An examination of German Pz Kw 3 and 4 tanks in Sicily, and a number of
SP guns has confirmed prior reports that the Germans are using skirting both
around the turret and along the sides of the hull. A prior reference to enemy use
of armor skirting on German tanks may be found
in Tactical and Technical Trends No. 40, p. 11.
* * *
On one Pz Kw tank, 1/4-inch mild steel plates were placed around the
sides and rear of the turret, and extended from the turret top to the bottom, almost
flush with the top of the superstructure. The front edges on both sides had been
turned in, so as to line up with the front of the turret, thus filling the space between
the turret and the outer mild steel plate. Doors are provided in the outer plate
immediately opposite the doors of the turret. The plate is bolted on to brackets by
3/8-inch bolts and studs. The plates stand out about 18 inches from the top and
12 inches from the bottom of the turret. The depth of the plate is approximately 20 inches.
The skirting of 3/16 inch mild steel plates is in sections of 3 feet 9 inches x 3 feet 3 inches. It
extends from the top of the superstructure to about the tops
of the bogies, and for the full length of the hull. The sections are held in place
by slots in them which match the supporting clips on a 1/4-inch angle-iron rail,
welded on to the top of the superstructure and extending the full length of the hull,
and by 5 brackets bolted on to the track mudguards. The angle-iron is spaced about
15 inches outwards away from the hull, and the brackets about 8 inches away from the mudguards.
Three other Pz Kw 4 tanks, similarly equipped with skirting were also seen, and
a Pz Kw 3 tank had both sides completely covered with sheets of 3/16 inch
boiler plate extending the whole length of the tank, and reaching from turret-top
level to the tops of the bogies.
The 7.5-cm Stu.K. 42 SP equipment on a Pz Kw 3 chassis has been seen
with similar additional side plates. The plates, which extend vertically from the
top of the equipment to the tops of the bogies, and laterally from the fifth bogie
to the rear of the front-drive sprocket, are in three sections, the front section
being cut to conform roughly with the shape of the equipment. A 15-cm s.F.H. 18
on Pz Kw 4 tank chassis is also reported to have been similarly equipped.
It would appear from available information that the use of spaced skirting
on German armored vehicles and self-propelled guns is being adopted as standard
practice. The fact that the side plates are in sections and held in place by clips
suggests that they are detachable. This would, of course, be a great convenience
in loading for transportation by rail.
It is believed that the skirting is designed to cause premature explosion of
hollow charge, HE and AP HE shell, and thus minimize their effect. Although
the plates have been described as mild steel, other sources have erroneously
described them as armor.
Particular attention is drawn to the difficulty of recognition of tanks and
SP equipments with this extensive skirting. Almost all of the features which are
of primary importance in identification are obscured (see last sentence,
Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 40, p. 11).