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WWII Ammunition Loadout Questions

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Not the German source but interesting:

Are you sure that they actually "favoured" HEAT rounds towards the end of the war? Evidently, a lot of HEAT warheads were made for Panzerfaust and -schreck and there were some production of light guns, but high-velocity tank and anti-tank guns continued to fire the standard APCBC round up to wars end.

The figures I've seen indicate that the expenditure of HEAT rounds for high-velocity guns actually dropped from 1943 to 1945.

% HEAT of all AP rounds fired (based on Hahn)

PaK 40:

1942: 24%

1943: 48%

1944: 30%

1945: 6% (January+February)

KwK 40:

1942: ?

1943: 54%

1944: 27%

1945: 7% (January & February)

Some figures even suggest that production of HEAT rounds for the high-velocity guns all but ceased after 1943.

German combat reports from 1943 shows that the HEAT rounds were not particularily effective, considerably more HEAT rounds being needed to set an enemy tank on fire than APCBC rounds (IIRC about eight HEAT rounds vs three APCBC rounds).

IIRC, all German HEAT rounds were fired at low to medium velocity (350-550 m/s), which would also make them usefull only for shorter ranges

Furthermore, large amounts of Panzerfaust and schreck rounds were rejected by the German Army as defective, suggesting that all was not well with Germany manufacture of these rounds. A British test from 1944 showed that the design of German HEAT rounds - in this case the 3kg Hohlladung - was not bad. They built a copy which worked quite well. But the captured rounds from German massproduction did not perform nearly as well.

This suggest to me, that even though WWII HEAT rounds were rather primitive, they still needed carefull manufacturing and assembly to work properly. And German industry by 1944-45 had problems meeting the standards needed, at least when it came to HEAT production.

As I think more of it the German source was an East Front staff officer of reasonable fame ... I search on.

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As far as effectiveness, I wasn't thinking in terms of penetration - as that wouldn't be affected by range - but of accuracy and range (being affected by muzzle velocity). But that still begs the question as to whether or not HEAT was more accurate with longer barrels? I would assume so, but in practice?

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Not so. Basically all HEAT was inaccurate for the Germans and the comment was regarding Stugs and AT efficacy and hence the derisory 400 metre reasonable accuracy limit was felt to be a waste of time. Now all I have to do is find out who send it!

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As far as effectiveness, I wasn't thinking in terms of penetration - as that wouldn't be affected by range - but of accuracy and range (being affected by muzzle velocity). But that still begs the question as to whether or not HEAT was more accurate with longer barrels? I would assume so, but in practice?

Longer barrels are generally more accurate because they allow higher MVs. HEAT must be fired at a low MV in order to be effective, since a high MV tends to crush or deform the cone, and/or the high rotational speeds associated with high MV prevents the very high-velocity partial stream of metal in a state of superplasticity from forming properly.

Therefore, longer barrel length doesn't really help much.

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Does anyone know if the other Osprey books have ammo distribution numbers, like the Sherman Medium Tank book? Are they worth getting, or are there better books out there?

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Re: US 57mm AT gun

For what it's worth, I'm currently reading The Shock of War which details the northern shoulder battles during the Ardennes campaign. One chapter details the 1st Infantry Division's defense of Dom Butgenbach. They had about 6 57mm AT guns in the line and the author specifically mentions that each gun had 10 rounds of British sabot ammunition.

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Eli - the consensus, and the logical thought, is that the load-out would vary according to mission and preference. I simply do not believe that there is a single figure - however it does provide you with an opportunity in your game for platoon commanders to go armour or infantry heavy in their load-out and you give a fudge figure based on that. If a 76.2 or a 77m is included then there fudge figures will always be armour heavy ... and extremely armour heavy.

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Eli - the consensus, and the logical thought, is that the load-out would vary according to mission and preference...

...and supply, location, point in the campiagn etc etc.

Much like the on-paper strength and orbat of an infantry battalion would bear little relation to the reality even a day or two after it stepped off the boat.

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In regards to ammo loadout , the loading scales for the 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank battery at Arnhem were as follows:

Both types were well provided with the new and still secret “Sabot” (APDS) ammunition which could penetrate any German armour then known and, thus equipped, the 6-pounder with its lower profile was claimed to be the most effective anti-tank gun in service at the time. The 6-pounder traveled in a Horsa glider with its jeep, gun detachment and ammunition. The long barrel of the gun did not permit space for a trailer so the ammunition had to be accommodated in and around the towing jeep. Forty two rounds per gun were carried of which fifteen were normal armour piercing shot (APCBC) and twenty seven were Sabot (APDS). The 17-pounder, being longer and heavier, was carried in the larger Hamilcar glider along with its towing vehicle, a specially adapted Morris Commercial which carried the gun detachment and the ammunition consisting of twenty armour piercing (APCBC) and ten Sabot (APDS) rounds per gun.


Hope this helps.


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Sherman V: 70/20/10% (HE/AP/WP)

Sherman VC: 70/20/10% (HE/AP/APDS)

You would never waste the AP capacity of a Firefly with HE rounds.

17pdr Mk I HE rounds were universally disliked by their crews. The round was too high velocity and tended to "dig in" before exploding. In early 45 there was a 17 pdr Mk II HE rounds which was a reduced velocity round (lower propelant charge) which helped.

The 17 pounder gun tanks carried maybe 10% of the loadout with HE, and even that was stored in the ex co-drivers storage bins.

The main load was APC , APCBC and APDS for anti-tank work. There were always enough 75mm armed Shermans about to chuck all the HE around that was needed.


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This I have knicked from another thread

Reference Steven J. Zaloga's book PANTHER VS. SHERMAN Battle of the Bulge 1944 pages 17-24. Summerized, the U.S. Ordnance Department developed the 76.2mm gun based on the 3" gun. The new gun fit in a standard Sherman turret but it was a tight fit and the turret wasn't balanced. So they took 15" off the end of the barrel and reduced the penetration 10%. The 17 pdr was also 76.2mm. The US shell had 3.6 pds of propellent in an L52 gun vs. 9 pd in an L55 17 pdr. The Germans only had 8.1 pds of propellent compared to the 17 pdr but the 75mm gun was L70 in length. At 500m the US gun could penetrate 115mm of armor at 500 m (slope and ballistics of the armor is not described) whereas the British and German APCBC both penetrated around 165mm of armor at that range. I have read somewhere the Ordnance department screwed up the testing of the 3" and 76.2mm gun which showed both to be more effective on the test range then in the field. Zaloga says the Ordnance department thought the US 76mm gun (and the 3" too I would think) could penetrate the Panther's mantlet at 400m and the Tiger I mantlet at 200m. US Army Ordnance officers witnessing the 17pdr being fired in England were shocked by the amount of muzzle blast. The British also didn't have a Sherman with 17 pdr ready until Dec 1943 which was too late to incorporate that weapon into the US 1944 tank program. Ordnance had a gun which could knock out a Panther and Tiger I frontally (they thought); US intelligence thought the Panther was a limited production vehicle like the Tiger I as only one battalion had been comitted in Italy, and there was no need for a gun larger then the 75mm L41 since the TD branch would be combating German armor, not U.S. Sherman tanks. Limited 76mm Sherman production began in 1944 on the M4A1 and then the M4A3 chassis. Both models included 'wet storage'. The 130 M4A1 (76mm) shipped to England in April 1944 were rejected by the commanders there (Patton for one) because the HE round had half the explosive of the 75mm round and the guns had no muzzle brakes causing enough dust to prevent seeing where the round fired went. Hence, none of the M4A1 (76mm) were issued for D-Day. On the other hand we had produced 21,250 Shermans in 1943 versus 1,830 Panthers. What would happen was Panthers would be very numerous in Normandy - half most of the Panzer Division's tanks in Normandy were Panthers; the TD force tactics didn't work (especially since it had been decided towed guns were more effective and equipped half of the TD Battalions); and the 3" and 76mm did not penetrate the Panther's mantlet at 400 meters. It had to fire at ranges of 250 yards or less and could only penetrate the Panther's mantlet and not the glacis. HVAP would solve this problem but tungsten shortages hampered the US limiting production to 10,000 rounds per month. Most went to the TD units and in the Bulge most Shermans with 76mm guns had no more than one or two HVAP at any one time. Eisenhower watched a demonstration of US anti-tank guns including the US 90mm AA gun against captured Panthers in Normandy and claimed, "Ordnance told me the 76/3" gun could take on anything the Germans had but it can't knock out anythiong" (roughly quoted)

U.S. Army Firing Test No.3

U.S. Army Firing Tests conducted August 1944 by 12th U.S. Army Group at Isigny, France.

Board of Officers

APO 655

30 August 1944

SUBJECT: Final report of board of officers appointed to determine comparative effectiveness of ammunition of 76mm gun and 17pdr gun.

TO: Commanding General, Twelfth Army Group.

1. The board convened pursuant to the attached order at the firing range established by First U.S. Army near Isigny, France at 1030 hours, 19 August 1944 and conducted firing tests against the front plate of German Panther Tanks. The firing was continued, as the weather and the availability of target tanks permitted, on 20 and 21 August 1944. Because of the urgency of the test, a preliminary report, dated 21 August 1944, was submitted on 22 August 1944.

2. Ammunition

a. The characteristics of the standard ammunitions tested are shown below:

Ammunition M/V Complete

Rd. Wt. Projectile

Weight Description 76mm APC M62

(Lot# ODCM-104) 2600 24.80 15.44 Armor piercing cap, windshield, base fuze, and tracer. 76mm HVAP T4

(Lot# PA 9-1) 3400 18.90 9.50 Light weight projectile with 3.9 lb tungsten carbide core 1½" in diamter in steel sheath. Aluminium body, steel base, windshield, and tracer. 17pdr APCBC

(Lot# JIB 3/44-2301) 2900 35.50 17.00 Armor piercing cap, windshield, and tracer. 17pdr SABOT

(Lot# KBY 7/44-Lot 2) 3950 26.30 08.15 Discarding SABOT with 3.9 lb tungsten carbide core 1½" in diameter, steel base, and tracer.

b. In addition to the above ammunitions, the board fired 76mm HVAP projectile from a 17pdr anti-tank gun, with 17pdr APCBC and 17pdr SABOT propelling charges in a 17pdr APCBC cartridge case.

3. Nature of Test

a. The above ammunitions were fired at the front plate of three Panther tanks. The general characteristics of the frontal armour are: Glacis Plate 85mm (3.35") at 55º and Nose Plate 65mm (2.56") at 55º. using U.S. armor basis curve, the verticle equivalent of the glacis plate is 187mm (7.36") and of the nose plate 139mm (5.47"). Due to the inclination of the ground, the angle with the verticle of the glacis plates on the tanks used in this test were: 57º 34', 57º 05', and 56º 53'. The nose plate on one of the tanks tested measured 66.67mm (25/8").

b. Wide variation was found in the quality of glacis plate on the three tanks. Tank No.2 (hereafter referred to as the "best plate") sustained 30 hits as ranges from 600 to 200 yards without cracking. Tanks Nos.1 and 3 (hereafter referred to as "average plate") cracked after relatively few hits. All conclusions are, therefore, based solely on the relative performance of rounds fired at a single plate. Comparisons are not made between rounds fired at different plates. Also, the performance of any ammunition in this test cannot be considered a criterion as to the range at which it will penetrate the front plate of a Panther tank... [last few words of sentence are illegible].

c. Effectiveness was determined by balancing penetrations against the number of rounds fired and the number of hits obtained on the specific plate.

d. A penetration was defined as occuring only when the projectile passed completely through the plate. Only fair hits were considered in determining penetrations. Rounds striking edges of the plate, welds and junctions of the plate, and cracks in the plate were not fair hits.

e. The line of fire was approximately perpendicular to the lateral axis of the target tanks.

f. The 17pdr guns were fired by two superior British enlisted gunners. The 76mm gun was fired by two officers with considerable test firing experience.

4. Results of Test

a. A tabulation of the detailed results, with photographs, is attached as Appendix A1.

b. Accuracy

(1) A tabulation does not present a true picture of the comparative accuracy of the various ammunitions. With all the standard rounds, except 17pdr SABOT, the accuracy was such as to warrant attempting to hit specific parts of the front plates. In general this was successful, but some rounds fired at the lower glacis struck the upper nose, and vice versa. In addition, it was not possible to position all the tanks so that the nose was not, at least partially, hidden by the ground line. Therefore, it is felt that a better measure of accuracy can be obtained by considering the nose and glacis as one target.

(2) On this basis all twenty-two (22) rounds of 76mm HVAP, T4, and all twenty-three (23) rounds of 17pdr APCBC hit the target. Only one (1) of eight (8) rounds of 76mm APC, M62, which fell short attempting to hit the nose, failed to hit the target. Forty-two (42) rounds of 17pdr SABOT were fired and only 57% [24 rounds] were hits. More rounds of 76mm APC, M62 were not fired since its accuracy had been well established in previous firing in the U.S. by two members of the board.

(3) Insufficient firing was conducted with 76mm HVAP projectile with 17pdr APCBC and 17pdr SABOT propellant to determine definite sight settings for a conclusive accuracy test. The results of the limited firing indicated that these rounds are of an accuracy comparable with 76mm HVAP and 17pdr APCBC.

c. Penetration

(1) At 600 yards, 17pdr APCBC penetrated the lower nose of tank No.1 (average plate), while 76mm HVAP failed to penetrate.

(2) At 400 yards, one round out of four fair hits of 17pdr SABOT penetrated the glacis of tank No.2 (best plate). This was the only penetration of this plate by a fair hit with any of the ammunitions (including 76mm HVAP w/17pdr APBC propellant, 76mm HVAP w/17pdr SABOT propellant) at ranges 200 yards and over.

(3) At 400 yards, one round out of one fair hit with 17pdr APCBC and one round out of one hit with 17pdr SABOT penetrated the lower nose of tank No.2 (best plate). Both rounds of 76mm APC, M62 failed to penetrate, and one round of 76mm HVAP penetrated while the second round failed to penetrate. Two rounds out of two hits of 76mm HVAP w/17pdr SABOT propellant also penetrated.

(4) At 200 yards one fair hit with each of the standard ammunitions failed to penetrate the glacis of tank No.2 (best plate). The relative depths of the partial penetrations at this range were as follows:

(a) 17pdr APCBC - 2"

(B) 17pdr SABOT - 1 7/8"

© 76mm HVAP - 1 5/16"

(d) 76mm APC, M62 - 1"

(5) At 200 yards firing at the glacis of tank No.3 (average plate) one round out of four fair hits with 76mm HVAP penetrated, this round, after partially penetrating, ...[illegible word]... and penetrated the plate ...[illegible word]... . One round of 17pdr SABOT penetrated and one round failed to penetrate at this range. One fair hit with 17pdr APCBC failed to penetrate, but cracked the plate. The second round striking within 6" of the first round penetrated.

(6) In contrast to the results obtained in this teast with 17pdr SABOT, in firing conducted by First U.S. Army at Balleroy on 10 July 44, 5 rounds were fired at the front plate of a Panther tank at 700 yards. Examination of pictures of this firing indicates that the first round struck the mantlet, the second between the track and the nose plate, the third at the junction of the nose and glacis and penetrated. The fourth and fifth were fair hits on the glacis and both penetrated. The conflict between these results and those obtained by the board is expalined by Col. A. G. Cole, Deputy Director of Artillery, Ministry of Supply. Col. Cole witnessed part of the test and states that the ammunition lot furnished the board had not been proof fired. He further states that, in his opinion, the lot is of sub-standard manufacture and if proof fired would not have been accepted.

(7) 76mm APC, M62 fair hits which failed to penetrate caused no cracking of the plate of average quality. 76mm HVAP, 17pdr SABOT, and 17pdr APCBC caused cracking in varying degrees. In general, 17pdr APCBC caused greater damage to the plate than 17pdr SABOT or 76mm HVAP.

5. Findings

a. The 17pdr SABOT fired in this test has penetrating power equal or slightly better than that of the 17pdr APCBC and the 76mm HVAP, T4. It is, however, definitely inferior to these ammunitions because of its inaccuracy. The board invites attention to the fact that its findings and conclusions apply only to the ammunition furnished it and may not apply to good quality 17pdr SABOT.

b. The accuracy of 76mm APC, M62 is satisfactory. However this ammunition is definitely inferior to either the 17pdr APCBC or the 76mm HVAP, T4, because of its poor penetrating power.

c. The 17pdr APCBC and the 76mm HVAP, T4, are both highly accurate ammunitions. In the opinion of the members of the board, two of whom have had considerable experience test firing British and American tank and antitank weapons, the 76mm HVAP, T4 is the most accurate tank or antitank ammunition encountered to date.

d. The 17pdr APCBC is more effective against the front of a Panther tank than is the 76mm HVAP, T4. Its margin of superiority is not great. Neither one can be depended upon to penetrate the glacis plate in one fair hit on average quality plate.

e. Combining 76mm HVAP, T4 projectile with 17pdr APCBC propellant offers no advantages over a standard ammunition.

f. Because of its accuracy and since the core is essentially the same as that in 17pdr SABOT, 76mm HVAP, T4 projectile with 17pdr SABOT propellant may provide an ammunition superior to 17pdr SABOT as regards accuracy and to 17pdr APCBC and 76mm HVAP as regards penetration.

6. Conclusions

a. That the 17pdr SABOT of the lot tested is considered an unsatisfactory ammunition because of its inaccuracy.

b. That the 76mm APC, M62 is considered an unsatisfactory ammunition for use against heavy armor because of its inferior penetration.

c. That the 17pdr APCBC and the 76mm HVAP, T4 are considered the best antitank ammunitions available in these calibers for use against heavy armor. The 17pdr APCBC is somewhat superior to the 76mm HVAP, T4, against the Panther Tank. Neither one can be be depended upon to penetrate the glacis plate of the Panther in one fair hit on average quality plate.

d. That the possibilities should be investigated of using 76mm HVAP, T4 projectile with 17pdr SABOT propellant, if 17pdr guns are made available to U.S. units.

Andrew P. O'Meara, Colonel, F.A., President.

Francis B. Shearer, Colonel, Ord, Member.

John B. Routh, Lt Col, F.A., Recorder.

3 Incls.

Incl No.1 - Appendix "A".

Incl No.2 - Photographs of firing. Numbers 1-27 inclusive1.

Incl No.3 - Letter order, HQ 12th Army Group (Rear), dated 16 August 1944, Subject: "Appointment of Board of Officers".


(1) The Photographs were not included with the documentation so I am unable to provide them here.

This information above was supplied to me by Jim O'Neil (Arizona, USA), the original source is declassified documents made available in 1988.


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Thanks so much for the help, guys! This has been such a wealth of information. And yes, I do understand that everything was very dynamic in war, and that there are no single figures, but designing a mod or even a game with so many variables would take entirely too long. However, we will be giving players the choice to change distribution before a game, for more AP or HE.

Keep it coming if there is more information, I really appreciate it! :)

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