Improvised "armor" - how effective?

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Extra Crispy
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Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by Extra Crispy »

Just curious...talking WW2 here.

We see AFVs covered with sandbags, logs, screens etc. They are supposed to be improvised protection against certain kinds of attack. Since we see them all over I presume they worked (assumption of competence), but do we have any good info on how effective they were?
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nashorn88
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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by nashorn88 »

If I was a tanker I would stick everything including the kitchen sink outside my tanks….lol
Have never seen any studies but for crew morale it’s was that extra layer.
I understand the Russians in 45 use mattress springs to help defeat the Panzerfust.

Gazza
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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by Gazza »

I think it's main benefit was psychological but any improvements in a crew's morale is always good. A lot of the methods had a fairly negligible effect - especially given that the increase in weight often affected the vehicles mobility. I believe that Patton banned the use of some methods - such as sandbags because of this.

BurtWolf
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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by BurtWolf »

I bet you’re right about it being largely psychological although logs might’ve helped…what about the effectiveness of those skirts on panzers (panthers etc)? I suspect negligible?

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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by Gazza »

BurtWolf wrote:
Sat Sep 18, 2021 3:41 pm
what about the effectiveness of those skirts on panzers (panthers etc)?
If I remember correctly, they were orginally designed to offer additional protection against anti-tank rifles and not HEAT rounds (such as the one from a Bazooka) as commonly thought. They were only about 8mm thick so I doubt they would offer any real additional protection against an AP round.

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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by EdMott »

Adding weight to the tank adds stress to the engine and transmission

The sand bags will not be much help when you break down

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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by Extra Crispy »

Yes, the schurzen were help against AT rifles whicc the Soviets continued to deploy en masse late in to the war.
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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by Roger H »

In Patton’s memoirs, he specifically noted his discontent with troops utilizing sandbags, logs etc to uparmor the Sherman tanks under his command in 3rd Army . First, he said it gave his forces an “unmilitary” look and made our forces almost ragtag in appearance. Secondly , as mentioned, the extra weight of nearly a ton or better of logs and sandbags resulted in increased drive train breakdown and ultimately a decreased readiness rate for the armored battalions under his command . Hence , by the time 3rd Army broke out of Normandy, most of the field expedient uparmoring was not to be found .( Especially after many individual tank commanders, armor company commanders and tank battalion commanders were personally fined for the practice) .

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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by BenfromBrooklyn »

Just as a point of carpentry...

When the Filipinos strap wood onto their vehicles, that is not the wood we westerners know. Some of it is dense tropical hardwood which is damn tough stuff. The reddish wood they use is typically coconut palm wood, twice the strength of oak! It is usually not used as lumber for export because it's hard to get in large sizes, the coconut palms tend to be thin. They are not being stupid.

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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by nashorn88 »

BenfromBrooklyn wrote:
Mon Sep 20, 2021 12:54 pm
Just as a point of carpentry...

When the Filipinos strap wood onto their vehicles, that is not the wood we westerners know. Some of it is dense tropical hardwood which is damn tough stuff. The reddish wood they use is typically coconut palm wood, twice the strength of oak! It is usually not used as lumber for export because it's hard to get in large sizes, the coconut palms tend to be thin. They are not being stupid.
I never knew that but I can see how that would be affective against the Japanese kamikaze hollow change.
But if he gets hit by HE it would just cause more shrapnel two person or around them.

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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by Mk 1 »

Nachrichtenblatt der Panzertruppen, Sept. 1944
According to a report from a Waffenamt officer, the following types of add-on armor have been observed in the field:

1. 48 track links were placed on a Panther. 30 of the track links were placed on the turret, while the remaining were placed on the side armor covering the engine compartment. Furthermore, the placing of track links was observed on numerous other tanks.

2. A layer of reinforced concrete, also intended as add-on armor, was observed to partially covering both tanks and assault guns.

The following must be observed:
Track links placed at shallow angles does not offer any significant additional protection. When placed at an angle of 80 to 90 degrees they will even reduce the armor protection compared to that of the armor plate alone. On the other hand, the track links will increase the weight of the vehicle, which will increase the strain on the drive train, engine and gearbox. It is known that the 75 mm anti-tank shell of the Pak 40 will penetrate between 60 and 100 cm of concrete at short distances. Consequently, when the layer is only 20 cm thick the additional protection is very limited, and does not make up for the additional strain on the vehicle. Covering an area of one square meter with a 25 cm thick layer of concrete, which has a weight of 2200 to 2400 kg per cubic meter, the weight will be approximately 600 kg. Since the area covered is probably greater than one square meter, however, the additional weight will likely be in excess of one ton.

Because the vehicles' existing weight is already using almost the entire load capacity, any weight increase must be considered as a threat to the vehicle.

While these measures may improve the troops' morale by increasing the sense of security, the actual protection is never increased.

Attaching add-on armor of any type is therefore prohibited.
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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by Mk 1 »

Regarding the effectiveness of German schuerzen armor (plate or screen), it was indeed developed and tested as a defense against Russian 14.5mm ATR fire and ~75mm HE fire against the weaker side-armor of German tanks. Based on testing performed at Kummersdorf in early 1943 against these weapons it was ordered into production, and was widely available by the time of the Kursk battles in July of 1943.

It was not until late in 1944 that a set of firing tests were conducted at Kummersdorf to determine its effectiveness against HEAT projectiles. This test used of Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck HEAT projectiles against wire-mesh schuerzen, and was conducted in December of 1944. I have a copy of an article from "Waffen Review", the 1. Quarter 1981 issue (Nr 40), which describes the WaPruf test firings.

I originally found the link to the publication on a Russian language website. I have downloaded the full issue of "Waffen Review", including not only this article but several others, and will happily provide it to those who are interested in such things.

The article title is: "Schürzen zur Verstärkung der Panzerung" ("Schuerzen to Reinforce the Armor"). Here is a key portion of the article:
Am 21.12.1944 wurde in Kummersdorf ein Versuchschießen durchgeführt, allerdings nur mit den Schürzen aus Maschendraht und Panzerfaust bzw. -schreck. Ergebnis:

"Das Verhältnis der beschleunigten Masse beim Auftreffen zur Masse der Schürzen, die durch ihre Trägheit das Geschoß bremsen sollen, ist derart unterschiedlich, daß die Schürze die Geschoßwirkung nur unwesentlich beeinflussen kann. Alle Schürzen sind mit der Aufhängevorrichtung beim ersten Schuß zerstört worden." Auch wenn die Schürzen aus 5mm Blechen und nicht aus harten Drahtnetz sind, wird die Wirkung der Hohlladunggeschoße nicht bzw. kaum gemindert, wobei die allierten Hohlladungsgeschoße in ihrer Wirkung den dt. nicht nachstanden. D.h. die dt. Schürzen waren unwirksam, behinderten das Fahrzeug, teilweise sogar den Höhenrichtbereich des Geschütze, waren nicht sicher befestigt und eine Verschwendung von Material."
Here is my translation (as in mine, as in worthy of checking because, well, I’m not terribly fluent in German) of that passage:
On 21.12.1944 a trial shooting was carried out in Kummersdorf, but only with schuerzen made of wire mesh and Panzerfaust or -schreck. Result:

"The ratio of the faster striking mass to that of the schuerzen, whose inertia is supposed to slow the projectile, is so different that the schuerzen impinge only marginally on the effect of the projectile. All the schuerzen were destroyed along with the suspension* by the first shot. Even if the schuerzen are of 5mm sheet and not hard wire mesh, the effect of hollow charge projectiles is reduced barely or not at all, the allied hollow charge projectiles not lagging behind the German in their effect. That is, the German schuerzen were ineffective, obstructed the vehicle, sometimes even the elevation of the gun, were not securely fastened and a waste of material."
*Note: I believe, but am not certain, that this reference to "suspension" is a reference to the mounting of the schuerzen, and not to the running gear of the vehicle.

In any case, it would appear that the German WaPruf conclusion was that schuerzen was a wasted effort if the purpose was defense against HEAT projectiles.

-Mark
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BurtWolf
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Re: Improvised "armor" - how effective?

Post by BurtWolf »

So I’m sure there was some sort of nominal value for zimmerit and schurzen but overall were pretty inconsequential. Thus waste of limited/vital wartime production resources? Wonder if the spare tank treads abs bogie wheels etc. really stopped much at all - probably doubtful?

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