Did the LW need more armor?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by psteel, May 11, 2013.

  1. psteel

    psteel Member

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    Did German prewar warplane designs feature armored plate?

    How much armor was on such planes?

    As the war progressed - was the LW pressured into using less armor steel, so the HEER could get more armor vehicles?
     
  2. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

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    I believe the first aircraft to have significant armor was the Junkers J.I - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - it was a forerunner of the Il-2, in fact.. So employing armor was not a new idea.

    AFAIK pre-war LW fighter aircraft did not employ, though the bombers may have been. In any case, they equipped both bombers and fighters with armor very soon after the war started.

    As to the third question, I have never heard of it, and personally I find it very doubtful such compromise was ever made. Aircraft use very little armor grade steel, not to mention that steel (and aluminium) was something Germany had in vast abundance, being the world's 2nd largest producer of both, after the U.S.A.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Some of the late war versions of the Fw 190 were very heavily armoured, several hundred kilograms. I don't think there was ever pressure to reduce armour in favour of another branch of the Wermacht.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  4. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    There's lots of variations, because as the war progressed everybody added armor.
    The Luftwaffe was probably more persistant in pilot protection that other air forces, they knew they had fewer pilots, and most were flying in bullet rich enviroments, so they knew they'd better do everything to preserve the few they had.
    If you look at pictures of Bf109's from midwar and on you can see the very heavy armored glass windscreens, plus they had armored headrest, armored plale behind the pilot,
    I'm sure someone will post more specific information on armor thickness and weights.
     
  5. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    What they needed was fuel, and pilots, to get the armour airborne !
     
  6. altsym

    altsym Member

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    Pilots planes were plentiful, the biggest problem facing the Luftwaffe (other then a serious lack of C3) was a Morphine addicted megalomaniac by the name of Hermann Wilhelm Göring.
     
  7. psteel

    psteel Member

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    Its true that very little armored steel was used per fighter, but then if you plan to produce 10,000 per year- it adds up. Bombers must have used more than a ton per plane, which would also add up.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    However adding armor to aircraft lowers aerial performance. Self sealing fuel tanks lower tank capacity. So you've got to balance benefits vs drawbacks of additional armor protection.
     
  9. psteel

    psteel Member

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    #9 psteel, May 12, 2013
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
    Lets say for now.

    In 1943 they build 10900 fighters 4600 bombers plus 3300 fighter bombers. IN addition about 1000 transports and 250 sea planes.

    10600 fighters @ 200kg armor each.
    4600 bombers @ 1000kg armor each.
    3300 fighter bombers @ ~ 500kg armor each.

    That's roughly a need for 8400 tons armored steel . [Final end product-Actual steel usage could be much higher due to wastage -maybe twice.]

    Using Spielberger figures....Each 3 Ton Zg tractor weights about 7.2 with 1.8 payload so base vehicle is 5400kg. The SPW 251 figures were 9.0 1.5, so the base vehicle is 7500 kg. Therefore each SPW needed about 1900kg of armored steel. So the armored steel used by the LW in 1943 could have instead allowed 4421 x 3t Zg tractors to be produced as SPW 251 APC.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If Germany does as you suggest 4,421 10.5cm howitzers would be without an artillery tractor.

    WWII Germany had no shortage of RHA. Otherwise they would have stripped the armor belt off KM Tirpitz, a ship which served little purpose except to provide RAF Bomber Command with badly needed target practice.
     
  11. psteel

    psteel Member

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    The only 105mm Howitzers that needed towing tractors where in the motorized/Panzer divisions, which would account for only ⅓ of that production number. As it was the Panzer Divisions were replacing their towed howitzers with “Wespe”, which reduces that amount to about ¼ of the total mentioned.
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The armor belt would be pretty much useless. Trying to cut 330mm thick armor into 9-12mm thick slices wasn't going to happen. Naval armor is rolled to thickness first and heat treated second. Trying to re-roll it to a thinner thickness is also going to be an exercise in futility.
    Naval armor of the type used in main belts was not RHA.

    About all you could do with the belt armor of the Tirpitz was cut it up and throw it in a blast furnace and start over.
     
  13. psteel

    psteel Member

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    I would guess that scrapping a warship that big would probably take years , before the steel could be recycled?
     
  14. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

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    Even in case of lack of steel armor plates, those can be substituted with aluminium, in fact the 109 from F series onwards sported a layered duraluminium armor bulkhead in addtion to the steel armor. Aluminium can be good (if expensive) armor material, since it offers about IIRC 50% the ballsitic protection of armored steel but weights only 1/3 as much. So for this reason nowadays IFVs use alumium extensively...
     
  15. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The protection aluminium offers is actually quite close to steel on a weight basis, it does depend a bit on exact alloy and heat treat. BUT vehicles with thin steel armor require framing, support structure, and a chassis frame. Making the "armor box" out of aluminium means the box walls are thick enough that the armor box becomes strong enough to support itself and the framing/support structure can be done away with along with a good part of the chassis frame. This is where most of the weight saving in aluminium AFV comes from.
    Quite a few planes used aluminium armor in WWII but usually thin sheets/plates where they expected the the incoming fire to be at quite an angle.
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Like the so called aluminium "deflection" armour fitted externally over the upper fuel tank of the Spitfire. From memory this happened after Dunkirk but before the BoB.
    It's something modellers usually miss! Mind you it was less than 1/4 inch thick on a full size aircraft, not a major feature.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    They all do except for weapons mounted in bunkers and the relatively few SP Wespe howitzers. So do 7.5cm/48 Pak40 AT guns and quite a few other towed weapons.

    Sd.Kfz.11 didn't just tow the gun. It carried the crew and a basic load of ammunition. If things are quiet the Sd.Kfz.11 tractor was used to transport additional ammunition and other supplies. Sd.Kfz.11 (3 ton) and Sd.Kfz.7 (8 ton) big brother were real workhorses and ideal for the mission. Only shortcoming was Germany didn't have enough of them.
     
  18. psteel

    psteel Member

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    Smaller artillery like PaK 40 and Le How 105 could also be towed by the Maultier 1/2 track truck. The production was several times the Zg tractors production -which were too expensive to fill such a role.

    Anyway I will have to search elsewhere to find out the armor needs of the LW.
     
  19. altsym

    altsym Member

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    The Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 introduced a more angular cockpit with an armoured windscreen and an angled armour plate behind the pilot's head. The 8 mm armour plate was also retrofitted to older models. The later G-model introduced a cockpit canopy with even more armour and a 90 mm thick windscreen. The heavily framed and armoured Bf 109 canopies were criticised for restricting the view of the pilot, but they offered good protection. Much later, at the end of the war, the Erla Haube was fitted. This new canopy, also rather inaccurately called the "Galland Hood", offered a considerably improved field of view.

    The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 had a 13 mm plate to protect head and shoulders of the pilot, 8 mm seat armour, some 5 mm and 6 mm plate to fill in the gaps around the seat, and an armoured windscreen 50 mm thick. Armoured rings of 5.5 mm and 6.5 mm were installed around the lip of the engine cowling. An unique modification was the Fw 190A-8/R-8, modified to attack US heavy bombers from a close distance. Most fighters were protected only against from the rear and front. But the /R8 modification provided protection against fire from the sides as well, because this could be expected when the fighters got close in the bomber formations. The nose and headrest armour were made heavier, 30 mm armourglass was fitted to the side of the canopy, and 5 mm plate was installed at the sides of the cockpit and behind the instrument panel. The wing ammunition boxes for the 30 mm cannon were also protected, for any explosion of the ammunition would be fatal.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    That would be the R-2 surely. Total weight of armour was 337.3 Kg for that version. The R-8 was more lightly armoured at 256.2 Kg, though that was still 110.5 Kg more than the basic fighter version of the A-8.

    The R-8 did not have the front quarter and side armoured glass in the canopy, nor did it have the plate below the cockpit.

    That would be 4,5,6 on this diagram.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a page of Rodeicke which gives the various weights and dispositions.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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