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Panther survivability vs. T-34/85 (1944)

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The information, and conclusions below are inaccurate due to insufficient data. Please read later posts.

There has been a lot of discussion about the PzIV and how the strong hull, but weak turret affects armor engagements. I believe the common perception is that to achieve maximum survivabilty, it is best to use that tank exposed to encourage hits upon the glacis. However, the obvious drawback to this tactic is a higher enemy hit percentage. I havent seen comparible data in reference to the Panther so i thought id run a few tests.

I had said before that I wanted to test out all models of Panther; however it quickly became clear that this was not necessary. The only difference in turrets/mantlets is the shot trap, which is very rare and in CMBB unobservable, and on the hull, the armor flaw level (which didnt matter because at my chosen test ranges all upper hulls regardless of quality are impenetrable by the 85mm). Because of these limiting factors, and time, I only tested model G.

Before i tested turret resistance i needed to find the hit distribution on exposed Panthers, and the percentage of penetration of all non-turret hits. Rexford has posted some great data on this (dispersion) and it is interesting to see how the data from CM deviates from the theoretical. Heres what I got with 100 frontal hits (1944 85L55 APBC) upon fully exposed Panther at 500m :

Lower Hull- 15% (6 penetrations)

Upper Hull- 41% (0 penetrations)

Turret- 39% (seperate test later)

Tracks- 5% (3 Immobilizations)

I find the number of turret hits surprisingly high. As rexford showed, that number should be closer to 25%; based on this and other observations i dont believe statistical error is the primary cause for the discrepancy.

Now the turret tests...

As detailed before, I set up 10, dug in, hull down (behind a rise as well) Panthers, 1000 meters from 10 (veteran) T-34/85 (1944 late). After a few tests it was clear that the kill chance was very low and so i moved the range down to 500 meters (at 1000m less than 20% of hits where penetrating).

As stated in the "Theoretical Hit Rates Against Hull Down Targets" thread, CMBB does not model a true 'hull down'. I found this out as well when the Panthers where receiving upper hull hits even when only the upper half of the turret was visible! In fact, nearly 20% of the hits upon a "hull down" Panther where on the glacis... To account for this I counted them seperately as well as together- one to see pure turret resistance, combined to see actual game hull down performance- they have a significantly different effect on survival rate.

Results of 200 ( :eek: took a while) frontal hits on hull down Panthers; 500m:

Upper Hull 18% (36 hits; 0 pen.)

Turret 82% (164 hits; 120 pen. or 73%)

Total Hull Down Penetration** rate: 60% (120 total penetrations/200 hits)

**Over half of the penetrations where partial; this shows the accuracy of rexfords impact angle distribution chart.

This also shows that hull down in CMBB is neither simply "tracks down", or only the turret exposed.

First Round Hit Percentages Against Panther At 500m:

Hull Down- 47% stated (game calc) - 50% tested

Exposed- 69% stated " - 75% tested (only 100 hits so not as accurate)

After the third round, the effects of hull down are greatly reduced. By the fourth round, the spread between exposed and hull down percentages are likely less than 10%.

First Round Penetration Chance Against Panther At 500m:

Hull down: 28% (60% pen. of 47% chance to hit)

Exposed: 37% (73% of 39%[turret hits]+6%[lower hull]+3% [immob.], of 69% chance to hit)

Although, this data is only good for 500 meters, i think it clearly shows that in the case of the Panther, the advantage of a lower hit probability while hull down, outweights the danger of higher penetration chance per turret hit. This is also due in part to CMBB's modeling of hull down and dispersion; the frequent upper hull hits raise the effectiveness of hull down in AFV's with superior glacis protection, and a higher rate of turret hits increases the vulnerbility of exposure. At longer ranges this advantage only increases. These factors combined with the wide threat angle of an exposed tank vs. hull down are more reasons to adopt a more realistic tactical approach.

NOTE: I tested 200 rounds against the turret because for the first 50 I noticed some oddities (a string of 15 ricochets in a row) that i thought would skew the set. After 150 it was regular, and I did 200 for good measure- I think it is a accurate sample group.

EDIT: Terrible at formatting. And I added a better conclusion

[ September 15, 2004, 02:00 PM: Message edited by: Justin S. ]

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Hmmm... extremely interesting. Have you any idea why the disagreement between the Panther and PzIV tests?

Part of it are the lower hull penetrations but even without them Panthers are still better off hull down.

Strange, in several games I played it always *felt* like Panthers were doing better fully exposed.

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I think Glider has the key point. Second and third rounds eventually home on a hull down target and the percent to hit contribution drops as a result. Extra bounces keep on giving. That said, clearly the advantage of being exposed rather than hull down is greatly lessened by a vulnerable lower hull plate.

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The Panther turret has weak and strong areas.

The actual turret that is vertical and interlocked with the side armor is rather weak at 110mm. This is a small but real part of the turret. The infamous lower mantlet is a well known weak spot because of ricochet possibility into the driver/radio-op area. The dead on strikes to the curved mantlet is only 100mm cast according to some sources. But the Mantlet does overlap the actual turret front in some areas. The best proteced area would be the upper part of the curved manlet. Not only must a projectile penetrate this curved armor, there is some additional armor behind it.

The later G chin mantlet would also have the effect of both the mantlet and turret armor overlapping on the bottom curve of the Panther.

Tests with the US 90mm gun w/M77 AP round showed the mantlet to be tougher than the vertical turret front. Just where the Mantlet was struck would be interesting.

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The Panther lower hull is a small area and the transmission sits directly behind it. A very real danger is cresting a hill too much and exposing this area. It would reduce the slope of the armor to incoming rounds considerably.


[ September 11, 2004, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: Mr. Tittles ]

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I recall during PzIV tests the conclusion also was that hull-down had more risks than benefits due to the higher likelyhood of turret penetrations. The reason for this seems to be that for a good gunner masking 50% of a target with terrain does not decrease his likelyhood of hitting the target by the same 50%. It just gives him fewer aiming points on the vehicle to choose from. This may have been the case with crack shots with excellent optics at close range, but I rather suspect in the 'real world' hitting a little spot on the horizon was considerably more difficult than hitting a big spot on the horizon.

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I've just measured my Panther A 1:35 scale model.

Targetarea exposed to enemy in Hulldown: ca. 1.2 square meters being 80 cm high, 1.2 m width at the top and 2.1 m at the bottom, sidewall tilted 25° degrees. Vulnerable area to T-34/85 is smaller than 0.6 square meters. I measured the zone of the mantlet which is tilted less than 30° degrees (T-34/85 doing 100 mm at 500 m AP). This zone is an area about 30 cm high and roughly 1.9 m wide.

One can assume that the probability to hit this zone (50 % of whole area) will be quite below every third hitting shot (and to do so quickly the gun must be zeroed perfectly). For the (CMBB) US 76mm of the M4 it would be even worse, the zone being even smaller, because the 76mm is only doing around 90mm for 30° at 500 m.

In case the Tank is not Hulldown:

Frontal area of Panther Turret + Hull roughly 4.5 square meters. Assuming the enemy aims for center of mass (visually around a line 20-30 cm below the bow MG), probability can be assumed to be around 1 out of 10 (4 m2 : 0.6 m2).

Not included are the lower mantlet riccochets.

Roughly 20 % of the frontal turret area is protected by the Mantlet + Turretfront (+200mm) and about the same area is only protected by 100 -105 mm near vertical plating thus about canceling eachother out.

So the 37% for fully exposed is far to high (should be around 15%), while the Hulldown 28% being atleast very optimistic....(perfect zeroed gun, very small scatter(assumed being within 80 cm Height of mantlet, a kind of sniper gun))



[ September 14, 2004, 03:37 PM: Message edited by: danielh ]

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I'm surprised the 85mm gun is doing as well as it does against the Panther turret at 500m. I was under the impression the gun was roughly equivalent to the U.S. 76mm Sherman gun (based on comparisons made during the Korean war). I do recall an old old thread discussing how the Russian 85mm seems to be just a bit overpowered in the game. But then again, its likely the CM specs are more accurate than those old historical anecdotes.

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Some of the data and conclusions I posted are inaccurate. Although only a few values are off (and only 5-10% at that), they skew the overall percentages *immensely*. "Close" isnt quite good enough here, and I simply did not get enough data points. Later I will post the revisions and numbers that i have been working on. I tested over 1000 hits this week and combined with Treeburst155's data (over 500 hits) very accurate (i promise this time ;) analysis can be made. My apologies for the inital inaccuracies (i plan to put a warning at the top of those posts), there has been a lot of data to sift through, and this has been a giant learning experience for me.

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The major problems with the data above are from the turret test. The percentages for turret vs. upper hull hits while hull down, and the penetration chance against the turret are both off. Instead of 82% of hits landing on the turret when hull down, it is actually 75%. The penetration rate against the turret in this test is 62%, not 73%. These values completely change the outcome. Interestingly enough, a slightly more resistant, but still vulnerable turret makes going hull down less advantageous- this is due to the high hit percentages against hull down targets.

Reading the PzIV turret debate, Treeburst155's conclusions seemed at odds with mine. He had tested about 500 hits; I wanted to find out if the discrepancy was an inaccurate sampling (not enough data) on my part. Same setup as before; this time recording 500 hits.

Hit Distribution Against Exposed Panther, 500m:

Lower Hull- 15% (75 hits, including track)

Upper Hull- 46% (229 hits)

Turret-------39% (194 hits, including gun)

This deviates about 5% from my previous testing (100 hits- 20%, 41%, 39%).

If we average this with Treeburst155's distribution (http://www.battlefront.com/discuss/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=30;t=001294;p=4) we get this (1012 hits):

Lower Hull- 15%

Upper Hull- 49%


I beleive the ratio is 50-35-15, as the turret distribution came out in nice fractions as well.

I also conducted a seperate test to determine the hit distribution on hull down AFVs (again 500 hits):

Hit Distribution Against Hull Down Pather, 500m:

Upper Hull- 24% (121 hits)

Turret-------76% (379 hits- 235 penetrations or 62% of hits)

(Treeburst155 had almost identical numbers- 26% and 74%)

Combined with Treeburst155's data it is clear that the 75/25, and 50/35/15 ratios for hit distribution, regardless of vehicle type , are very accurate estimations (good call Panzer76). With these relative "constants" we can construct some formulas.

P= Penetration

p= probability

h= hit

T= turret

H= upper hull

L= lower hull

To find the probability of penetration against any AFV in CM:

Exposed: Pp= hp[ .35(TPp) + .5(HPp) + .15(LPp)]

Hull Down: Pp= hp[ .75(TPp) + .25 (HPp)]

Now, this isnt as handy as it looks because you need very accurate data to fill in the probablities. However it becomes much more useful when you can cancel out factors because of "ones" or "zeros" (ie turret is always penetratable, or hull is proof). When we run the new, more accurate data this is what we get for our test:

First Round Penetration Chance Against Panther, 500m:

Exposed: .69[ .35(.62) + .5(0) + .15(.4)] = .191 or 19%

Hull Down: (avg. hp of .46, not .47) .46[ .75(.62) + .25(0)] = .214 or 21%

With all the variables, I believe this is too close to call. As the range increases (hit percentages agaisnt hull down really drop, turret is less vulnerable), the arguement for staying hull down is sound. But, as the range decreases, hit chances climb and turret vulnerablity rises. These two factors combined with the very high hit percentages against hull down targets make staying exposed the better choice in a knife fight.

The next discussion Id like to see is why Battlefront went with such high hit percentages against hull down AFVs. To me (with the aid of some very though provoking and informative posts) it seems ridiculously high.

[ September 15, 2004, 08:19 PM: Message edited by: Justin S. ]

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I haven't seen or must have missed the info on what kind of series of shots were you using? If all the shots you observed were first-round shots, then remaining hull-down is even more disadvantageous, since every consecutive shot reduces the lower to-be-hit advantage a hull-down vehicle has.

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Remember that RL data about turret size etc has nothing to do with how CM models hit chances for the different parts of the tank. No matter if the turret of the tank is small (PzIV) or large (KV2) it has the same probability of hitting the turret. If it hits at all that is. This further complicates the issue with the vulnerable PzIV turret.

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