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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > World War II > Armor in World War II

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Armor in World War II Discuss all aspects & disciplines of World War II Armor here.

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  #1  
Old 18 Jan 17, 22:42
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Up-gunning small tanks, turret rings, recoil

I wonder what the big fuss is about with turret rings and the size of the weaponry.

Ive got the impression it was troublesome to mount a large guns on a tank becouse the turret ring then also had to be made bigger (for what reasons specifically?) and further, it was a tedious design process to increase the size of a turret ring to do this. Does this have somethign to do with the structural strength of the surrounding hull roof carrying the turret and the weapons recoil? Watching old footage however even large guns seems to have little recoil.

This makes me think of a follow up question: why couldn't a very small tank hull have a large turret and gun?

Thank you

Last edited by FireGodHamster; 18 Jan 17 at 22:54..
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  #2  
Old 18 Jan 17, 23:07
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Recoil of the main gun goes a certain distance. Roughly, the larger the turret ring, the longer the recoil from the main gun. You can get around this by making a much bigger turret. Compare the early mark T-34's to the T-34/85.

The Panzer III was designed to use a 37mm main gun but with an allowance to go up to a 50mm gun. The last few Panzer III's were fitted with a low recoil 75mm howitzer.

Later on you can use a low recoil/recoilless main gun. The PT 76 and the BMP used a low power gun that also ignited a second motor that boosted the speed of the projectile. There is a plus and minus involved. Low recoil fin stabilized rounds are slow. Most Tank Gunners want to shoot first because that might distract return fire.

Recoil also affects modern tanks. The British 105 main gun was an excellent main gun on NATO tanks. The Americans had an issue with the computer sight used on the M-60 and early M-1 tanks and therefor went to the 120mm main gun. The British 105 was rifled and theoretically more accurate than a smoothbore main gun. Yet the German smoothbore 120 replaced it in the inventory. Either the computer firing system for the 120 was more robust or the 120 had less recoil.

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Old 18 Jan 17, 23:44
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The problems are these:

1. The length of the portion of the gun in the turret. You have to have room for it to recoil and for the loader to load the weapon.
For example, the T 62 had restricted loading angles due to the length of the round used meaning it had a much lower ROF as the gunner had to elevate the gun to allow loading then re-lay it afterwards for each shot. The 8.8cm L71 Panther was never going to happen for the same reason.
To cram a 17 pdr in a Sherman turret, the radios had to be placed in an armored box and the rear of the turret cut away to give room for recoil.

2. There's then the sheer recoil of the gun. The turret and ring structure have to be able to absorb that shock. Look at the US M551. When it fires an HE or HEAT round from that 152mm gun the whole vehicle lifts off its front road wheels in recoil.

3. The balance of the gun on the mounting is also important. The Israeli Super Sherman with a French 105 had to have the gun cut down by 10 calibers in length, a muzzle brake added, and lower power HEAT rounds used because of all these problems.

Then there's the problem with weight distribution. A large turret and gun on a small hull might result in a top heavy vehicle prone to roll overs and other stability issues.
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Old 19 Jan 17, 02:04
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Everything the previous posters stated, plus...

The largest ring a tank can have is the width of the top deck. Larger than that requires modifications to the sides, which adds weight and non-sloped armor as well as manufacturing time

You can make the turret larger so that it overhangs the ring by a considerable amount, but the ring still limits the recoil at elevations where the breech is in line with the ring. Now you have to include an interrupter mechanism which stops you from firing at the elevations where the breech would hit the ring and the driver must fuss around more with positioning so that you can use an elevation/depression of the gun that avoids the bad spot.
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Old 19 Jan 17, 23:56
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Part of the whole "room" for the gun part is if one needs to fire the gun at an angle from horizontal. Hull down offers a protected position for the tank but a gun can only be depressed so far if it is in a cramped turret, lest it recoils into the turret roof. Opposite is true, of course, in the case of indirect fire (like artillery)-always good to remember that tanks fired a lot more AT than AP.
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  #6  
Old 20 Jan 17, 01:17
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One more point to add to all of the above:

There comes a certain point when all the modifications )to an existing design when mounting a bigger gun) cost more than simply building a bigger tank.

The military, regardless of nation, runs on money. The only exception to this rule are when a nation cannot build a new design (Israel in thr 40s and 50s) and had to make use with what they had.
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Old 20 Jan 17, 02:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
... a muzzle brake added, ...
And how do those things work, anyway? (in terms that a four-year old would understand )
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Old 20 Jan 17, 04:50
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Some of the blast is vented at the end of the barrel. This causes much smoke and dust to appear! That gives away the position!

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Old 20 Jan 17, 06:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Hum View Post
And how do those things work, anyway? (in terms that a four-year old would understand )
At the beginning of the 19th century the Chevalier de Beaulieu, made an attempt to address the problem of recoil. Until the introduction of the famous French 75 mm field gun at the end of the 19th century all field guns recoiled sharply after each firing, whilst the trail of the gun carriage could act as a brake this had only a limited effect and the piece had to be manhandled back into position before the next round was fired. This became very tiring for the gun crew in any sustained action. If the recoil could be mitigated, even partially, this would be of significant value.

When the cannon ball or shell leaves the muzzle of a gun it is followed by the gas, generated by the explosion of the charge that has propelled it down the barrel. De Beaulieu reasoned that if some of this gas could be diverted sideways, or even backwards, at the muzzle this would have a braking effect on the recoil. Tests on muskets suggested that the principle was sound and so a cannon had holes drilled all round its muzzle to divert the exhausting gases.

The theory was correct and the muzzle brake is in use today in a variety of forms. However the design of muzzle brakes requires significant and careful calculations if the effect is to be realised. In any case the result of using a muzzle brake is only significant if it is part of a recoil buffering system. De Beaulieu’s muzzle brake had no observable impact on recoil. It would however have made it extremely (possibly terminally) uncomfortable for any one, such as the loaders, standing near the muzzle when the gun was fired, a major consideration given that it was standard practice for field guns to be grouped closely together in batteries. Worse still would be the smoke effect. Gunpowder produces large quantities of white smoke when fired. It is this drifting around a battlefield that is responsible for the phrase ‘the fog of war’. Normally when a battery of muzzle loading field guns fired the smoke from their discharge was projected to the front. De Beaulieu’s muzzle brake fitted to a gunpowder firing cannon would ensure that smoke was directed back into the battery so that visibility would vanish with the first salvo fired. This would not only obscure the target but also make it very difficult for the gunners to see what they were doing. Modern artillery uses smokeless propellant so avoiding this problem. Very wisely the French army decided that the muzzle brake was an idea whose time had not yet come.
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Old 20 Jan 17, 08:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Hum View Post
And how do those things work, anyway? (in terms that a four-year old would understand )
Think of the shell travelling down the tube after firing but in very slow motion.
Behind that shell is a whole boatload of expanding gases just desperate to get out.
All the way up the barrel the gas is trapped between the breech block and the shell and continues to expand rapidly, then as the base of the shell passes the first opening in the muzzle brake a portion of the gas is directed out to the side through the opening and slightly backwards due to the carefully considered shape of the opening.
This gas has tremendous energy and acts as a kind of split second jet pushing backwards which acts to pull the gun forwards thus assisting recoil.

There are clips on youtube showing various guns being fired when the barrel is incorrectly secured to the gun, these invariably end with the barrel 'jumping' forwards out of the gun, this is counter-intuitive and is caused by the muzzle brake effect 'pulling' the barrel out.

Or something like that!
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Old 21 Jan 17, 16:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
Compare the early mark T-34's to the T-34/85.
The turret ring diameter for the T-34-85 was also increased by 180 mm over the 76 mm gun version.

Quote:
The Panzer III was designed to use a 37mm main gun but with an allowance to go up to a 50mm gun. The last few Panzer III's were fitted with a low recoil 75mm howitzer.
While the muzzle energy for the 7.5 cm Kw.K.37 was certainly less than that for the longer 7.5 cm versions, it wasn't necessarily low-recoil, was it? It had a greater muzzle energy than at last some shells for the the 42-caliber 5 cm Kw.K.38, for example...

Quote:
Later on you can use a low recoil/recoilless main gun. The PT 76 and the BMP used a low power gun that also ignited a second motor that boosted the speed of the projectile. There is a plus and minus involved. Low recoil fin stabilized rounds are slow. Most Tank Gunners want to shoot first because that might distract return fire.
While the BMP-1's 2A28 does operate as described, everything I've read on the 76 mm D-56 variants of the PT-76 seems to indicate it's a conventional gun?

Quote:
Recoil also affects modern tanks. The British 105 main gun was an excellent main gun on NATO tanks. The Americans had an issue with the computer sight used on the M-60 and early M-1 tanks and therefor went to the 120mm main gun. The British 105 was rifled and theoretically more accurate than a smoothbore main gun. Yet the German smoothbore 120 replaced it in the inventory. Either the computer firing system for the 120 was more robust or the 120 had less recoil.
You're asserting that the move to the 120 mm gun from the 105 mm gun on the Abrams was due to sight issues? The 120 mm gun drama for the Abrams stretches back to before the tank itself was introduced, and there were a lot of politics in play that probably had more influence than any mechanical problems, wouldn't you say?
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Old 21 Jan 17, 17:28
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Maybe we have read different books?

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Old 21 Jan 17, 17:42
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Definitely a possibility. Which part are you talking about? If you could share some titles I always love to learn.
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Old 21 Jan 17, 18:32
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Chris, I have been reading books since I was in 7th Grade when I read Morrison's books on the Navy in World War II. If you had my Math teacher, you would have understood! What kind of books do you want a recommendation on?

This is the first I have heard that the T-34/85 had an enlarged Turret Ring. If you can recall where you read that and can pass it on, I would appreciate it.

I have not compared Muzzle energy in the Panzer III main guns. I do know the larger 75mm guns could not be fired from the Panzer III turret ring. The same Infantry Gun used in the Panzer III was mounted on some 8 wheel Armored Cars. The did mount a larger 75 on the same Armored Cars, but they were fixed and had limited traverse. It was an open mount to boot.

Not sure what my line of thought was when I included the PT 76 with the BMP. The BMP has actually a Recoiless Gun. I should have split the two.

I have read some magazine articles that said the 105 armed tanks had computer sight problems. It could have been the computer more than the gun. Too many other countries use the same gun successfully. It could also have been politics, and they used the computer as an excuse.

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Old 22 Jan 17, 02:56
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Chris, I have been reading books since I was in 7th Grade when I read Morrison's books on the Navy in World War II. If you had my Math teacher, you would have understood! What kind of books do you want a recommendation on?
Ha! I was wondering about whatever ones you were talking about when you said we must have read different ones.

Quote:
This is the first I have heard that the T-34/85 had an enlarged Turret Ring. If you can recall where you read that and can pass it on, I would appreciate it.
Sources about the T-34-85's turret ring include The Russian Battlefield and Michulec and Zientarzewski, T-34: Mythical Weapon.
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