's why we have, at all cost, to give our infantry some new antitank weapon. Current antitank weapons of the infantry are either too light and unefficient against T34, or efficient but too heavy and not mobile enough. The best antitank weapon is the 88mm canon. We have to build it massively. (...) an infantry able to face Tanks will hold the front, and so our tanks could be used offensively at last."

Hello David,

What is your source for the Goebbels Diaries and why did you have to translate it? Is it a published book? Any idea why there isn't an English version? Given that portions of the 1943 and 1945 Diaries have been published in English, its odd that the 1944 hasn't been ( or has it?)

Thanks in advance.

PS. Great Discussion!
Hi,

the source is the Frölich edition, the big one and the latest.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goebbels_ ... #In_German

For sure, it is quite ununderstandable that his book was never published before 2006 and never translated in all.
But the work is pretty big, since there are like 20.000 sheets sometimes for just one year.
Goebbels diary is the most interesting source for the third reich.

Return to “The Soviet Union at War 1917-1945”