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Artillery is underpowered against vehicles

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A large part of armor effectiveness comes from the location of the hit. HE rounds by definition lack any armor penetration mechanism so if say a 152mm OF-530 hits the frontal upper glacis of a T-80, there will be no penetration and almost no effect. But if the same shell hit "its Achilles' heel ... the upper surface of the engine deck" then the round "could penetrate the thin armor of the engine deck, then pass through the unarmored firewall between the engine and fighting compartment, striking the ammunition around the turret" sparking "a chain of explosions of the tank propellant, causing the tank to 'lose its cap'" (Zaloga 31). This may seem like common sense but with even with precision artillery you don't have much of a choice where on the tank the round will land which leads to discrepancies in artillery effectiveness versus armor.

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Just playing a game

im ruskies vs us and facing of against a coy of m1's.

ive found Russian 152mm will typically imobilise the tanks if you can get multiple hits near the tank.

since seeing this thread I've also done some testing.

results 152mm  - multiple near hits will immobilise the Abrams.

                         - direct hits will degrade sub subsystems (not near hits - these have no effects except on tracks). Usually seems to take 2-3 direct hits to knock out all the sub systems -  though never damages the gun - knocks out optics, radios etc...)

                         - some (small number of direct hits (low probability) will destroy the Abrams - though dont see this often and have not seen on first hit - so indicates multiple direct hits necessary?

Result 203mm - will regularly penetrate and destroy the Abrams (not guaranteed on first hit but much more frequent than 152mm)

id like to see more sub system damage from near hits from 152mm - I'd have thought thermals, optics, aps etc would all get damaged from nearby HE impacts not just direct hits.

wondering if you'd get concussion / blast injuries to crew as well from direct hits???

 

 

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1 hour ago, kinophile said:

I've seen crews SHAKEN after sustained Arty impacts. 

Imagine a PGM 203 shell.... ooof! 

I think had the US military retained the various 8 inch guns past the end of the Cold War we'd have seen a few by now.  

Actually I would contend given 20-20 hindsight retaining those guns, or a newer version of same would have been very useful in our current operating environment. A. Precision 203 MM shell would be much cheaper than the ATACMs, GMLRS, or any air launched systems, with about 7 KM more range than a M109.  On the other hand, again hindsight is 20-20, and people making the choice to retain the capability likely had the positive experience with the MRLS in the Persian Gulf, and the upcoming XM2001 program in mind weighed against the increasingly ancient and worn out M110 fleet.  

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On 11/24/2016 at 1:01 PM, HerrTom said:

Yup.  Just for fun, I ran a quick test in CMBS on a barrage against a dug-in Bradley company with 4 Abrams attached.  I dropped somewhere in the realm of 1,200 artillery shells on them over the course of 45 minutes and it was pretty hairy for the Americans there.  Entrenched, they suffered 75% casualties, and 3 M2s completely knocked out, 6 no longer mission capable, and all but 3 were tracked.  The Abrams survived better, with 2 tracked and lacking thermals and LWR, 1 with all weapons knocked out, and 1 undamaged.  This was all just from a series of linear and area barrages.  All in all, a Very Bad Day.

Did you by chance record that?

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55 minutes ago, FoxZz said:

Wouldn't a direct impact on the front of a MBT kill the crew by shock/blast, even if no penetration is achieved ?

Under what mechanism would it really be transferred to the crew?  Most of the explosive "force" is going to go outwards away from the tank since the gas likes to take the path of least resistance.  If you're going to kill a tank with an artillery shell, you really have a few options, as far as I can tell, all depending on the quality and sensitivity of the fuse.

  1. Total penetration of the shell, where it acts like APHE and would undoubtedly be catastrophic
  2. Partial penetration of the shell into the armour, where the explosion will crack the armour and enter the compartment
  3. No penetration, but the shell acts like a poor but large HESH and can injure the crew inside with spalling
  4. No penetration but mobility kill on the relatively unarmoured components like tracks, engine, etc.

3 and 4 are the most likely to happen, especially with modern artillery shells which are designed to explode as quickly as possible to maximise the energy put into the target versus the dirt.  Finally, the blast, while large, isn't really that large compared to the inertia of the tank.

N.B. This is mostly conjecture from my understanding of materials ballistics and explosives.  As such, it is not gospel!  @panzersaurkrautwerfer may be able to provide more concrete enlightenment.

Edit: Here's a picture I found of a Panther turret supposedly hit by a 152mm HE round:

OF-540152mmimpact.jpg

Quite destructive!  But we have to remember two salient points about this: a ) the rear armour on a Panther is a lot thinner than on any modern tank and b ) German steel was much much harder than steel normally used on tanks, making it particularly brittle and prone to shattering when it failed.

Edited by HerrTom

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The first time I read/played through John F. Antal's Armor Attacks: The Tank Platoon, I decided to stand my ground with my Abrams platoon under artillery bombardment, until my Abrams took a direct 152 mm hit and I was KIA. I remember being quite surprised about that - in particular since the book is marketed as a pedagogic tool, so I would not expect it to include situations that would be considered outliers. The author is a retired armour colonel.

On the other hand, I have no doubts about the outcome of a direct hit by the 2S4's 130 kg shell. That's almost the same as a direct hit by a Ju 87 - and we know those did the job.

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1 hour ago, Machor said:

The first time I read/played through John F. Antal's Armor Attacks: The Tank Platoon, I decided to stand my ground with my Abrams platoon under artillery bombardment, until my Abrams took a direct 152 mm hit and I was KIA. I remember being quite surprised about that - in particular since the book is marketed as a pedagogic tool, so I would not expect it to include situations that would be considered outliers. The author is a retired armour colonel.

After I posted, I put some more thought into it and started setting up a treat for you guys.  I think I take my musings back a notch!  That's a lot of force being applied to the armour, especially with a top-aspect shot!

31 minutes ago, TheForwardObserver said:

Read the article titled "Who Says Dumb Artillery Rounds Can't Kill Armor?"  It should answer most if not all the questions asked here.

Thank you, very enlightening!

A preview:

zf2ZWvT.png

You know something fun is happening when the "Estimated Clock Time Remaining" goes from 59 minutes to 3 hours...  This may be a bit of a wait.

Edited by HerrTom

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It seems that attillery effects in CM were modeled after the old erroneous model describéd in the magazine. Airbursts regularly destroying main guns and optics seemed to be the nom according to these professional tests . It also included Bradleys as targets.  Airburst arty would transform a battle into a fight bwtween immobile and expensive pillboxes lol

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@HerrTom

I've been humbled after reading the article (and seeing the pictures) that the Forward Observer linked to. Regular old HE can wreck an MBT even without a direct hit.

@TheForwardObserver

Greatly appreciate the article! I'll quote the study results for those who may not have time to read through the article:

"Artillery Lethality Myths. Because the databases in force-on-force simulations/models have not accurately portrayed the effects of artillery fires for a number of years, several myths have arisen. The SAE results dispell the following five myths.

Myth #1—It requires a direct hit with an artillery round to damage or destroy an armored vehicle. Not true; 155-mm rounds that impact within 30 meters cause considerable damage (Figure 5). Air bursts using VT or dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) can strip away communications, sights, vision blocks and anything stored on the outside of the vehicle. These air bursts are especially effective against soft targets such as multiple-rocket launchers (MRLs). (See Figure 6.)
Myth #2—It takes 50 artillery rounds to destroy or damage a tank. Not true. It takes one round (Figure 7). If an artillery battalion engages an armored formation (54 rounds), more than one tank will be destroyed or damaged.
Myth #3—Artillery cannot engage moving targets. It is difficult, but it can be done. The issue is not lethality, but the tactics, techniques and procedures to hit the moving target. Units must train to shift fires.
Myth #4—Modern armor cannot be defeated by artillery. Tanks are designed to kill tanks, and most of the armor is designed to protect against direct fire. HE rounds with VT or delayed fuze and DPICM are very capable of defeating “modern” armor (Figure 8).
Myth #5—Armored vehicles can button up and drive through artillery fire. Yes, they can. But as soon as they button up, their ability to see is reduced by approximately 40 percent. And as they drive through the artillery fire, there is a high probability they will have mobility and firepower damage or that the formation will change its direction of attack. The results are delay and suppression of armor."

Edited by Machor

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I found some time to read through the article in detail and one thing stuck out at me.  In the 1980s, they used M48s as a placebo for modern tanks?

m48a1-historical-armor-scheme.jpg

Compared to an (estimated) M1A2 (which admittedly isn't a contemporary to the tests in that article, but relevant to CMBS)

x6DM0PT.jpg

I guess the findings are still pretty valid!  Some areas don't appear to have much more protection at all!  Though I imagine the skirts and improved spall lining and materials science on the Abrams would help it survive artillery better.

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TheForwardObserver,

You have no idea how pleased I am you dug up the Soviet Artillery Effectiveness article, since I've been looking for it, or something similar, after posting it a year ago or more. Speaking of that, I remembered something from the Bradley vs 152 mm HE HOB 18 meters. The must meet acceptance criterion was no crew compartment penetration. The vehicle might be unfightable after the airburst, but the crew would be alive.

HerrTom,

Though not so stated in the post from which your pic comes, if you read about a bunch of other live fire tests on the same site, what you'll find is that the tests are pristine, for a given engagement condition, only for the first round. All successive strikes take place on armor plate which has been hit one or more times, sometimes by a variety of projectile types and sizes. This pummeling weakens, even cracks, the armor. That a 152 could smash in the side of a Panther turret I do not doubt, but the extreme damage may also be partially the result of earlier strikes by smaller caliber weapons.

IICaptainMillerII,

Great vid, yet enormously frustrating. My kingdom for the post explosion damages.

Ivanov,

Now, that's a story to tell the grandchildren. Wow!

akd,

Okay. The jihadists have this frighteningly Hi-Res drone, manned by a twit who forgets his zoom control most of the time. The imagery shows conclusive the IA has simply wretched protection for its armor and other things. Nor have the jihadists figured out BDA is valuable. Fascinating, terrifying and annoying because there's so little post-strike video.

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

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@HerrTom

Even though the article mentions only the M113, M557, and M48 in the text, if you look closely at the pictures, they had equipment more relevant to CMBS as well. As far as I can tell with my identification skills, Figure 2 is a Bradley, Figure 3 is a BMP, and Figures 4, 5, and 7 are T-72s. I'm 99% sure Figure 8 is an Abrams.

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Machor,

Concur regarding your conclusions, save Figure 8, for there, my brain has so far provided no ID. I find the passage from the article in which it uses the expression "significantly higher" to describe an over factor of two difference in weapon lethality to be somewhere between amusing and stupid. Had I been editor, I would've gotten on the author over that one. Still, the real world answers to the questions and issues raised in the OP may be summarized in a single uncompromising paragraph (UL top) on Page 10:

(Fair Use)

Field Artillery November-December 2002
 
"A direct hit with an HE round with a PD fuze consistently destroyed the various target vehicles. Near hits damaged or destroyed road wheels, tracks, main gun sights and vision blocks. Aerial bursts of HE rounds with VT fuzes damaged or destroyed gun barrels, vision blocks, antennas, sights and engines gines and destroyed anything stored on the outside of the vehicle."
 
HerrTom,
 
They used M48s were obsolete and because the similar and tank force numerically predominant M60s were still in service. Should also tell you that combat loaded and running M48s (plywood mannikins inside) were used as T-62 surrogates in GAU-8 live fire lot acceptance testing against a simulated Russian tank company in combat formation. Here's one such. Couldn't believe this was UNCLASSIFIED back when I was at Rockwell reading it after finding this treasure in the info rich DTIC catalog. Eventually, later versions of these live fire test reports for the A-10/GAU-8 became CONFIDENTIAL.
 

NPS-56-80-007

NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL

Monterey, California

COMBAT DAMAGE ASSESSMENT TEAM

A-10/GAU-8 LOW ANGLE FIRINGS VERSUS

SIMULATED SOVIET TANK COMPANY (ARRAY 21)

AEROJET LOT NUMBER AJD 79A181-001

(30 OCTOBER 1979)

R.H.S. STOLFI

R.R McEACHIN

Prepared for A-10 System Program Office

 
Regards,
 
John Kettler
 
Edited by John Kettler

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This is exciting.  It seems my simulations reflect reality pretty well!  So to summarize some stuff I've learned and what I think I've learned from the myriad of sources posted on this thread:

 

152mm shell hitting 40mm RHA with .1 ms fuse. [2 ms total]

152mm shell hitting 150mm of RHA with instant fuse (I forgot to set it here, sorry!) [1 ms total]

Both of the simulations above show a "worst case" for the shell - it landing normal to the armour.  This is since the shells are designed to explode sideways so most of their energy is actually sent radially, as can be seen by the fragments flying outwards.  A direct artillery hit to the frontal aspect of an MBT will probably not harm the crew, though the fragments have a good chance of causing some serious damage to poorly armoured things next to the shell.  I have no doubt that some of those have enough energy to go through a few dozen millimeters of steel.  Now this brings me to the first case - 40mm of steel, reflective of the turret roof on an Abrams, or really any tank.  A shell hit there is enough to catastrophically fail the armour (though the simulation doesn't run long enough for this to be seen - the steel in that area has a huge damage factor - it's not structurally sound anymore) and also cause spalling on the other side..  Roof hits and engine hits seem like they should almost be guaranteed to cause major damage.  My next plan is to look at the radial shrapnel to investigate the damage it could cause to the sides of a tank.

TL;DR: First image reflects a direct hit knocking out a tank - like in TFO's article.  Second image depicts a direct hit to the thicker armour one would see in a glacis plate or the front of a turret.  There's practically no damage to the armour on either side.

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I can't imagine a direct hit from an artillery round is conducive to crew health, even if there is no penetration... certainly seems like enough of a force to cause TBI, especially if it's a repeated shock from a sustained artillery barrage. I'm no expert on that kind of stuff though, perhaps if the crew has all the hatches closed the over pressure is isolated to just the outside of the tank.

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SeinfeldRules,

One of the guys, I forget who, was in an M1A2 SEP V2(?) in Iraq and had an IED  (artillery shell/s, forget which and maybe 122 mm) go off directly overhead ( idea ref HOB) when going through an underpass. Said it banged up the CROWS but that was about it. Of course, 122 and 152 are considerably different propositions.

Regards,

John Kettler

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