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Dimitov

Armor estimates for Russian tanks

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Hello,

 

I have read a lot of detailed articles from exprerts across the web about the history of tanks, a lot of them give information about the armor thickness and composition. But when it comes to estimating the protection not all values are up to date. I noticed that a lot of people are estimating the expected armor efficiency in RHAe with some help of P. Lakowski's Armor Basics.

From what I have read I understand that those estimates and values are considered outdated. Now I'm asking if some of the experts here could help me on finding some good estimates for the front armor of Russian tanks.

I found this some time ago:t: http://web.archive.org/web/20121122075638/http://collinsj.tripod.com/protect.htm

Also could you tell me if this site is still up to date (If I recall corectly Forfanov is still active on this forum right?): http://fofanov.armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/MBT/t-90_armor.html

I am especially intrested in the T-80 and T-90 variants as sources vary a lot in their estimations.

 

I hope some of you can help me.

 

Regards, Dimitov

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Considering what we know today about Russian/Soviet tanks... they are nothing special, we habe or simple spaced armor in T-72B/T-90 series, or simple steel/ceramic armor in T-0U/UD and derivatives, nothing special, you can even argue their armor is primitive compared to NATO tanks.

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Do you think ~69cm RHAe is a reasonable estimate for the glacis of the t-90 with kontakt-5?

 

It seems like this is more than most NATO MBT's.

 

I don't know if you have ever heard from the wargame: Panzer War - Airland Battle, but I am checking the values for armor the game uses since their penetration estimates are a bit off IMO.

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The question is what kind of an additional gain in fidelity can you even hope achieve when other parts of the vulnerablity equation have enormous spans of uncertainty in it, particularly post-penetration behavior, maintenance status, crew capability/skill levels, and not the least the spatial resolution of the armor protection which often has a considerable variation rather than the simplistic approaches of "hull front"/"hull side"/"hull rear" and then "Turret roof"/"turret front"/"Turret side", etc.

 

Above all, good luck attempting to normalize all that across a broad band of vehicles.

 

I'm not saying that it's hopeless, but there is a tendency of people to start extremely specific discussions about factors that are more or less well understood for individual vehicles while completely forgetting about the much bigger uncertainties that are associated with areas that are just as important. That's not meant as an excuse for complacency but seriously, it more often than not amounts to pseudo accuracy like saying  ("about 2" plus "something smaller than 3.5") times "approximately 1" equalled 5.000000000000001 when the real answer is "could be anything between two and eight".

Yes, formulas and computers will always produce a precision figure, but that doesn't mean that the result is accurate.

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Manufacturing tolerances, flaws in castings, flaws rolled out into plates, metallurgical deviations, hardening process deviations...

 

The problem is that everything isn't ideal all the time...

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8 hours ago, Ssnake said:

The question is what kind of an additional gain in fidelity can you even hope achieve when other parts of the vulnerablity equation have enormous spans of uncertainty in it, particularly post-penetration behavior, maintenance status, crew capability/skill levels, and not the least the spatial resolution of the armor protection which often has a considerable variation rather than the simplistic approaches of "hull front"/"hull side"/"hull rear" and then "Turret roof"/"turret front"/"Turret side", etc.

So if I understand it correctly a single number as defensive/armor value would be a lot more realistic than a whole lot of numbers with a lot of uncertainty. I know from wargame fora that people like simplicity and ease of play, which is ofcourse understandable. So dropping the idea of a lot of unrealisic numbers of "armor equivalent" and replace them with a single number based on more factors than armor thickness would be the way to go then. I know the crew is the most important factor of a tank but I would like to model that apart from the attack and defense values of the tanks.

 

What are the most important things that protect a tank apart from crew skill and the armor?

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9 minutes ago, Dimitov said:

So if I understand it correctly a single number as defensive/armor value would be a lot more realistic than a whole lot of numbers with a lot of uncertainty. I know from wargame fora that people like simplicity and ease of play, which is ofcourse understandable. So dropping the idea of a lot of unrealisic numbers of "armor equivalent" and replace them with a single number based on more factors than armor thickness would be the way to go then. I know the crew is the most important factor of a tank but I would like to model that apart from the attack and defense values of the tanks.

 

What are the most important things that protect a tank apart from crew skill and the armor?

situational awareness.

Good Air defences /good air cover you could have the best tank and crew in the world.

 But if a A-10 type ground attack plane has you in its sights your toast without it

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4 hours ago, Dimitov said:

So if I understand it correctly a single number as defensive/armor value would be a lot more realistic than a whole lot of numbers with a lot of uncertainty.

 

No, I think that's a misunderstanding. What I was trying to say is that, no matter what, every model will incur substantial amounts of uncertainty because the required information is not always available in the same quality for all possible systems that are involved. I just tried to illustrate that while a few aspects are better understood these days, even if you get them right you still retain a substantial amount of uncertainty in the model. Say you want to build a "Fred Flintstone" car (your model of a "real" automobile) and your four wheels are square blocks of stone. The car doesn't roll, so you get the idea that you need round wheels, and chip away at one of the stones until it's in the shape of an oval. Now, you could spend a lot of time reducing the eccentricity of the elliptic wheel to make it more spherical. But even then the car still won't roll because the other three wheels are still squares. So the energy is better spend on making these squares at least octagonal so that your "car" model has a minimal chance of rolling at all. And then, who knows, maybe you're better off looking for leightweight materials rather than stone, maybe you should tame an animal to pull the cart for you even though a cart isn't a perfect model for an automobile, but at least you get it to do something useful if you can't invent the internal combustion engine because the necessary industrial base isn't there.

 

The question always is, what do you want to achieve with your model. If you want a fast paced wargame with very simple rules, maybe your best option would be a hitpoint based model. What we're doing in Steel Beasts is certainly more spohisticated, but also a lot more complicated. It absolutely requires a computer to resolve any damage calculation because so many variables are at play. And while ours certainly delivers better results than a hitpoint based damage model, the amount of effort that we have to invest is vastly disproportionate.

So, the PURPOSE of the model and the avilability of raw data (including being comparable and somewhat normalized) determines what kind of a modeling approach would work best.

 

 

Quote

I know the crew is the most important factor of a tank but I would like to model that apart from the attack and defense values of the tanks.

 

What are the most important things that protect a tank apart from crew skill and the armor?

 

Situational awareness, available sensors. I mean, the difference between a thermal imager and no night sight at all is VAST. It's still substantial if you compare an image intensifier with the thermal sight, but less dramatic. The idea behind network centric warfare is rather simple - a total fusion of all available sensors on the battlefield and merging them into a common situational picture. If you have up-to-date and accurate information about that platoon of enemy tanks behind the next hill (and the enemy does not know that you're there), that already gives you a substantial advantage if you decide to attack directly with your own tanks. One side may be surprised in the duel, the other may not be. Even better, why risk a direct confrontation if you can fire a volley of artillery with sensor fuzed munitions that fire a top attack projectile. Or simply bypass the tanks, if you can. Or fire radar guided missiles from a helicopter. Or saturate a square kilometer with rocket artillery cluster munitions (if your rules of engagement and the allocated artillery assets allow for it; that's what's happening in the Ukraine at the moment). In short, you might deny the enemy tanks a chance to enter any form of engagement in the first place.

 

Whether that makes for a good warGAME is a different question. Here you would rather have a duel situation (because rolling dice against each other with unforseeable results creates suspension and drama). Realism is not necessarily the best guideline in GAME design.

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2 hours ago, Ssnake said:

Whether that makes for a good warGAME is a different question. Here you would rather have a duel situation (because rolling dice against each other with unforseeable results creates suspension and drama). Realism is not necessarily the best guideline in GAME design.

 

Yeah I might have to go back to the drawing board I think :P

 

Now I still want to have some things cleared up since, Damian said that the Russian armor package is nothing special, how effective is the newest Russian ERA "Relict". Since "Kontakt-5" offers some degree of protection against APDSFS, I read claims that "Relict" offers up to 50% reduction of APDSFS. IF this is true the T-90SM should be a lot better protected than the T-90S. However I have not found any articles of sources to back up this claim.

 

And generally speaking the T-90A is considered better than the T-80U, but it bothers me that the 4th guards use T-80UD tanks, I don't understand why you would not give elite units the best weapons your country has available.

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Protection provided by Relikt or Kontakt-5, just like in case of any ERA, depends on what actually hit's it.

 

You should remember about two facts.

 

NATO in general through various means is acuiring russian made ERA and tests it. After these tests they know how to design ammunition that will go through ERA, in US a quick solution in the 90's was M829A2, later followed by long term solution the M829A3. And from 2015 newest M829A4 is manufactured, what is interesting is that M829A4 is the first in the world programmable APFSDS round, and my friend have a theory that it have some sort of precursor to initiate modern ERA before the main penetrator hits the vehicle.

 

The second fact is that in most cases, ERA designed by NII Stali is tested against older or less advanced types of ammunition.

 

So for example Relikt might provide 50% decrease in penetration when hit by, let's say M829A2, but against M829A4 it will be only 20% decrease in penetration (this is just example not a fact).

 

Such things are not static but can change depending on variables.

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The basic trend from 1979 to the mid 1990s was to make penetrators longer (and thinner) and thus to make them more vulnerable against bending (that's what the Leo 2A5 wedge armor tries to achieve). A very sleek penetrator then in turn is also more vulnerable against ERA that includes shaped charges, such as Ukrainian Oplot, which in itself isn't a terribly difficult concept to understand (getting it right however certainly requires systematic testing). So it is quite credible - at least to me - that long and thin penetrators like the 120mm DM53 and previous models may be relavively vulnerable to such lateral attacks. Some of that can be dealt with by making the penetrator thicker again (e.g. M829A3), or by trying to evade the counteraction with a precursor (M829A4?). In short, it's getting more complicated, and a clear picture hasn't emerged in all areas, so some of the issues will remain speculation. The idea that western tanks are inherently superior and will maintain their superiority indefinitely is a folly. That the Leo 2 and M1 remained excellent tanks over the course of nearly 30 years has more to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting contraction in military R&D spending on both sides.

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4 hours ago, Ssnake said:

The idea that western tanks are inherently superior and will maintain their superiority indefinitely is a folly. That the Leo 2 and M1 remained excellent tanks over the course of nearly 30 years has more to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting contraction in military R&D spending on both sides.

 

I was about to insert a YouTube link here of Stewie going "THAAAAAANK YOOOOU!" from a....Well never mind if you know the scene you understand.

 

This is a painful fact, but it's something that needs to be remembered.

First, I don't think that 'Western Superiority' was always a guarantee during the cold war...  Look what happens when you pit M1/IPM1/M60A3TTS/Leopard1&2 up against T-64/T-72...  There are some cases where the western vehicle just doesn't have the punch it needs to run around smashing the enemy like you have Thor's Hammer at your disposal.

 

In 1990 when the cold war ended, we could say the west had superiority.

The baseline (and Kontakt-1 armored) T-64/72/80 are quite vulnerable to Western 120mm KE rounds.

Kontakt-5 has just been introduced, and even when it's available it's no guarantee that it's going to save you.

Western vehicles have vastly superior optical systems and fire control.  Thermals remain essentially unknown to the East.  The latest western vehicles have quite good armor, making them very difficult to kill.

 

But since then things changed...

"Put Kontakt-5 on all the things!" happened...

New 125mm ammunition came out, and upgrades of older vehicles allow them to use it...

T-tanks began to be fitted with thermals...

T-72BU upgrade program, a significant upgrade of the T-72, is renamed to T-90 for propaganda reasons after Gulf War...Or are we supposed to not talk about this?

Upgrades of older T-Tanks to bring them up to modern standards, like the T-72BM2 "Rogatka" prototype and the T-72BM3 (Produced in bigger numbers than T-90 IIRC).

 

Suddenly the gap has closed an awful lot...

 

I'm not saying this to claim that Russian vehicles are now superior, just to point out that they've been getting better so the west best not be sitting around...

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39 minutes ago, Maj.Hans said:

 

I was about to insert a YouTube link here of Stewie going "THAAAAAANK YOOOOU!" from a....Well never mind if you know the scene you understand.

 

This is a painful fact, but it's something that needs to be remembered.

First, I don't think that 'Western Superiority' was always a guarantee during the cold war...  Look what happens when you pit M1/IPM1/M60A3TTS/Leopard1&2 up against T-64/T-72...  There are some cases where the western vehicle just doesn't have the punch it needs to run around smashing the enemy like you have Thor's Hammer at your disposal.

 

In 1990 when the cold war ended, we could say the west had superiority.

The baseline (and Kontakt-1 armored) T-64/72/80 are quite vulnerable to Western 120mm KE rounds.

Kontakt-5 has just been introduced, and even when it's available it's no guarantee that it's going to save you.

Western vehicles have vastly superior optical systems and fire control.  Thermals remain essentially unknown to the East.  The latest western vehicles have quite good armor, making them very difficult to kill.

 

But since then things changed...

"Put Kontakt-5 on all the things!" happened...

New 125mm ammunition came out, and upgrades of older vehicles allow them to use it...

T-tanks began to be fitted with thermals...

T-72BU upgrade program, a significant upgrade of the T-72, is renamed to T-90 for propaganda reasons after Gulf War...Or are we supposed to not talk about this?

Upgrades of older T-Tanks to bring them up to modern standards, like the T-72BM2 "Rogatka" prototype and the T-72BM3 (Produced in bigger numbers than T-90 IIRC).

 

Suddenly the gap has closed an awful lot...

 

I'm not saying this to claim that Russian vehicles are now superior, just to point out that they've been getting better so the west best not be sitting around...

You dot not mention the T-14

Just how effective a tank it will be remains unkown.

 But on paper its a match for anything the west has some mite say its superior in some areas 

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2 hours ago, Marko said:

You dot not mention the T-14

Just how effective a tank it will be remains unkown.

 But on paper its a match for anything the west has some mite say its superior in some areas 

papertiger2.jpg?w=585

It's a paper Tiger.

They'll stop making them soon enough because they're too expensive and they're still broke.

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8 minutes ago, Maj.Hans said:

papertiger2.jpg?w=585

It's a paper Tiger.

They'll stop making them soon enough because they're too expensive and they're still broke.

I think many would disagree 

They are planning full scale scale production in 2017 i believe they have two thousand on order.

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Even so, I don't think it's quite the leap ahead that many are thinking.

 

Soviet, I mean, Russian equipment has always come with a great deal of propaganda.

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What's the status on the T-14?  Last thing I read was after their 2015 May Day debut, the first batch of 32 tanks was returned to factory for more testing and improvements.

 

The west has better trained crews.

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AFAIK there are some problems with T-14, it's active protection system during tests didn't meet all requirements and need modifications, perhaps there were other problems. Also remember economic problems in Russia are serious.

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So full production in 2017 is a bit optimistic.  It's usually the manufacturer that makes this claim, not the government.

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I suppose this is based on the actual contract. If the contract has been signed and the date has been set in it, that's what gets announced in public. Of course, if reality behaves a bit different than the plan you have to somehow accommodate. But delays and teething problems in a project that involves ambitious engineering goals are the norm rather than the exception. If no problems occur, it's a hint that the engineering wasn't ambitious. ;)

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Can you enlighten me a bit on the T-64BM "bulat"?

It uses nozh ERA which claims to cut APDSFS? But these simulations show that the HEAT jet from the Nozh gets smeared all over the rod.

http://www.i-mash.ru/materials/technology/57490-dinamicheskaja-zashhita-nozh-mify-i-realnost.html

Why didn't the Ukrainians just keep using the proven Kontakt-5 and head into such a experimental direction.

Even Relict is still a very conventional design compared to Nozh.

 

Do you have some more information on how effective Nozh is in the current conflict in Ukraine?

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58 minutes ago, Dimitov said:

Can you enlighten me a bit on the T-64BM "bulat"?

It uses nozh ERA which claims to cut APDSFS? But these simulations show that the HEAT jet from the Nozh gets smeared all over the rod.

http://www.i-mash.ru/materials/technology/57490-dinamicheskaja-zashhita-nozh-mify-i-realnost.html

Why didn't the Ukrainians just keep using the proven Kontakt-5 and head into such a experimental direction.

Even Relict is still a very conventional design compared to Nozh.

 

Do you have some more information on how effective Nozh is in the current conflict in Ukraine?

 

The way Knife and Duplet works is more complex than just linear shaped charges cutting the rod or shaped charge jet.

 

In fact linear shaped charges first cut and fragment the external cover plate of the ERA module and explosion propel these fragments towards attacking projectile, so what is cutting, bending, breaking enemy projectile are not linear shaped charges, but fragments from the ERA module.

 

N%C3%B3%C5%BC%205.jpg

 

The poblem with Knife is the number of layers, simply there is only a single layer thus at certain circumstances ERA can be less effective.

 

N%C3%B3%C5%BC%206.png

 

To solve this, a new version of Knife was developed, called Duplet, which is multilayered.

 

N%C3%B3%C5%BC%207.jpg

 

So why Ukrainians developed their own ERA?

1. Because they are now independent from Russia.

2. Because their ERA is better.

3. Why use obsolete Kontakt-5 when you have more modern, more effective ERA?

 

As for these various media reports that Knife is "junk", it all comes from NII Stali, they are just doing typical thing for Russian arms industry, if they see a competition, they start a smear campaign in media, so any competing design is a "junk", does not work, is badly designed... and their most favorite slogan наше лучше, и нет аналога в мире.

 

Which I find hilarious considering how many mistakes made NII Stali when trying to research foreign armor systems, one of their funniest and most embarrasing mistakes was saying that MBT-70 used ERA... these people (calling themselfs proffesionals) confused simple steel plates welded to MBT-70 turret as weight simulators with ERA modules, ha!

 

And how Knife performs in real combat? It's good enough.

 

ixBA8VlOS38.jpg

364811_original.jpg

353336_900.jpg

 

Here are only few example of T-64BM Bulat and T-64B1M being hit, and protected by Knife ERA.

Of course there were also destroyed tanks, the ones hit where Knife does not protect the tank, like majority of hull sides, or belly when anti tank mine struck the vehicle there with shaped charge warhead and detonated ammunition inside.

 

The catastrophic losses of some T-64BM Bulat tanks, are result of inherited problem of all T tanks prior T-14, which is main gun ammo storage inside crew compartment, old ammunition which have it's propelant charges way beyond their service life and thus are less stable, bad training and tactics which improved over time.

 

Truth to be told if T-64BM Bulat's would be protected by Kontakt-5 or Relikt, results would be the same, if not worse in case of Kontakt-5 when tanks would face ATGM's with tandem warheads.

 

And just for sake of comparision.

 

dNAUpmq.jpg

Destroyed T-64BM Bulat protected by Knife ERA.

 

id529-02.jpg

Destroyed T-72B3 protected by Kontakt-5 ERA.

 

Both tanks destroyed during war in Ukraine, both results are the same.

Edited by Damian90

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So basically here we see the strength and weakness inherent in all ERA designs...

 

ERA can be a lightweight "miracle armor" that saves your tank from certain doom.

ERA can also fail you completely.

 

It doesn't much matter who made it or what kind it is, it just doesn't always work 100% of the time.

Edited by Maj.Hans

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In general situation with ERA is like with composite armor, the more layers the better, but this comes with a price.

 

For example Knife ERA weight's more or less just as much as Kontakt-5. But Duplet, this thing weight's much, much more, if I am not mistaken entire Duplet ERA kit for T-84BM Oplot weights 5+ metric tons. So in general as T-80U/UD weighted around 46 metric tons, T-84BM Oplot weights 51 metric tons.

 

So the question is, if really ERA to be effective in future, so layered, will be that lightweight "miracle armor"?

 

And there are other problems with ERA, to be effective ERA needs to be angled, otherwise it's efficency drops significantly, however the angle depends on ERA design, some ERA needs to be angled at around 60 degrees, some need to be less angled.

 

Also ERA will have effectiveness depending on exactly where the module was hit, if it was hit in the center more or less, it will be more effective, but if the hit was at the edge of the module, then effectiveness drops.

 

Also effectiveness will depend on the fact, what is behind ERA, is it a thick composite armor module? Or perhaps thin RHA plate? Or what hit the ERA module, was an obsolete type of ammunition not designed to defeat targets protected by ERA? Or a modern one designed with such targets and protection in mind?

 

There are variables of that kind in to equation, that needs to be considered, and obviously software like Steel Beasts is somewhat limited in capability to model all of them properly.

 

So what we have at the moment in SB, is ok, adequate for it's purpose.

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Thanks for clearing things up Damian! I was unaware that Nozh worked this way.

14 minutes ago, Maj.Hans said:

It doesn't much matter who made it or what kind it is, it just doesn't always work 100% of the time.

So that's why even when the ERA coverage is dense it is still a 50% solution.

1 hour ago, Damian90 said:

if I am not mistaken entire Duplet ERA kit for T-84BM Oplot weights 5+ metric tons

Are there any signs that Russia is experimenting with more western style tanks and their composites/layered armor. Or are they still trying to minimize the crew compartiment volume like in the T-14?

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