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M-4 with Cement "Armor"


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#1 kerrd5

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 11:48 PM

I was stunned to find this photo of cement on the
glacis plate of a M-4 Sherman. I suspect the balllistic
protection it offered, beyond small caliber weapons,
was minimal.

Caption reads:

"T/5 William A. Hede, Cleveland,Ohio, with the U.S. Ninth Army points to the thick layer of cement which covers the front section of his M4
tank for protection. The tank holds a road block leading into
Glesenkerchen, Germany."

"2nd Armored Division."

Date: 19 March 1945

III-SC 203168, Credit NARA.


Dave

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#2 Sentinel

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 12:40 AM

One of the strangest armour upgrades I've seen is the use of tree trunks on the Stug III. These were used by Finnish troops. I think some of them may have had concrete as well.

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#3 aglooka

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 04:00 PM

Adding a concrete slab on the sloped plate above the drivers position in the stug III was rather common at the end of the war.

Aglooka

#4 Triple C

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:23 AM

I have seen tree trunks or wood on M4 tanks in the Pacific too. In Third Army a common upgrade of armor was to wield additional armor plates on the glacis front of their Sherman tanks and cast a layer of cement over.

#5 macker33

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:50 AM

The idea behind cement was to prevent magnetic mines from being attatched.

oops,i opened my mouth before looking at the picture,if nothing else i guess it made them feel better.
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#6 Sentinel

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 06:36 AM

Tree trunks or cement might actually provide some protection against shaped charges and magnetic mines, which depend on proximity to the steel armour.

I don't know how they'd affect a solid armour piercing short, though. My guess is, probably not a lot.

#7 aglooka

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 01:59 PM

Tree trunks or cement might actually provide some protection against shaped charges and magnetic mines, which depend on proximity to the steel armour.

I don't know how they'd affect a solid armour piercing short, though. My guess is, probably not a lot.



The ideal stand off distances for HEAT were so badly known then that increasing the distance might have improved penetration.

Aglooka

#8 marc780

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 09:12 PM

Tree trunks or cement might actually provide some protection against shaped charges and magnetic mines, which depend on proximity to the steel armour.

I don't know how they'd affect a solid armour piercing short, though. My guess is, probably not a lot.


Everyone has seen the photos of the many German Panzer Mark IV's equipped with add-on steel plate side and turret armor. The steel plates were relatively thin, mild steel plates maybe 1/2" thick if that. The intention of it was, of course, an attempt to detonate explosive anti-tank shells before they reached the main armor. Also there are many photos of tanks from all countries with track sections, road wheels, and all sorts of things piled on the front, this was done for much the same reason, as well as for practical purposes.

The concrete may have been applied to the sherman for the same reason, also the magnetic mine argument is a good one too - the vulnerability of the thinly-armored Sherman to German anti-tank weapons was well known. The troops themselves often called the Sherman the "ronson lighter" ("lights every time.") and any attempt to increase armor protection was considered worthwhile.

#9 brndirt1

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 09:30 PM

Marc, the British called the early models the "Ronsons", the Nazis called them "Tommy cookers". But whent he Wet storage models appeared that moniker was less aplicable.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#10 Von Poop

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 09:47 PM

I hope the chaps in that Sherman don't run into old blood 'n guts... he had something of a distaste for extemporised armour...

Tree trunks or cement might actually provide some protection against shaped charges and magnetic mines, which depend on proximity to the steel armour.

One problem - If not correctly worked out it was found that much extemporised armour could actually make shaped charge effects worse, as well as adding further stress to the suspension, slowing turret traverse etc..

Everyone has seen the photos of the many German Panzer Mark IV's equipped with add-on steel plate side and turret armor. The steel plates were relatively thin, mild steel plates maybe 1/2" thick if that. The intention of it was, of course, an attempt to detonate explosive anti-tank shells before they reached the main armor.

I'm sorry marc, it's a popularly held conception that they were for defence against rocket and shaped charge weapons, but it isn't true.

The Schurzen were introduced, and maintained, to deal with large calibre anti-tank rifles.
Given that they were first used in a theatre where shaped rocket weapons were virtually unknown, it's odd that the belief has carried on, perhaps fed by a US report of December '43 that assumed they were there to deflect hollow charge (the western allies having largely abandoned AT rifles by this point, they don't seem to have considered them seriously enough). Even some reputable authors have repeated the assumption, but have withdrawn from it as more German archive material has been inspected
PTRS/PTRD rifles could still do a great deal of damage right up until war's end, shattering wheels, sights, tracks and other components, particularly when deployed in packs of c.20 guns as the Soviets did. Every German technical reference to Shurzen seems to refer to it as solely about these AT rifle rounds. The effect against hollow charge as briefly considered later in the war was regarded as negligible, and sometimes, again, counter-beneficial as it could improve the stand off weapon's molten jet delivery in some circumstances.

It's also often said that the 'bedstead' wire mesh guards sometimes seen in imitation of the more common boiler plate schurzen was to aid against stand-off weapons - again, not true.
The Mesh was initially tested by Germany at exactly the same trials as the plate schurzen and found to be just as effective against AT rifle rounds, and lighter, the only reason it wasn't deployed at the time was manufacturing shortages of the right gauge of mesh.

~A

Edited by Von Poop, 22 September 2009 - 09:53 PM.

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#11 FEARBEFORE_

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 11:00 PM

Whether it was useful or not, I applaud their spirit and I completely understand. If I faced the foreseeable future spent rolling around Europe in a Sherman, I'm gonna weld everything I can onto my tank. Yes, you could argue it might make the effects of certain weapons worse, but that's jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. It's a bit of a 'nothing to lose' situation in my eyes.

#12 Triple C

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 05:10 AM

Actually, the uparmored Shermans in the Third Army were not extemporized. They were produced according to a standard scheme which Patton approved by Belgium civilian contractors.

Patton understood that Sherman's armor was highly vulnerable to pazerfaust type weapons, but he was also alerted by his experts that sandbag and log armor exacerbated the destructive effect of shaped charges by increasing stand-off range. The added weight and hence shorter mileage was also anathema to him. For this purpose, Patton ordered that all Third Army's Shermans should be uparmored according to one common, approved scheme. Presumably, he had tested captured pazerfausts or bazoonkas on various add-on armor alternatives, and found the cement/steel combination effective against shaped charge.

#13 Von Poop

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 08:31 AM

The 'official' extra plating of c.120 M4s in Third Army around February '45, often using plate cut from German vehicles, is a very different issue to things like this concrete, sandbags, track-links etc. (Even bricks!).
Patton indeed took the advice of his ordnance officers and was known to be characteristically 'explosive' when he saw such unofficial modifications.
1st & 9th US Armies approved the use of whatever made the men feel better, 3rd did not. There were thus 'issues' when men and machines were transferred from one of those Armies to Patton's.

Dim memory suggests there's a series of shots of him bawling out one crew over this somewhere, I'll have a dig.

~A

#14 Triple C

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 09:52 AM

It's in one of S. Zaloga's Sherman book. The object of the general's ire was a M4A3E8 that looked like a moving sandbag fortress, and Patton, still angry, was walking away from what obviously was a severe tongue lashing. I think the poor tankers were of the 11th AD. The photograph was almost comical because Patton's face was all puffed up, and he was wearing his signature boots, helmet, etc., almost like a parody of himself.

#15 marc780

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 04:35 PM

The Schurzen were introduced, and maintained, to deal with large calibre anti-tank rifles.


I have only seen pictures of the mark IV's with the schurzen skirtsfrom about late 1943-1944 onwards. I dont know of any instances of anti tank rifles (if you mean the old shoulder fired kind/ WW1 surplus) being used much, if at all, by infantry in those years, and if they did it would have been suicidal. Maybe you're right but do you have any references?

#16 Von Poop

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 05:11 PM

Look to any serious reference on German armour Marc. Spielberger's books have some nice accounts of it's deployment (though, as ever, hidden in their Indexless mass! ).
The skirts were first deployed in '43, and were still fitted until war's end.

The Soviet Infantry were still using PTRS & PTRDs right throughout the war, to see it as a WW1 weapon is to misunderstand what a device this 1941 weapon (with it's design genesis in '39) was. The Red Army neglected man-portable rocket & shaped charged weapons almost completely, and these rifles remained their principal infantry-portable AT weapon until the very end.
They knew they could do with a more powerful solution to the old 'men against tanks' problem, & were fully aware even in 1942 that they were not useful against the front of modern tanks, but the RPG40 was basically useless, not much lend-lease materiel of this kind found them, and they had a lot of these large-calibre rifles lying around.

They used them concentrated into tank attack groups of c.20 men, and by most accounts used them very well. Penetration is far from the only way to disable a tank.

~A

#17 Triple C

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 07:43 AM

The Russian anti-tank rifle teams often took out German tanks by damaging the wheels or destroying the optics. When you have 20+ marksmen firing at the same target, this was not as hard as it sounds.

#18 Von Poop

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 05:51 PM

As JeffinMNUSA nudged the Russian Battlefield site today...
Nice little segment of an AT rifle manual on there:
Google Translate - Destroy Nazi tanks from antitank rifle

#19 Chesehead121

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 06:39 PM

XD what winners. Tree trunks and cement on tanks. Why didn't they just ask to make the armor thicker?
To the German Commander-- Nuts.

-- The American Commander

#20 Jaeger

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 09:13 PM

"Extra" armour was not unheard in the British Army, but they were denied that in the NW of Europe because they could be mistaken for Germans and attacked from the air. (source Troop Leader, Bellamy.) However the flyboys managed to mistake them for germans without it...
'We march. The enemy is retreating in transport. We follow on foot.' Lt.Neil McCallum 5/7 Gordons 19th November 1942

#21 Triple C

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 07:18 AM

XD what winners. Tree trunks and cement on tanks. Why didn't they just ask to make the armor thicker?


Ain't easy, that. Need to re-tool, re-design, will take 6 months even if it's a crash program. That's the thing--time. Time that the Allies didn't have.

The better solution, the next gen. allied tanks, worked well enough.

#22 brndirt1

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 12:17 AM

Ain't easy, that. Need to re-tool, re-design, will take 6 months even if it's a crash program. That's the thing--time. Time that the Allies didn't have.

The better solution, the next gen. allied tanks, worked well enough.


Therein lies the problem. When extra armor was seen to be a needed thing, it was discovered that the original VVSS suspension of the M4 couldn't carry the weight. Then the HVSS alowed for heavier vehicles, and "duck bill" add-ons appeared for the tracks.

It isn't just add "more armor" at the factory, sometimes those additionas produced unintended requirements. Better suspension, better transmissions, better clutches, better brakes, etc. to accomidate the extrat weight of th extra armor. Just look at how the German armor park began to make their original designs grow in weight, and grow in non-combat failures.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#23 Sentinel

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 02:16 PM

On the German side, too, thicker armour needed redesigned vision blocks and machine gun mounts. I'm guessing this is the reason the first Panthers had that ridiculous gun hatch instead of a proper ball mount.

#24 wph377

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:05 PM

Here are some pics of the Third Army "Expedient Jumbo" and add-on armor kits. The first is a simple glacis plate add-on, interestingly installed on the front of an M4A1(76)W. As the M4A1 had a full-cast hull, it was much more difficult to add on a piece of flat steel. Special adapters had to be welded on.
[ATTACH]8629[/ATTACH]
Second, we have one of the "donor" tanks used for its armor plate. Shot-up tanks (not brewed up, as this would affect the armor quality) and those not serviceable for any reason would be cut up to create the applique plates added by Third Army's Ordnance tech shops.
[ATTACH]8630[/ATTACH]
Finally, the expedient Jumbo. An M4A3(76)W-HVSS, or "Easy Eight", fitted with the full Third Army applique kit.
[ATTACH]8631[/ATTACH]




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