Thursday, 14 May 2015

Tanks at Balaton

I've explored the issue of brittle German armour in many articles, but each one seems to get the same complaint: it's only an experiment, real life is not like this! Here are some photos from the battle at Lake Balaton (Operation Spring Awakening) that demonstrate very well how far German armour declined.

Despite hitting the Tiger's highly sloped transmission cover, this shell made a large breach in the tank's armour, destroying it.

Some people tell me that the Panther's wheels protected its thin side armour from low caliber guns, but that does not seem to be the case here. This Panther was hit through the wheel and then the side armour, knocking it out.

This Panther fell victim to a high caliber HE shell. The shell ricocheted off its upper front plate, but left a breach and cracks in the armour. The tank was abandoned by its crew.

A relatively routine penetration of the Panther's side armour, leading to significant amount of spalling.

This Jadgpanzer 38(t) fell victim to a 76 mm round, despite its highly angled 60 mm of armour around the gun mantlet. Interestingly enough, the armour was not as brittle here as it was on the Panther above. 


A gaping hole in the side of a Wirbelwind.

Another Panther with a huge hole in its side.

Many people complain that shooting at one tank during tests several times is unfair, but this is what a Panther caught in a Soviet ambush looks like. Several shots to the side resulted in a large portion of the armour caving in.

An explosion split this Panther's upper front plate all the way across.

This is a very interesting shot, as it managed to penetrate the gun, and then the gun mantlet behind it.

Another set of lucky shots to the turret that managed to knock off the gun.

Another Panther with an enormous crack across its front armour.

Another Panther that was caught in an ambush. Three shots to the turret seemed to not crack the armour that much, but the lower turret and upper hull shots resulted in a lot of spalling.

More effective shots to the turret. These one did not knock the gun off, but knocked out the tank anyway.

One or two shots to the side of the turret resulted in a huge breach forming.

Another Panther that was likely the victim of an ambush, and another one where the turret fares a lot better in terms of spalling then the hull.

32 comments:

  1. "Look! Lots of photos of destroyed german tanks. Some of them even have cracked armor. Can't you see how bad these tanks actually were in the war? This is the ultimate proof that soviet armor was superior to the poorly designed and manufactured german "armor". In order not to confuse anybody, i didnt add info on the shells which hit the tanks. The evidence in this post becomes more credible this way!"

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    1. When a hole big enough for a person to climb through forms in the side of your tank, that's a sign of weak armour. The Soviets didn't have guns that big, in case you're not aware.

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    2. I many times read about Balaton battle but I never catch some information about heavy tanks battalions or brigades to be there. After the Budapest was conqured they were used for other assault operations. Am I right?

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    3. 3. photo
      Good proof about german tank robustness. Explossive shell did not significantly demaged tank from the outside but judging by the fact that crew leave tank, it had to do good mess inside. Thats why modern tanks use conception of rear build transmision with engine and rear wheel drive like IS tanks ;)

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    4. Moron. If your armor is properly hardened, it doesn't crack and spall like it's made out of aluminum foil or tempered glass.

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    5. "When a hole big enough for a person to climb through forms in the side of your tank, that's a sign of weak armour. The Soviets didn't have guns that big, in case you're not aware."

      Its not that easy. Sidearmor on several Tanks was hardened itentionally. And for a good reason: Smaler Shells and At-Rifles shattered on armor values they would have penetrated without the hardening. You can read about that in ww2 ballistics for example.

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    6. Thanks, I know how hardened armour works. The problem is that if you're making 45 ton tanks that can only withstand AT rifles, you're making tanks wrong.

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    7. You hopefully dont really think that the (45t) Panther was a bad design :-)

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    8. It was a compromise like all other machines from all nations, it had a clear problem, it's armor was too specialized and as evidence shows it had quality problems.
      About the Panther, such thin side and back armored highly mobile tank armed with so acurate weapon is, in my opinion, closer to a tank destroyer than a proper tank. It reminds me USA army tank destroyers. It was good at the defensive role it mostly took part but a bad design for the offensive.

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  2. @Thor Hammerschlag

    Made my day :D

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  3. Panther armor was likely cracked because of the brew up-- there are too many pictures from both fronts that show brittle effects from late German armor-- like your site Lynn

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  4. Actually, a hole bigger than the shell might be considered a case of the armor doing it's job. It spread out the shell's force until it reached it's breaking point and couldn't hold it back anymore. If the armor simply spread apart to make a nice clean hole like in a bar of butter that wouldn't offer the crew much good.

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    1. Armour that used to be where that hole is doesn't simply disappear. It fragments and flies inside the tank, killing crew and destroying components. A tank with a hole like that is also a writeoff, whereas a tank with more malleable armour won't have as many fragments and will be much easier to repair. The more brittle your armour, the greater the odds that it will be damaged beyond repair when penetrated.

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    2. If the shell is much bigger caliber then thickness of the hit armour it should more bend then crack if the armour do its job ;)

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    3. As I understand it, this was the philosopy behind American armor plate being "softer" than German or Soviet plate. You see a lot of pictures of Sherman tanks with holes in them but not many of sherman tanks with huge cracks in the armor.

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    4. In one doccument about german tanks I saw Shermans with penetrated side armour by 88 mm guns and it was few times smaller than this Panthers and holes had symmetric shape in compare to this Panthers penetrated by 85 and 100 mm guns.

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    5. It would also depend on the condition of the AP after the penetration. If it was APHE and the shell broke up and didn't explode inside the tank or partly rejected by the armor it did most of it's job. In the case of soft American armor if the shell was in condition to explode inside the tank then it matters little if there weren't additional fragments from the armor plate.

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    6. It matters for the purposes of repairing the tank.

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  5. In fact several of these photographs (the ones with curious black dots in a white circle) came up years ago at the Battlefield.ru website. They are crude propaganda fakes appearing in Russian print some years.

    In fact these tanks on the original photos show no sign of penetration, signs of which were added by Soviet propagandists later, to show inferiority of 'fascist' armor.

    Most famously there is a photo of a "destroyed Tiger II", which its turret rotated with several penetration shots - actually retouched from photos on different tanks, one for the hull, one for the turret.

    So I'd call a blowback on this one :D - though I believe the site owner is probably innocent, just overzealous in his agenda to show us Superior Soviet Technology. ;)

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    1. These accusations get more and more ridiculous. If these are fakes, then show me the original images.

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    2. What is getting ridiculus is that now you post obvious fake photos to 'prove' your agenda. The question of these photo fakes were discussed a good 10 years ago with Valeri Popatov, runner of the battlefield.ru website, who has also fell fictim to this post-Soviet propaganda piece. IIRC he admitted that he did not knew the source.

      Ask him or find the originals yourself. In the meanwhile, you should do best to inform your readers that the authenticity of these pictures has been called to question. Also be sure to make an article about 'Soviet Propaganda Photos' when you find out the truth yourself...

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    3. They may be fakes and they may not. However, it is not acceptable to just make an accusation, with no links, no nothing, and expect it to stick. This is just riding on people's Russophobia and Germanophilia in hopes they will believe you though you hadn't done anything to substantiate your claim.

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  6. Then explain how do I know that the pictures come from a Russian printed photo booklet from around 2000, AFAIK by M.Svirin... these photos have emerged a good time ago already, its a 15 year old story or thereabouts. It was discussed back on boards that are no longer active (Jagdmoroner Abteiling IIRC). Some traces of the scandal can be found here http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=100861&start=105
    The said photo of the frankensteined Tiger II was the most exposed (two photos were combined, one for the hull and one for the turret, with fake 'black ink penetrations''). The rest come from the same series.

    Fact is that several (not all - see for example the first photo of the Tiger and compare it to the black smudge ones) of the photos are crude fakes, with some black ink smudged over the originals. There is no texture, no depth to these 'penetrations' (although nobody would doubt the Panther could be penetrated from the sides easily).

    Its time to accept, apologize and move on.

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    1. Like I said, if you think these photos are fake, you are welcome to provide the unedited originals. In the link you posted I don't even see any photos at all. If you're going to go on this ridiculous crusade, please bring some evidence instead of sketchy accusations about some other photos possibly being fake.

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    2. Like I said, if you wish to lend these photos any credibility, post the source. Name of author, ISBN, title and so forth. Unless you can do that we have to consider the possibility that you yourself have faked these photos...

      Serious discussion can start when there is possibility to examine the source, but as stated, this has been done already a decade ago. Some of these photos are just a Soviet or post-Soviet propaganda flick, nothing more.

      You need to come to terms with these facts sooner or later.

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    3. Kurfurst, I will assume you have good intentions but I hope you are realizing you are doing your cause more harm than good. You've just told me these pictures came from a *book*, by Svirin. Now, I'm not *really* into WWII history but I have heard of Svirin. He's not Zaloga or Hunnicutt but then no Russian is (to the West at least) and at least he's not a nobody.

      Next, you tell me the opposition originated from a dead discussion board with apparent Germanophilic tendencies (the name says much). Some of its survivors managed to get into Axis History, which at least is a living board. Your live link is long on rhetoric and low on actual evidence or logic (does this guy even know how it *was* done?), so I can't even tell if Battlefield.ru conceded to superior logic or to the sheer mass of angry Germanophiles refusing to credit any photo which might just show a King Tiger being destroyed.

      Your best shot at this point IMO is to do the deconstruction yourself (surely, you do remember how the guys at Jadgmoroner did it), but as far as I can see, your best shot so far is that in essence the holes are too black. It is potentially valid, but IMHO not really decisive because as it is the sunlight outside is a hell of a lot brighter than the inside, so any insides are horribly underexposed. Even with the Tiger's (1st picture) relatively big maw, there is almost nothing but black visible and it is not that implausible that the mix of a smaller hole, somewhat different illumination angles, film, the photo's degradation over the years, or the clipping of a digitizer or contrast enhancer (values are only 0-255) would turn any small remaining non-zero Values into a flat zero - black.

      I want to see the other side of the argument too, but so far you just aren't impressing me. I hope you are not in some other board blathering about Peter because the real problem is you aren't doing it.

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  7. Its also worth to check out the photos of Panthers with multiple clear hit marks of the glacis - yet none of the sort of catastrophic Black Mark(tm) plate failure is exhibited.. http://www.battlefield.ru/images/phocagallery/german_destroyed/thumbs/phoca_thumb_l_panther_26.jpg

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    1. Oh wow, one photo of a Panther with some dents in the front, you have revealed my shameless propaganda.

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    2. I am not saying its your propaganda. You are probably just a victim of said propaganda of faked wartime photos.

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    3. Your only argument right now is "I swear I saw a photo that was faked, therefore all these photos are fake", which is hilariously weak.

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  8. Who built the tanks, airplanes and ships? mostly slaves (prisoners of war, Jews, ect) it was sabotage.

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  9. If you can't provide a source for these photographs, then I'd have to agree that you are suspect to be part of a fakery. It's not up to others to prove you're faking these photos, but rather, it's up to you to prove that they are legitimate. You haven't.

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