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British Weapons Data

British weapons data provides information on all British designed, built and modified tank and anti-tank weapons of World War II. This page provides an index to the data tables for British weapons followed by some items pertinent to British weapons which cannot be easily included in the tables. The Introduction page provides further information on the difficulties of determining accurate source data. The contents of this page are:

British Weapons Data Index

Gun Penetration Data

There are usually many different figures for British gun penetration data. Part of the confusion is because the British had several different criteria for gun penetration testing, particularly before 1942. Also there could be variations in the propellant charge used, barrel lengths and ammunition which were not always specified when quoting penetration figures.

I have mainly used data which can be reasonably matched up to a specific projectile, and which is quoted in several sources; principally from Chamberlain and Gander, Gudgin, Hunnicutt and Jentz. Other data is sometimes used where no other information is available but any data from these sources is identified with an asterisk (*) and cannot be directly compared to the data for other British guns in the same table.

Definition of Penetration

For the British definition of penetration see the Gun Target Hardness table.

Explosive Filler in Armour Piercing Projectiles

No British AP or APCBC projectiles had an explosive filler in the warhead. Even when the British used USA projectiles for the 75mm gun, such as the M61, they removed the HE filler. In the Churchill Service Instruction Book, it is described as M61 Shot, with the diagram showing that the fuse found in the USA projectile was replaced by a plug holding only the tracer.

The words “shot” and “shell” have two distinct meanings in English and are often used loosely which can result in some confusion. “Shot” is a contraction of roundshot and harks back to the early days of artillery; it implies a solid projectile with no internal cavity. “Shell” on the other hand is used to describe a projectile with an internal cavity, which may be used to contain HE, smoke, shrapnel, etc.

Armour Specifications

British armour specifications are expressed more generally than for other nations. They were actually based on resistance to penetration tests and the BHN was only a rough check to determine that the armour plate met an approximate standard. For example, I.T.80 referred to 80mm of armour plate which was able to resist the 2–pounder AP projectile. Any suffix letters (I.T.80C, I.T.80D, I.T.80E) referred to adjustments to that standard. The exception to this is the I.T.110 specification, which was insufficiently alloyed to allow hardening at more than about 35mm thickness, so this designation is a bit of a mystery.

It isn’t possible to specify the armour hardness by year and thickness as with other nations. Instead the British vehicle armour data tables make use of several symbols (such as “ § ” and “ ¶ ”) to differentiate between armour specifications. These symbols are then used in the Vehicle Armour Hardness table to determine the BHN.


Calibre Sizes

The British referred to different calibres as “pounders”, e.g., 6–pounder. I have read that this is the weight of a lead ball that would just fit the bore and harks back to the early days of cannon design. I tried to verify this using a simple formula, based upon the volume of a sphere and the density of lead, to determine the bore for a given weight but it does not seem to work out correctly. Perhaps the correlation is arbitrarily determined. However since so few weights are used it is easier to look up a list to convert from pounds to millimetres:

Other calibre sizes have been converted from inches and rounded to the nearest millimetre for clarity. Exact calibre sizes are:

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Copyright © 1999 David Michael Honner. E-mail: