Home Forums WWII How do rules deal with high explosive v armour

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    Norm S

    Short discussion added to my blog re how I dealt with the question in my own rules.




    An excellent read Norm, cheers for sharing.  I play “Rapid Fire” and it is generally 6 on a D6 to destroy armour and that pretty much what you have on your hex based game but I will be using all the parts in games I play.

    John D Salt

    Mr. Picky would hardly describe the 152mm ML-20 as “low velocity”. 600 m/s is very firmly in the “medium velocity” bracket, and a projectile weighing 48 Kg arriving at that sort of lick — I expect the projectile retained its velocity pretty well down range — is going do someone a mischief. The ML-20 was provided with several kinds of proper armour-defeating projectiles, APHE, APBC, and SAP, apart from its bewildering range of HE. Rating it as only the equivalent of the 76mm F-34 (6.5 Kg, 680 m/s) seems decidedly mean.

    I have previously mentioned the Royal Artillery habit of using 25-pr HE with the travelling plug in the fuze well for tank shooting before AP became commonly available, and it seems to have been effective. I imagine that an unfuzed 152mm projectile would also be capable of doing a good deal of harm.

    Zaloga’s account of the use of a detached battery of 10.5cm pieces for shooting T-34s unfortunately does not seem to specify the exact weapon used, but he does say field gun, not howitzer. I expect that the piece in question would have been the 10cm K 18, often specifically told off for tank shooting in the early stages of Barbarossa, and again quite a fearsome beast (a 15 Kg projectile fired at 835 m/s with supercharge) and provided with AP projectiles (PzGr rot).

    Blast is a completely wretched way of attacking steel armour, and the effectiveness of field artillery concentrations would largely depend on the penetrating power of the fragments produced. WO 291/128 “A theory of fragmentation” calculated “vulnerable areas” (what we would now call mean areas of effect) for fragments capable of penetrating various thicknesses of mild steel, but only aerial bombs seem to be able to deal with more than half an inch (13mm). It therefore seems clear that the effect of indirect HE is going to rely mostly on luck in scoring direct hits and getting awkward damage like slicing off antennas, shattering vision blocks, and the like.

    So, generally, I would say that rules should treat HE fired direct as ersatz AP shot of the same mass and velocity, possibly with a slight penalty for the inferior shell design. HE fired indirect should be capable of fluke shots into open tops or hatches. I seem to recall an M-10 supporting 50 Div was lost to an 8cm mortar this way on D-Day, and the ORO tank casualties survey reports 80 AFV lost to mortars from a sample of 10,500. Medium shells, on the other hand, are quite capable of wrecking most tanks if they hit them, and the old US rule of thumb of 1% tank casualties per 155mm battery salvo is probably an under-estimate.

    All the best,


    Norm S

    Thanks John, all good.

    In my rules, the attack value also includes a ‘to hit’ element.

    On another forum, a fellow poster directed me to a link (shown below) that discusses SU 152 v ‘big cats’, there are some pretty interesting photo’s there of blast holes caused by HE. Not sure whether any of that archive material is new to your collection.

    LINK –



    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Norm S.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Norm S.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Norm S. Reason: Trying to get the link to function
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