In November of 1941, high ranking engineers, industry representatives, and armament directorate officers came to my tank army in order to familiarize themselves with the Russian T-34 tank. Frontline officers suggested that we should build tanks exactly like the T-34 in order to correct the unpleasant position of our armoured forces, but this position did not receive support from the engineers. Not because they were opposed to imitation, but because it was not possible to rapidly set up manufacturing of important components, especially the diesel motor. Additionally, our hardened steel, whose quality was dropping due to a lack of natural resources, was inferior to the Russians’ hardened steel.
H. Guderian, “Panzer Leader”, page 268
Ok Gents! This time to talk about something more serious rather simple collection of historical facts. I will talk about tank armor. Frankly speaking you better do your own research regarding this subject, because even my own conclusions may be classified nothing else but speculations for many reasons. I do not have have master degree in metallurgy and also my data is inaccurate. And the data is inaccurate for the simple matter of fact that this particular subject is largely classified. Just try to find out exact technology for producing German kitchen knifes and you will surprised to see it will be commercial secret ). For your records German kitchen knifes are the best ones even Japanese knifes are more expensive.
- Geometrical position relating to projectile.
- Projectile speed, weight, shape and type – sorry gents, but this is the only item I have no means to cover except of writing a book.
- Quality of armoured steel.
- Chemical composition of armoured steel.
- Type of armoured steel.
- Multiple stage tempering – the art on its own.
- Quality of final assembly.
- Engineer’s point of view or possible application for a tank.
When it comes to WW2 tanks the first thing you will hear are numerous ways to convince about idiocy of German Engineers. As a prime example that T-34 had a brilliant slopped armour while Tiger didn’t. Really? Let’s have a closer look.
It’s no even appropriate to compare T-34 and tiger. That’s why let’s compare frontal hull armour of PzKpfw III and T-34/76. Sorry but comparison of turret will be nothing else but speculation because Soviets did no had certain design for turrets, but used at least 7 different designs.
PzKpfw III Ausf. L
Like you can see PzKpfw III frontal armor is not really vertical, but consists of many different parts under different angles, while T-34 frontal armour is mostly 60°. Also like any other tank T-34 had its weak spots.. Some smart ass will say that the bigger angle the better. Well, not really it all depends on the angle of projectile. Yes it may come close to horizontal 0° on the distance of 100m, but at the distance of 1000 m it may come under 30° angle. So let’s compare total armour thickness of T-34 and PzKpfw III. So far we even dp not talk bout armour thoughtless… let’s imagine imagine it’s the same
|Total armour thickness depending on its own and projectile angle.|
|projectile angle||T-34/76 45mm x 60°||T-34/76 45mm x 0°||Panzer III Ausf. J 50mm x 22°||Panzer III Ausf. J 50mm x 55°||Panzer III Ausf. J 26mm x 85°||Panzer III Ausf. J 50mm x 10°||Panzer III Ausf. L 70mm x 10°|
|Horizontal||90.00 мм||45.00mm||53.93 мм||87.17 мм||298.32 мм||50.77 мм||71.08 мм|
|15° angle||63.64 мм||46.59 мм||62.61 мм||65.27 мм||76.02 мм||50.19 мм||70.27 мм|
|30° angle||51.96 мм||51.96 мм||81.21 мм||55.17 мм||45.33 мм||53.21 мм||74.49 мм|
Like you can see from the table you cannot call either approach certainly right or certainly wrong. It all depends on the possible use of a tank.