The most powerful tank destroyer of the beginning of World War II

The most powerful tank destroyer of the beginning of World War II

The Second World War, which became the first real war of engines, gave the world a huge number of new weapons. Tanks, who began to play an increasingly important role on the battlefield, turning into the main striking force of the ground forces, broke through the enemy’s field defenses, crushed the rear, closed the encirclement and burst into cities hundreds of kilometers from the front line. The increasing spread of armored vehicles required the appearance of adequate countermeasures, one of which was anti-tank self-propelled guns.


In Germany, during the Second World War, a whole galaxy of tank destroyers was created, while the first projects, which included the 10.5cm K18 auf Panzer Selbsfahrlafette IVa self-propelled gun, nicknamed Dicker Max (“Fat Max”), began to be developed in the late 1930s x years. Armed with a 105-mm gun, the self-propelled gun was built in the amount of two prototypes in early 1941, but then it never came to mass production. Today, the most powerful tank destroyer of the initial period of World War II, the shells of which pierced all the tanks of the allies of those years at any combat distance, is presented only in computer games: World of Tanks and War Thunder, as well as bench model. Until today, instances of self-propelled guns have not been preserved.

The story of the self-propelled gun Dicker Max


German designers turned to the idea of ​​building a powerful self-propelled gun armed with a large-caliber artillery gun at the beginning of World War II. The main purpose of the new combat vehicle was to combat various enemy fortifications, including pillboxes. Such a machine became even more relevant in the light of the upcoming campaign against France, which built along the border with Germany a powerful line of fortifications, known as the Maginot Line. To deal with long-term firing points, a serious caliber was required, so the designers opted for the 105-mm sK18 gun.


Although the development of a new self-propelled gun began in 1939, no ready-made combat vehicles were built by the start of the campaign against France. The process of developing a self-propelled gun, originally called Schartenbrecher (bunker destroyer), lasted about a year and a half. It is worth noting that the designers of the Krupp plant did not particularly rush into this project, especially after France capitulated on June 22, 1940. German troops bypassed the Maginot Line, and in some places managed to break through and crush the defenses of the French troops without using various exotic weapons.

The first built prototypes of the new self-propelled guns were shown personally to Hitler on March 31, 1941. Then began a discussion of the concept of a new application of self-propelled guns. By May, it was finally decided that the main specialization of vehicles would be the fight against enemy tanks. At the same time, the Germans even then began to discuss options for the construction of other tank destroyers armed with, among other things, 128 mm guns. The Germans expected to use the new armored vehicles on the Eastern Front, where they planned to use self-propelled guns to combat heavy Soviet tanks.

At the same time, the German army already in 1941 had enough forces and means to fight both the T-34 medium tank and the KV-1 and KV-2 heavy tanks. In the Wehrmacht, already in the summer of 1941, there were sufficient ammunition shells that made it possible to hit the T-34 aboard even from 37-mm anti-tank guns. 50 mm anti-aircraft guns coped with this task even more confidently. In emergency cases, 88-mm anti-aircraft guns and 10 cm schwere Kanone 18 heavy field guns came to the rescue, which the Germans widely used against heavy Soviet KV tanks.


Despite the fact that the Flak 36 anti-aircraft gun became a lifesaver for the Germans, this gun, like the sK105 18-mm infantry gun, was bulky, clearly visible on the ground and inactive. That is why work on the creation of self-propelled anti-tank guns was forced, and two prototypes of the 105-mm tank destroyers built, designated 10.5cm K18 auf Panzer Selbsfahrlafette IVa, were sent to the front to undergo full-fledged field tests.

Project Features 10.5cm K18 auf Panzer Selbsfahrlafette IVa


As a chassis for self-propelled guns, the PzKpfw IV medium tank, well developed by the German industry, was used, which became the most massive Wehrmacht tank and was produced until the end of the war. With the modification of the tank PzKpfw IV Ausf. E German designers dismantled the tower and installed a spacious open cabin. The implemented layout solution was traditional for a huge number of German self-propelled guns during the Second World War, however, with some features. So in the front part of the body of the new self-propelled gun were two box-shaped deckhouses with sight slots. And if one of them was the workplace of the driver (left), then the second was false, there was no workplace for the crew member in the right cabin.

The cabin of self-propelled guns was distinguished by a sufficiently strong reservation for German armored vehicles of the initial period of World War II. The gun mask had a thickness of 50 mm, the thickness of the main armor of the frontal part of the wheelhouse was 30 mm, while the armor was installed at an angle of 15 degrees. From the sides the cabin was armored weaker - 20 mm, booking aft - 10 mm. Above, the cabin was completely open. In a combat situation, this increased visibility from the car, but at the same time made the crew more vulnerable. Fragments of shells and mines could fly into the open cabin, and the machine also became vulnerable to air raids and military operations in cities. To protect against bad weather, the self-propelled crew could use a canvas canopy.


The main weapon of the self-propelled gun was a powerful 105-mm gun. The K18 gun was created by the designers of Krupp and Rheinmetall based on the sK18 heavy infantry gun. As practice has shown, this weapon made it possible not only to effectively deal with various fortifications and field defense of the enemy, but also with well-armored armored vehicles. True, the ammunition of the gun was small, in a self-propelled gun it was possible to place only 26 shells, which were located along the sides of the hull in the aft of the cabin. The charging system is separate.

The K105 18-mm gun with a 52-caliber barrel could easily deal with any Soviet heavy tank, as well as with any Allied tank. At a distance of 2000 meters, an armor-piercing projectile fired from this gun pierced 132 mm of vertically arranged armor or 111 mm of armor mounted at an angle of 30 degrees. The effective direct range of high-explosive shells was up to 2400 meters, armor-piercing - up to 3400 meters. The gun’s advantages also included good vertical aiming angles - from -15 to +10 degrees, but horizontal aiming angles let us down - up to 8 degrees in both directions.

There was no defensive armament on a self-propelled gun, since the machine had to fight against enemy fortifications and tanks at long distances. At the same time, a single MG34 machine gun could be transported in the laying, which did not have a standard place for installation. At the same time, the main defensive weapons of the crew were pistols and submachine guns MP-40. The crew of the self-propelled gun consisted of five people, four of whom, together with the commander of the car, were located in the open wheelhouse.


Self-propelled gun mounted transmission VK 9.02, working in conjunction with the Maybach HL-66P engine. The engine and transmission were located in the front of the case. The Maybach HL-6P 66-cylinder gasoline engine with water cooling system developed a maximum power of 180 hp. For a machine with a combat weight of more than 22 tons, this was not enough, the specific power was a little more than 8 hp. per ton. The maximum speed on the highway did not exceed 27 km / h, on rough terrain - about 10 km / h. Cruising range - 170 km. In the future, it was planned to install a more powerful Maybach HL-12 120-cylinder engine (300 hp) on production models, but these plans were not destined to come true.

Combat use and the fate of prototypes


Both prototypes built took part in the battles on the Eastern Front, while they were in the troops from the first days of the invasion. Both self-propelled guns were enlisted in the separate 521st tank fighter battalion (Panzerjager-Abteilung), which also included the lighter Panzerjager I tank fighters armed with Czech-made 47-mm anti-tank guns. The self-propelled troops received their nickname Dicker Max ("Fat Max"). The baptism of fire of self-propelled guns took place on June 23, 1941 east of the city of Kobrin in Belarus. Self-propelled guns were used to shell clusters of Soviet infantry and artillery positions.

Dicker Max took part in repelling the failed counterattack of the 14th Mechanized Corps. At the same time, the power of their artillery weapons was excessive for fighting light Soviet tanks, so their main goal these days was the artillery positions of the Soviet troops. Their next major battle, 10.5cm K18 auf Panzer Selbsfahrlafette IVa, was held on June 30 near the Berezina River, firing off Soviet armored train with artillery fire, which, however, could not be destroyed. During the battle, one of the installations failed. A little later, a fire broke out in one of the self-propelled guns on the way to Slutsk, the crew managed to evacuate from the car, but the tank destroyer was lost forever after the detonation of the ammunition.


The remaining self-propelled guns conquered on the Eastern Front until the fall of 1941, until in October, after exhaustion of motor resources, was returned to Germany for overhaul and modernization. Returning to the 521st separate battalion of tank destroyers in the summer of 1942, the self-propelled gun took part in the German offensive on Stalingrad, in the battles near the city in the autumn and winter of 1942 the car was lost.

Despite the initial plans to release up to 100 such combat vehicles, the Germans limited themselves to building only two prototypes. Despite the excellent firepower and ability to combat both fortifications and heavy enemy tanks, the machine was notable for its low reliability, low mobility and a very problematic undercarriage. Moreover, the experience gained was most likely generalized and later helped the Germans develop the Nashorn tank destroyer, which, like the Hummel self-propelled howitzer, was based on the successful unified Geschützwagen III / IV chassis built using the chassis elements of medium tanks Pz III and Pz IV.
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  1. Kote Pan Kokhanka 7 March 2020 06: 37 New
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    Sergey, you have opened for me in a new role! German armored vehicles of the Second World War!
    Predictably, but still unexpectedly thanks!
  2. Constanty 7 March 2020 06: 43 New
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    In Germany, during the Second World War, a whole galaxy of tank destroyers was created, while the first projects, which included the 10.5cm K18 auf Panzer Selbsfahrlafette IVa self-propelled gun, nicknamed Dicker Max (“Fat Max”), began to be developed in the late 1930s x years.


    By the way, the Dicker Max was not planned at all and was not built as a tank destroyer, while the tanks had almost symbolic armor, mainly against rifle bullets, and for their elimination the Germans predicted the use of Bfw tanks (later named Pzkpfw IV)
    Anyway, in the next chapter, the author rightly deduces the origin of Dicker Maxa as a pillbox destroyer. So what's the point of the passage quoted?
    1. mat-vey 7 March 2020 07: 17 New
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      The same is not clear. For these tasks (the fight against long-term fortifications) KV-2 at that time was the leader. And with the tanks of that time, 37-45 mm guns coped.
    2. smart ass 9 March 2020 15: 27 New
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      The point is that wot money was brought to the author not as advertising
  3. At first I wanted to "get a little excited", and then I clarified - indeed, the more powerful self-propelled guns "difficult Emil" appeared on the battlefield later. So the author is right, indeed, at the beginning of the war the most powerful self-propelled guns.
    1. maidan.izrailovich 7 March 2020 15: 54 New
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      Chief of the Redskins (Nazarius)
      .... more powerful self-propelled guns "difficult Emil" appeared on the battlefield later

      But she didn’t do the weather at the front either. Also, only two copies were made.
      Sturer Emil (with it. - "Stubborn Emil"; full name 12,8 cm Selbstfahrlafette auf VK3001 (H) "Sturer Emil") - an experimental German self-propelled artillery installation (SPG) from the Second World War.
  4. bionik 7 March 2020 07: 54 New
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    Returning to the 521st separate battalion of tank destroyers in the summer of 1942, the self-propelled gun took part in the German offensive on Stalingrad, in the battles near the city in the autumn and winter of 1942 the car was lost.
    A Red Army man inspects the German 105 mm Pz.Sfl.IVa self-propelled guns “Dicker Max” (Fat Max) of the 521st tank destroyer battalion (Panzer-Jaeger-Abteilung (Sfl.) 521) captured near Stalingrad.
    1. fk7777777 7 March 2020 13: 35 New
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      Well, couldn’t it be used further? The base from HF would probably fit, but what about a sau ...
      1. maidan.izrailovich 7 March 2020 16: 02 New
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        Well, couldn’t it be used further? The base from HF would probably fit, but what about a sau ...

        But why?
        In the Soviet army there were no problems with artillery systems.
        For example.
        ISU-122С
    2. Freeman 7 March 2020 15: 27 New
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      Quote: bionik
      Returning to the 521st separate battalion of tank destroyers in the summer of 1942, the self-propelled gun took part in the German offensive on Stalingrad, in the battles near the city in the autumn and winter of 1942 the car was lost.
      A Red Army man inspects the German 105 mm Pz.Sfl.IVa self-propelled guns “Dicker Max” (Fat Max) of the 521st tank destroyer battalion (Panzer-Jaeger-Abteilung (Sfl.) 521) captured near Stalingrad.


      UPDATE.
      The crew of this self-propelled gun gave it its own name - sorehead ("Grunt")

      The tradition of appropriating equipment, in addition to ships, has its own names, exists in many armies of the world. As an example - Memphis Belle (US Air Force B-17 bomber) or "Fighting girlfriend" (tank T-34 KA).
      1. Yamato1980 7 March 2020 19: 05 New
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        Grumble is about something else, there was a 150 mm mortar there, with the cabin completely closed. Learn the materiel.
        And the name "Grunt" was given by the Allies, not the Germans.
        1. Freeman 7 March 2020 19: 49 New
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          Quote: Yamato1980
          Grumble is about something else, there was a 150 mm mortar there, with the cabin completely closed. Learn the materiel.
          And the name "Grunt" was given by the Allies, not the Germans.


          Sorry, but you did not understand the difference between the "nickname" (BM-13 - "Katyusha") and the "proper name".
          - The crew could even call Hilda their car.

          PS. "I teach materiel"
          Sturmpanzer iv
          The German soldiers called the car simply “StuPa” - an abbreviation for the official Sturmpanzer.
          But the nickname “Brummbär” (with German “grumbler”, transliterated as “Brummber”), given by the Allied intelligence, which was not used by the Germans themselves, is better known. In Soviet documents of that time, this self-propelled guns was designated as "Bear".
          wiki
  5. Uncle Izya 7 March 2020 09: 25 New
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    What is she the best if she didn’t even go into the series and limited herself to two prototypes
    1. Paranoid50 8 March 2020 12: 19 New
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      Quote: Uncle Izya
      What is she the best

      Apparently, the word "POTENTIAL" is missing. yes In principle, as for this device, of which there were also two:
      1. Grafova Irina 8 March 2020 18: 04 New
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        The same with 128mm guns. Yes, and the chassis is slightly different ...
        1. Paranoid50 8 March 2020 18: 11 New
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          Quote: Grafova Irina
          The same with 128mm guns.

          It doesn’t matter. I mean that in the end - a similar fate. And also it all ended at Stalingrad. The only difference is that one of the “Stubborn Emilies" (either "Max" or "Moritz") still ended up in Kubinka. Damn it, it’s a pity that they still didn’t keep the “fat” - next to them they would complement each other (like on my shelf laughing).
  6. Snail N9 7 March 2020 09: 27 New
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    The Germans always correctly used their self-propelled artillery. They always kept her behind the advancing tanks or infantry, suppressing and destroying her identified enemy firing points and tanks or ambushed them while trying not to get involved in a maneuverable battle-hit and retreated to new positions. In the Soviet troops, for a long time, self-propelled guns were considered something like tanks and threw them into battle, or in the ranks of tanks, or even instead of tanks, while self-propelled guns suffered enormous losses. In Pershavin, in his books on self-propelled guns, this is well described. Moreover, such a barbaric use of self-propelled artillery in the SA continued throughout the war — even at its final stages.
    1. fk7777777 7 March 2020 13: 31 New
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      Basically, counterattacks, or a breakthrough at one point of defense and reaching the operational depth, in 1941 because of K.K. Rokosovsky our good positions on the Istra reservoir were lost ... he also wanted to stop the Germans with such ambushes. And that in one place they would have torn, bypassed all the tanks in an ambush, gathered everything. If it weren’t for G.K. Zhukov, then they would have gotten it.
      1. Yamato1980 7 March 2020 20: 11 New
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        Yes, Rokosovsky in Istria knowingly screwed up, only in his memoirs he gives out his jamb almost for a good plan, and even runs into Zhukov, did not give him the type to occupy an advantageous line, and he also reminded who commands the front here lol
    2. loft79 7 March 2020 22: 30 New
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      Quote: Snail N9
      The Germans always correctly used their self-propelled artillery

      Are you sure? N Kursk Ferdinandov as a ram used, the main loss of mines (if I remember exactly). Very often, the German order broke into "yes, do not care, what is the main thing to stop." Our experience was not used, hence the "almost tank", and the Germans were the ancestors of the Shtugov concept, and experience. Something like this. hi
    3. Paranoid50 8 March 2020 12: 20 New
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      Quote: Snail N9
      The Germans always correctly used their self-propelled artillery.

      laughing laughing laughing
    4. Jager 10 March 2020 00: 37 New
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      What are you?)) The Germans suffered the same thing due to the shortage of tanks, especially at the end of the war. This information I found from a book on the military route of the Stug units.
  7. DesToeR 7 March 2020 10: 00 New
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    The most powerful tank destroyer of the beginning of World War II

    Yah? And how to live with the knowledge of the existence of this machine in the USSR?
    1. Salty 7 March 2020 10: 07 New
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      Quote: DesToeR
      Yah?

      Well, yes.


      In a single copy.
  8. DesToeR 7 March 2020 10: 11 New
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    Quote: SaltY
    In a single copy.

    AND? Two pieces of overweight Max is globally more in WWII? But nothing that 60mm of armor "in a circle" is really a projectile in 1941, and the weight of a 130mm shell was twice as high as the German 105mm, with a comparable initial speed?
    1. mat-vey 7 March 2020 10: 29 New
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      Quote: DesToeR
      Quote: SaltY
      In a single copy.

      AND? Two pieces of overweight Max is globally more in WWII? But nothing that 60mm of armor "in a circle" is really a projectile in 1941, and the weight of a 130mm shell was twice as high as the German 105mm, with a comparable initial speed?

      And this "copy" really fought near Moscow ...
    2. loft79 7 March 2020 10: 33 New
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      For the sake of justice, I note that there is no exact information about the combat use of Dryers. She is rather experienced. And if the memory does not change, she did not have time for Finnish. The plate is crap. hi
      1. mat-vey 7 March 2020 10: 59 New
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        Well then, a lot of information was not preserved, or there was no one to fix it. But they sent it to the position.
        Interestingly, the military log was at least, or has not been preserved.
        1. loft79 7 March 2020 22: 37 New
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          Sent. About the magazine Pasholok needs to be asked, he often sits in the archives)
          1. mat-vey 8 March 2020 04: 21 New
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            Well, if there is a magazine, then there should be records of ammunition consumption ... although again, if there was anyone to keep records ...
    3. fk7777777 7 March 2020 13: 33 New
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      Yes, and loading you there ...
  9. Krasnodar 7 March 2020 10: 46 New
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    In the 2nd illustration - tank destroyer on Prokhorovka laughing
  10. Crimea26 7 March 2020 10: 54 New
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    How visible are people behind the self-propelled guns in the last photo, one has a German helmet and the other has an American helmet?
    1. Freeman 7 March 2020 16: 45 New
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      Quote: Crimea26
      How visible are people behind the self-propelled guns in the last photo, one has a German helmet and the other has an American helmet?


      Enlarged part of the photo


      Seem to be (IMHO)
      on the left is a motorcyclist in Stahlhelm m35 with motorcycle goggles.
      on the right - a paratrooper in Fallschirmjägerhelm M38
      In some projections, this helmet is reminiscent of an “American” look, as seen in this photograph.
  11. fk7777777 7 March 2020 13: 24 New
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    Kv-2, in fact a sau, and when used correctly because of the shelters, was quite formidable and invulnerable, but how they started, then attack forward, then simply in the open, and immediately the scribe.
    1. KV-2 with the so-called ,, small tower ,, - the usual sensible tank of the sensible country of the USSR. What did he have to hide from the enemy? This is not a self-propelled gun. And no one planned that he would work, for example, from closed positions.
      This is a miracle of technology of the Land of Soviets, the caliber of the main armament UNSPEAKED so far, was created according to the experience of the Finnish war. Did not like the command and personnel of the Red Army ,, attempts, Soviet, armor ,, (T-26, BT-7, T-28 ...) to overcome the stone and reinforced concrete fortifications on the Mannerheim line. It was necessary to quickly create a tank that could not hide behind to drive up, shoot and go forward, dragging along the “kids” and the infantry. So it was all seen from 1939. Is the task set? The task has been completed! They, our ancestors, sang: ,, We were born to make a fairy tale come true! ... ,, There were no impossible tasks! 152mm to the tank? Yes, no problem ... Somehow it was in the Union, dear fk7777777. Why did these handsome men not justify their hopes in 1941 - another question. The entire Red Army did not meet the expectations that year ... German photos denounce Soviet tankers of the initial WWII period. So many abandoned working equipment of the Red Army! A tank is not the most “carefree place” on the battlefield. And the summer was hot, and there was a rumor that the war would last only 40 days, and nemchura literally let soldiers of Ukrainian nationality go home, and the Nazis were so convincing flyers (learned to learn, for example, during the French campaign) ... And burn in tank ,, sad ,,. Tankers burn human fat, not just jumpsuits. So it goes
  12. andrewkor 7 March 2020 15: 15 New
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    Range direct (!) Shot 2400-3400m. This is cool even for the 21st century!
    1. Bormanxnumx 7 March 2020 19: 27 New
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      The effective direct range of high-explosive shells was up to 2400 meters, armor-piercing - up to 3400 meters.

      We open the shooting table of the 100mm BS-3 gun, for a br-shell weighing 15.88 kg, the initial speed is 897 m / s, the range of the direct shot is 1070 m. The German has slightly thinner ballistics) - 822 m / s for 15.6 kg of projectile. 2400-3400m is not a direct-shot range, but rather a direct-fire range at a tank type target.
      1. Alf
        Alf 7 March 2020 20: 21 New
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        Quote: BORMAN82
        but rather a direct fire range at a tank type target.

        Better"...
        1. The comment was deleted.
        2. Bormanxnumx 7 March 2020 20: 58 New
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          Quote: Alf
          Better"...

          What confused you in my post?
          The range of "direct shot" and "direct fire" are different concepts.
  13. Tuzik 8 March 2020 05: 02 New
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    Thanks for the interesting article.
    On June 30, in the area of ​​the Berezina River, driving away Soviet armored train, which, however, could not be destroyed by artillery fire.

    Nimble armored train caught.
    1. Jager 10 March 2020 00: 40 New
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      Managed to knock out one)
  14. madrobot 8 March 2020 08: 08 New
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    I’m wondering, but how could all these “tank destroyers” get into a moving tank? In modern tanks, the gun is stabilized in two planes, there is a target tracking machine, there is a ballistic computer that takes into account corrections for the hell of a heap of parameters. And all the same, getting into the enemy’s tank with a caliber or cumulative tank is not so simple. And here even horizontal guidance is practically absent. I do not understand. request
    1. Dur_mod 8 March 2020 14: 36 New
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      It’s easy, gunners taught mathematics for good reason, took lead on the hull or on a moving target like a tank, took into account its speed and bang ...
  15. Jager 10 March 2020 00: 48 New
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    The massive enthusiasm of engineers and army leaders for such, by and large, useless "prodigies" instead of developing and producing mass, simple and reliable equipment was precisely the reason for the defeat of Germany.
    Open the directory on German armored vehicles - dozens of different models and almost hundreds of modifications. Distracting a huge number of specialists, changing the production cycle, training crews, supplying spare parts for small series of equipment - all this undermined the industry and affected the final number of machines produced.
    Which is better - one "Tiger" or 10-15 Pz. IV H - the answer is obvious.