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

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

Post by Contender » 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.

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

Post by cbo » 11 Jan 2008 19:11

Contender wrote: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).


That makes no sense. The distance through the 45mm armour when sloped at 60 degrees would be 90mm. But the actual resistance due to the slope would be a lot more, somewhere in 125-135mm range for APC.

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.


There are several references in Jentz: "Panzertruppen" about the performance of the 5cm L/60 vs T34.

1. 31. july 1942 (p.241, vol. 1)
PzGr 38 was not effective against the hull front, though sometimes it managed to knock the dirvers hatch off. Lower hull side could be penetrated up to 500 meters, turret side and front and upper hull side up to 400 meters. PzGr 40 didn't work in the gun, so there is no data for that round. Later in the report, it is stated that the 5cm L/60 and 7,5cm L/43 guns have made the T-34 inferior to the German tanks whereas it previously was considered superior.

2. May 1942 (p. 231, vol.1)
PzGr penetrates up to 400 meter at hull and turret sides, at 300 meters from the front after several hits on the drivers hatch at 300 meters. PzGr 40 was defective and only fired at KV's

A "Panzerbeschusstafel" from March 1943 shows the range and areas which 5cm L/60 tank gunners should fire at vs the T-34 in order to be sure to achieve penetration:

- Turret front plate, 100 meters with PzGr 38 and 40
- Hull front, the narrow vertical part where upper and lower hull meets, 100 meters with PzGr 40
- Turret side, 600 meters with PzGr 38, 500 meters with PzGr 40
- Upper hull side, PzGr 38 500 meters, PzGr 40 400 meters
- Lower hull side, PzGr 38 1000 meters, PzGr 40 800 meters, but maximum range for the PzGr 40 was set to 600 meters
- Rear turret, PzGr 38 600 meters, PzGr 40 500 meters
- Rear hull, PzGr 38 and 40, 300 meters

So even though the front could be penetrated, the areas, the front turret plate and the narrow band on the hull front, were very small.

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

Post by LV » 11 Jan 2008 19:22

cbo wrote:That makes no sense. The distance through the 45mm armour when sloped at 60 degrees would be 90mm. But the actual resistance due to the slope would be a lot more, somewhere in 125-135mm range for APC.


How's the 125-135 mm possible if it could be penetrated by 5 cm Pak 38 at point blank?


There was no such thing as "PzGr 38" for the 5 cm Pak. It fired the following types of ammo:

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

Post by cbo » 13 Jan 2008 13:10

LV wrote: How's the 125-135 mm possible if it could be penetrated by 5 cm Pak 38 at point blank?


According to the references I qouted, the 45mm plate, sloped at 90 degrees couldn't be penetrated, not even at point blank. The only vulnerable parts was the hatch and the narrow part of the front hull which was rounded, i.e. low angle and even 0 degree hits were obtainable.

There was no such thing as "PzGr 38" for the 5 cm Pak. It fired the following types of ammo:


Tell that to the Germans who made the reports the Jentz is quoting from and I'm referring to :)
One is talking about "PzGr." and the other about "Panzergranate 38".

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Turret front plate, 100 meters with PzGr 38 and 40

Post by Dave Bender » 13 Jan 2008 14:48

It's pointless to have a tank / anti-tank gun that cannot kill enemy armor at long range. If you are going to kill enemy armor at less then 500 meters then you should use a recoilless rifle or even a Panzerschreck. Much less expensive, allowing them to be issued en masse. Light enough that the infantry can move them, without the need for a tow vehicle. For really close work (i.e. 50 meters) the Panzerfaust is better still.

Speaking of recoilless rifles....
Why were the German weapons so large and heavy? The 7.5cm G40 version weighed 145 kg. Light compared to a 5cm/60 anti-tank gun, but a lot heavier then it needs to be. The American 75mm recoilless rifle which entered production in 1945 weighed about 50kg, with an effective range of about 400 meters.

I know that Albert Speer did not like recoilless rifles because the ammunition used so much propellent. However the flip side of the coin is that the gun itself used a lot less high quality steel and did not require a tow vehicle. Landsers would certainly appreciate the portability and killing power.

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

Post by LV » 13 Jan 2008 18:30

cbo wrote:Tell that to the Germans who made the reports the Jentz is quoting from and I'm referring to :)
One is talking about "PzGr." and the other about "Panzergranate 38".


Even the Germans made mistakes. The main problem with Jentz's books is that he doesn't interpret any data, he just translates and prints it.

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

Post by Michael Emrys » 14 Jan 2008 02:31

cbo wrote:
Contender wrote:That makes no sense. The distance through the 45mm armour when sloped at 60 degrees would be 90mm. But the actual resistance due to the slope would be a lot more, somewhere in 125-135mm range for APC.


Are you sure you are correctly interpreting what Contender wrote? He wrote:
(60 degrees from horizontal)
which would be 30° off the vertical. Makes quite a difference when calculating the armor base.

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

Post by cbo » 14 Jan 2008 10:54

Michael Emrys wrote: Are you sure you are correctly interpreting what Contender wrote? He wrote:
(60 degrees from horizontal)
which would be 30° off the vertical. Makes quite a difference when calculating the armor base.


Good point, but since he talked about "extreme slope" and since the the front hull armour of the T-34 was sloped at 60 degrees if measured with the horizontal = 90 degrees, I assumed that was what he was talking about.

In any case, it wouldn't make any more sense if the slope was 30 degrees (again with horizontal = 90 degrees), because in that case, the distance through the armour would be would be about 52mm.

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

Post by cbo » 14 Jan 2008 10:59

LV wrote:
cbo wrote:Tell that to the Germans who made the reports the Jentz is quoting from and I'm referring to :)
One is talking about "PzGr." and the other about "Panzergranate 38".


Even the Germans made mistakes. The main problem with Jentz's books is that he doesn't interpret any data, he just translates and prints it.


In case of the quotes, yes. Which is why I decided to use the actual designations used in the text. No point in me trying to interpret what the original report actually meant by "Panzergranate 38". Could be either "PzGr" (i.e. AP) og "PzGr. 39" (APC).

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Post by Contender » 15 Jan 2008 05:39

45 at 60 degree's from verticle thrown through an armor caluclator (Panzerworld's which takes it to the horizontal angle ) gives me approximatly 52 mm but obviously the armor resistance should be a bit higher at least some where in this vicinity: 65-75mm..

Jentz's books are great! I love panzertracts and everything but I really need more accounts than just in Panzertruppen which is a good book I admit but I really want to look through this throughly and yes there seems to be a few mistakes in truppen. If you guys have any suggestions on books I should get that would be helpful as well.
I find it a bit odd that the 50mm L/60 was capable of taking down a heavy Kv tank which, I believe had very good russian quality armor (might have been the best during war time- 8O ) with a close range Pzgr 40 shot ( remember although there was little slope the round was throughly overmatched by the armor and again it was high quality armor so the round should have tended to deflect) while a medium tank which at least a good source (osprey) states it has an armor rating = to "75mm" could not be penetrated frontally by a high velocity (and high quality round) overmatching round (slightly over matches the 45mm thickness) I think there might be a confusion in here somewhere perhaps since there were a few really old accounts I came across a long while ago ( I cant find it though - :roll: which is why Im here) made reference that the 50mm L/60 had to fire at perpendicular (0 degrees or 90 angle) to the enemy T-34 to penetrate it or other wise it would deflect perhaps all the accounts/ data have the T-34 at a bit of an angle possibly a 30 degrees that would make a bit of sense. Also small note diagrams from manuals are actually very inaccurate in how far you can actually penetrate an enemy vehicle numbers tend to be a lot smaller than real engangement range to ensure a kill and minimal expenditure of ammo ( wasting ammo in ww2 Germany was almost like a crime).

Also again If the T-34 was safe from frontal 50mm attack why did the 50mmL/60 account for so many losses of T-34's? In the Afrika campagins the PaK 38 and the Panzer III specials(ausf J/1's) did well against compareable tanks such as the Sherman medium tank. As for the flank attacks would not work too well the T-34 is quicker and more manuverable than the Panzer III's and there were much more T-34's produced than the highighest produced 50mm L60 model or all the Panzer III models for that matter ( the J/1-I believe they made 1,500 some vs 40,000 t-34's). This tactic would have quickly been anticipated rendering it useless or suicidal remember the russians were very clever fighters.

-Cheers :D
And ty for the responses.

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Post by cbo » 15 Jan 2008 10:31

Contender wrote: 45 at 60 degree's from verticle thrown through an armor caluclator (Panzerworld's which takes it to the horizontal angle ) gives me approximatly 52 mm but obviously the armor resistance should be a bit higher at least some where in this vicinity: 65-75mm.


Lets get this straight :)

The T34s front hull armour was 45mm thick and sloped at 60 degrees if measured with the vertical = 0 degrees. If you measure with vertical = 90 degrees, the slope is 30 degrees.
The Panzerworld calculator uses vertical = 90 degrees, so if you want to calculate the distance through the armour, you should enter 45mm armour and a slope of 30 degrees which will produce the correct result, 90mm thickness.

In reality, the resistance of the armour is much greater due to the fact that a round hitting the sloped surface will not go straight in, but be deflected. Exactly how this works in a very complex issue, but a simple calculation (not taking into account armour and ammunition quality) based on the formula devised by Bird & Livingston (transforming resistance to vertical good US quality RHA armour) gives an armour resistance of 45mm armour sloped at 60 degrees (T-34 front hull armour) against 5cm AP (like the 5cm PzGr) of around 170mm. Against 5cm APC (like 5cm PzGr 39) the value drops to about 135mm. Similarily converted penetration data for the 5cm L/60 gun is 97mm for AP and 101mm for APC, so the T34 front hull armour would be impenetrable according to this calculation, just like it was in real life.

Contender wrote:I find it a bit odd that the 50mm L/60 was capable of taking down a heavy Kv tank...


Why? There are many surfaces on the KV1 which could in principle be penetrated by the 5cm L/60 gun as shown in the accounts in Panzertruppen as in the "Beschusstafel" for the 5cm KwM L/60.

"Overmatching" armour (i.e. T/D ratio where T/D > 1) and armour quality means something, but not as much as some seems to think :)

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Post by Username » 17 Jan 2008 15:49

To answer the initial question..I would say that yes, the 50mmL60 did destroy many of the T34 through side shots. This coming from both PanzerIII and pak38.

On 26 May 1942 the General der Schnellen Truppen beim Oberkommando des Heeres distributed the following "Instructions to units on the Eastern Front for Combating the Russian T-34 Tank with our Panzers" (cited from T.Jentz "Panzertruppen"):

"Characteristics of the T34.

The T-34 is faster, more maneuverable, has better cross-country mobility than our Pz.Kpfw.lll and IV. Its armor is stronger. The penetrating ability of its 7.62 cm cannon is superior to our 5 cm KwK. and the 7.5 cm KwK40. The favorable form of sloping all of the armor plates aids in causing the shells to skid off.

Combating the T-34 with the 5 cm KwK tank gun is possible only at short ranges from the flank or rear, where it is important to achieve a hit as perpendicular to the surface as possible. Hits on the turret ring, even with high-explosive shells or machine gun bullets, usually result in jamming the turret. In addition, armor-piercing shells fired at close range that hit the gun mantle result in penetrations and breaking open the weld seams. The T-34 can be penetrated at ranges up to 1000 metres with the 7.5 cm PaK 40 as well as the 7.5 cm Hohlgranate (hollow-charge shells)

Russian Tank Tactics.

In defense and covering a retreat, the T-34 with the turret at six o'clock is often dug in on a commanding height along a road or on the edge of woods or villages. Then after surprisingly opening fire from ambush, the T-34 can be driven out of the concealed position still under cover.

In correctly recognizing his technical superiority in weapons, the T-34 already opens fire on German Panzers at ranges from 1200 to 1800 metres. Because the T-34 is faster than the German Panzers, he can choose the range for a firefight.

Our Panzer Tactics.

Because the 5 cm KwK can only be expected to penetrate the flanks of the T34 at short range, the following tactics have proven been to be correct in combating them:

a. Attract and tie down the opponent frontally by having a Pz.Kpfw.III take up the firefight. Choose a hull down position or drive in a zig-zag course to make it difficult for the opponent to hit the target.

b. At the same time, utilizing all available cover, two other Pz.Kpfw.llls attempt to circumvent the T34 to the right or left in order to gain a position in the flank or in the rear and knock him out at short range with PzGr40 fired at the hull or rear.

c. If a Pz.Kpfw.lV is available among our own Panzers, it is to be employed in front of the opponent. The use of Nebelgranaten (smoke shells) can blind the T-34 or aid the other Panzers in closing in. It is also possible that the opponent will think that the smoke is poison gas and break off the action.

When encountering numerically superior enemy tanks (T-34 and KV), success has always resulted when our Panzer unit builds a fire front and overwhelms the enemy with fire. Even when no penetrations can be achieved, the enemy, impressed by the accuracy and rate of fire of the German Panzers, almost always breaks off the action.

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Post by Username » 17 Jan 2008 16:25

If a shot HAD to be made against a T34 front by a 50mmL60, I would certainly aim at the upper left corner of the drivers hatch. Shots here could:

1. hit hatch and cause a penetration due to edge effect
2. damage dislodge the hatch (freaking out the driver)
3. ricochet upwards towards the main weapon (it has a shot trap)
4. strike the nearly vertical 52 mm armor under the gun
5. jam the turret ring

The 50mmL60 is very accurate and under 500 meters could proibably aim for select areas on the tank.

from the side, the lower hull of the T34 is protected only by vertical 45mm armor. Since ammo is kept on the vehcile floor, this is a prime target.

http://www.battlefield.ru/tanks/t34_76/t34_12.gif

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Post by Username » 17 Jan 2008 16:29

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Post by Username » 19 Jan 2008 16:02

http://www.battlefield.ru/destroyed/ussr/t34_10.jpg

This later model T34 may not have been an improvement as far as frontal turret armor protection. Note the large area under the turret that is vulnerable. Also the cast armor.

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