Technique and its characteristics
The most massive Soviet heavy tank since World War II went into series at the end of the 1943 of the year. Production of machines such as EC-2 lasted until June 1945-th. In about a year and a half, the industry transferred 3385 tanks to the Red Army. For obvious reasons, some of the last series of tanks did not have time to get to the front. During operation, the units that had been equipped with the EC-2 lost a significant amount of such equipment. However, mass production covered all the losses and allowed to continue fighting. Moreover, the existing fleet of vehicles remained in service for many years after the end of the war; a significant number of tanks were transferred to third countries.
Soviet heavy tank EC-2 first version. It differs from the later machines by the characteristic frontal part of the body.
The EC-2 had the most powerful defense among all Soviet wartime tanks. Initially, such tanks had a frontal unit of sheets of thickness 60, 100 and 120 mm, installed at angles. In 1944, a new version of the forehead appeared with the upper frontal part 120 mm thick and the lower 100-mm. The boards had a thickness of 90 mm, feed - 60 mm. The tower received circular protection in the form of 100-mm armor. On the forehead there was also a mask of equal thickness. It should be noted that on some serial tanks, instead of rolled parts, cast parts were used, which were less resistant to fire.
The tank was completed with the 12-cylinder diesel engine B-2IS with the power 520 hp, which, with the combat weight 46 t, gave the specific power slightly more than 11 hp per ton. On the highway, the car accelerated to 35-37 km / h, on rough terrain - to 15 km / h. Provided overcoming a variety of obstacles.
Given the experience of previous battles, the IS-2 tank equipped 122-mm D-25T rifled gun, which, as expected, could effectively destroy any armored vehicles of the German army. D-25T was a redesigned version of the A-19 gun with some new elements. The guns of the first series had a piston slide, but at the beginning of 1944, it was replaced with semi-automatic wedge. To reduce the recoil momentum there was a muzzle brake. The gun used separate loading shots. A circular alignment was provided horizontally by turning the turret with the possibility of precise targeting with the help of separate mechanisms on the installation.
Reservation scheme of the tank EC-2. Top right shows the hull of the first version of the tank, below - later, with a recycled forehead
When using a sharp-headed caliber armor-piercing projectile of the BR-471 type, the D-25T cannon at a distance of 500 m at an encounter angle of 90 ° could penetrate 155 mm of homogeneous armor. At a distance of 1 km, armor penetration decreased to 143 mm. At twice the distance - up to 116 mm. Thus, the gun of the tank EC-2 in theory posed a great danger to almost all German armored vehicles. In some cases, a breakthrough had to occur with known consequences, in others - fatal damage to external units.
The tank ammunition included 28 shots of separate loading. Each projectile BR-471 weighed 25 kg, sleeve type Ж-471 with a variable charge - from 13,7 to 15,3 kg, depending on the material used. The need to work with large and heavy elements of the shot led to a reduction in the rate of fire to 3 shots per minute.
To control the gunner, the EC-2 used a TS-17 telescopic sight and a periscope PT4-17. From a certain time, serial tanks lost their periscope sight, instead of which they installed another viewing device. Situational awareness has improved, but the tank has lost the possibility of self-shooting from a closed position.
The Pz.Kpfw became the most massive German heavy tank. VI Ausf. H1, also known as Tiger. This car went into series at the end of the summer 1942 of the year and was produced for two years, until August 1944. The tank turned out to be quite difficult to manufacture and expensive; for the entire production time, the industry manufactured only 1350 units of such equipment. From the beginning of service in the 1942 year to the end of the war, the German army lost the vast majority of such vehicles. The main losses, for obvious reasons, occurred on the Eastern Front and are the merit of the Red Army.
A characteristic feature of the Tigr tank was a powerful reservation. The front of his body consisted of rolled sheets 100, 80 and 63 mm thick, assembled in a box-shaped unit of recognizable shape. Boards were assembled from 80- and 63-mm parts, and the feed was 80 mm thick. The forehead of the tower was made of 100-mm sheet and was amplified by a mask of guns of variable thickness: from 90 to 200 mm. The side and stern of the turret had the same protection in the form of 80 mm armor.
Tanks of different series were equipped with Maybach HL12P210 and HL30P210 45 hp 700-cylinder carburetor engines. With a mass of 57 T, the Tiger tank had a specific power of no more than 13 HP. per ton. Without limiting engine speed, the tank could develop 44 km / h speed on the highway. On rough terrain, speed was limited to 22-25 km / h. The car had a fairly high permeability.
The main weapons German "Tiger" was a tank gun 8,8 cm KwK 36 L / 56 with a rifled barrel caliber 88 mm. The gun was equipped with a semi-automatic wedge bolt, an electric ignition system and a muzzle brake of a recognizable shape. With KwK 36, unitary shots 88x570 mm R were used, equipped with projectiles of various types. An important feature of the German gun was the flatness of the trajectory, which to some extent compensated for errors in the vertical guidance.
Shot components for the D-25T cannon (from right to left, shown on both sides): a cartridge with a propellant charge, a high-explosive fragmentation shell OF-471H, an armor-piercing BR-471 and an armor-piercing BR-471B
To destroy tanks, the KwK 36 gun could use several types of shells: two kinetic (one with a tungsten core, the other with a ballistic cap and an explosive charge) and a number of cumulative ones. The latter, under all conditions, punched up to 100-110 mm of homogeneous armor at a meeting angle of 90 °. The most effective projectile Pz.Gr.40 with a tungsten core at a distance of 500 m punched 200 mm of armor, on 1 km - 179 mm. At a distance of 2 km, he saved energy to destroy 143-mm obstacles. The Pz.Gr.39 projectile, assembled without the use of expensive materials, punched 151, 138 and 116 mm of armor, respectively, at the same distances.
German unitary shots with 88-mm projectiles had a length of more than 1150 mm and weighed slightly less than 21 kg. Ammunition KwK 36 guns included at least 90 shells. Later, German engineers found a way to bring it to 120 shells. Due to the relatively light shot with unitary loading, it was possible to obtain a technical rate of fire up to 6-8 rounds per minute.
Most of the tanks "Tiger" was equipped with binocular optical sights TZF-9b. On the machines of the latest series used products TZF-9c. The former had a fixed increase in 2,5x, while the multiplicity of the latter was regulated from 2,5x to 5x.
Advantages and disadvantages
It is easy to see that the most massive heavy tanks of the USSR and Nazi Germany had similar mobility and maneuverability, but at the same time they differed in the most serious way in terms of protection and armament. The simplest comparison of two tanks "on paper" shows in which areas the samples in question could have an advantage over each other.
The Soviet early-series EC-2 had frontal armor in the form of sheets 120, 100 mm and 60 mm thick, which, given the slope, gave a reduced thickness of about 195, 130 and 115 mm, respectively. Frontal unit tank Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. H did not have large installation angles, and therefore their reduced thickness remained at the level of 100-110 mm. However, for an inclined 80-mm sheet, this parameter reached 190 mm. However, the inclined part did not take up much space in the overall frontal projection of the tank, and therefore its effect on the overall level of protection was not decisive.
From the point of view of defense of the “on paper” tower, the two tanks are similar. At the same time, “Tiger” has an advantage in the form of a greater thickness of the tool mask, and the EC-2 tower is distinguished by thicker sides and aft.
In general, the advantage in the field of protection remains for the Soviet tank. However, we must bear in mind that the survivability of a combat vehicle depends not only on the characteristics of its armor, but also on the capabilities of the enemy’s weapons.
Depending on the series, the upper front sheet of the EC-2 with a reduced thickness from 195 to 240 mm, depending on the series, can be considered an extremely difficult obstacle for all KwK 36 cannons at reasonable distances. The situation could be corrected only by the most effective and expensive shell with a tungsten core. In turn, the EC-2 with a BR-471 projectile under ideal conditions could hit Tiger in frontal projection at distances of at least 1 km.
This should take into account the possibility of removing the enemy down without breaking armor. The fragments of the projectile that fell into the hull or tower, as well as embossed fragments of armor, were capable of damaging a weapon, optical devices, etc., at least disrupting the normal operation of the combat vehicle. Thus, during the tests, the D-25T gun not only penetrated the armor of the captured Tiger, but also made breaks in it, and was able to disrupt the turret from the shoulder strap.
The undoubted advantage of the German tank was a higher rate of fire associated with a smaller caliber of the projectile and other method of loading. In preparation for the shot, Soviet tankmen needed at least 20 with, while the German loader could manage for 8-10 with. Thus, the "Tiger" could quickly adjust the tip and make a second shot with greater accuracy. However, it is necessary to remember about the ratio of armor penetration of German projectiles and the characteristics of the EC-2 armor. In order for the second shot to lead to the defeat of the Soviet tank, the German "Tiger" should have been at a not very great distance from him.
The onboard projections of the EC-2 and the Tiger had protection in the form of 90 and 63-80 mm of armor, respectively. This means that both tanks could effectively hit each other at all distances taking place in a real battle. After a single well-aimed shot that hit the board, the enemy was put out of action, at least before the repair.
Loading unitary 88-mm shells into the tank
The German tank, distinguished by better mobility, could quickly reach a vantage point. On rough terrain, Tiger was able to reach speeds of up to 20-25 km / h, depending on the characteristics of the landscape. The maximum speed of the EC-2 was lower - up to 12-15 km / h. An experienced crew could use such an advantage to their advantage, and for insufficiently trained tankers without proper experience, additional kilometers per hour would not be of any use.
Thus, with a simple and superficial examination of the tactical and technical characteristics of two heavy tanks of the USSR and Germany, certain conclusions and assumptions can be made. EC-2 had advantages over Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. H Tiger in some characteristics, but lost in others. At the same time, he had serious advantages in terms of armor and weapons. German tankers in the event of a collision with the EC-2 would have to rely on better mobility and a higher rate of fire.
Clash in reality
It is known that the tanks EC-2 and Tiger repeatedly had to meet in battle since the spring of the year 1944. However, according to available data, such battles did not occur too often, since different tactical roles usually spread them across different sectors of the front. Nevertheless, certain information was kept about the collisions of heavy tanks of the two countries, which made it possible to examine the current situation and correct the earlier conclusions.
According to known data, for the first time the EC-2 met with Tiger tanks in April 1944 in the region of Ternopil. The tankmen of the 11-th separate Guards Heavy Tank Regiment were the first to accept the battle. Subsequently, this regiment and other parts repeatedly met with heavy German tanks and fought with them. For objective reasons, it is no longer possible to establish all the results of these battles, but it is known that both sides inflicted significant damage on each other.
Considering the available data on the collision of the "Tigers" and the EC-2, one can notice several main features of such fights. The tanks repeatedly attacked each other from a distance of the order of 1000-1500 m, and in such a fight the Soviet IS-2 defeated more often. In this case, there are cases when Tiger attacked a Soviet car from a distance of more than 1 km and punched the lower frontal part, which led to the ignition of the fuel tanks. However, at distances of more than 1 km, the advantage remained for the Red Army tankmen.
Fighting at smaller distances, despite the advantages of both tanks, proved difficult for both sides. At distances from the 400-500 to the 900-1000, the IS-2 and the Tiger could attack each other head-on with varying success and confidently hit the board. With a further reduction in the distance between the tanks, the chances of winning and survival were equalized. At the same time, in these circumstances, the role of mobility and rate of fire could probably increase. Accordingly, the potential of the German technology slightly increased.
German tankers are studying the dent in the armor of "Tiger". It was clearly not the gun of the tank EC-2
Thus, the two heavy tanks of the opposing sides seriously differed from each other in various design features and characteristics, which led to the emergence of various advantages over the enemy. However, in this context, there were quite serious problems. Not always the real battle clash with enemy tanks could go on the optimal scenario, allowing full use of its advantages. In practice, this led to the fact that the Soviet tankers tried to keep the Tigers away at a dangerous distance, but sometimes they themselves turned out to be too close to enemy positions.
Contribution to victory
Heavy tanks Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. H Tiger and EC-2 are not often met in battles, which was associated with different tactical roles of these combat vehicles. Because of this, other types of armored vehicles became their main opponents. And in this case, the Soviet heavy tanks showed themselves in the best way. The 122-mm gun made it possible to attack and destroy almost all the existing types of enemy equipment, while the powerful booking protected against many counter attacks. In addition, the EC-2 tanks were produced in significant quantities, which made it possible to strengthen the armored forces in the desired manner.
Of course, the heavy tanks of the EC-2 were not without flaws, and according to some characteristics they lost to the enemy equipment of their class, which led to losses. Nevertheless, the cars to be restored were returned to service, and the industry supplied the newly built equipment. In just over a year and a half of mass production, the Soviet Union built almost 3400 tanks of this type. 1350 German Tiger machines on this background do not look too convincing, and about 500 collected Tiger II could hardly correct the situation.
Ultimately, it was the IS-2 tanks that successfully supported the attack on the enemy’s positions and caused him the most serious damage, contributing to the advancement of the Red Army. Despite its drawbacks and advantages of the opposing party’s equipment, the Soviet armored vehicles made a significant contribution to the defeat of the enemy and the victory over Nazi Germany. Soviet tanks EC-2 along with other armored vehicles clearly showed how the high performance, quality and number of combat vehicles turn into a victory.
Solyankin A. G., Pavlov M. V., Pavlov I. V., Zheltov I. G. Domestic armored vehicles. XX century. - M .: Exprint, 2005. - T. 2. 1941 – 1945.
Baryatinsky M.B. Heavy tank IS-2. Our response to the Tigers. - M .: Yauza, Eksmo, 2006.