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Something interesting about Merkava III's armor protection(in Chinese):

Some of these images are come from Chinese course book《装甲防护技术基础》(The basic technology of armor protection), and others are come from this issue: http://www.cnki.com.cn/Article/CJFDTotal-BQZS200108004.htm

The main author of these two sources is one of the chief tank designers in China. Mr.Zhang has presided over a design of front-engine tank scheme under the frame of Chinese 3rd gen MBT, but there was little info refer to these history)

233542eraxu33r3hhsu5iq.jpg

Photo of Mr.Zhang and General Tal.

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The cast turret base and weld frame.

235244ecxckc8sxdxktwdz.png

Special armor covered, those colored parts most likely are heavy NERA or Built-in-ERA structure modules, while others are lighter module I guess.

235245w5f5ci8iel35apwj.png

T-3/4 module before shooting by a HEAT warhead of HOT missile. According to previous picture, it should be the side armor of the turret. So we can assume that the front arc of Merkava III's turret, looks likely ±30°,which can withstand more than 700mm even 800mm penetration from CE threat.

235247cnwneqtqq20t482q.jpg
Still the T-3/4 module,before hitting by a RPG warhead. 

I am confused this number as T-9/4 at my first look, but it is more likely a distorted "3". There are some reasons: (1) Its thickness doesn't seem to fit on top of the turret. (2) In this pic the threat is RPG warhead, moreover, its incidence normal angle is smaller than the previous HOT warhead, which can be used as a useful basis for judging.

154532gtkrmqekbk1bo2or.png

Built-in ERA structure, the left side is Israeli scheme, and Russian scheme at right side.

235712ab4sfybleuewu0py.png

235721qvlctalofrazom4j.png

213533i5erdypjjh4yyjrj.png

213533j9ocx4dr79rc42cl.png

The armor layout of tank Merkava Mk III. The solid line is base steel armor's equivalent thickness, including spaced armor array inside the hull( The table above shows the thickness and inclination of the base steel armor,  unfortunately many  notes are missing in the PDF) and the dotted line is the special armor's protection capability against KE ammunition, up to 450mm RHA on turret front and 350-400mm on the UFP.

 

 

Hope you guys will enjoy this post:D

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So basically, vs KE:

 

LFP: 170mm.

UFP low section: 420mm.

UFP high section: 330mm.

Turret (uniform): 450mm.

 

Rear hull low section: 80mm.

Rear hull high section: 50mm.

 

Turret rear declined section: 90mm.

Turret rear flat section: 50mm.

 

What's interesting is that the UFP is not uniform in its protection, and the rear section of the tank.

The UFP is actually split into 2 areas, one is where the engine and transmission are located, and the other is where the driver is located. They have different angles, and the driver also has an additional protection in front of him, albeit very thin.

This diagram must refer to the UFP in front of the driver and not the engine bay because the section in front of the engine actually grows in thickness and effectiveness as you go up. 

 

 

Also: Despite the thickness there being odd on the T-9/4, it makes sense that it's a "9" and not a "3" because the roof armor was there to protect against RPG warheads, not ATGMs, whilst the turret sides at a certain angle were indeed supposed to provide protection against ATGMs. 

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19 hours ago, Molotav_DIGITANK said:

Something interesting about Merkava III's armor protection(in Chinese):

Some of these images are come from Chinese course book《装甲防护技术基础》(The basic technology of armor protection), and others are come from this issue: http://www.cnki.com.cn/Article/CJFDTotal-BQZS200108004.htm

The main author of these two sources is one of the chief tank designers in China. Mr.Zhang has presided over a design of front-engine tank scheme under the frame of Chinese 3rd gen MBT, but there was little info refer to these history)

 

Hope you guys will enjoy this post:D

Can you upload PDF to a site from which other mortals can download it, please? Our Hacking powers failed.

 :hacking:

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19 hours ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

Also: Despite the thickness there being odd on the T-9/4, it makes sense that it's a "9" and not a "3" because the roof armor was there to protect against RPG warheads, not ATGMs, whilst the turret sides at a certain angle were indeed supposed to provide protection against ATGMs. 

But its angle looks very strange.

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12 minutes ago, LoooSeR said:

Is this book (《装甲防护技术基础》(The basic technology of armor protection)) availiable in PDF/electronic version?

Yes, it is a useful course book and very easy to be found in Chinese Internet, however its hardcover is very rare now.

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On 3/30/2018 at 2:07 PM, Mighty_Zuk said:

Israel's artillery-oriented magazine shared an interesting article by Lt Col Rafi Almagor that shares insights from the past development of the Sholef, that could be implemented in the development of the new, yet-unnamed howitzer in development.

Lt Col Rafi Almagor was one of the heads of the Sholef program.

 

The article is in Hebrew and translated to English by me:

  Reveal hidden contents

Development of the future self propelled howitzer of the artillery corps, one of the main projects of the ground arm, began last year in the company Elbit Systems. This isn't the first time Elbit's plant in Yokneam develops a howitzer for the IDF. In fact, in the days of Soltam, in the 80's of the last century, a new howitzer was developed under the name "Sholef". That project did not materialize to serial production, but the technology of the Sholef and its development technique were studied and implemented by German companies for the sake of the development and manufacturing of the Panzer 2000 howitzers, sold across the world.

The demand to develop the Sholef came after the Yom Kippur War, tells Lt Col Rafi Almagor, that served as the head of the development department.

At the time, there were only 2 battalions of the Rochev (M109A5), that was the best howitzer in the corp. All the other howitzers were either towed or self propelled, but even the self propelled ones were almost like towed ones, for example the M-50 (Sherman based L-33 cannon).

The requirement was for a cannon that was better propelled, with higher rate of fire, with longer ranges, and better protection. After a long round of debates it was decided that the Sholef project would be based on the Merkava and handled by MANTAK (Merkava Tank Administration).

The idea was to developed a turret that is all artillery, and on the other hand use an existing hull that was developed for the Merkava. The Merkava was suitable because its engine was in the front. At the time, the idea to put the M-50's engine at the front was revolutionary and allowed converting a tank hull to a howitzer's hull. In essence, it was the beginning of the conception of a universal platform for all corps.

The Sholef's characteristics included among other things a 52 caliber gun, a range of 40km and a high rate of fire of 9 rounds per minute. The cannon included a semi-robotic system, meaning the shells were moved by a robotic system, and the charges were moved manually, because at the time it wasn't known where the future of charges would go - liquid, modular, or electro-magnetic. Thus, the line of thought was that we need to be prepared for everything. Additionally, for the Sholef to be more available in all combat scenarios, improvements were made tot he protection, and means against bomblets, shrapnel, and small arms fire were added.

In his opinion, similarly, the development of the new howitzer requires creative thought that would provide a long term solution. 

In the framework of development you have to understand 2 things:

1)You never really know what they'll demand of you in the end.

2)When you have a good weapon that can move everywhere, outranges everything, and can fire in direct firing mode - you can do special things during combat that the enemy won't expect.

That's what accompanies me all the time when I think about the future howitzer.

During his time in the project, Almagor commanded on the team that did the field testing. In his opinion, if the Sholef was operational, it would still be a world leading howitzer. In the end, it didn't become operational, but its demonstrators have shown impressive capabilities in all parameters - firepower, mobility, and protection.

Now that he's aware of the development of the new howitzer, he asks the new development team to learn from his experience.

According to media releases, the demonstrator that Elbit develops will be based on the ATMOS, but will be better and more innovative, explains Almagor.

The ammunition handling system will be fully robotized; From the automatic loading of the fuze, the modular charges, the loaded shell, and the firing - all will be done without human intervention. The soldiers will be in the cabin, as is in the MLRS today. They will input all the data to the mission computer, and the howitzer will commence the loading and firing sequence automatically. This is an innovative approach that shows technological advancement. In comparison with the tools we have today, we understand that the new howitzer will bring an improvement in almost every parameter. What interests me is if the howitzer will provide a long term solution, or are we settling for what is trendy in today's market?

 

I learned about the importance of mobility only through the Sholef, and my insistence on the Merkava. In one of the exercises in the Golan we ran into a tactical problem when the Sholef was stationed in Katzrin, and the exercise itself was in Yosifon. About 6 hours before the drill, when the howitzer was ready in position, a safety directive was received, according to which, we couldn't conduct the firing as planned, and they were about to cancel the artillery support. The section commander received a path, and through the inertial navigation system, the Sholef 'cut' through the Golan Heights with the Merkava's treads, and arrived at peak speed in the staging zone of the assault forces.

Meaning, the Sholef's mobility allowed it to conduct this unexpected move and managed to prevent the abortion of its participation in an exercise.

During my work with the Sholef, I ran into many cases where the Rochev (M109A5) had trouble going through certain terrain, whereas the Sholef wasn't bothered by it.

During my days as an instructor in a battalion commanders' course, I witnessed how better the mobility of the Merkava was compared to the other AFVs that were there, in every terrain. Even good artillery will be required to do some unexpected actions.

We had a few exercises when the Sholef was driving alongside the tanks to solve a certain scenario in a very 'special' terrain conditions. Had it not had the tracks that allowed it to 'sprint' with the tanks, and the large belly (ammo storage), it would have been a significant disadvantage. So the mobility allows me to go 'wild' on the battlefield and do things the enemy wouldn't expect me to be able to do.

It's obvious the new howitzer will be much better than the Rochev, but it's important to see how limited it will be in certain conditions.

 

Another important aspect in the conception of the new howitzer is its firing and loading systems, with emphasis on their reliability. In the technological age of today, Almagor explains, automatic systems are far more reliable than they were in the Sholef's days, and they know how to locate and analyze almost any fault. With that in mind, we need to be careful so that technology wouldn't dictate our actions and cripple our forces when the reported faults don't need the reality on the field.

When we asked Aviel to insert new capabilities, we had to make sure that the addition brings an operational advantage, and that we control the technology and not it controls us, he adds.

When we're talking about weapon systems, the ability to override the automatic systems is critical. That is, I must be able to tell the robot "I understand you, there's a problem but keep going". In the Sholef we dedicated a lot of thought into that. If the robot tells you, for example, that there's no shell in the barrel, but you can see that there is, and there's a problem with a small sensor - does the commander have the ability to override the problem and continue the mission, or should the whole system be shut down?

Will the howitzer only work when it's 100%? Or will it work when there are malfunctions? All this needs to be considered. Even if today's systems are more reliable sevenfold, the new howitzer will be 20 times more complex, and thus the expectancy of malfunctions will not reduce.

 

In the battlefield, the howitzer is of course more exposed to dangers than sand and mud. Almagor identifies the aspect of self defense as a potential weakspot. Historically, we can put less emphasis on protection because few are the times when we're hit with counter-battery fire. But whoever fears counter-battery and wants to increase his range, deploy on larger areas, and quick movements after firing, must also provide an answer against short range shrapnel, small arms fire in case of commando attack, and protection of the charges' bin.

I think the new howitzer must have means of self protection for the crew. Whether it is machine guns, a mortar, or other means. The howitzer cannot be dependent on another protective force. 

From my experience, I'd recommend it have a few minimal protective capabilities. In the Sholef we had 2 machine guns on the roof that provided us great protection against infantry. We pondered whether to add a mortar like they had in the armored corps - but we didn't adopt the idea in the end.

According to the media, the new howitzer will present improved rate of fire, that will allow few vehicles to provide high concentrations of fire with high accuracy. In Almagor's opinion, in order to have a high rate of fire, the the importance of the belly (ammo storage) is critical.

Other than having just a wide belly that will allow a large number of shells that will support a high number of missions, a high variety of types of shells is also important. A howitzer with many shell types will be more flexible.

Today's developments in the artillery world present a high variety of innovative ammunition. With that in mind, there also needs to be the capability to fire old types of ammunition. If we look at the military history of Israel, it seems that in every lengthy war we had to receive support from friendly states in order to refill our ammo stocks. So that the importance of backwards compatibility is significant in this regard.

Another aspect of the ammunition belly is the 'ground shells' (shells provided by the ammo carrier that are usually just dropped on the ground near the howitzer) . At the time we thought the Sholef should fire these. That is, if I am in a safe position, it's best I fire these before I start consuming my internal ammo, and only consume it when I maneuver. I suggest the developers look into this aspect as well.

 

Screenshot_1.png

 

Is there a digital version of the Hebrew original?

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1 hour ago, Sovngard said:

@Mighty_Zuk

 

Well, with all these information, you should write an article on the Mk. 3 armor right now. 1522687557-screen-shot-2018-03-01-at-12-

It's been in progress for a long time. This will definitely add some depth to it, but I still need info on the Mark 1 and 2 tanks. 

 

 

@Molotav_DIGITANK

Is there anything on the physical thickness of the armor, rather than just protection values?

 

Also, there's a photo of the up-armored Mark 3 there, in a configuration that didnt enter service. Does it say anything special about it? Purpose and such. Thanks.

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16 minutes ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

It's been in progress for a long time. This will definitely add some depth to it, but I still need info on the Mark 1 and 2 tanks. 

 

 

@Molotav_DIGITANK

Is there anything on the physical thickness of the armor, rather than just protection values?

 

Also, there's a photo of the up-armored Mark 3 there, in a configuration that didnt enter service. Does it say anything special about it? Purpose and such. Thanks.

 

How far along are you with your Merkava I and II study ?

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1 hour ago, Wiedzmin said:

q0VQ-s4m9Vc.jpg

Merkava hull ?

 

Mark 1-2. Definitely. Although it does seem to miss the curved armor over the engine compartment, and the wall between the driver and that same compartment. Also misses the rather massive rear door. Other than that, all seems good.

This gives it a LoS thickness of 212mm.

 

2 hours ago, Laviduce said:

 

How far along are you with your Merkava I and II study ?

 

Not far enough. Mostly the well established stuff. It's nearly impossible to find concrete stats that are comprehensive enough because of the odd shape of the hull itself. But Wiedzmin just helped me get closer to the finish line.

 

If you want a spoiler, the conclusions are pretty much:

Mark 1: Composite armor technology already exists for it, but the industry is not prepared to manufacture it (too poor quality, lots of resources getting wasted in the process, about 90% actually, and production rate is only 25% of what is required to keep up with the tank production). So they just make it durable enough against the most immediate threats. Therefore by (then) modern standards it was sub-par, especially at the hull. Engine somewhat makes up for it.

Mark 2: Production capability has improved enough to allow putting composites on the more vital areas, but not everywhere. Sub-par on the hull. Engine makes up for it.

Mark 3: Composite armor everywhere, protection capabilities were pretty much the same as contemporary tanks.

Mark 4: Literally god tier. Bow before it or perish.

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1 hour ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

 

Mark 1-2. Definitely. Although it does seem to miss the curved armor over the engine compartment, and the wall between the driver and that same compartment. Also misses the rather massive rear door. Other than that, all seems good.

Mk3.

External fuel tanks are vertical. 

 

1 hour ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

If you want a spoiler, the conclusions are pretty much:

Mark 1: Composite armor technology already exists for it, but the industry is not prepared to manufacture it (too poor quality, lots of resources getting wasted in the process, about 90% actually, and production rate is only 25% of what is required to keep up with the tank production). So they just make it durable enough against the most immediate threats. Therefore by (then) modern standards it was sub-par, especially at the hull. Engine somewhat makes up for it.

Mark 2: Production capability has improved enough to allow putting composites on the more vital areas, but not everywhere. Sub-par on the hull. Engine makes up for it.

Mk1 was not an initial batch of the so called Mk2 ?

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28 minutes ago, Serge said:

Mk3.

External fuel tanks are vertical. 

 

Mk1 was not an initial batch of the so called Mk2 ?

I'm not following. Where do you see the fuel tanks there? Are you referring to the rear sponsons by a chance?

 

 

Also, it is possible to see the Mark 1 as an early batch or prototype, but still there were some differences in armor. Notably, the chains in the back and composite armor plates on the sides.

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8 hours ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

I'm not following. Where do you see the fuel tanks there? Are you referring to the rear sponsons by a chance?

q0VQ-s4m9Vc.jpg

It clearly shows the rear fuel tanks introduced by Mk3. The shape is different from the former Mk2 battery/CBRN filter compartment. 

 

Quote

Also, it is possible to see the Mark 1 as an early batch or prototype, but still there were some differences in armor. Notably, the chains in the back and composite armor plates on the sides.

Adding chains-balls is just an hour welding job, same for the side armored plats bolted on the sides. It doesn’t change the tank design. 

Even the new mortar position is a very light modification. Look at the Dor Dalet standard. It’s a little bit more complex change, isn’t it ?

With the Merkava program, you have only 3 generations of tanks. 

 

The same thing occurred with the South-African G6. Prototypes were send to battle in Angola. 

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It's very much the same story with many weapon systems today. The naming became far more conservative after the end of the cold war.

 

Leopards literally got new names (2A1, 2A2 etc) just because of the batch numbers at the time, with minor improvements only.

The Abrams had gained more capabilities in the SEP programs than going from M1A1HA to M1A2 did.

 

I looked a bit into what the sponsons on the Mark 3 contain and I remembered that the Mark 4 does have fuel tanks there (though not only, obviously, there's other equipment like infantry phone etc), so it makes sense the Mark 3 made the first move (EDIT: Found the pics I was looking for, definitely has openings there for fuel). But if that's the Mark 3, then it really makes no sense. The plate which the diagram depicts  is of the thickness that is in front of the engine compartment, not the driver. The driver's plate is reinforced and is double the thickness there. There's also mentioning of the Mark 4 in that book, which is the only tank in the series to have a completely flat UFP, but then its armor thickness there is more than 3 times as much, and it has the same sponson shape at the rear where the fuel tanks are.

 

EDIT2: Here you can see that the main plate could be argued as being 55mm thick, although it is curved thus it's not the one referred to, while the driver's plate is made up of 2 plates of similar thickness:

Spoiler

merkava3_01_b.jpg

 

And here's one with up-armored front (and sides also, but that's unnecessary):

Spoiler

Merkava4_6.jpg

I'll never understand why MANTAK had developed such an extensive armor kit for the Mark 3, and even mounted it on the Mark 2D, but chose not to apply it to the Mark 3 even though newer variants like the recently shown Mark 3M have even further improved turret armor.

I could understand that the Mark 3 was the last one considered to be built for defensive warfare and thus didn't need the hull armor, and that the Mark 4 has much thicker armor thanks to it being more offense and mobility oriented, but it doesn't absolve them from upgrading the Mark 3s to meet the new combat perception and doctrine.

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Hi,

It was explained to me by people in MANTAK, that the Merkava 1 was rushed into service before it was ready.  The Merkava 2, if there would not have been such pressure to introduce the tank into the order of battle,  would have been the first model accepted for service. The intent was  that by telescoping the evolution of the Merkava and learning from combat lessons, what was in essence a developmental vehicle, could be rapidly modified into a fully fledged MBT. 

 

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