In a complicated weapon such as a tank with its many movable parts and
elaborate mechanism, it is particularly important to know where the most
vulnerable parts are from the point of view of its destruction by an enemy
gunner. Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 41, p. 6 describes
some German methods of destroying Allied tanks by this means.
The Soviet Artillery Journal in one of its past issues contained an article
on this subject which furnishes practical hints on the vulnerable parts of the
German "Tiger" tank. A translation follows.
* * *
All weapons now used for destroying enemy tanks--antitank guns and
rifles, heavy machine guns, AT grenades and incendiary bottles (Molotov
cocktails)--are effective against the German Tiger tanks.
a. Suspension System
The mobility of tanks depends upon the proper functioning of the suspension
parts: sprocket (small driving wheel), idler (small wheel in the rear), wheels
and tracks. All these parts are vulnerable to shells of all calibers. A
particularly vulnerable part is the sprocket.
Fire armor-piercing shells and high-explosive shells at the sprocket, idler
Fire at the wheels with HE shells; use AT grenades, AT mines, and movable
AT mines. Attach three or four mines to a board. Place the board wherever tanks
are expected to pass. Camouflage the board and yourself. As a tank passes
by, pull the board in the proper direction and place it under the track
of the tank.
[One German source states that this method was successfully used on roads
and road crossings in Russia and still taught on tank combat courses for
infantry. The mine is called Schaniermine (pivot mine board) and
consists of a stout length of board 8 inches wide by 2 inches thick
and cut to length according to the width of the road to be blocked. A hole is
bored at one end through which a spike or bayonet can be driven into the
ground, thus providing a pivot for the board. At the other end of the
board a hook is fastened to which a rope is tied as shown in the
accompanying sketch. T-mines are fastened to the board, the number
according to needs.
[One man can operate this mine. After the board has been fastened down at one
end with the spike (in emergency a bayonet) and a rope tied to the hook at the
other end, the board is laid along the side of the road. On the opposite side
of the road a man is posted in a narrow slit trench holding the other end of
the rope. On the approach of the tank, the operator waits until it is close
enough to the pivoted board and at the last moment pulls the free end of the
board across the road to form the tank trap. The rope and slit trench must
be well-camouflaged. Great stress is laid on this point.]
Use AT grenades and mines to damage the suspension parts.
b. Side Armor Plates
There are two armor plates on each side of the tank. The lower plate is
partly covered by the wheels. This plate protects the engine and the gasoline
tanks which are located in the rear of the hull directly beyond and over the two
rear wheels. Ammunition is kept in special compartments along the sides of the
tank. These compartments are protected by the upper armor plate.
Fire armor-piercing shells from 76, 57 and 45-mm guns at the upper and
lower armor plate. When the gas tanks or ammunition compartments are hit, the
vehicle will be set on fire.
c. Rear Armor Plate
The rear armor plate protects the engine, the gasoline tanks, and the
Use AT guns. Aim at the rear armor plate. When the engine or the
gasoline tanks are hit, the tank will stop and catch fire.
d. Peepholes, Vision Ports, and Slits
The turret has two openings for firing small-arms weapons, and two vision
ports. The small commander's turret has five observation slits. There are two
sighting devices on the roof of the front part of the tank--one for the
driver, the other for the gunner. There is also a port with sliding covers
in the front armor plate.
Use all available weapons for firing at the peepholes, observation
ports, sighting devices, and the large ports for small-arms weapons.
Commander's turret is an important and vulnerable target.
Fire HE and armor-piercing shells of all calibers at the commander's
turret. Throw AT grenades and incendiary bottles when the turret is damaged.
The commander of the tank, the commander of the turret, and the gunner
ride in the turret. The tank gun and many mechanical devices are found
in the turret.
Fire at the turret with 76, 57 and 45-mm shells at 500 meters or closer.
f. Tank Armament
The turret is armed with a gun and a machine gun mounted coaxially. Another
machine gun is found in the front part of the hull. It protrudes through
the front armor plate, on a ball mount, and is manned by the radio operator.
Concentrate the fire of all weapons on the armament of the tank. Fire
with AT rifles at the ball mount of the hull machine gun.
g. Air Vents and Ventilators
The air vents and the ventilators are found under the slit-shaped perforations
of the roof of the hull, directly behind the turret. Another air vent is
located in the front part of the roof, between the two observation ports
used by the radio operator and the driver.
Use incendiary bottles and AT grenades to damage the ventilating system.
h. Tank Floor
When an antitank mine explodes under the tank, the floor of the tank is
smashed and the tank knocked out of action.
i. Base of Turret
There is a 10-mm slit going all around the turret, between the base of the
turret and the roof of the hull.
Fire at the base of the turret with heavy machine guns and AT guns. The
purpose of this is to destroy the turret mechanism and disrupt the field
of fire. Fire with HE shells at the base of the turret in order to wreck
the roof of the hull and put the tank out of action.