“Armored vehicles killers”: how cumulative shells destroy tanks 

Cumulative weapons from a person who is not familiar with the principle of his actions, can be surprising. As because of a small hole in the armor, in which the finger barely crawls through, the combat vehicle is damaged and fails. The cumulative effect itself was discovered at the end of the 18th century, however, humanity could only use it in the 40s of the 20th century. We will learn more about how this happened and what contributed to this.
Fighting gauges and armor
With the advent of tanks on the battlefield, the military of the whole world began to look for ways to fight them. At first they fought with the help of cannon armament, then they began to manufacture anti-tank grenades and mines. However, the more powerful the cannons became, the thicker the armor became and at some point it became clear that to withstand powerful tanks you need a cannon that needs too many soldiers to service and which is very inactive, which is not rational. And then the military gave scientists the task to develop a new type of weapon that can effectively penetrate enemy armor.
At this point, the designers recalled the discovery of the American scientist Charles Monroe, who found that with an explosion, the energy can be focused at one point – for this, you need to create a notch in the form of a cone in explosives. However, the result was still not sufficiently effective. But taking this idea as a basis, the German gunsmith Franz Tomanek in 1938 guessed that if the dredging was covered with metal, he would take on a penetrating role, and the energy of explosives would only form the direction of the blow and give energy for that. At the same time, not every metal is suitable for cladding the recess, and having ductility – copper was ideally suited.
The first such ammunition at their disposal were the Germans, which was a great nuisance for the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. At the very beginning, the USSR did not have such weapons, and when inspecting damage on a vehicle, it seemed that penetration was achieved due to burning. However, soon the first samples of German cumulative projectiles were captured, and the artillerymen first received the first projectiles of their own design, and then anti-tank cumulative grenades were supplied to the infantry.
Incredible pressure
So what is the secret of such effective armor penetration? It’s simple: as we have said, the side of the projectile facing the enemy is an explosive with a cone-shaped notch that is covered with copper cladding and has a fairing in front for the best aerodynamic characteristics and focusing the impact of a cumulative jet. An important feature of the design is the fuse, which is located in the rear of the projectile.
In a collision with a target, the fuse initiates an explosive. The explosion energy is directed forward and, due to the cone-shaped form, actually collapses. At this point, the copper cladding under pressure sharply flies forward. The metal remains solid, but at the same time forms a jet, the speed of which reaches 10 km / s. This creates a pressure of 100 tons per square centimeter, which actually presses and washes out the armor, which is called plastic deformation. Modern Russian development of anti-tank cumulative grenades can penetrate armor more than a meter thick.
How to escape
Following the emergence of cumulative weapons, the development of protection against them immediately began. And soon there were several recipes. The easiest is to install screens. The best effect of a cumulative jet occurs when an explosion occurs at a certain, so-called focal distance from the armor (almost as in optics). When installed at a distance from the main armor, even a light barrier, the explosion pierces it itself, but, reaching the main armor, loses its strength and can no longer pierce it.
The second method is active dynamic protection. It appeared already after the Great Patriotic War and became the breakthrough development of the USSR. Many saw that small boxes were installed on the tanks. Each of them contains explosives and armor plates. When hit with such a box of a cumulative jet, explosives explode: the first half extinguishes the jet, and the second pushes it towards the armored plate. The residual strength of the shot is not enough to penetrate the armor. In modern systems, the undermining of dynamic protection units can be carried out with the help of a computer that detects a shot and undermines explosives towards it.
Deadly effect
Traces of cumulative projectiles are small holes, with a diameter of no more than a couple of centimeters, but with a successful shot, they can even burn through the equipment.
The crews of armored vehicles are affected not only by the jet itself, although its temperature of 600 degrees is not a pleasant thing, as much as fragments broken off from the inside of the armor. Getting into the crew members and internal units of equipment, these metal particles disable them. Moreover, they do not necessarily have to be some large ones – these particles can be as large as grains of sand, but imagine that this is like a sandblaster, only instead of sand there are metal granules and their speed is much higher. And if such a jet falls into the engine or into the shells inside the vehicle, then an instantaneous explosion occurs.

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