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    Soviet WW2 tank guns

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    Shafster
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    Soviet WW2 tank guns

    Post  Shafster on Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:25 am

    Hello again, i have always found Soviet tank development in world war II a very interesting topic, as Engineers had to strike a hard balance between ease of mass production and technological advancements and innovations for survival.

    The soviets started the war (in my opinion) with some of the best tank guns available in mass production, the 76.2mm guns such as the T-34s F-34 and KV-1 ZIS-5 were among the best anti tank guns carried by a tank at the times, when you consider what rest of the world had in the form of 75mm low velocity guns (which mostly never fired Armour piercing ammunition until later on) on French CHAR b1 and the M3. However as the war went on, dew to the conditions the Soviets were in, implementing radical new technologies, especially new caliber guns with new ammunition was not as easy as many like to think, when they had to manage between resource and labor they had after the invasion in 1941 which took the country in a shock. In war time, and especially under the harsh conditions the soviets went through prior to the invasion, it was really hard to implement new and bold equipment. For example, the T-34s excellant 76.2mm gun did not get replaced until the 1944 with the 85mm (various calibers from 51 to 54 caliber barrels i think. There was a very long barreled hyper velocity flat trajectory 57mm gun developed for the T-34 to make it into a better anti tank platform, but however the STAVKA cancelled it probably because implementing such a gun could potentially delay production of existing tanks not to mention all the efforts of testing it and setting up new logistic chains etc.

    The 85mm gun on the T-34/85 was a very powerful gun, but many say its potential was not exploited due to poor ammunition. Again, this maybe because the STAVKA choose to mass manufacture millions of less sophisticated "cruder" ammo than say invest on few thousands of really fancy Sub caliber HVAP rounds (which soviets actually implemented though in few numbers later in the war. Soviet anti tank rounds in general had tendancy to shatter on impact, possibly dew to quite conservative design based on older designs of anti tank penetrators not able to keep up to date with advances in modern rolled homogeneous armour, usually caused by high stresses in the penetrator.

    The IS-2 tank was also considered to fit the excellent 100mm D-10 gun from the su-100 which had better ballistic performance than the D-25T 122mm gun on IS-2, but was droped in favour of the potential problem with logistics and offsetting production (as new machine tools had to be devised to manufacture 100mm guns and its ammunition, when it was far easier to use the machines used to manufacture the A-19 gun that has been produced for quite a long time.


    Also, i wonder how you guys rate soviet tank guns with German ones? Germans probably had the best ballistic performance guns in the war, like the Pak 43 l-71 which wouldnt have looked out of place in early cold war post war tanks with its unmatched accuracy and effective range and penetration. However, these guns were very "single purpose", they were only useful against armoured targets and possessed relitivly little HE frag power from its relativity puny 88mm shell if one compares them to the slower 122mm D-25 guns on IS-2 which were devastating against fortifications. Even in anti tank role, the heavy 25kg shells of IS-2 can seriously damage a tank without even penetrating its armor, and cause epic spalling inside. The americans and british also developed pinpoint accurate high velocity anti tank guns such as the american 76mm on later shermans and the british 17 pdr "firefly" gun. As i see it, soviets mainly focused on a versatile main gun balancing HE anti personal/fortification capability with decent anti tank capability than an anti tank bias. This could be possibly due to operational doctorin, as soviet tanks attacked mostly in the war, whereas Germans after kursk were in a retreat and naturally were on a defensive position, usually concealed firing at moving soviet tanks coming from the horizon.

    Does anyone know how good were late war soviet ammunition? I read somewhere that an improved BR-471(b variant?) could reliably penetrate panthers front armour at 2500meters!! If true, that is a phenomenal performance and is quite different from the popular myth that the Is-2s gun is some sort of a lazy inaccurate "derp" howitzer, when infact its accuracy was not far off to the TIGER i l-56 88mm gun (even though the muzzle velocity is much lower).


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    Re: Soviet WW2 tank guns

    Post  GarryB on Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:55 am

    The soviets started the war (in my opinion) with some of the best tank guns available in mass production, the 76.2mm guns such as the T-34s F-34 and KV-1 ZIS-5 were among the best anti tank guns carried by a tank at the times, when you consider what rest of the world had in the form of 75mm low velocity guns (which mostly never fired Armour piercing ammunition until later on) on French CHAR b1 and the M3.

    You have to be careful here my friend... at the start of the war tank armour was pretty thin and pretty much everyone had settled on two main tank calibres. The first was an anti armour calibre and started at 37mm as a common calibre and increased to 47mm and 50mm by the start of the war. The T-34 was considered revolutionary because the thickness of its armour together with its steep angling made it pretty much resistant to all "Anti tank" calibres. Calibres outside that range generally didn't have anti armour shells, so to reliably kill it you needed an extraordinary weapon... which was either a 105mm heavy artillery weapon or a high velocity anti aircraft weapon like the 88mm.
    The second calibre was anti personnel and was generally a very short stubby gun in the 3 inch calibre range.

    The Soviets were no different to anyone else in this regard, in fact their heavy tanks generally had a central 76.2mm main gun for anti personnel use and up to four 37mm and later 45mm guns in individual turrets around the main turret for anti tank use.

    The breakthrough of the 76.2mm gun of the T-34 was that it had a bit of extra barrel length to give it modest anti armour capability.

    The key here is that they had tanks for supporting infantry, which were armed with machine guns and 76.2mm short barreled guns with HE shells, and they had tanks for fighting other tanks armed with 45mm guns.

    In the T-34 they had a single gun with the HE power for supporting infantry and taking out enemy positions, that could also deal with most of the armoured vehicles it would come across too... a fully multi purpose gun.

    For example, the T-34s excellant 76.2mm gun did not get replaced until the 1944 with the 85mm (various calibers from 51 to 54 caliber barrels i think.

    That is true but the small numbers of German tanks that required an 85mm gun did not make such a change a priority. By 1944 it was necessary.

    It should be kept in mind that for every 85mm shell fired at a Tiger or Panther that same tank probably fired 100 or 500 HE shells at MG positions or concrete pill boxes, or other hard target or light armoured vehicle. If used correctly a T-34 wasn't supposed to find German tanks and take them on one on one. Its real job was to find a thin or weak point in the German line and punch through and attack rear units and HQs and take on vehicles in staging areas... or trucks taking fuel and munitions and food to the front.

    There was a very long barreled hyper velocity flat trajectory 57mm gun developed for the T-34 to make it into a better anti tank platform, but however the STAVKA cancelled it probably because implementing such a gun could potentially delay production of existing tanks not to mention all the efforts of testing it and setting up new logistic chains etc.

    Actually a few were made, but its HE shell was ineffective and its anti armour projectile used fairly exotic materials and was expensive... and meeting targets that required that sort of penetration performance was actually very rare, so they didn't make very many of them.

    The 85mm gun on the T-34/85 was a very powerful gun, but many say its potential was not exploited due to poor ammunition.

    That is rubbish. In direct comparison with the high velocity 75mm gun of the Panther it was almost as effective as an anti armour weapon without the over bore problems that led to short barrel lives for the German guns, while having a much more effective HE shell than the German weapon... which was much more useful.

    Soviet anti tank rounds in general had tendancy to shatter on impact, possibly dew to quite conservative design based on older designs of anti tank penetrators not able to keep up to date with advances in modern rolled homogeneous armour, usually caused by high stresses in the penetrator.

    There were lots of failings in ammo terms... German armour was often made too brittle and often shattered itself. Most of the Soviet anti tank ammo was capped with harder materials to improve penetration... which didn't always work.

    Needless to say conservative = T-34 which was produced in enormous numbers actually won the war. Having a more exotic design using expensive materials would probably have been pointless as basic ammo in the tank is better than expensive and exotic ammo they can't make to the standard required to make it effective. Considering they made less than 2,000 tigers and less than 6.5 thousand Panthers, yet made about 65,000 T-34s or more suggests to me who got it right.

    The IS-2 tank was also considered to fit the excellent 100mm D-10 gun from the su-100 which had better ballistic performance than the D-25T 122mm gun on IS-2, but was droped in favour of the potential problem with logistics and offsetting production (as new machine tools had to be devised to manufacture 100mm guns and its ammunition, when it was far easier to use the machines used to manufacture the A-19 gun that has been produced for quite a long time.

    Not true. As you mention the 100mm gun was already in service on the Su-100... one of my favourite tank destroyers of the war... its nickname on both sides was "F@#$ end to everything"... which is a pretty cool nickname for a tank destroyer.
    The real factor was HE power. The 122mm shell had a much better HE shell because it was designed as artillery, while the 100mm gun was developed for velocity and penetration. The 122mm shell had less penetration than the 100mm gun but even when it didn't penetrate the target it could knock the turret off its bearings even if it didn't penetrate the armour.

    Very simply with just 8,000 odd German heavy tanks out there it made more sense to have a powerful HE shell than one that penetrated a lot of armour. That is not to say the 122mm was not a powerful long range tank killer...

    popular myth that the Is-2s gun is some sort of a lazy inaccurate "derp" howitzer

    Tanks don't spend all their time shooting at other tanks, and IS-2 tanks generally started firing on enemy tanks as soon as they saw them, which was as far away from them as they could.

    The German tanks generally had better optics, but by the end of the war most Soviet tanks were being taken out by Panzerfausts and similar weapons in urban combat.

    By that time German super tanks are better engaged with air power, or simply isolated and left to run out of fuel and ammo to be abandoned by their crews


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    Pugnax
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    soviet tank guns

    Post  Pugnax on Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:11 am

    The short lived t-34/57 was a tiger killer,something the t-34/76 could never do unless dropped from a height onto a tiger.The 57mm gun was abandoned though because it was to specific a mission.The 76mm gun was capable of most anti armour/personelle missions.Build a tank around an anti tank gun and you get a superior anti tank platform,the 57 mm gun wasnt great at anything else but punching nice holes.

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    Re: Soviet WW2 tank guns

    Post  GarryB on Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:40 am

    Build a tank around an anti tank gun and you get a superior anti tank platform,the 57 mm gun wasnt great at anything else but punching nice holes.

    Exactly.

    And if you want to build thousands of T-34s with 57mm main guns you have to ask yourself how many Panthers and Tigers is it likely to meet in combat, because against most other armour the 76.2mm gun is actually more effective as the heavier shell, while penetrating less armour would actually do more damage after penetration.

    Equally against soft targets its HE shell would not be that effective.

    Having said that of course the Soviets had a 45mm towed anti tank gun that served throughout the war, though after about 1943 it was not effective against most enemy armour but had a useful HE shell and was retained for other targets.

    Much like the anti tank rifles like PTRD-41 and PTRS-41, which both lacked the penetration later in the war but was still useful against a range of targets like trucks and light armoured vehicles... and even shooting through walls at people.


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