Jump to content
Sturgeon's House
sevich

Did sandbags on Shermans do anything?

Recommended Posts

I realize that sandbags provide little to no armor protection, but soldiers still used them on tanks. Would they mitigate the effects of HE warheads, or the blastwave of HEAT warheads?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They probably worked quite well against magnetic mines, but those were a fairly minor threat and weren't used that often.  The Germans, of course, were worried enough about magnetic mines that they developed zimmerit.

 

4Tyojoa.jpg

 

Against HE, the armor of most tanks was already adequate, the exceptions being the few lemons that made it out of the factory with poor quality welds or armor heat treatment.

 

Against HEAT, things get complicated.  Ceramic materials like sand often provide unusually high protection against HEAT rounds, but I doubt that loose sand in a canvas sack is ideal.  HEAT round fusing was pretty awful in WWII though, so hitting a (relatively) soft object like a sandbag could conceivably stop the HEAT round from fusing correctly in the first place.  Absent that though, I doubt it would do much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pounding the front armour with HE is a losing proposition unless you have something really beefy like a 122 or 152 mm gun, the pro tip is to plant a round just above the tracks and knock out the floor of the sponson. If you do that to a German tank, congratulations, you just caused an ammunition fire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't remember where I read it, but supposedly the 3rd Army did testing on sandbags as well as concrete and other materials that were being put on tanks.  They found that these improvised types of armor actually made shaped charge weapons more effective since they improved the stand off distance of the warhead detonation, allowing the particle stream to form a little further out from the armor plate.  This is why Patton ordered all Third Army tanks to remove any extra armor other than actual armor plate.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Walter_Sobchak said:

I don't remember where I read it, but supposedly the 3rd Army did testing on sandbags as well as concrete and other materials that were being put on tanks.  They found that these improvised types of armor actually made shaped charge weapons more effective since they improved the stand off distance of the warhead detonation, allowing the particle stream to form a little further out from the armor plate.  This is why Patton ordered all Third Army tanks to remove any extra armor other than actual armor plate.  

 

 

All true, as an interesting aside, there was another report, or the same one that concluded that sandbagging had a noticeable effect on crew morale, the book on the 731st mentions them as well, and assumes they helped, and it did make the crews feel safer. 

 

The add on armor plate Patton's 3rd Army adopted made the Shermans frontal armor significantly tougher, without having a major impact on the reliability.

 

Hey OP check out    www.theshermantank.com

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Walter_Sobchak said:

I don't remember where I read it, but supposedly the 3rd Army did testing on sandbags as well as concrete and other materials that were being put on tanks.  They found that these improvised types of armor actually made shaped charge weapons more effective since they improved the stand off distance of the warhead detonation, allowing the particle stream to form a little further out from the armor plate.  This is why Patton ordered all Third Army tanks to remove any extra armor other than actual armor plate.  

 

Somewhere I have a just-right-after-WWII-era report on how to properly engineer spaced armor arrays that mentions that a small amount of stand-off applique armor will actually increase penetration by shaped charges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, EnsignExpendable said:

In that HEAT video I posted, a little bit of a standoff goes a long way. I think I also saw the same graph that you mention and the effectiveness starts dropping off again after a few cm of standoff, so I guess the trick was just more bags.

600mm for large caliber ATGMs if I remember correctly, anything less and penetration increases. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, EnsignExpendable said:

It was definitely less than 600 mm for the curve I saw for the Panzerfaust.

 

3 minutes ago, Xoon said:

600mm for large caliber ATGMs if I remember correctly, anything less and penetration increases. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WWII-era shaped charges were poorly optimized in a number of ways.  They were fairly new and nobody knew what the hell they were doing, so they had some quirks.

 

WWII-era HEAT didn't have any built-in standoff, or at least not enough, so increasing the standoff distance by a small amount could actually increase the penetration of the rounds.  On the other hand, WWII-era HEAT was crudely constructed by modern standards, which meant that the jet didn't form very cleanly and started to disintegrate quickly.  This meant that a fair amount of standoff could allow for enough distance that the effectiveness of the jet was greatly diminished.

 

Modern HEAT is much more sophisticated.  A while back I read through a book on shaped charge design (because I LOOOOOVVVEEE being on watch lists) that mentions that details as small as the residual stresses in the liners after construction are taken into consideration.  Very sophisticated computer modeling and empirical testing methods are used to design shaped charges now.  As a result, they are much less sensitive to standoff because the jets are very clean and don't come apart rapidly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HOT is quite impressive in that test.  Not only do you need 3 meters of standoff to do any net good, but it seems to have the most consistent penetration of any of the warheads tested.

 

On 6/6/2017 at 2:53 PM, EnsignExpendable said:

Pounding the front armour with HE is a losing proposition unless you have something really beefy like a 122 or 152 mm gun, the pro tip is to plant a round just above the tracks and knock out the floor of the sponson. If you do that to a German tank, congratulations, you just caused an ammunition fire.

 

Are there battle reports of people doing this?  That sounds like a difficult shot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Collimatrix said:

HOT is quite impressive in that test.  Not only do you need 3 meters of standoff to do any net good, but it seems to have the most consistent penetration of any of the warheads tested.

 

 

Are there battle reports of people doing this?  That sounds like a difficult shot.

 

No, but then again, I haven't seen battle reports specify where the tank was hit that much in general.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit of quick searching finds a simpified penetration model and a few tests into frozen dirt:

 

Using the former and plugging in appropriate values using known penetration - a panzerfaust can penetrate something like 1.1m into dirt.

 

So a suitably thick sandbag might actually do a good job of eating up the penetration capacity of a primitive shaped charge - lowering penetration by anything from 25-50%. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One question I've always had is whether there's anything resembling a "focal point" with HEAT type warheads...

 

What I mean by this is can you engineer them with a sort of optimal penetrative depth to where the jet or EFP starts to spread out just as it's getting into the crew compartment of what you're intending to kill with a particular product?

 

If I wasn't on watch lists before... I am now, but I really want to know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Toxn said:

A bit of quick searching finds a simpified penetration model and a few tests into frozen dirt:

 

Using the former and plugging in appropriate values using known penetration - a panzerfaust can penetrate something like 1.1m into dirt.

 

So a suitably thick sandbag might actually do a good job of eating up the penetration capacity of a primitive shaped charge - lowering penetration by anything from 25-50%. 

https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults/titleDetail/DE85011182.xhtml

 

Have fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Similar Content

    • By Militarysta
      About tank guns and amunition, hope it will be interesting topic :-)
       
      In penetration data I will base on russian sources -they are ussaly most credible (the best). I will ussaly give value for monolith steel plate slopped on 60@ - it's the best scenario for APFSDS penetrator. In sucht scenario (slopped on 60@ plate) penetration value can be bigger at even 17-20% then on 0.degree plate - this is caused by "asymmetry loads back surface" of the plate):

       
       
      First:
      M829
      M829A1
      M829A2
      M829A3
      M829A4
       
      M829:
      DOI: 1985
      penetration at 2km, on plate slopped by 60@: 540-560mm RHA:
       
       

       
       
      M829A1
      DOI - 1989 (in some sources - 1988) 
      penetration: at 2km, on plate slopped by 60@: circa 700mm RHA
      this round was to weak to overcome T-80U and T-80UD and T-72B m.1989 whit Kontakt-5 ERA, what was "suprisly" discover on tests in circa 1994. The same story was whit DM43 prototypes..
       

       
      M829A2
      DOI - 1992
      penetration: at 2km, on plate slopped by 60@: circa 740mm RHA
      Fist US round whit composite sabot.
       
      (lack good photos)
      insted of this:
       
      KE-W so M829A1 but whit WHA penetrator, and KEW-E3 so M829A2 whit WHA long rod.

       
       
      M829A3
      DOI - 2003
      penetration: at 2km, on plate slopped by 60@: propably circa 800mm RHA, but is not sure value,
      round devleoped to everpas heavy ERA but whit unkown result
       

       
       
      M829A4
      DOI -2016 :-)
       
      penetration - no idea 
      It's very interesting round
       

       
      data link is  for APFSDS round?!
      I have a hypothesis...
      Ok so it have data link to be programmed, it is said to be capable to defeat 3rd generation heavy ERA (Relikt, Knife, etc.) and active protection systems (hard kill). It seems that focus is primary on defeating heavy ERA. But then again, why do you need to program just a long rod fired by a big gun?

      There are few options:

      - Gudining the round,
      - Precursor,
      - "Intelligent" control over propelant charge ignition (dependant on propelant temperature, environment temperature, gun service life, range to target etc.)

      And truth to be told hypothesis that there is some sort of precursor in the rod is the only hypothesis that makes sense. Control over propelant charge ignition is not needed and probably not possible at all with current technology, besides the M829A4 (and all newer US ammo types for 120mm smoothbore) use insensitive propelant charges. And it is nowhere mentioned in any document avaiable for public. Guiding the rod to target? Perhaps possible from technical point of view, but why? Again it was nowhere said that FCS for M1A2SEPv3 have ability to guide any type of rounds. And manouvering of the rod during flight means loss of a lot of energy, even if this manouvering would be done to "cheat" the APS for example.

      So perhaps the option is to somehow use a precursor that is "fired ahead" of the main rod.


       
       
      So how the rod designs looks like here? The rod is made from two segments, the "precursor" and the main rod behind it. How they are connected? it might be some sort of polymer, glue that can be weakened by heat and the release precursor, and during flight rods heat up pretty nicely.

      The precursor can also be relased based on a simple difference of speed between it and the main rod, and main rod can be slowed down by some sort of additional fins (aerodynamic breaks) released at specific point programmed by FCS. In such case precuros would initiate ERA and the main rod would have a clear way to main armor of the target.

      How to cheat APS tough? Counting that precursor will be qualified by APS as threat and APS will be initiated, creating a time gap in APS reaction so it won't be able to counter the main rod? Possible yes, but then there is question, if APS will just not ignore the precursor, and this might happen, now of course there is a question how dangerous is precursor itself? For a MBT or vehicle with similiar levels of protection, for it's front it won't be dangerous in most cases, sides? If they do not have any addon armor, very possible. For lightweight platforms, yeah precursor also will be dangerous.

      Of course these are only hypothesis, and we will see if other nations will also design APFSDS rounds with data link. Then we might get closer to the truth. Right now, treat it as food for thoughts.
       
      of course this data link coud be placed only for security resons, as one person on TankNet had wrote:
       
      :-)
       
      ps. prefragmentet APFSDS during flying exist now, as smal-scale models and test object:

    • By FaustianQ
      Trying to figure out if the 105mm Howitzers had more than the M67 HEAT for defensive purposes in Korea, or if M67 HEAT had been revised by that point at all.
    • By Walter_Sobchak
      This is a must watch for all Sherman tank fans.  
       

    • By EnsignExpendable
      Neat video showing off how HEAT shells work. The guy detonates 4 charges, one that's just explosive, one with explosive that has an indentation in it, then one with an explosive that has an indentation in it that's filled with metal, and finally, the same charge as in part 3, but at a small offset to focus the blast.
       

×