Military Review

Games with armor. T-34 amplification technologies

18

The T-48 tank shielded according to the TsNII-34 recipe. Source: pikabu.ru


Platoon, that is, shielded


In the previous part stories about the tests of German ammunition for domestic armor, the story focused on a set of countermeasures proposed by TsNII-48. The main idea was to strengthen the armor protection by welding on additional screens. This technique was far from new: at the beginning of 1941, after testing modern anti-tank guns on the T-34, it was decided to fasten additional armor screens. However, when even the smallest caliber shells hit, the armor sheets were simply ripped off. Later, there were attempts to simply weld on additional armor, but in wartime conditions the factories did not have enough resources for this. In addition, the belief was formed that excessive thickening of the welded-on armor caused premature failure of the transmission and power plant of the T-34. In fact, this was more likely the result of poor-quality assembly and a low resource of the units than excessive weight.

Be that as it may, Sverdlovsk engineers, after depressing tests of German ammunition, decided not to weld on additional armor screens. The choice fell on platoon armor, that is, located with a certain gap relative to the main one. Now we understand that it was about conventional shielding, but for 1942 it was just platoon armor. Such shielding made it possible to achieve the main thing - to reduce the total weight of the structure while increasing the thickness of the armor. As the engineers believed, an armor-piercing projectile with an explosive chamber and a delayed fuse would drastically weaken its penetrating effect if it hits the platoon armor. When the projectile hits the screen, the fuse activates it and the explosion occurs before the main armor is pierced, that is, in the gap between the screen and the armor.


The results of shelling platoon armor. Source: warspot.ru

Of significant importance in such systems is the distance between the screen, the main armor and the thickness of the screen as a factor that determines the travel time of the projectile from the moment the fuse is brought into contact with the main armor. The engineers believed that

this time should be sufficient for the projectile to explode and to increase this time interval it is possible to use a system of several screens in front of the main armor, located at some distance from each other.

Platoon armor proved to be a universal measure of additional protection tanks... In TsNII-48, it was calculated that with its help it was possible to distance the center of the explosion of a cumulative projectile and thereby sharply weaken the effect of the blast wave (again, not a word about the stream of molten metal). Such a reservation was supposed to protect the T-34's forehead from a 75-mm HEAT projectile.

Now about the subcaliber shells, in many respects one of the most dangerous opponents of domestic armor. In the event of an attack by such ammunition, the platoon armor had to remove the pallet (coil) from the tungsten core, and it, "defenseless and fragile", split against the main armor of the tank. For such a focus, screens of the appropriate thickness were also required, spaced at a considerable distance. In approximately this way, the hinged screens were supposed to neutralize sharp-headed armor-piercing shells with welded-on heads.

Armor Games


Mentioned in the previous parts of the cycle, the Sverdlovsk test site of plant No. 9 and ANIOP in Gorokhovets in 1942 began testing various options for platoon armor. Since the engineers and artillerymen did not have much experience in this area, various configuration options had to be considered. It turned out that installing a protective screen close to the main armor is not as effective as installing it at some distance from it. We tried to put a thicker sheet in front of a thin one, but this turned out to be weaker than the opposite. Finally, after long experiments, it was decided to make the screens from 2P high-hardness armor.

On tests, the thickness of the screens varied from 15 to 25 mm, while the main armor could reach a thickness of 60 mm. They fired at such armored sandwiches with German 37-mm and 50-mm shells, including armor-piercing and sub-caliber shells. Tests have shown that a 15-mm shield is sufficient to protect against most ammunition of the indicated calibers. But to deal with hard-tipped armor-piercing shells, and even with delayed action fuses, 20-mm sheets of mounted armor were required. In this series of attacks at test site No. 9, we went further and tested a double screen made of 15-mm and 4-mm armor plates. It turned out that it is equivalent in protection to a 25mm mono screen. But the mass of such a two-layer hinged protection was already 8% less. The usual 15-mm screen protected against shells with an armor-piercing tip only when firing from 150 meters or more. Tests of shielded systems with a 76-mm cumulative domestic projectile showed that a 16-mm screen with 45-mm main armor, removed by 80 mm, does not penetrate almost under any conditions. Inspection of the armor revealed on the main sheets only 5-7-mm "witch's kisses" from the cumulative jet. Concerning the 75-mm German shaped-charge projectiles, the TsNII-48 engineers had to rely only on calculations that showed its lower efficiency compared to the domestic counterpart. Consequently, the distance between the front armor plate and the main one could be reduced from 80 mm to 50 mm. It is not known how much this was actually justified, since no tests were carried out.


Pre-war experiments with T-34 shielding. Source: wot-info.ru

Manufacturing tolerances for German armor-piercing shells showed an interesting effect. The testers found that the fuses of the same types of 50mm projectiles were set to different detonation times, and this allowed the slowest projectiles to penetrate the shielding and detonate already in the main armor. The total share of such "defective" ammunition was small - only 5-12%. By the way, such a delayed explosion technique could well have been used by the Germans in the event of the massive use of shielded tanks by the Red Army.

Despite all the tricks, even 15-mm screens added up to 10-15% additional mass to the tank, which, of course, was undesirable. The solution was to equip armored vehicles with… leaky armor! TsNII-48 manufactured armored screens with longitudinal slots less than the caliber of the alleged German projectile - this facilitated the design by 35-50%. They mounted the received on the armor and fired at. In the case of a shell hitting solid armor (80% of cases), everything went well, the results did not differ from the tests of conventional solid screens. In other cases, the projectile slipped through the defense and hit the armor. At the same time, such a "colander", as expected, turned out to be very vulnerable: after the first hit, gaping holes remained on the screen, even if the main armor did not break through. For comparison: a solid 800x800 mm screen could withstand up to 20 hits. As a result, the experience of perforated armor was recognized as unsuccessful and further tests were abandoned.


T-34 shot for research purposes. Source: warspot.ru

The solution was also to reduce the main armor of the T-34 to 35 mm with the installation of screens in 15 mm and 20 mm. This made it possible to save up to 15% of the mass, that is, in fact, did not increase the load on the tank. Such spaced armor was specifically compared to conventional 45 mm armor. It turned out that with a slight increase in the distance between the main and hinged armor, the level of protection made it possible not to be afraid of 50-mm armor-piercing and sub-caliber German shells, even at critically close distances. Actually, it was on such a scheme that the TsNII-48 stopped: to take the hinged screen away and at the same time make the main armor thinner.

The result of the research work was the decision of the State Defense Committee to build 46 shielded T-34s, of which 23 tanks with shielded sides, wheel arch liners and turrets, and the rest with only the sides and wheel flaps protected in this way. However, the main armor was not allowed to be made thinner, and the tanks still bogged down several additional tons of cargo. The machines were manufactured in the spring of 1943 at the plant # 112. In the summer of the same year, they went to the troops, where they took the first battle only in August. As it turned out, the platoon armor really successfully held 75-mm cumulative German shells, but by this time the Germans had managed to saturate the front with 75-mm anti-tank guns and armor-piercing shells. And they easily penetrated a medium Soviet tank head-on. In addition, the Nazis already had an 88-mm Pak 43/41 anti-tank gun at the front, which was not afraid of any T-34 shielding. As a result, the new T-34s with platoon armor were successfully hit by such artillery, and the idea of ​​mass production of such solutions was abandoned. In the confrontation with the armor in this round, the victory remained with the shell.
Author:
Articles from this series:
German armor-piercing: Sverdlovsk studies of 1942
German shells against Soviet armor: tested in the Urals
Disappointing Findings: German Artillery Superiority
18 comments
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  1. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 25 September 2020 18: 10 New
    18
    Thank you author. I really liked the cycle. I learned a lot of new things. Many people wrote about screening, but no one wrote about the results.
    1. igordok
      igordok 25 September 2020 18: 22 New
      +6
      Thanks. I hope there will be more.
      1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
        Kote Pan Kokhanka 25 September 2020 19: 22 New
        10
        I join the comments above! Eugene raised a very interesting, complex and long-lasting topic, for which many thanks to him!
        Regards, Vlad!
  2. Siberian 66
    Siberian 66 25 September 2020 18: 12 New
    +3
    Thank you, interesting and informative!
  3. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 25 September 2020 18: 30 New
    +4
    A good series of articles, for the first time escaping is discussed in detail.
  4. Pavel57
    Pavel57 25 September 2020 19: 10 New
    +1
    It should also be borne in mind that in 1942, due to the lack of additives in steel, the quality of armor deteriorated sharply.
  5. Asad
    Asad 25 September 2020 19: 13 New
    +3
    I used to think that only anti-aircraft guns were hitting 34, but here is so much new information! Thanks to the author and a plus!
  6. Kote Pan Kokhanka
    Kote Pan Kokhanka 25 September 2020 19: 25 New
    +7
    The machines were manufactured in the spring of 1943 at the plant # 112. In the summer of the same year, they went to the troops, where they took the first battle only in August. As it turned out, the platoon armor really successfully held 75-mm cumulative German shells, but by this time the Germans had managed to saturate the front with 75-mm anti-tank guns and armor-piercing shells. And they easily pierced a medium Soviet tank head-on. In addition, the Nazis already had an 88-mm Pak 43/41 anti-tank gun at the front, which was not afraid of any T-34 shielding.

    The tragedy and triumph of the confrontation at the Kursk Bulge is hidden behind dry lines !!!
  7. Kerensky
    Kerensky 25 September 2020 21: 36 New
    +1
    Thanks to the author.
    I would also like to highlight the attitude of manufacturers to games with screening. I think that everyone was strongly opposed. It is not for them to go into battle. Their battle is ramping up production. As with many types of weapons.
  8. Saxahorse
    Saxahorse 25 September 2020 21: 53 New
    +3
    Very interesting, thanks to the author! Today, multilayer armor does not surprise anyone; a tank with homogeneous armor is already considered inferior. And it started back in the distant years of WWII. They should also try to put plastic or ceramics between the screens.

    And yes, the author correctly emphasized that these are not today's "lattice" games, this is a real multi-layer armor.
    1. Sergey_G_M
      Sergey_G_M 26 September 2020 00: 43 New
      +1
      It all started a little earlier with a meeting of tanks with special anti-tank guns in Spain. Already in the Finnish one, they began to screen the T-26, although everything was simpler there (there was no spreading of the armor plates).
      1. Crimea26
        Crimea26 26 September 2020 15: 19 New
        0
        But the T-34 is a new tank and it will immediately slip into shielding .... Not raise the main armor, but again a half measure! Just went into the series - and already all in additional sheets!
        1. Saxahorse
          Saxahorse 26 September 2020 21: 49 New
          +1
          Quote: Crimea26
          Just went into the series - and already all in additional sheets!

          You are confusing. This is not a simple increase in armor thickness. It is precisely the use of spaced, multi-layer protection that dramatically enhances resistance at the same weight.

          Simply put, a completely new solution to the problem of increasing protection.
        2. Alexey RA
          Alexey RA 28 September 2020 14: 27 New
          0
          Quote: Crimea26
          But the T-34 is a new tank and it will immediately slide into shielding ...

          In 1941, the T-34 was no longer considered a cannon-proof tank by domestic specialists. According to pre-war plans in 1942, this new tank was to be removed from production.
          Quote: Crimea26
          Not to raise the main armor, but again a half measure!

          How to lift? Rolled armor with a thickness of more than 45 mm, even in 1943, was a huge deficit - it went to TT and ACS based on them. The issue of saving armored vehicles was discussed at the GKO level. Cast armor on the IS did not appear from a good life. And the "mold" of 60-mm armor was hacked to death precisely because of the lack of rental for its stamping.
          The shielding did not require the scarce thick armor rolling - that was what was tempting.
          The second reason is the well-established mass production and the conveyor strictly sharpened for it. Plus a front that requires more, more, even more tanks. As a result, those models that could be produced on existing equipment with minimal changes in technology had the greatest chance for a series.
          Do you want half measures? Get T-43 - with the same result.
    2. prodi
      prodi 26 September 2020 17: 01 New
      +1
      "straightening" the slope of the main armor with a vertical screen with an internal (opposite slope) sheet was probably real
      1. Saxahorse
        Saxahorse 26 September 2020 21: 48 New
        0
        Quote: prodi
        "straightening" the slope of the main armor with a vertical screen with an internal (opposite slope) sheet was probably real

        Curious! And what will it give against the main, armor-piercing projectile?
        1. prodi
          prodi 27 September 2020 08: 38 New
          0
          a sheet of opposite inclination will further improve the resistance of the "packet" at the point of fire "above" the tank, when only 60mm of the "normalized" 45mm remain, but on the sides it was not so necessary, and the hatch would interfere with the VLD.
  9. The comment was deleted.
  10. Kostadinov
    Kostadinov 28 September 2020 10: 40 New
    0
    Quote: Saxahorse
    Curious! And what will it give against the main, armor-piercing projectile?

    The problem is that against the main armor-piercing projectile, the simplest and cheapest, spaced armor does not give any victories, but only a loss in armor weight, of course, if the enemy changes the detonator somewhat. Moreover, it is much more complicated and expensive.
    In principle, for a typical AP shell, it is easier to pierce two sheets of 25 mm than one of 50 mm. A positive effect from spaced armor can only be expected from stripping off the armor-piercing tip with the first sheet (if the AP shell has such a tip and the first sheet is thick enough) and from the activation of the fuse between the two armor sheets (if the AP projectile is not solid and has a charge and a fuse).
    But if two sheets have the same armor slope, the first sheet normalizes the BB shell to the second armor sheet.