WW2 Tank Gun Effectiveness


I’m not an Xpurt on WW2 artillery or canons. I know more about civil war canons than I do WW2 artillery. Which I now realize is strange considering the amount of other useless info I know about WW2. Which leads to a question. Why the hell did I spend so much time learning about the War of Northern Aggression, WW2 and Vietnam? Now there is time I will never get back.

Anyway.. I ran across this thread on B-ARFCOM about “which WW2 gun would you pick to be in a tank you had to man? ” It had these nifty info graphs in it.

Surely some ex military tank experts will have something to add to this?

On the up side this has gotten me thinking about some ETO stories I think I will write about later this week.


  1. Ah geez, armor penetration. I’ve been reading up on this and feel like I’m square at the bottom point of Dunning-Kruger diagram. It’s basically exceptions upon exceptions, upon exceptions. Well, normal people would call them exceptions, here they are rules and oft have some fancy French name attached. Sorta like classical mechanics in a way – except there are no textbooks. Although that’s probably for the better as I’ve yet to see a mechanics textbook written for the purpose of actually teaching instead of autofellating the author in front of his peers.

    Think a gun fires a 75mm shell therefore it’s comparable with the other 75mm shell at the same velocity? Think again. This 50mm of armor should stop the same kind of projectiles as the other 50mm of armor? Nope, completely different. Well, except at this kind of obliquity or against the other projectile, then they’re completely identical. Temperature matters too!
    Oh and that test done by x nation on captured gear? Not direcly comparable with the other nation’s internal tests since they have completely different criteria for penetration. Say german shells had to penetrate the armor cleanly, with no breakage of the shell, the internal explosive compartment, the fuse, etc. 5 times in a row to constitute a “yes, this penetrates” result. Russians on the other hand just had to have any sort of metal shavings or debris escape through the other side of the plate 50% of the time to constitute as penetration. America had two different definitions of “penetration” and “perforation” which hobbyists use interchangeably. And who can blame them? Most of this stuff you have to keep track of yourself.

    As for the dick measuring picture with different shells and casings it’s cool to look at, but ultimately doesn’t mean much. Like the british rounds look puny, but they actually did their homework. The projectiles for all their guns: 2, 6 and 17 pounders were well designed and rarely broke up, even if it was at the price of removing the explosive charge. And when the good ol’ US of A was twiddling on their thumbs tinkering with the 76mm the brits already had APDS in ’44. And I’m not talking about the 17 pounder. Even the dinky 6 pounder could hunt panthers and basic tigers from the front out to 500 meters (because you won’t hit anything past that).

    • Very true – hard to make real comparisons based on comparable data. Regarding the 500 meter comment, I’ve seen some analysis of rounds per hit that were pretty horrible. I assume some of the “misses” were recon by fire, sticking a round into anything that could hide a tank or anti-tank gun. It sounded like any actual max-range gunnery would have been somewhat comical.

      • It’s been a while since I read those british accuraccy reports, so I don’t want to lie to you, but I read german studies recently and they’re divided into 2 categories: percentages to hit at the square range and in the field.
        Also I kinda doubt they would be blindly shooting wonderammo they had in comparatively low supply. To be honest I don’t seem to recall ever reading about recon-by-fire with something other than HE or machine guns in memoirs.

  2. I’d like to see how the US 3″ gun used on the M10 tank destroyer compared with the 17 Pounder. According to the Osprey M10 book units in the field preferred the 3″ gun over the later 90mm. Yes the US WWII inventory had an enormous number 75mm sized artillery. 75mm pack howitzer, 75mm light tank howitzer, 75mm medium tank gun, 75mm light tank gun, 76mm tank and tank destroyer gun, 3″ tank destroyer and towed AT gun, 3″/50 naval gun, 75mm aircraft gun.


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