Churchill armour a bit thin

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Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Lurcio » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:24 pm

While making up some 15mm Churchill models I was reading the army lists and noticed that at Churchill Mk III or 4 has an Armour Value of 8 while a Tiger 1 has an Armour Value of 12. Both being classed as 'Heavy'.

Given that the Churchill's armour was pretty much the same as the Tiger's why is there such a large discrepancy in the two tanks armour values?

I'd have thought an Armour Value of 11 for a Churchill Mk III/IV would have been more realistic while a Mk VII would weigh in with a 13 or 14.
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Re: Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Truscott Trotter » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:29 pm

Does seem a bit light I would have thought 10 or 11 myself.
How does side armour work on those vehicles?
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Re: Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Lurcio » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:43 pm

Churchill mk III and IV Hull Front 102mm, Hull Side 89mm, hull rear 51mm,Turret front 89mm turret side 76mm.

Churchill mk VII hull front 152mm, hull side 95mm, hull rear 51mm, turret front 152mm,turret side 95mm.

Tiget I, hull front 100mm, hull side 80, hull rear 82, turret front/mantlet 110mm, turret side 80mm.

The Tiger is a bit tougher than the mk III & IV Churchill, but the Churchill mk VII is tougher. The Tiger is also a much bigger target.
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Re: Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Sadurian » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:51 pm

The Churchill was badly designed from a ballistic viewpoint - the track horns created a huge shot trap and the armour was all vertical so less ballistically efficient than sloped.

However, the Tiger I wasn't exactly a model of ballistic engineering either, and provided huge slab sided targets for enemy gunners.

I can only imagine that it is yet another problem of myth over data. We all know how the Tiger was a slow lumbering killer tank immune to every anti-tank gun and able to penetrate everything it encountered, right?

Of course, none of those 'facts' is true. Allied, and especially British, equipment has long been denigrated in popular memory and under-powered in wargames (I present the 2-pdr and 6-pdr ATGs as evidence, m'lud).

I would be very interested in seeing the justification for the Churchill not getting the armour-love it deserves.
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Re: Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Lurcio » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:06 pm

Apart from the T34, Panther and King Tiger most WW2 tanks had a majority of their plates on or near the vertical.

Looking at the raw numbers several of the tanks seem to be a bit thin when I compare their armour thickness to a Tiger with it's AF of 12.

I have come up with a rough formula which seems to work, take the average armour thickness of an area (e.g. turret front and hull front) in mmm divide by 10, round up or down and add 1 to the result; this brings the Churchill up to 11 and the Tiger stays at 12.

For sloped armour add an +1 (sloped armour is effectively thicker than a flat plate) and a further +1 for those tanks where the slope provided a ballistic advantage. Using this formula a Panther comes out at 11 which seems reasonable and is the same as the rule stats.

It would also allow a vehicle to be given an easily calculated AV for flanks and rear shots.

However I haven't gone down this route yet, I'll wait until I've played quite a few more games before making such a radical change. However my original question still stands, why the poor AV for a Churchill compared to a Tiger?
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Re: Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Sadurian » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:26 pm

Lurcio wrote:
Apart from the T34, Panther and King Tiger most WW2 tanks had a majority of their plates on or near the vertical.

Sloping as such wasn't really incorporated into many Second World Tanks but plenty had a better ballistic profile than the Churchill or Tiger. Look at slopes and the curves of the Matilda (I and II), the Sherman and even many of the early British Cruisers. Shot traps a-plenty on many of them, but the ballistic profile was far better than the great slabs presented by the Churchill.

Having plates at the vertical isn't as much of a problem if you pick and choose where those plates are. If they at the front, and especially on the front of the turret, then you are asking for trouble. Sides is bad but not necessarily disastrous, and the rear is acceptable.

Then you have welded versus cast versus riveted armour. Each has advantages and disadvantages (not necessarily on the battlefield). Then the type of steel used in the armour itself - face-hardened is good but difficult to work and had to be produced in flat pre-machined slabs (as compound armour does today), casting is great for shape but subject to minor metallurgical irregularities and requires specialist workshops, and rolled homogenous armour is easy to work but not as strong as face-hardened.

None of which mitigates against the Churchill being under-valued by the rules, but it is worth bearing in mind that the physics of tank armour is a complex business.
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Re: Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Truscott Trotter » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:55 pm

Quality of armour is also a big factor.
Reading first hand accounts of Tiger crews there armour was thinner than a Panthers front but none would swap as their armour absorbed hits but the brittle LW Panther armour (and Tiger II's) shattered and fell apart at the welds
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Re: Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Sadurian » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:20 pm

Truscott Trotter wrote:
Quality of armour is also a big factor.
Reading first hand accounts of Tiger crews there armour was thinner than a Panthers front but none would swap as their armour absorbed hits but the brittle LW Panther armour (and Tiger II's) shattered and fell apart at the welds

Yes, the problem of shattering is down to metallurgy - hardening the steel without leaving enough 'softer' metal on the inner face to absorb shock waves. That's why modern compound armour works so well - it has layers of hard and brittle armour (even using glass and ceramic) backed by softer layers which dissipate the force.

The effect was first seen in the First World War (I'd have to dig out the article for the exact date) when a test was made using a thin layer of ceramic facing on a steel plate. The ceramic increased the protective effect of the steel considerably but at that time it wasn't practical to fit it as armour.
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Re: Churchill armour a bit thin

Postby Lurcio » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:28 pm

I'm well aware that the question of armour effectiveness is very complex but as gamers we're trying to boil all the factors down to a simple number which fits within the rules.

Hence my original observation, Churchill armour seems a bit thin compared to some German tanks.

I think the big difference between later German and British/American tanks was that the Germans had a better combination of gun/armour/mobility than their opponents.

And just to prove I'm not concentrating on making the British better I think the AF of the basic Sherman is under by one and late model Panzer IV's by two.
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