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German Weapons Data

German weapons data provides information on all German designed, built and modified tank and anti-tank weapons of World War II. This page provides an index to the data tables for German weapons followed by some items pertinent to German 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:

German Weapons Data Index

Gun Penetration Data

There are usually two different figures for German gun penetration data. Data quoted in books by Chamberlain and Doyle, Jentz and Fleischer come from German tests. Other data, from Hogg and Senger und Etterlin, usually give a higher penetration and the test criteria is not specified. The problem seems to be that there is data from both German and post-war British tests for gun penetration. As the British tested guns against different criteria, the British figures are higher than the German figures for the same gun. However this does not entirely explain the difference in results, so there may also be a difference in the quality of ammunition used for the tests, or some other factor at work here.

In common with the approach taken by Claus Bonnesen from On Armour, I have used German data where I can, principally from Chamberlain and Doyle, Jentz and Fleischer. Other data is also 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 German guns in the same table.

Definition of Penetration

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

Explosive Filler in Armour Piercing Projectiles

All German AP, APC and APCBC projectiles of 20mm calibre or greater had an explosive filler in the warhead. To avoid unnecessary repetition the suffix ‘/HE’ is not used in the data tables. The only possible exception to this is the original Austrian AP ammunition for the 4,7cm Pak(t) for which I have no information.

Ammunition Availability

This is one of those subjects that no-one ever seems to know the answer to. The following comes from Claus Bonnesen but any further information would be greatly appreciated. If you can provide any data please e-mail:

Tungsten Cored Projectiles

Information on tungsten cored projectiles (APCR and APCNR) is conflicting to say the least. Germany was cut off from tungsten sources in 1943 and production ceased shortly after. The remaining ammunition was allegedly put into storage for industrial use. On the other hand, some sources claim that 5cm Pzgr.40 remained in production throughout the war because the Pak 38 was utterly useless without it. Others claim that Panthers and Tigers would occasionally carry one or two of these rounds in 1944 and 1945 in order to deal with those special targets like the Soviet IS–2.

Production of 7.92mm S.m.K.H. ammunition, which had a tungsten core, ceased in March 1942. Stocks continued to be issued to troops in the field as late as February 1943.

HEAT Projectiles

The Gr.38 Hl entered service in June 1940. The service dates of later patterns of German HEAT projectiles are unknown.

Some clues can be gleaned from Hogg in German Artillery of World War Two where he says of the original Gr.38 Hl design that “…few were used since it was soon replaced by the improved model Hl/A.” I can speculate that the late model Gr.38 Hl/C was used very late in the war because it was developed for so few weapons; nearly all German HEAT projectiles are either Gr.38 Hl/A or Gr.38 Hl/B.

The Steil.Gr. projectiles for the 3,7cm Pak 35/36 and the 5cm Pak 38 were developed to extend the useful life of the guns by providing them with a hollow charge (HEAT) projectile. As they are designated Steil.Gr.41 and Steil.Gr.42, respectively, it is tempting to assume they were developed in 1941 and 1942, with introduction to service sometime later.

Projectiles for Recoilless Weapons

Recoilless weapons were first used in the airborne attack on Crete in 1941. They were later issued to mountain troops and were extensively used in the Carpathian mountains, and to a lesser degree in parts of the Italian campaign. Unfortunately recoilless weapons had an appetite for ammunition propellant, using about three times as much as a conventional shell, and as this was in short supply towards the end of the war all production of recoilless weapons ceased in 1944.

“…more popular with the designers than they ever were with the users.”

Recoilless weapons had several objectional qualities, such as the amount of back blast and the noise when firing. A German officer is quoted as saying after the war: “They were a good deal more popular with the designers than they ever were with the users.” Source: Hogg, Ian V: German Artillery of World War Two.

Armour Hardness and Quality

Face Hardened Armour

The Germans made extensive use of face hardened (FH) armour. It is not always clear which armour plates on a vehicle are FH, particularly when changes are made from model to model. I have used results from actual tests in the field made by Allied troops on captured German vehicles to determine FH in many cases. Even though some of these tests used a Poldi portable hardness tester, which is not the most accurate measurement for testing armour plate hardness, it is sufficiently accurate to spot whether the armour was FH or not.

A full explanation of the manufacturing process of FH armour is given in the Weapons Data section.

Armour Specifications

For German armour specifications see the Vehicle Armour Hardness table.


Vehicle Classifications

The German system of rating tanks as light, medium or heavy was based upon the calibre of the gun and not by the weight of the vehicle. For example the Pz.Kpfw.III with its 3,7cm and 5cm gun was classed as a light tank while the Pz.Kpfw.IV with its 7,5cm gun was classed as a medium tank even though various models of both tanks weighed nearly the same.

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