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Tovarish Nope's guide to tank ammunition

Due to the recent popularity of a certain post I made, how it's literally sinking in the mad amount of new threads being made, and hard to distinguish as it's a post, I decided to take the time to make it a thread. Now with pictures. I may update this further with more details, but I'll need to find really good sources.

 

DISCLAIMER: This shows the purpose of the different shell types IRL. Anything pertaining to things among the lines of "it's not killing anything pls halp!!!!" will be literally pointless, as it's a DM issue, not an IRL issue.

 

 

 

Ballistic shells (uses penetrators of any kind to penetrate):

 

AP (Armor Piercing): Simple round shot. Like a shotgun slug for tanks. Bad for unarmored targets.

 

[spoiler]C-2PdrAP-L.jpg

 

2 pdr AP shell. Told you it's only round shot for those that thought I was delusional.[/spoiler]

 

APHE (Armor Piercing High Explosive): Same as AP shot, but the shell is filled with explosive in order to cause more damage upon penetrating armor. This is in response to the rather poor abilities of AP shot after penetrating the armor. It's practically like a larger steel APCR penetrator, that AP shot. However, APHE tends to have less penetration than AP shot because of the cavity in the middle.

 

[spoiler]fb

 

6 pdr APHE shells. Note the explosive inside, but with walls thick enough to withstand impact[/spoiler]

 

APC (Armor Piercing Capped): A soft steel cap has been added to soften the shell's tip as to reduce the chances of shattering and comes with normalization effects, although penetration is lowered and actually worsens the shell's ballistics.

 

APBC (Armor Piercing Ballistic Cap): Same concept as APC, but the cap is now more aerodynamic, thus reducing drag on the shell while reducing chances of it shattering. Russian APBC has a rounded ballistic cap, thus granting much better slope coefficients than even APCBC except with angles past 60°.

 

APCBC (Armor Piercing Capped Ballistic Cap): A combination of both APC and APBC in order to both improve shell aerodynamics and provide normalization as well as shatter protection. Sometimes it has explosive (Pzgr 39), getting the title of APHECBC or APCBC-HE.

 

[spoiler]shells-+-apbc.png

 

Differences between AP, APC, APCBC and APBC since showing the shells themselves isn't as clear.

 

88cmPzgr39-43.jpg

 

Pzgr 39, an example of an APHEBC shell. Note the ballistic cap and the shell cap covering an APHE shell.[/spoiler]

 

APCR (Armor Piercing Composite Rigid): Basically, a dense penetrator (made out of tungsten mainly) whose diameter is smaller than the gun barrel's is covered by lightened, soft steel. Since the shell is lighter in general, the muzzle velocity is increased, and the steel is so soft that the penetrator goes right through. The extra density and lower area of impact of the penetrator dramatically improves penetration, but the lower shrapnel and no explosive content makes it less effective upon penetration, thus being bad against unarmored targets, and its range is limited due to the bad sectional density of the shell. Also, it has less normalization than other AP shells and its penetration drop is frighteningly high. Americans call this shell HVAP (High Velocity Armor Piercing). It's also known as subcaliber, referring to the smaller size of the penetrator.

 

[spoiler]german-75cm-pak40-APBCT.jpg

 

Pzgr 40 APCR shell. Note the smaller tungsten carbide penetrator and the lack of HE content.[/spoiler]

 

APDS (Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot): Same function as APCR, but the execution is different. The tungsten penetrator is only covered by a "steel cap" called a sabot from the back, and is still subcaliber. Upon firing, the sabot separates itself from the penetrator, and only the latter will come into contact with the armor plate. Due to the significantly lower profile of the projectile and its even composition, APDS suffers much less from drag, and so it's much more effective at range. Basically everything APCR is, but better.

 

[spoiler]Cartridge-105mm-M728.jpg

 

M68 (American-built L7) APDS shell. Note the detachable sabot around the penetrator.[/spoiler]

Edited by Nope
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Because the forums hate me posting pictures, I'm dividing this into two.

 

Explosive-based shells (near-exclusively based on explosive or shrapnel damage):

 

HE (High Explosive): It's a shell with explosive in it. It goes boom. It's extremely effective against unarmored targets with its large blast radius and damage, but usually isn't effective enough against armored tanks. However, should the shell caliber be enough, you should see frightening results upon firing high caliber HE at tanks (a KV-2 will absolutely wreck a Tiger with HE for instance). It can still damage external modules like tracks more effectively than ballistic projectiles though. Beware of spaced armor though, as the empty space between layers allow the blast to dissipate at extreme rates. So don't come crying when a Pz IV Ausf H absorbs HE.

 

[spoiler]shell-fuze.jpg

 

M1A1 (M40 SPG) 155mm HE shell. Note how it's just explosive inside.[/spoiler]

 

HE-frag (High Explosive Fragmentation): Basically the same as HE, but generates more fragments in order to damage surroundings even further.

 

[spoiler]p45mmHE.jpg

 

45mm HE-frag shell. It's from the BT series of 45mms, but the exact model is unknown. Still, note the thicker walls for more lethal fragments.[/spoiler]

 

Shrapnel/Canister: Basically a live buckshot shell, either flying whole with a delay or being shot out like a shotgun. Basically an anti-personnel weapon. If it doesn't detonate, it's not that much different from AP.

 

[spoiler]BL_9.2_inch_Boxer_shrapnel_shell_diagram

 

9.2 inch (233mm) naval gun shrapnel shell. Note the ball bearings. I too am aware that this is a massive caliber shell from WWI, no worries. Oh, and note the ball bearings.[/spoiler]

 

HESH (High Explosive Squash Head): Same as HE, but the plastic explosive (since powder explosives will never be suitable for HESH since they can't be "squashed") is designed to spread upon impact before detonation, thus transferring much more of the blast to the armor, leaving less wasted blast energy in the process. HESH is therefore significantly more effective against armor than HE, and better against bunkers. Too bad that like HE, it does not like spaced armor at all.

 

[spoiler]img13-1.jpg

 

105mm M58 HESH shell. Note the thin walls at the tip so that the explosive "spreads".

 

apshell.gif

 

How HESH works upon hitting a target.

 

hesh-innen.jpg

 

HESH effect on steel armor.

[/spoiler]

 

Anti-concrete shell: Basically multilayered HE shells designed to penetrate concrete bunkers. Regular HE couldn't get through the armor, and AP shells don't cause enough carnage since bunkers are pretty large. So a multilayered HE shell was born for the job to penetrate the concrete and deliver a powerful blow on the inside, and while weaker than HE due to having thicker walls and less explosive, the effect was basically the same as HESH due to all the layers it has. It's mainly used by Russia and their love for howitzers, and the Sturmtiger. I think I may call them Shrek shells as they have so many layers.

 

[spoiler]anti-concrete-shells-german-ww2-q5.jpg

 

German anti-concrete shells for the 21 cm Mörser 18 and 15 cm S.F.H 18. Note all those layers in there. Just like onions. Cardboard, wood, cement, yeah, loads of stuff in there.[/spoiler]

 

HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank): A particularly unique armor piercing shell. The shell is partially hollow with explosives inside a funnel-shaped container (mainly made out of copper due to its much lower melting point compared to steel), with the tip of the funnel being at the tip of the shell. It therefore cannot be capped. Upon hitting a target, the explosive detonates and then concentrates around that very small area, thus outright puncturing the armor. The velocity of the blast reaches hypersonic speeds and the funnel even seems to melt and is forced to be propelled by that concentrated blast, hence the armor penetration abilities. However, the blast isn't hot enough to melt the steel, so the "melting" is actually a process called superplasticity. Basically, at around half or more of the melting point, the alloy can be "stretched", even if the normal breaking point usually won't allow it. The exact mechanics are still being pondered about, but do know that the "stretching" combined with the high pressure results in a SOLID punching through armor, and solids tend to be better for punching through hard things than liquids due to how they follow a certain structure and order. This gives excellent penetration qualities. Composite armor way out of our timeline has certain ceramics that disrupt the stretching and taking advantage of how the metal thins out, but I won't bother with that.

 

Unlike most AP shells, it's completely independent from muzzle velocity. That's right, a HEAT shell will have the same penetration at point blank and at 2 km. However, it does not benefit from normalization at all. On top of that, while the blast exiting the shell may damage more than a concentrated HE shell, the actual stretched metal might as well be subcaliber. Still more damaging than subcaliber though, so I can't complain.

 

On another note, much like HESH, HEAT does horribly against spaced armor of any kind, as it requires a homogenous solid environment for best effect. If the copper jet is interrupted by empty space, then it will lose energy fast since the blast can go somewhere else that has less resistance. So do not aim at spaced armor such as side skirts whenever possible. It will seriously ruin your chances of actually doing damage.

 

[spoiler]panzerroquette11.jpg

 

Panzerschreck HEAT rocket. Note the funnel at the end. All HEAT ammunition in WWII and Korea had the same basic layout.

 

image_5.gif

 

Superplasticity in action. This is a stainless steel alloy being represented here.[/spoiler]

 

ATGMs: Take a HEAT warhead, slap it onto a missile. ATGMs act the exact same as HEAT rounds when striking a target because of the warhead used with the exception of the Malkara which uses a HESH warhead. The particular thing is the fact that the projectile is guided either through MCLOS (Manual Command through Line Of Sight) or SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command through Line Of Sight). MCLOS  means that the user has to manually guide the missile through remote control, while SACLOS refers to steering through the sighting device in the case of wire guidance (i.e pointing the periscope in the right direction). This allows ATGMs to hit targets at very long range more consistently than with tank cannons. The main problem is the velocity. ATGMs are quite sluggish in nature and so it is possible for the target to get back in cover by the time the missile gets there.

 

-T suffix: Basically means there's a tracer on the shell, thus allowing you to see it in flight.

 

And that's all I can think of for this game for now. Feel free to suggest any other specifications you want in this guide, and I'm open to help if I can't find certain info.

 

Special thanks:

 

[spoiler]

- Tomogaso

- _Raisa_Pottgen

-  Askis

[/spoiler]

Edited by Nope
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HE-AT?

 

Dammit the spoilers bugged. I'll get it fixed.

 

Edit: And it's done. Now quit bugging me about it.

Edited by Nope
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Nice job OP, thanks for taking the time to do this, I'm sure it will be helpful +2  :salute:

Edited by wixxster

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you forgot to note that sloped armor is more effective against HEAT than it would be against AP

 

I did. I said it didn't benefit from normalization, hence why it was less effective against sloped armor. Maybe I should mention stuff about the shell sliding more than APC since it's not capped with a soft metal cap.

 

Also, fixed the APHE description. Messed it up thinking of APHECBC. >.>

Edited by Nope
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Added anti-concrete shells. Thanks Tomogaso for reminding me of this shell used by the KV-2.

Edited by Nope
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Nice write-up, but two small corrections:

HESH:

The plastic explosive isn't squashed inside the shell, it squashes out on impact, then detonates a split second later.

The explosive isn't more concentrated, it's actually more spread out, however it is in direct contact with the armor and less of the explosive force gets deflected away, which increases the force of the shock going through the armor and causes massive spalling on the tank's interior.

So a tank with just RHA armor and no spall liner will have shrapnel of varying size flying through it's interior at speeds similar to bullets.

 

HEAT:

Sorry, no plasma  :Ps

The metal liner (usually copper) is melted by a shaped charge, which turns it into a stream of liquid metal that moves a hypersonic speeds, to turn metal into plasma, you'd have to vaporize it, then ignite it, which requires temperatures far higher than anything WW2 explosives were capable of achieving.

And the underlying principle (the Munroe Effect) was discovered in 1894.

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So on the M4 is it better to use AP or APBC or having a mix?

 

They should be doing the same damage, since both are pure AP shells, but APBC has better pen, so it's a direct upgrade.

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Nice write-up, but two small corrections:

HESH:

The plastic explosive isn't squashed inside the shell, it squashes out on impact, then detonates a split second later.

The explosive isn't more concentrated, it's actually more spread out, however it is in direct contact with the armor and less of the explosive force gets deflected away, which increases the force of the shock going through the armor and causes massive spalling on the tank's interior.

So a tank with just RHA armor and no spall liner will have shrapnel of varying size flying through it's interior at speeds similar to bullets.

 

HEAT:

Sorry, no plasma  :Ps

The metal liner (usually copper) is melted by a shaped charge, which turns it into a stream of liquid metal that moves a hypersonic speeds, to turn metal into plasma, you'd have to vaporize it, then ignite it, which requires temperatures far higher than anything WW2 explosives were capable of achieving.

And the underlying principle (the Munroe Effect) was discovered in 1894.

 

Thanks for the corrections, I'll credit you for this. Although the part about HESH is about the fact that more of the blast is actually transferred to the armor instead of being wasted in the air, but I'll reformulate. Perhaps I was thinking about post-WWII HEAT when typing.

 

So on the M4 is it better to use AP or APBC or having a mix?

 

None of them technically have HE content, but I'll say APBC since it's more aerodynamic, thus being a better shell in the long run.

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Perhaps I was thinking about post-WWII HEAT when typing.

 

Even current HEAT rounds don't work with plasma, the basic principle has remained the same ;)

And your explanation is still off btw :P

 

The explosive doesn't drill through the armor, all the shaped charge does is melt the liner and form the jet, which not only can reach hypersonic speeds, it has to, or the molten metal would just splatter across the armor instead of punching through it.

 

Anyway, the Wikipedia article explains it quite nicely:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HEAT

Edited by Askis
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Even current HEAT rounds don't work with plasma, the basic principle has remained the same ;)

And your explanation is still off btw :P

 

The explosive doesn't drill through the armor, all the shaped charge does is melt the liner and form the jet, which not only can reach hypersonic speeds, it has to, or the molten metal would just splatter across the armor instead of punching through it.

 

Anyway, the Wikipedia article explains it quite nicely:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HEAT

 

Ok, so I'll say it punctures the armor due to the excess pressure. That ok?

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I cant tell that i find Shrapnell usefull. Usual i go for AP for tanks or APHE...

apcr only on stuff like kv1 vs kv1 and ....... uhh HE for FLAK stuff.

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Ok, so I'll say it punctures the armor due to the excess pressure. That ok?

 

That's probably close enough ;)s

 

I cant tell that i find Shrapnell usefull. Usual i go for AP for tanks or APHE...

apcr only on stuff like kv1 vs kv1 and ....... uhh HE for FLAK stuff.

 

The Frag rounds are perfect for any very lightly armored targets.

The AI tanks for example, one shot in the turret and they're toast.

ZiS-30 or SU-76 one shot right through the front, same deal.

 

Or really any weak spot that allows you to put the round right into the fighting compartment.

Like the Stug A that tried to facehug my tracked T-34 at one point, I just put a frag shell right through his gunner's scope :salute:

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So on the M4 is it better to use AP or APBC or having a mix?

I've found it best to carry a mix of all types of ammunition you have available for a tank.  Typically less HE is needed but they are still useful especially against artillery pieces and light vehicles.  They will rattle the hell out of tanks too and even destroy tracks.  Don't sell yourselves short.  The different types of ammunition all have practical uses.  Carry them.  Utilize them.  Also a good rule of thumb when using rounds with penetration values is to use the heaviest round possible that can penetrate the armor of the target.  It has been working well for me.

Edited by Bforbertie

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I'd like to add a comment on an important (I think) difference between the HE shells and the APHE shells: on HE shells the fuze is at the front while on AP rounds with a HE component it is at the back (which is necessary to have delay on the detonation.. a fuze at the front will either trigger immediately or be destroyed).

Edited by tizianenel
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