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ZIS-2 57mm AT Gun CMRT Performance

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I usually avoid to bring tanks into contact with AT guns at all but currently playing a campaign that might make it inevitable to do so for my Tigers.

While a quick 76mm ZIS-3 test produced the outcome that I´ve seen from various historical accounts (penetration frontal almost impossible, side penetration on short distances possible) the ZIS-2 57mm effectiveness gives me some thoughts.

In a recent test it was able to easily penetrate Tigers frontally at 500m and destroy them with 1-4 hits while most hits causes damage ranging from armor spalling (most times 1st hit) over partial penetrations (with internal damage & casualties) to full penetration. Angling the hull with about 15-20 degree towards incoming trajectory didn´t made it any better. In easy words most Tigers were taken out rather fast and often rendered combat ineffective/"stunned" after already the first hit.

The ZIS-2 was definitely was a powerful AT gun and could basically take out any <1943 German tank from any aspect and great ranges. I saw these Soviet penetration tables at WP https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/57_mm_anti-tank_gun_M1943_(ZiS-2) which are somewhat consistent what the UI Penetration/Armor Mod is showing me for the ZIS-2 which indicate that it should penetrate Tigers at 500m, although there is a disclaimer on WP that the Soviet aquisition method makes this values for some reason not comparable to Western or similar tests.

While its hard to find quick information on the ZIS-2 vs Tiger situation online most statements I found rather point towards that the ZIS-2 had difficulties against Tigers.



I only did a superficial research on this and would be great if one with a greater insight into this matter could provide some info on if the ZIS-2 was indeed that deadly. 

Beside this: the above results were achieved with regular AP shells. Against a similar test against a King Tiger the ZIS-2 crew was also starting with AP shells and at some point decided to use the APCR after expending dozen of AP shells.

All tests:


Edited by Aquila-SmartWargames
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According to the Companion to the Red Army book (which is basically the same book as the Guide to the Red Army) it said that the ZiS-2 was not really adequate to deal with the Panthers and Tigers. 

They used ZiS-3 more often to fight tanks.

They did have their own version of HVAP (hyper-velocity armour-piercing) shell and maybe that's modeled as a little too powerful.

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I believe this is a test using standard AP, but not sure:

Here's how it performed against the Tiger, from CAMD RF 38-11377-12:
"Target: side. Distance: 800 meters. Result: penetration, 110 mm in diameter. A fragment, 190 mm by 210 mm broke off on the inside. The welding seam connecting the side and rear plates burst in an area 500 mm in length.
Target: side. Distance: 1000 meters. Result: penetration, 110 mm entrance, 140 mm exit. Fragment broke off on the inside, 140 mm by 110 mm."
The gun is more than capable of taking out the Tiger from the side. Let's try the turret.
"Target: commander's cupola. Distance: 1000 meters. Result: penetration, breach 85 mm by 75 mm. The cupola was torn off.
Target: turret. Distance: 1450 meters. Result: dent, 110 mm in diameter, 70 mm deep. A 20 mm cracked bump formed on the inside.
Target: turret. Distance: 1450 meters. Result: dent 49 mm deep, 125 mm in diameter, with a jagged surface. On the inside, a 15 mm bump.
Target: turret. Distance: 1450 meters. Result: dent, 110 mm in diameter, 15 mm deep."
The gun is less capable against the turret (although they probably should have closed in a bit after the first few bounces). Shooting at the cupola is an effective tactic.
"Target: upper front plate. Distance: 500 meters. Result: insignificant indent, the shell ricocheted into the driver's vision port.
Target: upper front plate. Distance: 500 meters. Result: dent, 90 mm in diameter, 20 mm deep. The welding seam is destroyed throughout its entire length. 
Target: lower front plate. Distance: 500 meters. Result: dent, 120 mm in diameter, 35 mm deep. Two 70 mm cracks in the dent. The welding seam is destroyed on a length of 500 mm."
Seems like the front is a tough nut to crack. The welding seams are failing one by one, as usual. With enough hits, the front plate is bound to fall off!
Conclusions: "As a result of shooting at the Tiger tank with the domestic 57 mm gun, it has been established:
a) The AP shell penetrates the 82 mm thick side at 1000 meters.
b) The AP shell does not penetrate the 100 mm thick front at 500 meters."
Not fantastic results, but not surprising. The results are better than the British 6-pounder gun of the same caliber, at least.
The Tiger II test document does not mention the 57 mm gun, but that doesn't mean it couldn't take one out. A Tiger II with numerous breaches from a 57 mm AT gun was displayed during an exhibition of captured vehicles.
The text reads: "Armour: 100 mm" on the turret and "armour: 85 mm" on the hull. Two arrows on the turret point at breaches, and are labeled "the armour was penetrated by a subcaliber 57 mm shell from an anti-tank gun".


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Some info on APCR performance:

"Artillery HQ of the 25th Rifle Corps
May 23rd, 1944
To artillery commanders of divisions. Copy personally for the 77th Guards Rifle Division
I send out a copy of instructions issued by the GAU KA regarding the use of 76 mm subcaliber ammunition, 76 mm HEAT, and 122 mm HEAT.
The Corps Artillery Commander orders that:
  1. The instructions are to be taught to all artillery personnel of the units (for the appropriate caliber) before May 27th, 1944.
  2. Personally check the knowledge of these instructions by officers on May 27th, 1944, and report on the results of the check.
  3. Subcaliber and HEAT ammunition must always be stored with the guns and kept in reserve against tanks and SPGs. Do not permit firing at other targets.
Chief of the Artillery HQ of the 25th Rifle Corps, Lieutenant Colonel Solodilov"
"To commanders of artillery of Fronts, Regions, and Independent ARmies
As of July 1943, the Red Army received 57 mm and 76 mm APCR ammunition and 122 mm HEAT ammunition. Until tables and rules of firing are developed, these instructions must be followed.
Instructions for use of the 57 mm and 76 mm APCR ammuniton and 122 mm HEAT ammunition.
A. The 57 mm APCR BR-27 shot is designed to be fired from the ZIS-2 57 mm anti-tank gun. 
It is to be fired only at enemy heavy tanks, including the T-6 (Tiger), at ranges of up to 1000 meters. From over 1000 meters it is forbidden to use APCR ammunition. 
Fire using the setting 6 on the armour piercing scale regardless of whether the gun is equipped with the PP-2 or PP-1-2 sight. 
The APCR round fired from the 57 mm ZIS-2 gun penetrates the following amount of armour:
Range in meters
At 60 degrees
At 90 degrees
The casing is labelled UBR-271 P. The ammunition crates are marked "57-ZIS-2 subcaliber AP tracer. Use according to instructions included in the crate."
B. The 76 mm APCR BR-35 shot is designed to be used in 76 mm divisional model 1902/30 guns, both 30 and 40 caliber variants, the USV model 1939 gun, ZIS-3 model 1942 gun, model 1933 gun, and F-22 model 1936 gun, as well as 76 mm tank guns: the model 1940 (T-34) and model 1941 (ZIS-5).
It is to be fired only at enemy heavy tanks, including the T-6 (Tiger), at ranges of up to 500 meters. From over 500 meters it is forbidden to use APCR ammunition. 
When fired from 76 mm guns, the shot penetrates the following amount of armour:
30 caliber gun
40 caliber gun
50 caliber gun
60 deg
90 deg
60 deg
90 deg
60 deg
90 deg
Fire the APCR round at a range of 500 meters with the sights set to the following settings:
Sight setting
30 caliber 1902/30
3 on the “long range grenade” scale
40 caliber 1902/30
7 on the “long range grenade #1” scale
1939 USV
8 on the “long range grenade full” scale
1942 ZIS-3
6 on the “long range grenade full” scale
7 on the #1 scale
1936 F-22
6 on the “long range grenade full” scale
1940 F-34 and 1941 ZIS-5 tank guns
3 on the “long range grenade” or “armour piercing-long range grenade” scales
The casing is labelled UBR-354 P. The ammunition crates are marked "76 02/30-36 subcaliber AP tracer. Use according to instructions included in the crate."
Notes for sections A and B:
  1. It is prohibited to fire APCR at light or medium tanks while regular AP is still available.
  2. Unlike the ordinary AP shell, the APCR shot has a sharper tip and a body shaped like a spindle.
  3. The APCR round is shorter than the AP round.
😄 122 mm BP-460A HEAT shell for the 122 mm howitzer model 1938. 
Fire the HEAT shell at tanks and other armoured targets with over 100 mm of armour. The best way to use this shell is to fire it directly at a range of under 1000 meters. The casing is marked TG-50 S BP-460A".
Fire the HEAT shell from the 122 mm model 1938 howitzer only with the fourth propellant setting: base charge plus four equal variable charges. HEAT shells are assembled with the fourth propellant charge. On these casings there is a marking "4th charge for HEAT". The crate is marked "122-38g HEAT". There is a notice on the lid that reads "fire according to the memo in the crate". On the rear size there are markings "BP-460A" and "TG-50:. Fire according to table #4.
Range (m)
Sight setting
Trajectory height (m)
Time in flight (s)
Angle of descent (deg, min)
Impact velocity (m/sec)
Keep track of the effect of APCR and HEAT ammunition on enemy tanks (especially the T-6) carefully and report the results to the artillery commander and the GAU.
APCR and HEAT ammunition must always be kept in reserve near the guns to destroy enemy heavy tanks."


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Good information, looks quiet authentic but I don´t have enough knowledge about the source website or the topic overall to evaluate the quality. However it would be in line with the mentionings that are found in some of the literature that the ZIS-2 regular 57mm AP round would have serious trouble to knock out a Tiger head on at 500m while in contrast to this in CMRT the regular AP shell is absolute deadly at this range. 

That the 57mm APCR round according to this documentation could be effective against a Tiger at <=1000m sounds reasonable. According to the attached pen table in @akd second post the round might have trouble with the Tiger´s front at 1000m but with an 90 degree angle penetration almost matching the Tiger´s front armor it could score lucky hits or degrade the armor but I personally didn´t dig that much into the capabilities of the ZIS-2 57mm APCR rounds.

In the testing video above I couldn´t figure out when the crew decides to use the regular AP and when the APCR. Against the King Tiger at 500m the AT gun crew started to use regular AP aswell and then when the tank came really close at some point they used the APCR but with the limiting testing there could be other reasons when and why the crew decides to use it.

Side note for mission designers: The lowest supply setting for the ZIS-2 seems to be the only setting that strips the gun from its APCR rounds. However it leaves it with little AP ammo aswell.

Edited by Aquila-SmartWargames
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If you read the two docs carefully, you'll see there is a clear and precise distinction between AP shell and shot, listed explicitly as APCR,  Also of interest is the prohibition of firing in excess of 1000 maters. This smacks of inaccuracy at long range, a known problem with at least some APCR/HVAP/PZGr40 type projectiles. Since these projectiles were tremendously expensive in a strategic material (tungsten carbide used for machine tools) and difficult to manufacture (as the US learned the hard way with HVAP, generating months in delivery delay), the prohibition against engaging anything but the big cats with them makes eminent sense. The ZIS-2 was a potent gun, but it took twice as much effort to manufacture, consumed more strategic material, required special tooling and had far shorter service life than the in development ZIS-3 or the T-34/76s gun. The problem lay in rapid chamber erosion caused by extremely high chamber pressure. The defects are all detailed in the comparisons the Russians did themselves. 


TankArchives is run by a real grog, historian Peter Samsonov, and his stock in trade is poring through declassified internal Red Army and defense manufacturer docs, some as high as TOP SECRET and reporting on his findings, frquently presenting all or part of the source documents, pics, etc., directly. Having read through dozens, the communications are pragmatic, brutally blunt, German level meticulous, solution oriented, and sometimes scary. Stalin's rebuke to the head of the Chelyabinsk T-34 tank factory who's way behind on deliveries is one such. Samsonov feels the Red Army has gotten short shrift in terms of its military technical capabilities, weapon performance and engineering innovations. The results have been revelatory and transcend even the justifiably renowned Russian Battlefield site, whose creator was instrumental in getting Russian weaponry right for CMx1's monumental CMBB. Moreover, the site owner of TankArchives has just published a well reviewed book Osprey size (but nearly double the page count) book on T-34 development. I consider his site to be one of the most valuable, in terms of information, on the internet. Grog gold, and there's nothing else like it when it comes to Red Army AFVs,ATGs and ARTY in the GPW. Here's a review of his first ever book. Believe he's also worked with Artem Drabkin of IRemember.ru fame.


John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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The employment of Soviet guns is something scenario designers should keep in mind. A battalion may only have a pair of 45mm guns and a few AT rifles but Soviet AT defense would include massed AT guns, AT rifles, SP guns and mines from Regiment and Division.



Not saying the gun doesn't need tweaking. Only that when you think about the Soviets, the "weapons system" is the infantry battalion, tank company, artillery battery rather than the Germans and Western Allies who expect more from smaller forces.

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