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Could any WWII tank survive a hit by a 155mm shell?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: September 26, 2013 
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Dear sir,

To settle an old argument one way or the other we need an expert opinion. Question is this: During WWII was there a tank or armored vehicle that could take a hit from a 155 shell—be it high explosive, armor piercing, etc.—and survive? 

Thank you,


? ? ?

Dear John,

The average main battle tank (e.g. M-48 or T-54 and up) would be badly damaged by a 155mm howitzer high explosive shell hit, and a lucky direct hit on the turret may knock it off its race. Wouldn't do the crew any good either, but it would probably not penetrate or demolish the tank. A chart showed the standard 155mm capable of penetrating 68-110mm of armor at 1,500 meters, while its Soviet equivalent of the time, the 152mm gun, could penetrate 66-113mm of armor. The Soviets, however, developed an armor piercing round that gave the 152 the ability to penetrate 185-308mm of armor, a direct hit from which was capable of disemboweling a Panther, Tiger or Elephant—hence the nickname the self-propelled SU-152 got after its debut at Kursk, "Zveroboi" (fighter of wild beasts).



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History


2 Responses to “Could any WWII tank survive a hit by a 155mm shell?”

  1. 1
    Warren Osborn says:

    The only problem with this theory is the neither the M-48 or T-54 was in service during WWII

  2. 2
    Victor L'Esperance says:

    Also, the newly deployed Panthers were vulnerable to side hits so you could rock the socks off it. I believe the Soviets had T-34's and KV-1s with some light T-70s. The Germans actually delayed the offensive to get more Tigers and Panzer Vs (Panthers) to the front. Earlier and lighter models were also deployed. Mr. Osborn is correct therefore.

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