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How Would an Abrams Tank Fare Vs. a WWII 88?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: August 12, 2014 
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I was a "war baby" and over the years I have everyone praising the power of the Nazi German "88" gun when used against Allied tanks, etc. Just as a matter of interest, how would a modern, say, Abrams tank with all its much vaunted armoured protection fare if struck by one of these huge shells?

Many thanks.

Robert E.V. Brown
England

? ? ?

Dear Mr. Brown,

Aside from the fact that we and the Germans have not been trading shots since May 1945, the state of the art of armoured—or armored, as we spell it over here—warfare has changed considerably since then. New explosive reactive armour, which explodes against the incoming shell that activates it to counter its effects, makes it unlikely that a conventional 88mm shell would penetrate the hide of an M1 Abrams, a T-80, a Merkava or, for that matter, a Challenger, all of which are armoured to resist the sort of 120mm to 125mm SABOT or HEAT rounds that they themselves fire using various advanced guidance systems. The German 88's ability to kick butt may have been legendary, but so were those of Richard Coeur de Lion at an earlier time.

Sincerely,

 

Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
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