Military Review

How to make screen armor? Soviet recipe 1948

How to make screen armor? Soviet recipe 1948
Armor IS-7 became one of the objects of shielding

Work to find possible ways

As always, stories, which are passed to us by archival documents, should begin with a small explanation. First of all, a few words about the specialized TsNII-48 or "Armor Institute", which was responsible in the Soviet Union for the development and adjustment of the production of armored steel. During the war years, he became famous for the specialists who improved the processes of cooking and casting armor. At the end of 1945, the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR was issued to award TsNII-48 with the Order of Lenin.

At the same time for the successful completion of the tasks of the State Defense Committee for the release tanks, self-propelled artillery mounts, armored hulls, tank units and spare parts and their provision of Red Army units 63 employees of the institute were awarded orders and medals. The founder and first director of the institute, Andrei Sergeevich Zavyalov, was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, XNUMXst degree, although, of course, he deserved the title of Hero of Socialist Labor.

One of the key areas of the post-war work of the "Armor Institute" was the solution of the problem of an all-penetrating cumulative jet. More precisely, research was also carried out during the war years - 1943-1945, but they did not bring any tangible results. In one of the previous articles ("Ofenror" and "Panzerfaust" against Soviet lattice armor) was talking about the work of the second half of 1945. In particular, TsNII-48 engineers tested lattice protection against German cumulative grenades.

After a little over two years, the institute decided to return to the issue within the framework of the topic BT-3-47 or "Refining the optimal options for protecting the hull and turret of tanks and control systems from being hit by cumulative projectiles and grenades." Looking ahead, let's say that they explored not just the prospects for shielding armor, but also "the possibility of using a counter-explosive effect."

In all likelihood, this was the world's first study of the dynamic protection of tank armor. Sergey Smolensky, an engineer of the Moscow branch of TsNII-48, expressed the idea of ​​destroying a cumulative jet of explosions back in 1944, but more or less material took shape only five years later in the article “On the Possibility of Using Explosive Energy to Destroy KSP” in the secret journal “Proceedings of TsNII-48 ".

That is why the coverage of experimental work on the "counter-explosion" in the report of TsNII-48 in 1948 can be considered the earliest publication on this topic. But this question is very extensive, so we will leave it for a separate material on the pages of the Military Review.

Let's return to the report of the "Armored Institute" in 1948, which by that time belongs to the department of the Ministry of the Shipbuilding Industry of the USSR (which is natural, since earlier the fleet took the bulk of the armor). By the end of the 40s, it was understood that there were three ways to protect yourself from cumulative ammunition:

1. Develop armor with optimal physical and mechanical properties.

2. Design armored vehicle hulls with large angles of inclination.

3. Develop special protective devices in the form of screens.

The first idea turned out to be initially stillborn at that time - the cumulative jet did not care much about the degree of hardness and fragility of the armor. Tricks with hardening and variations in chemical composition did not help either.

The second method seemed the most rational, but it came into conflict with the requirements of the designers, who had to pack ever-increasing caliber guns and other tank infrastructure into the rapidly shrinking reserved space.

And finally, there was only one thing left - either to increase the armor to incredible values, or to cover it with screens located at some distance from the hull.

Screen armor for IS and T-54

Despite the fact that TsNII-48 had previously conducted similar studies, the results remained unsatisfactory. So it was not possible to identify the necessary distance between the screen and the main armor. The studies of 1947–1948, presented in the work “Refining the optimal options for protecting the hull and turret of tanks and SU from being hit by cumulative projectiles and grenades,” were devoted to clarifying this issue. For the test, armor plates with a thickness of 90, 150, 160 and 200 mm were chosen, corresponding to those of the T-54, IS-4 and IS-7 tanks. The armor was taken serial from the Izhora plant.

Drawings of mesh and lattice test screens

In the first series of experiments, the engineers used specially made lattice and mesh screens. The first were welded from round bar steel with a diameter of 25 mm, the second from carbon wire 3 mm thick. From the rationale for choosing the distance between the lattice bars:

“Since the Big Faustpatron cumulative grenade is equipped with a high-sensitivity inertial fuse, at least a slight impact of the grenade with any obstacle is enough to trigger the fuse, which will cause the detonation of the shaped charge with the formation of a cumulative jet.
Based on these assumptions, the distance between the bars of the lattice was taken equal to 0,9 of the diameter of the cumulative jet of the Bolshoi Faustpatron grenade.

It is interesting that at that moment the first prototypes of the Soviet RPG-2 anti-tank grenade launcher were tested, but it was not used in the testing of gratings. Most likely, the armor penetration of the first Soviet RPG (at least the prototype) was lower than that of the German counterpart.

The test results were discouraging. In order to protect the side of the tank with a thickness of 90 mm, you will have to install a screen at a distance of more than 1 meter! Otherwise, the German grenade was guaranteed to pierce the armor. What an armored car with such spaced protection will turn into is scary to even imagine. For thicknesses of 200, 160 and 120 mm, the screen armor is related to 500, 700 and at least 1 mm, respectively.

In fairness, the tests were carried out when a grenade hit normal to the plane of the screen. This is an unlikely event in real life, but it does not change the fundamental conclusion - a tank, hung with screens of the 1948 model, is not good for anything. Another conclusion was the complete unsuitability of the mesh screens on the armor, primarily due to low survivability.

The engineers also determined the minimum angle of a cumulative grenade with armor without screens, which is necessary for non-penetration. For 200 mm - this is 30 degrees from the normal, for 160 mm - 60 degrees. The rest of the samples were not even tested - the "Big Faustpatron" pierced such obstacles easily, and captured grenades became more and more scarce over time.

From the category of obvious conclusions:

1. Screens located at angles to the main armor do not reduce the required mounting distance. The grenade, as expected, pierces the protective system in the area with a smaller gap and does not pierce where the gap is the largest.

2. The shielding of armored parts located at angles requires somewhat smaller shield distances from the armor than when shielding vertical parts.

The next step was the testing of experimental shielded units for the hulls of the T-54, IS-4 and IS-7 tanks. The idea was relatively little blood to strengthen the reservation of domestic armored vehicles with easily removable screens. Three options were made - sheet screens 5 mm thick, sheet perforated 5 mm screens and gratings made of 5 mm bars. They did not dare to give tanks for testing and limited themselves to the side compartments of the above vehicles.

They did not dare to shield the forehead of the tanks due to the common sense of the engineers. The screens were mounted with different gaps, but for the T-54, of course, it was the most impressive - 1 mm. The priority ammunition was the already familiar "Big Faustpatron", but here it would be interesting to quote an interesting quote from the report:

“Effective shooting at a target with cumulative grenades requires certain skills from the shooter, which could not be provided at the training ground. In order to save ammunition, at the suggestion of the NIBTP (Scientific Institute of Armored Vehicles Polygon), it was decided to carry out all tests by detonation.
For this purpose, the grenade was installed close to the screen at an angle of 9 degrees from the horizon, which corresponds to the mine's flight path from a firing distance of 30 meters.

The protective screen of the T-54 failed immediately - even a meter gap between the screen and the armor did not help. Of the four explosions, in two cases the main 90-mm armor was pierced and in two cases there were potholes. The 160-mm armor of the IS-4 was not penetrated by the faustpatron only if the screen was placed at a distance of 730 mm. At the same time, the so-called perforated screen turned out to be more tenacious than a solid sheet, on which, after the explosion of one grenade, a hole with a diameter of four or more calibers was formed.

Engineers, however, did not recommend either a sheet or a perforated screen for the series - the destruction from single hits with cumulative ammunition was too large-scale. It would seem that the heavyweight IS-7 should have easily endured all the bullying at the training ground. But no, the cumulative grenade pierced the side armor in three cases out of ten.

The conditions were as follows - a 100-mm armor plate reinforced with a lattice screen with a gap of 975 and 980 mm, heading angle of fire - 60 degrees and similar armor with a solid screen at a distance of 985 mm (heading angle of fire - 90 degrees). It’s hard to even imagine what a Soviet heavy tank would look like and what it would be capable of after being equipped with screens with a meter gap.

As the finale of the story, here is an exact excerpt from the conclusions of the TsNII-48 field research:

"one. Protection of the main armor of the IS-1 and IS-4 models against the action of the cumulative grenade "Big Faustpatron" with the help of screens installed at optimal distances ensures that the main armor is not penetrated. The main armor of the T-7 layout, protected by a screen located at a distance of 54 mm, is not reliable, since along with cases of non-penetration, penetration of the main armor is observed. This optimum distance should be at least 1 mm.
2. Lattice bar screens, recommended as the most optimal in terms of survivability, completely passed all the tests, which once again makes it possible for them to be further developed in the design of screen protection for tanks and control systems.

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  1. Vladimir_2U
    Vladimir_2U 22 September 2022 07: 24
    History of armor and projectile...
    In fairness - testing by detonation, and even normal, is directly dishonest in relation to armor.
  2. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 22 September 2022 08: 03
    Very interesting stuff. Respect to the author. One question - so why are they now hanging bars on armored vehicles - have modern cumulative grenades become worse than panzerfausts?
    1. Evgeny Fedorov
      22 September 2022 08: 22
      Thank you! Well, judging by the report, it was the gratings that turned out to be the most stable. In the minus they sent "bed" nets, perforated armor and sheet armor. The main advantage of gratings is that they are not destroyed so much after the first grenade
      1. Aviator_
        Aviator_ 22 September 2022 08: 32
        And what about the Jewish weights on chains that are hung around the Merkava (almost wrote sidelocks), how - better or worse?
        1. Evgeny Fedorov
          22 September 2022 08: 41
          Need to think. But the Jews will not advise bad, Moreover, our tank builders have adopted. I would like to believe that not blindly, but previously shot at the training ground.
          1. Mister X
            Mister X 22 September 2022 09: 26
            Quote: Evgeny Fedorov
            our tank builders adopted.

            What do you think: work is underway now?
            Given the Javelins, and the vulnerability of the upper hemisphere of armored vehicles
            1. Evgeny Fedorov
              22 September 2022 09: 55
              The work is being done accurately. In an open source, even before the SVO, I met materials with calculations of the EPR of the Javelin missile. If I'm not mistaken, Almaz-Antey is doing this. There is also such material - "Assessment of the possibility of countering the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank systems by means of optoelectronic countermeasures"
              1. Bad_gr
                Bad_gr 22 September 2022 11: 57
                Quote: Aviator_
                And what about the Jewish weights on chains that are hung around the Merkava (almost wrote sidelocks), how - better or worse?
                Apparently they provide protection. At first, we didn’t have anything like this on the T-90M

                But then there were metal plates on the chains

                And later they were replaced with a grid with weights
    2. Vladimir_2U
      Vladimir_2U 22 September 2022 11: 30
      Quote: Aviator_
      have modern cumulative grenades become worse than panzerfausts?

      Now the gratings are made of full-fledged armor plates, and besides, their main purpose is not a long-range detonation, but the destruction of a cumulative funnel before detonation.
      1. Couchexpert
        Couchexpert 22 September 2022 12: 49
        And also with some chance the deviation of the ammunition from the normal (the shape is a cone, the speeds are not the highest, it can ricochet) to the target before the explosion itself in order to further increase the same jet path to the main armor.
      2. Genry
        Genry 22 September 2022 13: 50
        Quote: Vladimir_2U
        ... gratings ... the main purpose is not a long-range detonation, but the destruction of a cumulative funnel before detonation.

        The piezo fuse instantly responds to the minimum deformation of the casing.
        1. Vladimir_2U
          Vladimir_2U 22 September 2022 14: 18
          Quote: Genry
          The piezo fuse instantly responds to the minimum deformation of the casing.

          Counter-nonsense! laughing
          In this case, they would do with a bottom fuse!
        2. Bad_gr
          Bad_gr 22 September 2022 14: 20
          Quote: Genry
          The piezo fuse instantly responds to the minimum deformation of the casing.
  3. acetophenone
    acetophenone 22 September 2022 10: 49
    Common sense seems to dictate that the grids should work, but Soviet scientists refute this common misconception. That does not prevent everyone from following common sense.
  4. decimalegio
    decimalegio 22 September 2022 11: 02
    I thank the author for an interesting article. hi
  5. solar
    solar 22 September 2022 12: 35
    the article deals with screens that provide premature operation.
    Modern ones, due to the destruction of the hull of the ammunition, violate the properties of the cumulative jet and, thereby, its effectiveness in terms of armor penetration.
  6. Nephilim
    Nephilim 22 September 2022 12: 54
    In all likelihood, this was the world's first study of the dynamic protection of tank armor.

    It's not "probably". This is generally recognized all over the world - the first studies of dynamic armor protection were carried out in the USSR, in the Central Armor Laboratory No. 1 (TsBL-1), into which TsNII-48 was transformed in 1948. The work was supervised by B.V. Voitsekhovsky.
  7. the same doctor
    the same doctor 22 September 2022 15: 51
    As I imagine a cumulative jet, the best solution would be a screen made of welded steel strip accordions with a thickness of about a millimeter and a depth of 50-70 millimeters located at a distance of about half a meter from the main armor. The step of such a lattice is determined by the caliber of the projectile. Making them is more difficult than a simple rebar lattice, but it's time to move away from handicraft in their manufacture. Unfortunately, by varying the response time of the shaped charge, it will be quite easy to bypass the protection of the most cunning grid.
    In addition to gratings, active protection should be created in the form of a shotgun that shoots at an incoming rocket at a distance of 2-3 meters. Javelins fly up from above, and a barrel with buckshot firmly attached to the back of the turret may well hit them. against the background of the sky, the rocket is easy to identify with conventional optics, and the electronics will provide a shot at exactly the right moment.
    1. ycuce234-san
      ycuce234-san 22 September 2022 19: 03
      You can also try to make the elements of the screens themselves unequal strength and unequal elastic - a combination of different strength and elasticity of the elements may have time to turn the grenade to the desired angle.