Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Tiger vs IS

I've had so many articles about IS-2s shooting up Tigers, it's only fair to do one on the other way around. This IS-2 was lost by the 72nd Independent Guards Heavy Tank Regiment on May 1st, in Khotymyr. Judging by the amount of impacts on its armour, it didn't give up without a fight.


From the front, we see three hits: two nonpenetrating hits to the hull, one from 1200 meters and one from 1100 meters. A hit to the front of the turret penetrated.


This side shows only one impact: a nonpenetrating hit on the upper side from 1100 meters. The hole in the turret is a pistol port, not a breach.


A closer look at the 1100 m ricochet and a penetrating shot to the side of the turret from 200 meters. The performance of the armour is pretty good. No cracking, the breaches are clean, and, most importantly, the Tigers could only make a kill from suicidally close range. Even at the range where the Tigers were bouncing off the IS-2's armour, the D-25T could literally rip their turrets off

55 comments:

  1. So Germans opened fire from over 1000 meters.
    What was the distance that IS-2 could detect and engage enemy tanks, and how did that happen that Tigers managed to appear at 200 meters from D-25T?

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    1. Ambushes are a thing. Besides, there's no guarantee that the Germans didn't put a few holes in the tank after it was already disabled. It was a fairly common practice.

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    2. FWIW, US and British reports from western Europe have *average* engagement ranges in tank-v-tank combat at well under 1,000 meters.....3-400 meters was very common.

      I recognize that, as a broad generalization, western Europe is 'tighter' terrain than, say, the Polish plain. Still, long range engagements were rare in western Europe.

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  2. The most fascinating/important thing for me is that despite that hole in the turret front it did not ammorack. On that side there is an ammo storage on the turret back. You already posted here battle between IS-2 and 3 "Ferdinand heavy tank destroyers" and there IS-2 was perforated but did not ammorack and basically won the battle. IIRC and if the driver was not hurt and tank could shot back, it was penetrated in the turret front too. Hard to penetrate and hard to blow out.

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    1. Ammo in the turret is shells only. HE shells have a very thick steel casing, and AP shells are inert, so it's very very difficult to cause an ammo explosion from fragments hitting the shells. Propellant charges are much easier to set off, but they are stowed in the hull.

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    2. But shell itself can hit the stored ammo if it penetrate the armour. But the main gun is based in the turret not by matled but massive pins in the turret behind the mantled. Projectile was highly probably deflected by them and did not get straight to the back.

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    3. @Iron Drapes: There is a IS-2 front casting at the Military Museum of New England that suffered a very unlucky hit to the driver's vision port from a 75 mm round, which hit the ammo stored at the turret back. The resulting detonation blew the front casting and 122 mm gun right off the tank.

      So yes, it could easily happen.

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  3. Here you got a couple more pictures. Sometimes those photos are stated to have been taken in Romania.

    https://imgur.com/gallery/GLhLJ

    I would not be so sure about an ambush. Maybe the tank was captured and it was decided to fire a few rounds.

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  4. Could just have been good use of terrain to get in close (or wait for the other guy to get closer, depending) after the speculative long-range shots bounced. All those houses could certainly provide cover to maneuver behind...

    Assuming, of course, that's the battle scene and not some collection point or whatever, but the point stands regardless. Even the open steppes boast undulations and depressions and hills and what have you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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  5. "The performance of the armour is pretty good. No cracking, the breaches are clean"

    Such a comment is instructive for the lack of basic understanding in armor penetration mechanics. There is nothing surprising here, considering the fact that the german AP ammunition is presenting a capped, high quality AP shot whiches attempt to defeat armor by ductile hole formation, not by shear failure (as by, f.e. soviet domestic shot).
    Capped shot doesn´t expose brittelness of the armour (plugging, discing) as readily as does uncapped AP -which is why german tank RHA was service acceptance tested only with UNCAPPED AP shot.

    Soviet A

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    1. "Capped shot doesn´t expose brittelness of the armour (plugging, discing) as readily as does uncapped AP -which is why german tank RHA was service acceptance tested only with UNCAPPED AP shot." And you forgot about high-hardness armour.

      For comparision:
      https://www.google.sk/search?tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=9CT7WYPtL4nTgAazz7OwBg&q=destroyed+kv+1&oq=destroyed+kv+1&gs_l=psy-ab.3...524544.537625.0.537991.32.21.3.0.0.0.245.2186.0j15j2.18.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..12.17.1862.0..0j0i67k1j0i30k1j0i19k1.133.27rNgXK12_0#imgrc=EXDGGKqIZaUZRM:

      https://www.google.sk/search?tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=9CT7WYPtL4nTgAazz7OwBg&q=destroyed+kv+1&oq=destroyed+kv+1&gs_l=psy-ab.3...524544.537625.0.537991.32.21.3.0.0.0.245.2186.0j15j2.18.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..12.17.1862.0..0j0i67k1j0i30k1j0i19k1.133.27rNgXK12_0#imgrc=Rr8Y8d2R7Dlu5M:

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    2. So what you're saying is that German armour cracked and shattered on impact because Soviet AP quality was low? That's a fantastic leap of logic, even for you.

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    3. No, he is saying that German armor cracking type failures are because the armor was directly exposed to - often overmatching - the hardened projectile bodies of non-capped Soviet AP projectiles, whereas hard and brittle Soviet armor was exposed to the soft AP cap German AP projectiles that was designed exactly to lessen the shock of the impact and decrease the chances of shattering of the projectile and logically, the armor itself upon impact.

      The difference in the armor piercing mechanics is the type of mechanical failure occurring and it is far more rooted in the different type AP projectiles used (German APCBC vs Soviet APBC) than the material armor itself.

      The downside was that Soviet AP projectiles was that they were far less consistent in their performance - the energy of the kinetic impact and shock worked both ways and the projectiles could shatter easily on impact with greatly reduced penetrating performance and wont penetrate the armor even when they should have.

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    4. What about the tests against King Tigers then? You have the armour thicker than the projectile (150-180 vs 122 mm), and the projectile is capped. Didn't stop it from losing massive chunks on impact.

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    5. 122mm BR-471B was ballistically capped, not armor piercing capped. The presence of a windscreen from mild steel doesn´t provide protection to the projectile tip.

      I suggest to aquire some basic knowledge in the fundamental differences in failure mechanics of armor.

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    6. And pray tell, what basic knowledge is suggesting to you that the shell penetrates the turret while spread out as paste over an area of 1.5 square feet?

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    7. "whereas hard and brittle Soviet armor was exposed to the soft AP cap German AP projectiles that was designed exactly to lessen the shock of the impact and decrease the chances of shattering of the projectile and logically, the armor itself upon impact."

      You're saying that deliberately *avoiding* the enemy's armor spalling and cracking is a *GOOD THING*?? That this is a feature, not a bug? That's an odd thing to say, because a round that causes an enemy tank's armor to crack and spall can take that tank out of action even when there's no hope of achieving penetration. Again, this is somehow a GOOD THING?

      How also do you then explain that the Soviets themselves criticized the armor quality on early-production IS-1s and IS-2s due to the high hardness tempering scheme, which resulted in said armor becoming brittle and *cracking and spalling* even on non-penetrating hits from those *very same capped German AP rounds* that you say doesn't produce cracking and spalling??

      For this reason, the Soviets altered their tempering procedure to lessen this. It appears to have worked fine from these photos.

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    8. "For this reason, the Soviets altered their tempering procedure to lessen this. It appears to have worked fine from these photos."

      As I mentioned before, You can´t say that from the herewith referred to photos. Don´t make the same mistake as Mr. Samsonov and jumpt to conclusions. Spalling / plugging vs (intact) capped AP would be assessable from the backside, not from the surface front because the plug/ disc is driven out from the backside. Front damage would only be visible vs intact projectiles in case of very brittle armor, while even ductile armor may be exhibiting ragged entrance holes vs broken up penetrators.

      Outside damage on such armor vs intact penetrators has to be expected to be lower than with deformed penetrators. You might call this a disadvantage but remember that this goes along with a improved armor penetration for the intact projectile. Break up or shatter reduces penetration potential very considerably (by up to 1/3 at normal impact). The rational behind Pzgr 39 delay fused APCBC-HE was to fragment the projectile only AFTER it penetrated a plate exactly inside the confined tank spaces where it would hurt most. Less damage on the surface in exchange for more penetration was the rational behind HVAP /APDS / APCR development, too (which didn´t even had HE-filler).

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    9. That's rich, considering how you constantly make conclusions about penetrations from one photo, even when trials results say a completely different thing.

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    10. "As I mentioned before, You can´t say that from the herewith referred to photos. Don´t make the same mistake as Mr. Samsonov and jumpt to conclusions. Spalling / plugging vs (intact) capped AP would be assessable from the backside, not from the surface front because the plug/ disc is driven out from the backside."

      One, photos taken both from Soviet armor testing and actual combat shows obvious and visible cracking and spalling occurring due to Soviet rounds hitting German armor as viewed from the outside--even when no penetration was achieved. At the very least, I would think even you would admit any spalling that occurred with this IS-2 was less than that.

      I would also content it would not be unreasonable to assume that the rounds striking circa 1000 meters weren't taking out this IS-2 by spalling (else why did they continue shooting?). I realize that sometimes tankers continue to shoot at a target until it explodes and/or burns, but that doesn't seem to be case here (at least it didn't explode).

      A September 1944 report by a Tiger Kompanie commander reported:

      a) that the Tiger could only penetrate the front of an IS-2 at ranges closer than 500 meters (I think you see that confirmed here)

      b) however, that 'long range' shots it might still be able to knock out an IS-2 even if no penetration was achieved;

      c) that IS-2 crews would bail out of the tank once fired upon by a Tiger.

      Item (c) I discount as a widespread occurrence, as I haven't read much remotely corresponding to this from the Soviet side (only have I read a Soviet account where a crew bailed upon being fired upon, in Evgeni Bessonov's book, and that was in 1943 and involved a T-34/76 crew). I've not read of any other Soviet account, including Vasiliy Krysov's account which does briefly mention an instance he witnessed where IS-2s (successfully) tangled with Tigers.

      What I interpret that Tiger report to mean is that yeah, as the Soviets themselves would admit, the early IS-1s and IS-2s suffered from significant cracking and spalling even when shot at by weapons that shouldn't be able to hurt them (the ZiS-3, at 500-600 meters, in the Soviet tests). This is probably why the German Tiger crews reported knockouts even at ranges they otherwise could not penetrate (and maybe, because of this a few panicked Soviet crews bailed after the first shots--some of the early IS-2 crews were right out of school with little or no relevant combat experience). But the Soviets took measures to alter their tempering regime, and from this tank it looks to have worked.

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  6. High hardness armor works fine vs inferior AP but worse vs superior AP quality, if they can´t break it up. The soviets themselfe reduced the BHN specifications for IS and T54 armor to medium hardness post war.
    You need to learn more about the interactions in projectile and armor mechanics. Early german (uncapped and capped) AP was by far not as of mid ww2 Pzgr39 quality and often suffered partial or complete break up when striking discrimate armor targets -despite the presence of a cap. Different specifications, different hardening treatment, and different break up behavior.
    A Pzgr 39 wouldn´t be broken up as easily by HHA (or, for that matter, even FHA). For 1944, when these IS2 were combated, no one used old 88mm FLAK ammo anymore. However, the Pzgr39 would defeat armor by ductile hole formation or- at lower energy levels- plugging (if brittle, inferior armor is encountered).
    1941-1942, and even through a good part of 1943, engaging KV1, inferior AP (50mm Pzgr Gg, 75mm Pzgr rot, 88mm Pzgr Gg) was still common.

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    1. "High hardness armor works fine vs inferior AP but worse vs superior AP quality"

      Clearly this armour worked fine. So you're saying that German AP is inferior in quality?

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    2. Soviet AP was of inferior quality. The AP projectile body had poor heat treatment and was brittle and lacked the AP cap typically used on German and Western Allied AP designs.

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    3. Seemed to do the job well enough... Mind, Western AP only started sporting caps around late '42 or so.

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    4. "Clearly this armour worked fine"

      There is no evidence for such a statement. In order to assess this statement, You would need to have photo´s from the backside of the impacted plate. Particularely, when the impact was by such means as to create and drive out a plug from the backside -which is how capped AP generally work unless the armor is extremely soft (back plate shows no plugging but petalling).

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    5. I have photos of both sides Soviet armour under incredibly heavy attack, including from experimental high power guns. I forget, did you discard those as propaganda yet, or did you decide that you know better than the people performing the trials again?

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    6. I have seen YOu are making wrong interpretations based upon a naive and incorrect understanding of penetration mechanics.
      But let´s test this case:

      You claim to have photos, showing the backside damage OF THIS PARTICULAR IS2 to support Your clim that the armor worked fine IN THIS CASE?

      No? Then why do You make BS claims in the first place...

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    7. Armour is not penetrated by projectile. Critical Mass' analysis: the armour is actually bad.

      Armour is shattered into pieces by projectile. Critical Mass' analysis: the armour is actually good.

      Yup, sound logic there, my friend.

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    8. Another red herring from You to distract from the fact that You have no evidence to back up Your claim?

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    9. Yes, mister "I can't post evidence because JPEGs are too hard" is going to talk to me about red herrings.

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  7. "Seemed to do the job well enough... Mind, Western AP only started sporting caps around late '42 or so."

    I don´t think they did fine.
    Penetrationwise, the 50mm PAK38 was the equal of the 76mm ZIS-3, the 75mm PAK40 was the equal of the 85mm S-53 and the 88mm PAK43 was the equal of the 100mm D-10.

    Due to the inferior ability to stay intact on penetration, soviet domestic AP burst high order only behind very thin plate, which resulted in too many german tanks knocked out beeing able to be repaired due to surface damage rather than internal damage.
    The inferiority of the soviet AP may be an important reason in understanding why the war lasted that long. Had the soviets developed a halfway decent, reliable delay fuzed AP instead of what they had, Germany would run into a quantitative tank crisis early in 1942. The losses in the east were just matched by production /conversion 1941-1943, any more total write offs would have had impacted the strength of the operational divisions directly.

    Caps are no cure for everything. Naval AP introduced caps at the start of the century and it worked the same as with tank ammunition later in ww2 by reducing the impact stress on the projectile nose, thus improving it´s chances to stay intact. However, caps would not work with soviet shell steel (low carbon, poor hardenability and yet poor toughness due to inferior hardening and tempering treatment). Only a high quality cap on a high quality shell body obtains the best results.

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    1. Really? Soviet comparative trials that Pasholok posted recently show that the penetration performance of the 8.8 cm KwK 36 and S-53 were more or less equal. Finnish trials of captured T-34s also show this. Of course, as always, you know better than the people who actually had the guns in front of them to test.

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    2. Only one range (1.5km) was tested and the limit was not explored. Therefore, You cannot make extrapolations of how they behave at 1000m or 2000m.

      I suppose You heard from the tank armor trials in Yugoslavia conducted on soviet and american tank targets in which they expressed an interest in obtaining limit penetration ranges for PAK40, ZIS-3, ZIS-2, KWK43, S-85, D10 and other guns?

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    3. But you yourself said that "Too much is made of the Yugo test. " So, just like Pasholok's research, individual paragraphs and sentences are picked apart, and data that suits you is kept, and data that doesn't is discarded.

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    4. "Due to the inferior ability to stay intact on penetration, soviet domestic AP burst high order only behind very thin plate, which resulted in too many german tanks knocked out beeing able to be repaired due to surface demage rather than internal damage." But non-capped 122 mm shell managed to create bigger hole in 180 mm armour than two PaK 43 penetrations and even destroyed part of turret roof armour (which has almost the thickness a T-34 hull armour).

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    5. Tolerably sure cm is the first person I've ever seen to argue the particular history of the Eastern Front was due to *metallurgy* rather than, y'know, strategy and logistics and suchlike...

      Also was rather under the impressions total write-offs came mainly from internal fires and inability to recover knocked-out vehicles (usually due to the wreck ending up on the wrong side of the frontline), not the structural minutiae of the holes made in the plating.

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    6. "But you yourself said that "Too much is made of the Yugo test. "
      Yes I stated that. And I needed to because too many people are extracting too much interpretation from the data presented. It, however, is a more representative trial than a single KV1 test at one specific range (and both penetrated, so what´s the point?) which didn´t even intent to explore limit ranges. Therefore, the mistake is on Your side, because You neglect sources, which don´t fit Your agenda while not hesitating to jump to conclusions from a single set of data. As always, I need to remind You to factor in all available evidence.

      "But non-capped 122 mm shell managed to create bigger hole in 180 mm armour than two PaK 43 penetrations and even destroyed part of turret roof armour (which has almost the thickness a T-34 hull armour"

      Again, study the subject, and You will hear less from me.
      You would have to expect the creation of large plugs from a broken up penetrator due to the spread of forces which attacks the triaxial shear strength within the plate. Considering that it was not even a fair hit due to the involvement of edge effects, it´s even less surprising. Midn there were also non penetrating 122mm hits on the glacis. And yes, the KWK 43 not only made a clean hole in the turret front plate -but unlike the 122mm one in the back plate of the turret, too. This was only possible because it did not broke up on the front plate, kept the impact energy more focussed during the plastic formation of a ductile hole, and had enough residual velocity to also penetrate the back plate.

      "first person I've ever seen to argue the particular history of the Eastern Front was due to *metallurgy* rather than"
      I am not the first person who studied the conflict and arrived with the conclusion that the inferior soviet AP technology handed a non-neglectable advantage to the german A.F.V. forces.

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    7. "(and both penetrated, so what´s the point?) "

      If you had actually read the trials (or at least looked at the pictures) you would see that no, no they didn't. But working with jpegs is too much work for the great critical mass. That includes looking at them, it seems.

      "You would have to expect the creation of large plugs from a broken up penetrator due to the spread of forces "

      Spread of forces across a, say, 580 mm by 230 mm sector? The D-25's shell can penetrate the King Tiger's armour in the form of dust?

      I also have trials records of Soviet shells punching clean through a whole German tank. In the F-34's trials, for instance. What's your point? It's like you are pointing to random sentences and going "AHA! I am right!" despite what they actually say.

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  8. "and data that suits you is kept, and data that doesn't is discarded"
    So You suggest that I rather ignore these data, even though they testify congruent results versus several targets?

    target: T34/85.
    75mm PaK 40:
    PzGr.39 penetrates glacis at 1300m
    PzGr.39 penetrates front turret at 1000m

    85mm ZiS-S-53:
    BR-365 AP penetrates glacis at 1200m.
    BR-365 AP penetrates front turret at 1000m.

    target M4A3E4
    75mm PaK40:
    PzGr.39 AP penetrates glacis at 1100m.
    PzGr.39 AP penetrates front turret at 1000m.

    85mm ZiS-S-53:
    BR-365 AP penetrates glacis at 1100m.
    BR-365 AP penetrates turret at 1000m.

    target T-54A
    75mm PaK 40:
    PzGr.39 penetrates side hull at 1000m.
    PzGr.39 penetrates side turret at 300m.

    85mm ZiS-S-53:
    BR-365 AP penetrates side hull at 1000m.
    BR-365 AP penetrates side turret at 150m.


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    1. Ok, cool, and where is the KwK 36 in that table?

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    2. Peter, are you suggesting that the 7,5 cm PaK 40 (that was equivalant to the KwK 40 on the PzIV) was somehow superior to the 8,8cm KwK 36..?

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    3. No, I am making fun of critical mass for his hilarious pickiness with data. When Pasholok says that the 6-pounder and ZIS-2 had similar penetration, then Pasholok is correct. When Pasholok says that the KwK 36 and S-53 had similar penetration, then Pasholok is wrong. When someone else brings up the Yugo tests, the Yugo tests are wrong. When critical mass brings up the Yugo tests, the Yugo tests are right.

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  9. As You remember, I did not put the KWK36 in my list in the first place.

    I have another question for You. You wrote
    " A hit to the front of the turret from 314 meters penetrated."
    I have reason to believe that this number is wrong. Among other things, such precise distances never appear, plus it is not mentioned among the distances of teh FHO report, which these photos were originally attached to. Where do You get this number from?

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    1. Pasholok. Can you make up his mind on whether he writes Russian propaganda or ideologically acceptable truth yet?

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    2. Also any chance we'll get to see this mystical report, or is your inability to work with jpegs going to stop that once again?

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    3. not mythical at all.

      Courteey M. Krogfuss

      https://forum.axishistory.com/download/file.php?id=402252&mode=view
      https://forum.axishistory.com/download/file.php?id=402251&mode=view

      And no. 314m are false. The front mantlet penetration has chalked "HORNISSE" and "2600m".

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    4. The turret number is unreadable. If you at going by jpeg the number has the same number of pixels as a 4 digit number on the hull.

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    5. @Mobius: I meant the big "3" that's covered up by "bestimmt".

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    6. Interesting that the 2nd paper notes that in May 1944 a "Pz IV L" (typo) shot up an IS-2 from the front at 500 meters - one hit to the turret, one hit to the driver's visor. Both rounds cleanly penetrated and the tank has burned out.

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  10. Is this one IS-2, or two? (I see the turret is pointed directly towards the front in the first photo, and towards its left in the second.

    The only think I would also say is that, for the IS-2 Model 1943, the results of this actual combat seem to match pretty closely predictions (including, ahem, German ones, and actual German observations). Shots at c. 1000 meters are not penetrating; only very close range shots are, and in locations where you'd expect penetration.

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    1. Same tank. Look at the outlines of the impacts, they are the same in both photos. You can also make out the number 3 on the turret in the first photo, same as on the second.

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    2. Hmm, I don't want to sound like some of the Wehrmacht enthusiasts here, but I wonder then if the Germans got in and turned the turret around manually for propaganda photo purposes, to make one knocked-out IS-2 look like two? If there's another good reason why they would, it would be interesting to find out.

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    3. I can't say why they did it, but I doubt they would cover the tank in such distinctive capture markings if they wanted to make it look like two tanks.

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    4. They might be prepping it for transport somewhere for whatever reason; turning the turret to the rear would render the total length rather more manageable, no?

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