Recent Middle East reports point out that the Germans are taking considerable
pains to provide additional protection for their tanks. Thus far, the measures
employed for this purpose may conveniently be considered under two main
headings, namely, spaced armor and improvised protection.
a. Spaced Armor
More detailed information than that previously submitted on the Mark III tank
indicates the extent to which these improvements have gone. The accompanying
sketches, based on actual photographs, illustrate typical arrangements of
spaced armor on this tank and throw some light on these developments.
Figure 1 illustrates the general appearance of the tank when fitted with
spaced-armor; figures 2 and 3 are side views of spaced-armor arrangements
on the front superstructure and gun mantlet; and figure 4 is a perspective view
with the spaced plate of the gun-mantlet assembly removed.
The arrangement of the spaced armor on the gun mantlet appears to be more or
less uniform in all the photographs so far received. In all cases the
additional plate on the mantlet is curved, as shown in figure 3, and
forms the front wall of a box structure, the rear wall of which is
constructed of the 50-mm front shield of the gun mantlet, and the
sides, top, and bottom are formed by thin sheet-metal plates arranged as
shown in figure 4. In one example recently examined in the Middle East, the
additional plate was 20-mm thick and was separated from the mantlet proper
by an air space of approximately 120 mm (4.7 inches), the air space being
somewhat larger than this at the top and somewhat smaller at the bottom.
The spaced armor on the front superstructure is arranged in at least
two different ways, the sides for the air space sometimes closed, and
In this tank, the sides of the space between the front of the superstructure
and the additional plate were closed by thin sheet metal, the only purpose of
which was apparently to keep out the dust. The additional plate was fixed
parallel to the 50-mm front plate of the superstructure, from which it was
separated by an air space of 100 mm (3.9 inches). It was 20 mm thick and
of machinable quality, Brinell hardness tests giving a figure of
about 350 on both sides.
In another tank recently examined in the Middle East, the air space in
the front superstructure assembly was open-sided. The space plate, which
was again 20 mm thick and of machinable quality, was bolted to angle iron
supports at the top and bottom; those at the top were welded to the roof
of the superstructure, and those at the bottom, to the front sloping top
plate of the hull. In this case the additional plate was arranged at an
angle to the basic plate as shown in figure 2; the space at the top
measured horizontally 108 mm (4.25 inches), and at the
bottom 195 mm (7.68 inches).
In every case the additional plate on the front of the superstructure is
formed with two openings, one to accommodate the driver's visor and the other
for the hull machine gun. It is reported that these openings are such that the
fitting of spaced armor does not seriously affect the traverse and elevation of
the machine gun and does not in any way impair the driver's vision.
Although, in these two tanks, the additional plate was of machinable
quality, a sample from a third tank appeared to be face-hardened, the Brinell
value of its front surface being 468, against 359 on its rear surface.
So far, spaced armor has only been reported on the J series Mark III tanks
with 50-mm basic frontal armor and the new long 50-mm gun. Since, however, the
fitting of spaced armor is probably at present in an experimental stage, it
may be found on other models of the Mark III or even on the Mark IV. If it
proves a success, it will no doubt be standardized in due course.
b. Improvised Protection
Middle East also reports that German tanks are now frequently provided
with improvised additional protection in the form of sand bags attached
wherever possible, and lengths of track secured over vulnerable
parts. (See Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 13, p. 33).
It is common for some of the sand bags to be arranged on the roof of the
superstructure in front of the turret so as to shield the turret joint and the
space below the bottom of the gun mantlet, and others around the front and
sides of the superstructure. Precautions are taken so as not to obstruct the
driver's vision or the free elevation and traverse of the ball-mounted machine gun.
Lengths of track are usually attached across the upper and lower noseplates. They
have also been found secured on the front of the superstructure between the
driver's visor and the machine gun, as well as draped over the top
of the turret and gun mantlet.
The length of track across the lower nose-plate is generally held in
position by means of a transverse bar welded to the plate at its ends, while
that on the upper nose-plate has been found attached by S hooks to the
air inlet cowls of the track brake cooling system.