For the Record: WT E-100 – what penetration will that 150mm L/38 have?
Hello everyone, since the disclosure of the second German tank destroyer line, a lot of people have been showing concern about how the high-tier 150mm guns (L/29,5 and L/38) will perform. Specifically, a lot of people fear that the guns will have low penetration and the WT will end up with an autoloaded version of E-100′s gun, because the caliber and barrel length is apparently the same and lots of people don’t see beyond that. This article is here to actually alleviate some of the “fears” of this. Let’s start from the beginning then. German 150mm is not exactly a great caliber/weapon to be an anti-tank gun (which is what World of Tanks are all about). As early as 1942/1943, a 150mm gun was proposed for the early Maus prototypes, but the idea was scrapped for several reasons. For one, the shells are huge and heavy. A new two-part shells were envisaged for the Maus (or Tiger-Maus) 150mm guns (L/37, L/40 and L/38) are mentioned, but two-piece shells do decrease the rate of fire such a gun can archieve. There were other issues too (we’ll get to that) and the gun idea was scrapped. Later, the 150mm emerges again on various self-propelled guns, but those were artillery pieces, not direct fire guns. Now: notice the difference between tier 8, 9 and 10 guns. Tier 8 gun is L/29,5 and has muzzle brake: Tier 9 is L/38 WITHOUT a muzzle brake: …and tier 10 has muzzle brake yet again. Those more perceptive might have noticed one thing: with these guns, only caliber and barrel length are mentioned, not the actual gun model. That’s clue number one. Clue number two are the muzzle brakes. 150mm L/29,5 If we have a look at that tier 8: the L/29,5 caliber is pretty specific. Where have we seen that before? Ah yes, that’s the good old sFH 18. That’s an artillery piece, right? Well, yes, but it could serve a variety of roles and fire all sorts of ammunition: Above, you can see a test protocol of one such sFH howitzer. Apart from being interesting by itself, have a look at lower right corner, that says what shells was the gun tested with. That’s a proof that the shells I am going to mention were in active use. Specifically, we are interested in three shells in particular: Gr.39 HL/A, PzGr.39 TS and SprGr.42TS. The Gr.39 HL/A is a HEAT shell. It could be used for the destruction of enemy armor and other hardened subjects. Here, HL means Hochladung, German designation for cumulative projectiles. In real life, it penetrated cca 160mm of armor (at any distance, it weighted cca 25kg and its initial velocity was 465m/s), yet in the game, it can penetrate 180mm+ and in one case even 240mm (sFH43 on GW Panther), despite there being no serious historical reason for doing so (at least I know of no such reason, but I am not an artillery “expert” or anything). So, that’s 160-185 penetration for tier 8 150mm gun for a start. Not a bad start anyway (solid shot would have much worse performance). It gets better. Meet PzGr.39 TS, German 150mm discarding sabot: This was a real shell, used for the sFH18 L/29,5 gun. It consists of 150mm sabot with 88mm APCBC core. It could penetrate 130mm of armor (30 degrees, eg. 149,5mm) at 1000m (Source: Hogg, German Artillery of World War Two), initial velocity was 880m/s. I haven’t found any reliable penetration table for it, but by rough estimates, it could be as much as 195-220 pen in WoT terms. Not bad for an artillery gun! Sprenggranate 42 TS was also a discarding sabot round, but as the name suggest, it was a HE shell, designed to improve the range of the shells, so that’s outside of our scope. There were actually German APFSDS shells being developed too (it was called Pfeilgeschoss and it was developed in Peenemünde) for various calibers, but that’s a story for another time. So, you see, the old sFH itself can pack quite a punch. There’s one problem though: the tier 8 vehicle has a muzzle brake. TS shells cannot be fired with a muzzle brake. Furthermore, the L/29,5 has two recoil drums above the barrel, while sFH has one. Conclusion: The gun on tier 8 tank destroyer is not the sFH18 and it cannot use TS shells. What does that mean for us? It means one thing: that despite a historical alternative being available, the L/29,5 gun is some sort of paper proposal and the way it performs is ONLY dependent on Wargaming. In other words: if they want to give it 220+ penetration, they can. The muzzle brake and additional recoil compensators suggest that more powerful (paper/fictional) ammo could be used (after all, the KwK 44 E-100 150mm ammo is IMHO fictional too, I haven’t found any serious evidence of its performance apart from a few mentions in Panzer Tracts 6-3). 150mm L/38 So, how does this concern tier 9 and tier 10? Very. Notice how the gun on tier 9 has no muzzle brake (can use TS) and the gun on tier 10 has one (cannot use TS ammunition). That suggests one thing: the tier 10 version will be even more powerful than the tier 9 one (via different ammunition, why would a HEAVIER and more stable platform need a muzzle brake plus a bigger recoil compensator otherwise?). Now, you’ve seen the penetration power the L/29,5 can reach. Imagine what the same core shell could do, when introduced to the L/38 barrel (88mm APCBC can survive around 1000m/s). And that’s just a start: since WG already “makes up” the massive AP shells, they might as well imagine the 88mm itself having a H-Kern (APCR core) from Wolfram (Tungsten) or Uranium (yes, Uranium – the same stuff the 30mm Luchs gun gold shells are made from). Or a hardened tip. Or, or, or…. and that’s just tier 9, as I said, tier 10 shells might get even more powerful. So, to sum it up: At this moment there is absolutely no reason to believe that the top gun of the WT E-100 will be identical in penetration to the top gun of the E-100 itself. Those guns are not the same (there is a reason why no designation was revealed) and the amount of penetration depends solely on Wargaming’s decision, as anything between 220mm and (say) 280mm is historically justifiable. So, don’t panic. Not yet at least :) Sources: Hogg: German Artillery of World War Two Pejčoch: Obrněná technika www.valka.cz Special thanks to Daigensui for a lot of insight