On German Armour

A while ago, I wrote a Q&A special on Soviet tank armour. Since then I have gotten periodic requests to do a similar special on German tank armour. Initially, I did not intend to write such an article, but duty calls. However, this is no ordinary article.

Usually, archive materials do not particularly surprise me. I see a “that’s interesting” here and there, maybe a “huh, I didn’t know that”. I’ve even come to terms with ridiculous things that happen when you try to compare reports from the two sides involved. But this, this is something unprecedented. Many things I have written shocked my readers, but this discovery shocked even me.

It all started, as it usually does, with an argument on an internet forum. As it often happens, we were discussing a DTIC document, specifically “Metallurgical Examination of Armor and Welded Joints from the Side of a German PzKw (Panther) Tank“, to be precise. This report says lots of things one would normally expect to see in a report about late-war German armour: “The steel quality rating was “D”…which is borderline acceptable”, “the fracture was extremely brittle in nature, with a bright flat crystalline surface”, “inferior toughness, as evidenced by brittle fractures and low impact resistance”, “extremely poor shock properties”, etc, etc. If you looked into German armour in any serious manner, you’ve seen it all before. However, WoT forums poster Daigensui brought something unexpected to my attention, a claim by American intelligence that the quality of German armour did not deteriorate from 1942 to 1945. I did not believe my eyes. How could that be? Surely German armour in 1942 was not as bad as it was in 1945? Let’s take a trip back in time, through many years of armour samples, to see where it all went wrong.

The aforementioned report is from 1945, past the end of the war. Let’s rewind a bit and look at a slightly earlier study, “Metallurgical Examination of a 3-1/4″ Thick armor Plate from a German PzKw V (Panther) Tank“, written in January of 1945. Not surprisingly, it’s full of the same reviews: “poor toughness”, “resulting fracture exhibited a rough crystalline surface”, etc. All right, but that was only a few months prior, let’s go back even further.

In August of 1944, the Soviets captured a shiny new German tank, the Tiger II (depending on who you ask). Obviously, the Soviet were curious about the tank’s thick armour, and it was tested extensively (courtesy of litl-bro). The Soviet findings are largely the same: “The front plates of the hull and turret, as demonstrated in the trials, are low quality. When the armour was not penetrated (dented), the armour formed large cracks, and large fragments broke off the rear side.” Don’t worry about the “front” qualifier, the side armour is discussed in a later section of the report. “Due to a decrease in the armour quality, and due to relatively weak side armour, the tank is vulnerable to domestic 85, 100, 122, and 152 mm guns, as well as the American 76.2 mm gun”. The gunnery report is also quite critical of the armour: “The quality of the armour of the Tiger B dropped radically compared to the quality of armour of the Tiger H, Panther, and Ferdinand”. Translations of parts of these reports are available here, here, here, here, and here.

Oh hey, there it is, radical drop in quality! Could this be it? I mean, in 1944, it would make sense for German armour quality to drop. Their allies are leaving one by one, their factories are being bombed, the Western Allies are moving up through France, the Soviets crossed their old borders and are on German territory. But we’re not satisfied with conjecture! Forward and onward backward, to 1943!

May, 1943. The Red Army has seen a number Tiger tanks by this point, and drags one to the proving grounds to see just what makes them tick. I’ll skip to the conclusions: “As a result of hits from 57, 85, and 122 mm guns, the armour cracks and fragments break off. … The welding seams are very fragile, and are destroyed when the armour is hit by armour piercing shells.” If you go and click the links above, you’ll see the nitty gritty pictures and details, but the nature of the damage is the same as to the King Tiger: burst welding seams, crystalline cracks, breaches much larger than a caliber in size. The quality of the armour on the King Tiger might have gone down, but it didn’t go down that far compared to its predecessor. Seems that we have a bit to go before we find what we’re looking for.

Even further back, to 1942. Many Lend-Lease, domestic, and captured guns are tested against German vehicles. Here’s where something strange happens. The StuG that is being tested performs very well. No cracks after being shot at with a 45 mm gun, penetrations only slightly larger than a caliber in size. Then the PzIII is swapped in, and the performance is absolutely abysmal. Huge cracks from the same anaemic 45 mm peashooter, the front armour plate falls off, breaches up to 120 mm in size form. When the 76 mm gun comes into play, the results are even worse: a single penetrating shot shatters a meter-long section of armour. Breaches increase up to 240 mm. The PzIV doesn’t do much better. If you want, details are found here and here, as well as the above links. Aside from the StuG, the armour quality is low, which is mentioned by Malyshev himself in a note complaining about the shape of Soviet shells: “There are two reasons why we do not need to worry about the armour piercing properties of our shells. One is that our 45 and 76 mm guns are very powerful. The other is that German tanks are weakly armoured (40-50 mm in the front, 30 mm on the sides), and German armour is of poor quality.”

We’re on a roll, so let’s keep going. In his memoirs, “Memories of a Soldier”, Guderian writes some reasons why German engineers, as excited as they were about captured T-34s, could not produce a copy. Among those reason, there is one we case about: “… our hardened steel, whose quality was dropping due to a lack of natural resources, was inferior to the Russians’ hardened steel.” The events he recalls in this section happened in November 1941, a few months after Barbarossa started, long before any kind of significant damage to German factories caused by Allied bombings.

Why stop at 1941? Let’s go way back, to the start of the war. As a part of the agreement between the USSR and Germany, the USSR got a copy of Germany’s latest and greatest in tank technology. Of course, they tested every molecule of the tank they received. The results were bad. Really bad. The German armour failed catastrophically when subjected to the absolute minimum condition for acceptance by Soviet engineers. They were so shocked, they made an identical section of armour out of Soviet steel, just to make sure that there wasn’t anything about the armour’s shape that made it crumble to bits.

This was armour made before the war, before Allied bombings, before any lack of vital metals. This was German industry’s finest hour, and their output was unacceptable by the standards of the Soviet military. Even without any excuses, the mythical Krupp steel does not measure up to Izhor’s product.

“But Ensign!” some of you may complain, “Doyle himself said that 30 mm of German armour was worth 60 mm of other armour on Overlord’s blog!” The people that claim this aren’t remembering the specific post very well. 30 mm of high quality German armour was worth as much as 60 mm of Czechoslovakian armour, which wasn’t particularly amazing either. From the Soviet trials of the Pz38(t): “The armour of the Czechoslovak “Praga” 38T tank is very brittle, fragments easily, and gives large cracks.” Armour that’s superior to that isn’t particularly difficult to obtain. He also states that quality of German welding did not deteriorate throughout the war. If you follow the articles linked above, this is true, their welding seams burst from penetrating and nonpenetrating hits in 1942 just as well as they do in 1945.

Now, I’m not saying that all German armour was bad. From that StuG tested above, you can clearly see that not all German armour was that abysmal. But what you can also see is that German armour varied wildly in quality (see also the “soft” British Tiger), leaning towards the bad more so than the good. There is no magical Krupp Steel that is somehow superior to all (or even some) steel from the Allies.

122 thoughts on “On German Armour

  1. So basically what this says is that rather than German armor quality decreasing as time went on, it started off poor (on average) and remained poor throughout the war. Well, there’s a reason German technology is stereotyped as efficient (not always true) but expensive (often true), not for consistent quality control or quality assurance.

    Certainly an interesting read though. Where can I find this report that Daigensui brought to your attention? I’d like to have a chance to read it myself.

        • The entire discussion starts from the following post: http://forum.worldoftanks.com/index.php?/topic/279681-t110s-return-to-comfort/page__st__31480__pid__6238816#entry6238816

          The specific post is the following, referring to”German Cast Armor”, Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee, Page 4-5 : http://forum.worldoftanks.com/index.php?/topic/279681-t110s-return-to-comfort/page__st__31500__pid__6239355#entry6239355

          Basically, the conclusion reached was that in general (leaving aside quality control problems) there was no degrading of German steel quality. The problem was that the reality of changing environment of the Soviets going with large caliber guns capable of brute forcing with APHE and HE basically put the German armor philosophy into the dustbin by being outdated.

          • Good that most german tanks were (not!) made out of casted armor….dont mix apples and oranges here.

            But what to expect of Esnign expendables posts… ive never read sth uplifting about germans in his writings… but yeah, one needs to spread what he believes in.

            hell the reliability of your posts, EE are (for me personally) so low that id totally expect you to write like:
            “hey, newest reports said, the war didnt go 6 years but 4. U didnt expect that? Well u know the germans were so bad they destroyed berlin themselves in 43. Believe me im speaking the truth”
            “where do you have it from”
            “oh ive read it dozen times.. dont have a source per se but i found it in forums”

            so far… gg

            • I know you’re being facetious (or plain stupid, as your grammar may suggest), but your comment is partially correct. When you talk about “the war” to a Russian, by default this means the Great Patriotic War, a conflict that lasted from 1941 to 1945 (4 years).

  2. I guess its not the tank (or armor) its the driver..
    I wonder if the success and myth created about german tanks stems from good german drivers, good officer training, better communications and tactics and good integration with other units, such as infantry support and artillery. The tanks themselves may have had poor quality armor, but maybe it was the crews all along that made the difference in the beginning at least?

      • Actually the Germans really didn’t believe in “Command and Control”. That’s a British/French thing. There were more about communicate and coordinate. If a general like say Rommel or Guderian did “control” a small unit at the front it was because they were there in person overseeing it. They gave lower level officers a lot of latitude.

        Command and Control = micromanagement = bad

    • There was that as well as the psychological aspects of warfare. Up until the failed siege on Moscow, the Wehrmacht was seen as nigh invincible by most of their adversaries, and that adds a significant fear factor that has to be taken into account at least in the earlier parts of the war; as one German officer (I think it was Heinz Guderian) put it after the failure to take Moscow before the onset of Winter: “the myth of (the Wehrmacht’s) invincibility has been shattered.”

    • OK as a panzer Historian what was the condition of the captured vehicle prior to testing??? It is a well known fact on all sides the Heer ordered Tigers and Tiger II’s to be scuttled to not fall into the hands of the enemy. So due to the fact of overly stated Russian statistics which is also well known. What is the actual truth???

      • Enough German vehicles were captured intact enough to still be operational by the Allies that it’s very likely they drove them to the testing grounds on their own power. You have to remember that the Allies were able to operate units with captured Panthers during the war, it’s very likely they managed to capture operational Tigers as well, especially if the vehicle broke down in combat and had to be abandoned before they could be scuttled but were an easy enough fix when bullets and shells weren’t raining on you.

        Overall, I’d guess they managed to get their hands on some working Tigers, probably drove them around a bit and studied the overall design, then shelled the crap out of them.

  3. Its not just the alloy, nor processing nor thickness of the armor. Alone each of the 3 could toast the armor plate. But you can combine all there to make an very effective armor plate.

    It’s just complicated.

    Might have to do an article on it at some point.

  4. Careful Ensign, there’s going to be people raging that this article is “Capitalist Propaganda” just like when you wrote that 5 Shermans to 1 Panther is a myth.

    Otherwise, interesting read.

    • Indeed, it was probably closer to 4 Shermans to 4 Panthers. Why, you ask? Simple, one of them breaks down upon starting, the second one’s final drive fails on the way to the combat zone and has to be either towed back for repairs or abandoned, a third one is destroyed by allied fighter-bombers, and the fourth one knocks some Shermans before being KO’d itself. XD

      • The final drive can only fail if you use it. And drivers soon learned not to use top gear unless they had to and to take care not to stress it when they were using it.

  5. Soviet steel is so underrated… But Its kinda harsh judging German steel industry on a few reports. As you said, there where different grates of steel quality, some even reached the soviet standard. I have some american and a British reports stating the excellent quality of some tank plates, but ofc. even more saying they where of bad quality. DTIC got some

    • The issue with German steel was quality assurance (consistency in quality across all production – oddly enough this was an issue most commonly stereotyped as a problem with Soviet armor), not necessarily quality itself. Sometimes it was good, but not consistently so.

      • Through out the 1930s(early to mid) Soviet Steel was erratic in it quality most due to the way it was produced and not necessarily due to lack of materials, technical expertise or technology to produce the steels.

        There are several cases pointed out in Behind the Urals by John Scott (Yes I know its an old book but it shows how things did manage, in the end, to improve in reliability.)

        • Materials played a factor. They tried to find alloys that did not depend on imported materials, which resulted in not so great quality. Once they found some that worked, the quality was much better.

  6. Ensign, the bombing was not the reason for the quality drop.
    The loss of tungsten sources was the only true reason, it has been replaced by Vanadium. This is a metalurgic effect which is well known today as well in the industry.

    Jugding about the quality of the german-tank-steel by only a few reports is scientifically a insufficient evidence.

    Also there are lots of reports which show that there was indeed a drop. Just consider the Panthers front plate, the D-25T had trouble penetrating it with usual AP shells before mid ’44 but afterwards it was penetratable on much larger distances – because there was indeed a drop.

    I recommend reading “WW2 Ballistics: armor and gunnery” in order to get good picture of ww2 armor.


    • What do you expect by a deluded zealot like EnsignExpendable? Objectivity, neutrality or scientifically sound articles? This will never happen, so it’s pointless to read any of his articles.

      • I wouldnt go as far as to call this guy a zealot – but he sure as hell lives the ever-present russian inferiority complex coupled with all things related to WW2 and its glorious soviet struggle.

        Kind of a slightly more educated, and not quite as butt-stupid version of Y. Pasholok. Slick fellow, too – cherry picking his sources whenever it suits his little crusade of descrediting everything having to to with WW2s germany and its military endeavours.

        It does nothing good for the reputation of this blog letting questionable figures like him spill their subjective drivel here – and even go as far as to label it “historically accurate”.

    • “Also there are lots of reports which show that there was indeed a drop. Just consider the Panthers front plate, the D-25T had trouble penetrating it with usual AP shells before mid ’44 but afterwards it was penetratable on much larger distances – because there was indeed a drop.”

      How do you know that armor was produced by the same manufacturer? A D-25T had problems penetrating one Panther and not another. OK. Were both in the same condition? Did the latter one burn out, which would effect the steel? Did anything change about the D-25T’s round?

      You assume there was a drop. There could have been a lot of factors that would cause this.

      • The reports are time based. Indeed there could be other factors.
        Quality difference between factorys? We just learned that all plates were bad. So bad quality all over the way, that cant be a reason.

        • Well, in real life, RNG played a much larger factor than in the game, actually. If penetration varies by 25% (or how much it is) in real life it could go from not penetrating at all to devastating, all because of the shell that was fired.
          The way the shell was kept, where it was kept, how it was handled, how it was made all play a role. Maybe it was kept outside in the cold for a month and then shot and heated up. That isn’t good for steel. Or maybe someone dropped it and then fired it, all can have an effect on performance.
          Same goes with armour, by then industry wasn’t as advance and uniform as today, each cast plate was different, each weld was different, some were strong, some weak.
          Imagine, it’s the war and you have to build tanks. You could take your best welders and best steelworkers to make your tanks, OR you could increase production by 50% by employing also everyone else, the assistants or trainees of those workers and also unskilled workforce. You’ll have more tanks, but some are bound to have been welded together by rookies or the alloy mix was screwed up by the steelworkers.
          the RNG factor is giant, especially in state of war, when everything was falling apart.

  7. The varying quality of German steel makes sense for two reasons. One, if you’ve ever read “Wages of Destruction” by Adam Tooze. Germany was basically broke the whole time. Second was Hitler and the Nazis kissing up to the big industrialists and arms industry. If the industry knows what every it makes will be bought with no questions asked and checks on quality, and certainly the Germans didn’t, then there is no reason for many, of the contractors to cut corners.

    I mean, look at the Stryker. Hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into re-designing a “off the shelf” vehicle. When the contractors wanted to save money on the ceramic bolt-on armor they changed the makeup of the arm without bothering to tell anyone and it took years of it failing before they were called out on it. The weapon station wasn’t stabilized and you had to remove the weapon from the mount to reload it because neither the manufacture, primary contractor or US Army bothered to make sure the thing actually worked before ordering it. And lets not even get started with the MGS using a 20 year old turret design that was never completed and mounting cheap surplus (and heavily worn) 105mm M68 guns.

    Yeah, it’s hard to count on quality when the producer knows you’ll take whatever they make without bother to check it out.

    • It wasn’t even them being particularly broke that was the problem. It was that Germany had domestic iron supplies entirely too small for the task of the German War Machine and Hitler’s extreme dictates for as much ammunition as possible in the early war period.

      In Germany, they had such steel supply problems that they were forced to stop replacing their supply of railroad cargo cars almost entirely in order to build more war materiel. By about the late 1930s, the steel problem worsened when the railroads turned into miles long traffic jams because the neglected and abused railcars failed en masse on their way to the Ruhr. Germany’s arms and ammo production flatlined repeatedly as well.

  8. This is an very nice article on German Armor. I enjoyed it, keep up the good work Ensign Expendable. That’s insane how German armor didn’t really change throughout the great war.

  9. Pretty interesting stuff. You ever seen the Alkett Jagdpanzer IV over at Saumur? That large crack in the weld came from a Pak 40 (I think) shot. It also highlights the “edging” effect quite well.

  10. “History is written by victors”
    That quote makes me fucking wonder who was actually the victors, the Nazis who emigrated to USA? or just the NATO forces that formed afterwards and pointed their big Fascist guns at the other guys who refused to become their slaves.

    • Yeah and the Soviets didn’t enslave anyone and Big Uncle Joe was the original peacenik. Right?

  11. There never was magical German armor, rather the lack of proper AT guns and ammunition.

    Most tanks used by allies were in the role of infantry support carrying guns that were supposed to fire HE rounds, shooting crap AP rounds well over their effective distance…

    • What about Magic Italian armor? You see it, then a puff of smoke and IT’S GONE!!! Like magic.

      • Magic italian armor was when Milanese knights used it against english archers – it was just specially tempered and quenching which made it very hard to crack.

  12. “60 mm of Czechoslovakian armour, which wasn’t particularly amazing either”

    This is crap by the way – or at least, broad generalization. Hilary Doyle was specifically referring to the Hetzer, where the low quality armor was used for sides. This was done specifically to save expensive armor steel (that was used for the front of the vehicle) that was at premium. Czechoslovak armor (before the war) was of quite a high quality.

  13. Metallurgical Examination of a 3-1/4″ Thick armor Plate from a German PzKw V (Panther) Tank

    Did you read the summary? they said the steel was of sound quality, and that the brittleness issue was due to improper quenching and temperment control. and the later corrected when retempered.

    This could easily explain why some panthers for example had shatter issues on the front glacis while others did not. Some (different factories?) were properly quenched at the end and others not.

      • It’s an interesting read, EE.

        The only thing I’m left wondering is why the german tanks weren’t littering every battlefield with each and every encounter with the SU or even american tanks?

        If those tests are valid, this would certainly also show up under battle-conditions, and if almost any soviet tank gun can penetrate or fracture any german tank at will (which would be the conclusion if 45mm guns shatters the tanks), there would have been no reason to develop those high-caliber guns that the soviets ended up making.

        It seems to me, that battle conditions and test conditions have had a significantly different outcome.

        That would be an interesting trail to follow – why german tanks we much feared yet were crap armored and crap powered with only the 88mm FINALLY making a difference (with all previous guns unable to take on a T-34).

        With only 20.000 tank (Pz. III, IV and V) produced and all (or the majority) of them shattering with the first encounter with any soviet AT-gun, I’d be interested in knowing how the Germans managed to penetrate all the way to Moscow and holding the soviet army at bay for three years.
        Something isn’t adding up.

        According to your article, the T-34(76) should be able to take on a Tiger I – one-on-one – and if not destroy it, at least cripple it. And there were 25 T-34′s for every Tiger I (not to mention the T-34-85)

        When I read Carius, he seemingly wasn’t bothered much by T-34s in his Tiger, even slugging it out with some IS tanks. Guess he was lucky to get the non-clay Tigers.

  14. I’m so SICK of these Russian articles. Oh German Tanks were shit. Oh German scientist were shit. Oh German shell was shit. You know what? Russia was as shitty back then! And you know what else? Today Russia has Sochi, ultimate shit in the 21st century.

    These frigging Russion “historians” and WG employees have nothing better to do than rant on how shitty German technology was and how superior Russia always has been. NOOOO there is NOOOOO bias.

    Ah, bring back Bolters Medal. Oh no it’s GERMAN!

    • all i can say is…



      no no, in all seriousness, im afraid that German steel quality was somewhat under the top standards of the US and Soviet Armor, you see, most of the German steel made for tanks was made in an oven (im not joking) that usually is preheated but not properly tempered at the right temperatures, also theres another thing that act as factor,

      the supplies of raw materials where vast and wide in Germany, leading to a mixture of materials of varying quality and specially higher on Carbon, unlike the constant homogeneous factorization of US and Soviet industry, this led tanks of varying quality, as example, the pzIII to your left could suddenly withstand a 50mm shell in the face, and the one to your right would get cracks in the main body.

      You can read this results and quality testing in the books and reports made by Vulcan Foundry & Co. which happens to be British, they completely dismantled 3 PZIII down to bits to analyze their structure composition and the result was just as the article reported:

      “the quality of the steel resembles that of ours, however we found the levels of carbon abnormally high and a constant lack of tungsten, however upon trials we have discovered that these changes offer no particular deficit or advantage over our production — HOWEVER, analyzing the quality of soldering done to the edges we find the quality to be EXTREMELY unsatisfactory by all means, — to prevent seams, German engineers had used Bolting and pitched angles upon it, but the problem was, upon this date, not been solved.”

      thats the truth about Germans, you can find actually this reports in Bovington!

      and just to finish, this reports didnt stop the German machinery to take France, the Caucasus, North Africa, Greece, and well, pretty much all of eastern Europe up to the doorsteps of Moscow

    • How terrible…

      Also, you do realize if Russians keep saying German this and that sucks, then it discredits themselves as well because they were hit pretty hard by these “inferior weapons.”

      The thing about “german superiority” is that after WWII, allies wanted to find good excuse for getting ass kicked by Germany…
      Just like Japanese magical anti-armour katana.

  15. Of course this doesn’t explain how the Germans got to 17km from Moscow in only 5 months. It also doesn’t explain why it took the Soviets 52 months to get to Berlin.

    I think it’s because quantity has its own quality.

      • “Did you miss “effective training and C&C is more important than the thickest armour and biggest gun”?”

        No, not “command and control”. The German army operated differently. More focus only junior officers and NCOs. The “command and control” concept is strictly “top-down”.

    • Of course it’s because German tanks and men are superior, and not at all due to the fact that they caught the Russians midway through modernizing.

      If they invaded one year later or one year earlier they would’ve been driven back to their original border with Poland in less than 6 months, I feel.

  16. my jimmies have been rustled

    (on the other hand, makes the success of the panzer devisions all the more impressive)

  17. It’s a shame the soviets never manage to obtain the same standards in the civilian sector…

  18. I don’t know what to say.You’ve posted another article some time ago,WWII Myths or something like that,in which you “busted” several Myth about the German army.

    I’m not a historian and I don’t have the means to check or analyse all this statements but for me it looks kind of “fishy”.

    I mean,looking as a hole,whatever you want to say,Germany was a huge Superpower in WWII and it did take a lot of effort to bring it down.And after they were finally defeated all these documents appear claiming they actually sucked…
    It just looks “fishy” to me.

    And there are still facts like the number of soldier/tanks lost during the war,proving that in the end Russia did needed a lot more Soldiers/tanks in order to finally defeat Germany,even though they were defending….

    So,I am very skeptical about any claims about Germany not being anything special.

    I am wiling to accept this things when someone will explain to me how the F did an average army,with nothing really special managed to achieve such military superiority during WWII?!
    After all,poor armor or not,they did conquer pretty much all Europe and parts of Africa and they had a fierce war with Russia in which only the huge numbers of the Russian soldier/tanks/guns defeated them.

    • “So,I am very skeptical about any claims about Germany not being anything special.”


      Some was special, some wasn’t.

      If you can’t accept that, then you have no place in a discussion.

      Patton was a visionary who learnt from the enemys tactics and a hero.
      Patton was a pseudo-suicidal, gung-ho, wasteful moronic egotistical idiot.

      Both statements are true.
      …..to an extent…..

      • You fail to see my point.
        What I am asking for is what was so great about German army that made them so powerful?

        If their armor was crap,guns accuracy was on par with Russian ones,optics had only minor advantages,French tanks were superior to German ones,etc….how come they achieved such supremacy on the battlefield?

        That’s what I’m asking for.

        • Well dear Vlad, I’m sorry, but to find that out you need to do some learning and reading yourself. You see, there are people called historians, and also military historians, that spend their time doing what you need to do, and then make books, and then earn money, hopefully.

          Von Clausewitz, Guderian, Rommel, the Blitzkrieg doctrine, Stukas, Panzer Vor!, Prussian military tradition, Bismarck, German imperialism, Drang nach Osten… you start by googling those terms, and then move on to Nazi indoctrination, issues surrounding the German defeat in WW1 and post-WW1 situation in Germany, Hitler’s rise….
          Once you absorb all that and connect the influences, if you still have questions as to why the Wermacht managed to advance so quickly in an Europe that was unprepared and buying time, come here and ask again.

          • I’m sure those are very interesting subjects,unfortunately I don’t have the time to read all that.Nevertheless I’m not completely unfamiliar with this matters.

            Even more,the average book/documentary/teacher will give me the traditional superiority of the Germany army due to their quality equipment/tanks/etc… and good training.

            On the other hand,it would be much easier if,for example,SS would write articles describing what was good in Nazi Germany and what made the Nazi War Machine so efficient. Unfortunately it looks to me like such articles will never appear on FTR.

            To conclude,the general opinion is that Germany had quality while Russians had quantity (to put it simply) and for those that state it was not the case I have the simple question: Than what made the Wehrmacht so efficient?
            They are the ones that contradict the generally accepted idea and I am expecting them to give a full overview of the hole problem,not me to do research starting from ideas that I’m not even sure how true or accurate are.

            • So, you’d basically like someone to mentally chew down a body of geopolitical and historical data the size of several Congressional libraries that has accumulated since WW2 and in which there still no agreement on most issues, and then spoon feed it to you in an article or perhaps two? Wow.

              Sorry mate, I’m afraid you won’t get that. Even if someone could do it, they would first look to get paid.

              Actually, If you have a few k euros lying about, I’d be more than happy to help you, no prob, I’ll wire you the account number, and in about a month or two we can do a deal.

              • So,in your opinion,how did Germany managed to be so efficient during the war is still a mystery and to understand it you have to spend half of your life in a library.Right,that makes perfect sense.

                How about,instead of saying that they were some Barbarians and spend our lives trying to understand how they managed to conquer us we accept that their technology was superior,like everyone else does?

                To sum it up,you want me to believe some theories that contradict the common knowledge and then spend my life reading books in a desperate try to justify those theories….

                No,thank you,I prefer to accept that they simply were better trained and had better equipment,like all evidence suggest,apart from some obscure documents that nobody heard about.
                As SS said,this is how the Russian reported their experiments and I personally believe it’s BS.

                Nazi Germany didn’t had some god-like,invincible army,but I’m damn sure they were nowhere near as bad as some people like to claim.

              • I think Vlad has a point. If the general level of German tanks were what Ensign documents, this would become apparant within the first encounters with German tanks, and the Soviets (or Americans) would quickly develop a manual that states that you just need to hit a German tank once or twice and it will fail. Or the Soviet/Allied tankers would quickly realize this and take advantage of it.

                This didn’t happen. The Germans pushed all the way to Moscow with 4000 tanks on three fronts with many of them surviving enough enemy fire (not to mention their own mechanical failures) to be diverted to Kiev and encircle forces there.

                In all honesty, if Ensigns reports are correct, the German tanker should evacuate his tank at the first sight of the enemy, as he’s just driving a 3D jigsaw puzzle. He didn’t. Why not?

                • german tanks, certain ones, could damage enemy tanks at 2 or 3 times the range that the enemy could hit the germans.

                  They were also highly trained and co-ordinated, with less of the egotistical wankering that the allies and russians were prone to (or stalins purges)

                  Where did the the germans start suffering? When they overstretched themselves or hit a “hard target” such as stalingrad.

                  Any army in history that has managed to maintain momentum has steamrollered the enemy, a running enemy is an easy enemy. Once you stall, then the issues set in.

                  A bit oversimplified, but then I think thats what Vlad needs…

  19. and still – it was enough.. to match these crappy guns the allied were send into war with..

    as they were lacking of molybdenum and important ressources to produce perfect steel quality, its no surprise and already a well known issue they had

    actually the war was won, because nazi germany’s ressources were destroyed or used up – the madness of this “pervitin-junkie” hitler was doomed from the beginning, just creating a swirl of death and blood for many years – it was just successful at the beginning because of this “blitz-krieg” – (surprising your opponents, attacking them when they are not prepared with huge momentum.. the more they were spreading, the more it slowed down and their fate was finally sealed)

  20. It is always funny when the german fan boys get some “contrary evidence” pointed their way…

    They seem to think that they were invincible and anything that says the opposite, even in the slightest, is “propoganda” or “history is written by the victors”.

    Top german engineering is excellent. Fking excellent.

    They also made some shit. Complete shit.

    • You also tend to notice: All of their shit was before 1945, and all of their good stuff was after it. Think of how long the Panther served after the war, and compare its life to the Leopard I.

      Without a doubt, comparatively the Leopard I is the better tank of its generation.

  21. “The varying quality of German steel makes sense for two reasons. One, if you’ve ever read “Wages of Destruction” by Adam Tooze. Germany was basically broke the whole time. Second was Hitler and the Nazis kissing up to the big industrialists and arms industry. If the industry knows what every it makes will be bought with no questions asked and checks on quality, and certainly the Germans didn’t, then there is no reason for many, of the contractors to cut corners. ”

    This and construction too many varieties of tanks with different standards (Porsche, Krupp…)

    And another point:
    Germany used slave labor in their production lines.
    I don’t think that, if I were one of these workers, I’d really care on quality, just working enough not to get killed.

  22. This sounds like the German armour steel was through hardened and not surface (case) hardened.

    The result is that a blow enough to crack a through hardened piece of metal can cause the whole piece to shatter due to internal stresses during the cooling period.

    Surface hardened metal which is damaged usually is softer behind and the softer metal takes the shock of the damage due to being less stressed. Resulting in it not shattering.

    • Germans used facehardening, for a long time (1942 or 1943? I dont remember exactly). But their steel was generally more brittle than the soviet ones (lack of proper alloying)

  23. As a reallife WW2 Tiger Commander said: German armor got crappy, because they had no more noble earths.
    Especially two ingredients, that made the armor that great.
    After they used them up, they didnt have any left, even for the most important tanks (like Tiger II).

  24. This armor theme is a very complex problem. If scientist would make some comparative tests on existing tanks (even on same models made in different factories), that would make the difference – metallurgy developed much even in the last decades!

    – german war-time industry used MUCH forced-labour – that lowers the qualtity even if a Gestapo officer stands behind every worker
    – Germany had insufficient supply of alloying materials – thats why they had to secure Narvik and the Baltic sea to import from Sweden
    – german steel was not the best, the BEST steel was made by … the SWEDISH – when the Swedish Army ordered rifles from Mauser, they insisted to use ONLY swedish metal for them. Even the Allies knew that: there are rumors about unmarked Mosquitos flew to Sweden once per week in the night darkness to be packed with fine-quality ball-bearings for UK.
    – german Panzer-building was FAR from perfect. They had started late compared to the other nations. Their quality control was not centralized enough! In Germany, there were competing factories with different company standards and procedures – there was great number of crap, more average and small amount of super-fine. In the USSR the state-(and fear)-controlled industry could keep to a less good but more statistical average. This problem peaked in the western industry too, especially in aircraft industry (for eg. pre-war french aircraft manufacture, or Brewster made Coirsairs)

  25. OK, so… *shrug* Bad Germany.

    After this post, I think we can expect a huge demobilization of German tanks on WoT.

    • Nah, there should be the crews of the German tanks jumping out to the American/British/French/Russian tanks with their hands up, surrendering. :D

      • Ah, I remember a match where a Tiger II was butt-kicked by a puny T-80.

        Good times.

  26. The most prevalent issue that transforms this article into such a mockery is its unprofessional, flippant and often gleefully subjective writing style, combined with a very one-sided habit of presenting historical facts, and interpreting source documents.

    Kind of like your typical “Sun”… well, lets call it “article”: “*Shocking* news, guys! Grass is not actually green – but *very* green!”

    No shit, buddy. You are really telling us, that not every little Panzer X of the hundreds and thousands often hastily thrown out into the field was of otherworldly perfect, pristine composition? Outrageous! Who would´ve thought such a thing!

    My world is truly… shattered. *cue the rimshot*

    But no, theres still more. Our brilliant soviet hobbyist historian (arent there a alot of those crawling out of their cellars lately?) quickly deduces from these undeniable facts, that yes indeed, as he always suspected deep in his patriotic heart – there really was just no true counterpart in quality to glorious soviet steel industry!

    *rolls eyes* Alright, lets be serious for a second. Does anyone actually fall for this kind of revisionist, soviet russian horseplay? Dear Mr. Samsonov. If you truly strive to be successfully credited as even a hobbyist archive-digger: then ditch the pathetic patriotism, ditch the emotion, and seriously sober ob your style of writing.

    Maybe then you will finally achieve the universal acclaim others in your metier already, rightfully have.

      • Partially shoddy writing style aside, the main problem, as you are most likely fully aware of, is broad generalization that leaves your whole article with the imprint of strong negativity towards german steel/welding technology in general. There is no use in playing stupid in that regard. You even very cleverly decided to include the quite positive impression of the “Stug” into your final deliberations to strengthen your apparently very much unbiased “research” against converse accusations.

        Quoting questionable source materials of mostly isolated cases and facilitated results does not help in this regard. The soviet test of the PzIII and IV plates alone is ridiculous as it is, contradicting actual battle experience in almost every possible way. Same with the long-time infamous “Firing Range” Test of the King Tiger, where they basically totally mutilated the thing from close range with all they had, gloating “hey look! we can bring it down just fine!” afterwards. Again: No shit, buddy.

        In general: there is a good reason why most materials available on the western “allied” market leave out soviet reports and testing documents alltogether. Read some books about the Tiger as an example, paying attention especially to statements of veterans from both sides of the trench, which again easily devalue whole paragraphs of your article.

        There should even be still something up on the wargaming.net site regarding the Market Garden operation, also involving firing tests by a firefly on a captured panther, where it took three shots at approx. 100 meters to penetrate (and subsequently shatter) the frontal plate.

        Et cetera. In summary, and to keep this still relatively compact: This whole “glorious russian awareness offensive” you and a few of your friends are conducting is getting old – fast. Fielding “mythical krupp steel” shenanigans as a reason to spit out, in its absurdness very much comparable, “contra-propaganda” is a serious sign of… in lack of a better term… “butthurt”, and does not help your credibility as a semi-professional expert one bit.

  27. Talk all you like about how “terrible’” they armor qualiti was, but for all their technical problems, surprisingly, the german tanks still kicked ass on the battlefield.

    • Thats the point! The germans could organize their shitty panzers into an invincible iron-fist. Their panzer-doctrine (individual panzer-divisions, panzers that not only supplement infantry etc.) and the shocking Blitzkrieg-tactics (combined arms operations for the first time in history; tight communication between air-support, panzers and artillery etc.) made them invincible for a long time.

      During the French Campaigne, the french Souma S35, FCM 36 and B1 or english Matlida II tanks would beat the german panzers but their tactics stuck in the mud of 1918. The progressive commanders like de Gaulle or Percy Hobart treated as weirdos.
      During the Op. Barbarossa germans were tactically superior again. The soviets had only 1 tactic – stand last man… Their small number of KV-1 and T-34 was not organized into special groups, but still caused great disturbance where the germans met them (Raseiniai, Krasnogvardeysk)

      So german commanders showed how to push beyond the limitations of the near-average or worse equipment with good tactics.

  28. Apparently the molybdenum helps prevent breaking from the shock effect of a hit.
    But in the same US report molybdenum in German armor was reduced over time.
    “a reduction in the molybdenum content has, in fact, been observed in German armor. Prior to the end of 1943 German armor sections up to 2″ in thickness which were examined by this arsenal generally contained from 0.30 to 0.55% molybdenum sections in the same thickness range which were examined during 1944 contained molybdenum in the range of 0.15 to 0.25%,whereas the two most recently examined sections, one of which was 3-1/4″ thick, contain no molybdenum.”

  29. “… our hardened steel, whose quality was dropping due to a lack of natural resources, was inferior to the Russians’ hardened steel.”

    THIS! Many people don’t really remember that none of the Axis nations were very rich when it came to natural resources. That is why they needed to expand in the first place.
    I know more of Italy than anything else (My grandfather was Italian, he fought in the war too), and the Italian government had strenghtened the Italian industry to a point where it was just impossible for the country’s resources to supply Italy. (That is why Ethipia was invaded in the first place).

    Anyway, my point is that all Axis powers were pretty poor in natural resources. Germany, Italy and Japan, neither of them had the size of the US or the USSR, nor the empire of the British to provide resources for their growing industry. Expansion was inevitable, even if only economic reasons are being contemplated.

  30. Problem is that allies prefered softer (easier to penetrate) steel while germans prefered harder (harder to penetrate but prone to cracking and shattering) steel.
    As I have heard the early Tiger tanks had steel with hardness of 250-270 HB. Some tanks even had steel with 300 HB but also hardness dropped as low as 100 HB in some cases.
    So basically if your tank gun was not powerful enough it only scratched german armor. But if you had a powerful gun then you could basically make german armor shatter without needing to penetrate it.

  31. Here’s the fact, Jack.
    This is what the Archive says was a Soviet test on the PZIII armor by the 45mm gun,

    The shell stuck in the armor and did not pass through the armor to detonate inside the tank. By German, Soviet 80% certified, and even US Naval penetration standards there was no penetration. See page on Penetration Criteria:

    Under these standards the GERMAN ARMOR WON! Now, it was cracked and broken so it’s freshness date has expired. The next hit on it will go through.

    Another question on the 45mm gun fail. Why does the 45mm column on the Penetration table show that the 45mm will penetrate 24mm@30° at 1500m and (if we prorate) between 30mm-35mm@ 0° at 1500m?

    Then why when tested at 1500m on the 30mm of ‘currently used by Red Army’ Izhor factory armor did it fail to penetrate? Was substandard armor used in the Penetration table tests or, were the numbers wrong in the Penetration table? Something is amiss here.

    Where does the blame lie? In the Ministry of Armaments or the Ministry of Armor?