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    Why were Schürzen introduced in WW2?

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    lockie
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    Why were Schürzen introduced in WW2?

    Post by lockie on Sun Sep 06, 2015 8:23 am

    I was sure "Schürzen" were organized as a defence against bazooka, but in fact it is another protection of the side projection.


    Late Model Pz IV with Drahtgeflecht (mesh) Schürzen.

    http://balagan.info/why-were-schurzen-introduced-in-ww2

    German Schürzen (“Aprons” or Side Skirts) of WW2 are always a good topic of debate. The crucial question is, why were they introduced? Short answer is: Soviet Anti-tank rifles.
    It is commonly believed that the aprons or side skirts on German armour (Schrzen) originated as a defense against Bazookas in north-western Europe. In fact the Germans started using them in late 1942, i.e. long before the Bazooka appeared in any significant numbers.
    Spielburger (in Spielburger & Feist “Armor on the Eastern Front”) states that side skirts were to combat Soviet AT rifles, not HEAT charges. He was there so he should know and he has pictures to illustrate this.
    Yes, very convincing. The icing on the cake for me was the Kummersdorf testing results which clearly stated in Feb. 1943 that ATR and 76mm HE rounds (not HEAT) were tested against schurzen with positive results. After the tests, it was ordered that all Pz III and Pz IV would be fitted with the plating at the factory and in service units would be field upgraded. This original German source is hard to argue with.
    Side skirts were primarily added to Pz III and IVs, and their variants. Tiger tanks did not get them. The Panther had very small side plates which were probably Schürzen. They specifically cover the small gap between the top of the road wheels and the start of the upper hull. Some people have speculated these are glorified mud-guards, etc… However since the lower side hull of the Panther was ONLY 40mm at 0º (vs. the Pz.IV’s 30mm and the Tiger I’s 60mm) the only logical conclusion is that these small side plates were schürzen for the same anti-ATR purpose as the larger plates on the Pz.III & IV. The large road wheels provided the same effect for the bottom half of the lower hull and therefore the most vulnerable part was the upper half of the lower hull where the track returned (look at a photo – there is a large strip of lower hull exposed at this point if these plates are missing). Even Jagdpanthers sometimes carried these side plates.
    Turret side skirts were always added at the factory, but other side skirts were added in the field. Which probably explains the wide diversity seen.
    People forget that modern “side skirts” and similar are quite different to the WW2 German stuff. The WW2 side skirts were just thin sheets, while the modern stuff tends to be laminated or specially shaped/thicker. Furthermore the Germans changed the Schürzen used on the Western Front late in the war to wire mesh and similar which suggest a change of purpose, i.e. to protect against light hollow charge weapons.
    The other thing to remember is that hollow charge munitions in WWII were not really taking advantage of the optimum “stand off” distance at which the jet is most effective. Cone shapes and materials were also not perfected. The shaped charge rounds I fired from the 105mm L7 gun and, I believe, those fired from 120 guns all have this very long “stick” in the front. That’s to ensure the charge is set off a good distance away from the target to optimize the jet. The shaped charge experts I used to work with felt that schurzen would have sometimes had a good effect (for the Germans) but could also have helped exploding rounds achieve a better stand off distance, given the technology of shaped charges at the time.
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    kapulA
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    Re: Why were Schürzen introduced in WW2?

    Post by kapulA on Sun Sep 06, 2015 1:44 pm

    Yeah, in my opinion it was originally designed to counter AT rifles but later proved to be efficient against Bazookas as well. I don't think that the design improved the penetration by ensuring a permanent stand-off distance for the HEAT projectiles as there must have been at least 10cm of space between the skirt and the actual side armor, which means that all but the late-war models of Bazookas would waste their penetrative potential in that space. Or at least it seems that way to me.

    Do they work the same way in SF? Smile
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    lockie
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    Re: Why were Schürzen introduced in WW2?

    Post by lockie on Sun Sep 06, 2015 1:53 pm

    This is a sample of the Soviet anti-faust defence - wire mesh.


    kapulA wrote:Do they work the same way in SF? Smile
    I have no idea how HEAT works in SF. It's definitely differ than HE or AP.

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