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

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

9/26/2013 • Ask Mr. History, Gear

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
World History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History


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

  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. 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.

  3. jdm61cc says:

    The US “LongTom” 155mm gun fired a 100lb APBC shell that would supposedly penetrate 130-150mm of armor at 1000 meters depending on whether the armor was face hardened or not. What those penetration numbers may not account for is the effect of a 100 pound projectile hitting anything head-on at up to 2800 fps+. I saw one picture of a Tiger that had been hit by a Soviet 152mm shell in the front of the hull was all punched in and the sides flared out. Even if they shell had not penetrated, that tank was out of action and difficult if not impossible to repair or maybe even recover. I remember reading a story about an American army attempt to take a fortified German position inthe Rhineland IIRC. The 75 or 76mm shells from the tanks just bounced off of the blast door, so they bought up a SP155m howitzer. It blew the door off of its hinges. Supposedly, the German commander accused the Americans of “cheating.” LOL The big problem with a 155mm would have been the rate of fire (or lack thereof) and accuracy in a direct fire mode.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

, , , , ,

Sponsored Content: