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Anti-Tank Guns of World War Two Tanks

This chart corresponds exclusively to anti-tank projectiles and not to those others - such as the high explosive ones - which could be fired by the same cannons when the tanks were used as field artillery pieces. The projectile which was mainly used in anti-tank role was the piercing type made of steel, fitted with an explosive charge and a fuse, since solid piercing projectiles made solely of steel were used only at the beginning of the war by the British, who soon abandoned their utilization. An improvement on piercing shells was the piercing projectile of hard core, so called after the core of tungsten carbide that it had in its interior. These projectiles had - for an equal caliber - a smaller weight than the conventional piercing projectile, which granted them a high muzzle speed which however lost much faster than the heavier projectiles, whereby their efficacy was optimal at short distances (up to 1000 meters) but of inferior performance at longer distances.

In the late 1943 the British achieved the most important innovation of the conflict regarding anti-tank ammunition, by introducing into service the first subcalibrated piercing projectiles, whose operating principle is based in sliding the projectile inside a tube of larger caliber, being directed by a sabot which falls apart when leaving the muzzle. This system gives to the projectile a muzzle velocity - and hence a piercing power - which is higher than that of any other type of ammunition. By last, are worth of mention those projectiles that use an explosive charge shaped by a copper cone, which concentrates in a small point the jet of gases created by the explosion and so it achieves a formidable piercing power. Albeit this technique was known in 1939, it was discovered that the rotation of the projectile - caused by the rifling of the bore with the purpose of stabilizing the projectile to improve its precision - dispersed the effect. Besides, the muzzle speed had to be kept low (inferior to 500 meters per second) because otherwise the charge would be disorganized. The lesser speed did not reduce the piercing power but limited the precision against moving targets.

The caliber of the cannons is expressed in millimeters and their length in calibers. The weight of projectiles is expressed in kilograms and their muzzle velocity in meters per second. The largest part of projectiles are of conventional piercing type, whereas (ND) indicates piercing projectiles of hard core, (SC) indicates subcalibrated piercing projectiles and (CH) indicates projectiles of shaped charge. The English denominations of these types of projectiles, internationally used, are: AP (Armour Piercing), HVAP (High Velocity Armour Piercing), APDS (Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot) and HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank). These acronyms remain in use nowadays, sometimes with variations. For example, the denomination APFSDS (Armour Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot) corresponds to subcalibrated projectiles fired by modern smoothbore cannons.

Germany

Model Caliber Length Shell Weight Muzzle Velocity Host
KwK 30/38 20 55 0.148 780 PzKpfw II, SdKfz 222/232
KwK 35/36 37 46.5 0.368 (ND) 1020 (ND) PzKpfw III A-F
KwK 38 (t) (*) 37.2 47.8 0.815, 0.368 (ND) 750, 1040 (ND) PzKpfw 38 (t)
KwK 38 50 42 2.06, 0.925 (ND) 685, 1060 (ND) PzKpfw III G/H/J
KwK 39 50 60 2.06, 0.925 (ND) 835, 1180 (ND) PzKpfw III L/M, SdKfz 234/2
KwK 37 75 24 4.80 450 PzKpfw III N, PzKpfw IV A-E, StuG A/E, SdKfz 234/3
KwK 40, StuK 40 75 48 6.80, 4.10 (ND) 790, 990 (ND) PzKpfw IV F-J, JgdPz IV, Hetzer, StuG F/G
KwK 42 75 70 6.80, 4.75 (ND) 925, 1120 (ND) PzKpfw V Panther
KwK 36 88 56 10.20, 7.30 (ND) 773, 930 (ND) PzKpfw VI A Tiger I
KwK 43, PaK 43 88 71 10.20, 7.30 (ND) 1000, 1130 (ND) PzKpfw VI B Tiger II
StuH 42 105 28 14 470 StuH 42
PaK 44 128 55 28.3 845 Jagdtiger, Maus

(*) This German designation corresponds to the Skoda A-7 cannon, whose Czech military designation was Tk vz 37.

Great Britain

Model Caliber Length Shell Weight Muzzle Velocity Host
2-pounder 40 50 0.963 853 A9, A10, A13, Covenanter, Crusader I/II, Matilda II, Valentine I-VII, Churchill I/II, Ram I, Tetrarch, Harry Hopkins
6-pounder Mk3 57 43 2.835 853 Crusader III, Churchill III/IV, Cavalier, Centaur I, Valentine VII, Cromwell I/II, Ram II
6-pounder Mk 5 57 50 2.835 904 Crusader III, Churchill III/IV, Cavalier, Centaur I, Valentine VII, Cromwell I/II, Ram II
75 mm 75 36.5 6.237 619 Centaur III, Cromwell IV-VII, Churchill VI/VII, Valentine X/XI, A33
17-pounder 76.2 55.1 7.71, 3.69 (SC) 884, 1204 (SC) Sherman Firefly, Challenger, Achilles, Archer, Centurion I, Black Prince, Sentinel
77 mm 76.2 49.2 7.71 792 Comet

United States

Model Caliber Length Shell Weight Muzzle Velocity Host
M3 37 50 0.725 776 M2A4, M3 Stuart, M5, M22, M2, M2A1, M3
M2 75 28.4 6.237 567 M3 Lee/Grant
M3 75 37.5 6.237 701 M4 Sherman
M6 75 40 6.758 ? M24 Chaffee
M1 76 52.1 7.71, ? (ND) 792, 1036 (ND) Late M4 Sherman
M3 90 50 10.945, ? (ND) 853, 1021 (ND) M26 Pershing, M36

Soviet Union

Model Caliber Length Shell Weight Muzzle Velocity Host
TNSh 20 107 0.96 815 T-60
Model 1937 45 46 1.4, 0.85 (ND) 760, 1070 (ND) T-26, T-50, BT-5, BT-7, BT-8, T-70, T-80, BA-3, BA-6, BA-6M, BA-10, BA-11
KT-26, KT-28 76.2 16.5 6.3 387 T-28, T-35, BT-7A
L-11 76.2 30.5 6.3 612 T-34
F-34 76.2 42.5 6.3, 3 (ND), 3.94 (CH) 655, 965 (ND), 325 (CH) KV-1 M 1941, T-34 M 1941/1942/1943
ZiS-S-53, D-5 85 54.6 9.02, 4.9 (ND) 792, 1200 (ND) KV-1 M 1942, KV-85, T-34/85, T-44, SU-85
D-10 100 56 15.6 1000 T-44, SU-100
M-30 122 22.7 13.2 (CH) 335 (CH) SU-122
A-19, D-25 122 46.3 24.9, 13.2 (CH) 800, 550 (CH) IS-2/3, T-44, ISU-122
ML-20 152 28.8 48.7 600 SU-152, ISU-152

France

Model Caliber Length Shell Weight Muzzle Velocity Host
SA 18 37 21 0.5 388 FT-17, H-35, R-35
SA 38 37 33 ? 701 H-39, Late S-35
SA 35 47 34 ? 671 S-35, Char B1 bis
ABS 1929 75 17.1 6.4 475 Char B1

Italy

Model Caliber Length Shell Weight Muzzle Velocity Host
Breda 35 20 65 1.25 830 L6/40
Cannone 47/32 47 32 1.5 630 M13/40, L40
Cannone 47/40 47 40 1.5 820 M15/42
Cannone 75/34 75 34 6.3 610 M42M

Japan

Model Caliber Length Shell Weight Muzzle Velocity Host
Type 1 47 53.7 1.54 834 Chi-Ha, Chi-He, Ka-Chi
Type 97 57 18.5 1.80 355 Chi-Ha
Type 3 75 38 6.60 680 Chi-Nu

Sweden

Model Caliber Length Shell Weight Muzzle Velocity Host
Bofors 37 mm 37 45 0.685 745 7TP (Poland)

:: Anti-Tank Guns of World War Two Tanks (2017) by Sakhalia Net Project ::