LB95

Tank Shells and Choosing Your Loadout

Prologue
 
I had the idea for this thread a while ago, and it's something I could have done with during the CBT. Seeing all the "APSFIDUTOG" crap on the shells initially threw me off, and left me just taking full loads of whatever looked the best. And I know I'm not the only one who suffered this.
 
After doing some research, and looking around, I think I have a comprehensible enough knowledge to at least advise people on which shells they should be taking and using in specific situations.
 
 
The Basics
 
There's a very simple naming system to the shells, as it's designed to help real armourers know what they're loading. When you know what means what, you won't have to reference this guide, you can just wing it, and know what the shell is by the name.
 
I'll use the Russian 122mm cannon as an example, it has one of the fancier shells:
 
If we look at the BR-471B shell, we can see a long and complex name:
xXL17ne.jpg
 
But in actuality, this tells us everything about the shell we need to consider. There's three parts:
AP- Armour Piercing
HE- High Explosive
BC- Ballistic Cap
 
This means that the shell pierces armour, explodes, and has a cap to improve it's ballistics. I'll go into further detail on this shell later on.
 
 
INDEX
Ctrl+F the bold stuff in here to get to a specific shell fast:
#AP1 AP
#AP2 APC
#AP3 APCBC
 
#AP4 APCR
#AP5 APCNR
#AP6 APDS
 
#AP7 APHE
#AP8 APHEBC
 
#HE1 HE
#HE2 HEAT
#HE3 HESH
 
 
Shells
 
Now I'll go into detail with specific shell bases:
 
AP #AP1
There's many variations of simple AP shells, from the APHEBC-T shells on the IS-2, right down to the simple AP shot on the sherman.
 
Starting at the bottom:
 
AP- Armour Piercing
 
This is as simple as it gets, just basically a metal slug that gets shot at the enemy.
[spoiler]M8v1wC1.jpg[/spoiler]
 
 
When to use this: When you don't have any better options.
 
----------------------------------------------- 
APC- Armour Piercing Capped #AP2
 
A slight improvement on the base AP, this shell has an added cap of soft metal atop the standard AP shell. The purpose of this is to stop the shell shattering, as the softer metal takes out some of the initial shock, and helping the AP part cut through instead of just being blunted by hardened armour.
[spoiler]KFjcp77.jpg[/spoiler]
 
 
When to use this: When you don't have any better options
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
APCBC- Armour Piercing Capped (Ballistic Capped) #AP3
 
Again similar to the earlier AP shell, only in addition to the AP cap, it has a "Ballistic cap" which improves it's ballistics (aerodynamics), so it's a better shell at long ranges, both more accurate and holds more energy when it gets there.
[spoiler]5lUzK0P.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: When you're within range of a target, usually this shell will be able to hit many vital components, and will often bounce around inside, killing crew and igniting fires.
 
-----------------------------
AP conclusion
The thing behind choosing between pure AP shells is literally penetration. They're simply lumps of metal with stuff added on, so you're going to want to go for the one with the fanciest name or the one with the highest penetration.
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Special AP shells
 
The basis of these shells is to have a small, dense penetrator moving as fast as possible, to get the most amount of kinetic energy focused on the smallest possible point. Because of this, they have very high penetration values and many people take full loads of APCR, assuming it to be the best shell (I myself was included in that).
 
They do this by having a very dense core surrounded by a light metal shell. Usually a tungsten core with an aluminium outer shell.
 
The thing with these shells, is no HE filler, and they only make a small hole. This means that unless you're aiming for specific spots, minimal damage is done.
 
------------------------------------------------------------ 
APCR- Armour Piercing Composite (Rigid) #AP4
 
This shell is a common one, and one that is commonly used incorrectly.
 
The basic APCR shell is a tungsten penetrator, surrounded by a light aluminium casing, for maximum penetration.
 
 
[spoiler]AwfVfVB.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: When you're at extreme ranges, or facing an enemy with armour you know you won't be able to penetrate with any other shell. This shell is literally a last ditch shell, a just in case.

 

Because the casing around the shell stays with the core, it produces drag for the length of the flight, so the shell isn't as good at ranges as a heavier shell in general, but it can still be useful.

 

There is of course, shells that lose their casing's drag, so they're much better at ranges:

 
---------------------------------------------------------------- 
APCNR- Armour Piercing Composite (Non Rigid) #AP5
 
Commonly called "squeezebore", this shell is similar to standard APCR, only that the shell isn't rigidly fixed in place, so the outer (softer) area is squeezed in. This has the effect of making the shell much more effective at longer ranges than standard APCR.
 
Used in the British QF 2pdr gun, with the littlejohn adaptor.
 
[spoiler]Zap3fpw.jpg And after firing: iF9eNqA.jpg[/spoiler]
 
QF 2pdr with littlejohn squeezebore adaptor:
[spoiler]Bovington_guns_37_and_40_2.jpg[/spoiler]
 
This changes the 40mm 2pdr into a ~30mm gun, by squeezing the shell.
 
When to use this: Instead of APCR, as it's just a more effective shell.
 
--------------------------------------------------------- 
APDS- Armour Piercing, Discarding Sabot #AP6
 
Another improvement over standard APCR, this shell is purely the dense penetrator, as the softer casing (sabot, in this case), falls away Soon™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™ after firing, leaving just the penetrator to continue on, without the drag of the outer shell.
 
Used in only the British QF 6pdr. 17pdr and 20pdr weapons.
 
[spoiler]CXuRVJ6.jpg Soon™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™™ after firing: vaYcNtA.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: Same conditions as the other special penetrators, long ranges and against thick armour.
 
----------------------------- 
Special AP conclusion
Right now all we have in game is APCR, and it's a very situational shell, only to be used when you can't deal damage with any other shells. APCNR and APDS are improved versions, but follow much the same rules, and shouldn't be used at all times.

Edited by LB95
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APHE shells
 
Similar to the standard AP shells, only they carry a small amount of explosive filler with them, and explode a short time after coming into contact with something (whether they penetrate or not)
 
-----------------------------------------------------
APHE- Armour Piercing High Explosive #AP7
 
Exactly as you'd expect. AP, with some HE. Shell goes in (hopefully), shell explodes: Dead tank.
 
Main components of this shell, are the standard AP cap, with a HE segment, in the centre. This HE section is triggered by a fuse in the nose of the shell.
[spoiler]5LJIJT2.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: Pretty much as a default shell, unless a  better version is available, with a cap.
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
APHEBC- Armour Piercing High Explosive Ballistic Capped #AP8
 
Very similar to the APHE, only with a ballistic cap, which we covered earlier, so it's pretty much a better APHE shell
[spoiler]w3rdxUU.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: In stead of APHE, at longer ranges.
 
----------------------
APHE conclusion
 
APHE should be your go to shell. The one that you have loaded at all times, as it's a very good general purpose shell. The AC shell on the KV-2 is just a variant of an APHE shell, only it's designed to destroy buildings, not necessarily tanks. Edited by LB95
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HE shells
 
-------------------------
HE- High Explosive #HE1
 
Flat HE is a simple shell, and should only be used on large guns. I'd reccomend not using it on anything smaller than the 122mm guns, and even on the long barreled 122mm (D-25), it's extremely strange, and often does minimal damge.
 
The shell is just a wall, with a HE filler within:
[spoiler]Hr4TgSG.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: When you have a large gun, and want to cripple a tank. On the 152mm cannon, use ONLY this shell, if it doesn't kill something outright, they'll have upwards of a 10 minute repair.
 
--------------------------------------------
HEAT- High Explosive Anti Tank #HE2
 
This shell makes use of a shaped charge in the front, which sprays a jet of plasticised copper* into whatever it hits. This shell is decent at long ranges, as it relies almost entirely on chemical energy.
 
It should be noted that HEAT generally fires at a lower velocity so that the shell can do it's job on impact instead of being destroyed completely when it hits. Take this into account when firing at range.
[spoiler]aZti1bw.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: If you have the stubby 75's on the early german tanks. Other than that, there's not much use, and it seems to be behaving weirdly at the moment [1.41].
 
*Reuter provided me with a much better explanation of how these shells work:
[spoiler]

HEAT rounds don't penetrate their target due to "melting" the armour, nor is the liner going to reach melting temperature.
 
The liner gets accelerated to around 10 km/s, impacting on the armour plate with an extreme pressure of several hundred gigapascals. Under these conditions even materials like bare metal act accordingly to the rules of fluid dynamics. And even though this simply is an act of cold deformation, HEAT rounds indeed often induce fires. Due to the liquification under pressure, the metal turns into a pyrophoric substance which ignites spontaneously in air.

[/spoiler]

 

HEAT- High Explosive Anti Tank #HE2
 
This shell makes use of a shaped charge in the front, which sprays a jet of molten copper into whatever it hits. This shell is decent at long ranges, as it relies almost entirely on chemical energy.
[spoiler]SyGToZg.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: If you have the stubby 75's on the early german tanks. Other than that, there's not much use, and it seems to be behaving weirdly at the moment [1.41].
 
--------------------------------------------------
HESH- High Explosive Squash Head #HE3
 
A special use shell used on the British L9A1 165mm demolition gun (only weapon in the timeline that fires this shell, it was used often on the L7A1 105mm cannon (1956)). It's similar to a HE shell, except it flattens out when it hits a tank before exploding. The plastic explosives within spread across an area on the tank, and explode, sending a shockwave through the armour that sends a scab of metal flying off the other side, destroying whatever is in it's way.
[spoiler]5ZGxpZb.jpg[/spoiler]
 
Effects on armour:
[spoiler]hesh-innen.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: When something needs to go away. Fast.
 
 
 
Conclusion:
 
Sorry this is kind of a mess, I added the ctrl+F thing to try ease the fustercluck.
 
The main shells you're going to want to use are going to be APHE of some kind for the main damage dealing, and a special shell for dealing with what your APHE can't.
 
For example, with the IS-2, I take 23 APHEBC, and 5 HE. I use the HE on Ferdinands and particularly stubborn Jagdpanthers or Tiger II (H)'s.
 
And with the T-34-57 mod 43, I take about a 30/70 split of APCR and APHE.
 
 
 
 
 
If you have any suggestions/errors, go ahead and point them out, I'll change them as Soon™™ as I see. And if you have any specific questions, I'll try my best to answer them.
Edited by LB95
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gotta get a better picture for HEAT cuz dats not what a heat shell looks like

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gotta get a better picture for HEAT cuz dats not what a heat shell looks like

 

But I liked my explosive upvote(((

 

Changed it, google images is unreliable when you've spent the best part of 3 hours typing crap like this hue

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Thanks, but am I just having a terrible time or are APCR's and HEAT doing nothing for me? I normally have to use like 7 shells to kill one thing, or in the case of Russians, use Shrapnel shells to the rear of the turret.

 

Am I using APCR and HEAT incorrectly or is it hit detection/damage models that's screwing my StuG over?

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Where's thr APMLG shell? Fired by the Intervention cal .50mm gun.
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I want some HESH  :crazy: 

 

How thick was this plate?

 

[spoiler]hesh-innen.jpg[/spoiler]

Edited by Candybuzzbomb
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Thanks, but am I just having a terrible time or are APCR's and HEAT doing nothing for me? I normally have to use like 7 shells to kill one thing, or in the case of Russians, use Shrapnel shells to the rear of the turret.

 

Am I using APCR and HEAT incorrectly or is it hit detection/damage models that's screwing my StuG over?

APCR has none or lacks HE filler, HEAT is for extreme long range (Kursk), use PzGr 39 (APHE) it kills fast.

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APCR has none or lacks HE filler, HEAT is for extreme long range (Kursk), use PzGr 39 (APHE) it kills fast.

Alright, thanks. I'll try PzGr39's. My PzGr40's just don't do ANYTHING to T-34's and they bounce off the drivers hatches of Su-122 and Su-85, even though most of the time I'm higher than them, effectively flattening their armour, and it has 145mm(?) of penetration.

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Thanks, but am I just having a terrible time or are APCR's and HEAT doing nothing for me? I normally have to use like 7 shells to kill one thing, or in the case of Russians, use Shrapnel shells to the rear of the turret.

 

Am I using APCR and HEAT incorrectly or is it hit detection/damage models that's screwing my StuG over?

 

The game doesn't seem to give non-HE filled shells enough damage (In my opinion), so any AP or APCR shell will normally struggle to destroy tanks quickly. HEAT ammunition is a bit lacking in penetration, and also doesn't explode inside the tank, so again the game seems to assume it doesn't do much damage. Also, HEAT shells tend to be a bit situational - Any sort of spaced armour or awkward angles will make them much less effective.

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hi
first, thats a very informative and compact thread. thx for your work.

I have a few question. i hope u will answere them.
have all pzgr 39 HE fillers? and
whats the different between pzgr 40 and pzgr 40/1 (or the pzgr 40/43)?
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The game doesn't seem to give non-HE filled shells enough damage (In my opinion), so any AP or APCR shell will normally struggle to destroy tanks quickly. HEAT ammunition is a bit lacking in penetration, and also doesn't explode inside the tank, so again the game seems to assume it doesn't do much damage. Also, HEAT shells tend to be a bit situational - Any sort of spaced armour or awkward angles will make them much less effective.

 

I agree with you.  

 

APCR for example should be penetrating a tank and should lose just enough energy in doing so that it bounces around 100 times inside a tank pretty much destroying everything in the fighting compartment including obviously shredding the crew.  (think about firing a gun inside a steel drum about 4 foot in diameter while standing inside...obviously not a good idea).  It definitely doesn't just penetrate, travel in a straight line and just stop like it appears to do in WT.

 

HEAT is also another one that doesn't seem to work right.  When it says 81mm of penetration, it should penetrate 81mm pretty much without fail unless you just nick the target, hit at an extreme angle or hit an object hung on the outside of the tank or spaced armor.  This shell basically creates a plasma just of superheated metal that burns through the armor at a constant rate, then if the jet manages to burn through the armor, it basically ignites everything inside the tank (ammo, flesh, etc).  Again pretty much an instant kill if it pens the the crew compartment.  However if you hit spaced armor, a toolbox, shovel, etc on the outside of the tank, it will likely spoil the shot.  Thing is, even hitting flat, this shell doesn't seem to want to pen correctly or do near enough damage when it does.  I mean I fired at the flat front of a Pz IV turret (not mantlet) from less than 10m away (we were bumper to bumber)  and I wasn't even doing more than knocking out the commander/Gunner.  considering he only had 50mm of armor, 81mm of pen on a HEAT round to the turret should have been an instant kill.  Instead I fired 5 times without killing him and gave him time to repair and kill me.

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When to use this: When you're at extreme ranges, or facing an enemy with armour you know you won't be able to penetrate with any other shell. This shell is literally a last ditch shell, a just in case.

 

It should be noted that APCR shells have a tendency to lose penetration quickly over range, due to their reliance on high velocity for kinetic energy. This is particularly true of smaller caliber rounds, which often actually have lower penetration than their standard AP counterparts past 500m or so.

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I want some HESH  :crazy: 

 

How thick was this plate?

 

[spoiler]hesh-innen.jpg[/spoiler]

Can't remember how thick it is but the beauty of hesh is the armour thickness doesn't matter. The explosive/spalling effect is the same at any practical thicknes of a tank.  Only thing that will stop these is spaced armour.

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HE shells
 

--------------------------------------------------
HESH- High Explosive Squash Head #HE3
 
A special use shell used on the British L9A1 165mm demolition gun (only weapon in the timeline that fires this shell, it was used often on the L7A1 105mm cannon (1956)). It's similar to a HE shell, except it flattens out when it hits a tank before exploding. The plastic explosives within spread across an area on the tank, and explode, sending a shockwave through the armour that sends a scab of metal flying off the other side, destroying whatever is in it's way.
[spoiler]5ZGxpZb.jpg[/spoiler]
 
Effects on armour:
[spoiler]hesh-innen.jpg[/spoiler]
 
When to use this: When something needs to go away. Fast.
 
 
 
Conclusion:
 
Sorry this is kind of a mess, I added the ctrl+F thing to try ease the fustercluck.
 
The main shells you're going to want to use are going to be APHE of some kind for the main damage dealing, and a special shell for dealing with what your APHE can't.
 
For example, with the IS-2, I take 23 APHEBC, and 5 HE. I use the HE on Ferdinands and particularly stubborn Jagdpanthers or Tiger II (H)'s.

And with the T-34-57 mod 43, I take about a 30/70 split of APCR and APHE.

 
 
 
 
 
If you have any suggestions/errors, go ahead and point them out, I'll change them as Soon™™™™™™™™™™ as I see. And if you have any specific questions, I'll try my best to answer them.

183mm cannon designed for use on the prototype fv4005 used hesh and the fv4004 Conway prototyp's 120mm also used the hesh round.

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I have not seen one of these threads yet that understood the actual effect of the cap on an APC round. Because they do not understand the advantage of having a blunt AP round vs a non blunt one vs sloped armour.

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I want some HESH  :crazy: 

 

How thick was this plate?

 

[spoiler]hesh-innen.jpg[/spoiler]

300 mm of RHA steel iirc, not that it actually matters, HESH is awesome like that.

 

 

 

Anyway, a point or three for LB to consider;

 

  1. APCR is not always better at long range, for a couple of reasons, all of which come back to the lower weight. Because of the lower weight and the fact the cross section is still the full calibre it suffers more from air resistance; this means that it decelerates more rapidly and can result in a smaller impulse per unit area on impact (hence less penetration). See BR-243 and BR-243P for example (Soviet 45 mm APHEBC and APCR), -243P is better at 500 m (55 mm vs 43 mm), but -243 is better at 1 km (35 mm vs 30 mm), I think the swap is ~730 m. Also PzGr 39, 40/1 and 40 on the KwK 38 (Pz III F); PzGr 40 has the best pen up to 500 m, but PzGr 39 has better pen from 1 km (again, they switch somewhere in between). PzGr 40/1 has more pen than PzGr 39 up to 500 m, and more pen than PzGr 40 at 1000 m, and the same as PzGr 40 beyond that (but 40/1 has a higher mass than 40, and so will create more spalling). Also, because it's lighter, it will be more affected by wind (but I don't think that wind is modeled in game yet, correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't noticed it).
  2. APDS should be better than AP(BC) at long range (assuming you can still hit, unclean sabot discarding can cause issues, as you know) as it's just the denser part without the excess material acting as drag, this is different to APCR which can be less efficient at long range, as I showed above.
  3. You might want to make a note that on a lot of guns HEAT is lower velocity than the other shells, the stubby 75 on some early German tanks being the exception, where it's 10 m/s faster than the AP round (still 120 m/s slower than HE though).
Edited by Eruantien697
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Thanks great tutorial and tips!! :good:  Please keep it updated  :salute:

Edited by Rawex
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