German Firing Trials against the Matilda II

I have previously posted some views on the Matilda II at this link.
While going through the appendices to the war diary of 21. Panzerdivision, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, I came across the results of firing trials with various German guns against the Matilda II, which show quite nicely how the one-time  queen ofthe battlefield have moved towards obsolescence.

Some notes to help interpretation:

  • Indication (Anzeige) I interpret as ‘success’
  • Pz.Gr. is a tank round
  • I presume that the writer of the memo made errors in the tank/anti-tank round designations
  • Gr.40 (should be 39) is the standard model round for tank guns and anti-tank guns. It contained a small amount of HE filler for better after-armour effect.
  • Gr.41 (should be 40) is a tungsten-core round with better effect but no HE filler.
  • Pz.Gr.38 normal (should be Rot/red) is the standard anti-tank round of the short 7.5cm tank gun, capped and with HE filler.
  • Pz.Gr.38 red (should be HL for Hohladung) is a hollow charge round only available for the short 7.5cm tank gun in the Panzer IV at the time
  • l.F.H.18 is a light field howitzer, and was the standard artillery piece of the Wehrmacht. Comparable to the US 105mm or the British 25-pdr.
  • ‘Special ammunition’ for this gun was hollow-charge. This was not allowed to be used during Operation CRUSADER by order of Hitler.
  • Panzerbuechse 41 is a heavy anti-tank rifle.

STARTS

Trial Firing on Mark II
on 19.3.42 on the firing range of I./Panzerregiment 8

1.) Assembly and explanation of types of ammunition

2.) Firing at 600m with target at acute angle

5cm tank gun with Pz.Gr.41 on turret, also on wheel assembly

5cm tank gun with Pz.Gr.40 on turret

Potential indication

7.5cm Pz.Gr. normal on turret

7.5cm Pz.Gr. 38 red on turret

Panzerbuechse 41 on turret and lower hull

Indication

5cm anti-tank Gr.40 on turret, also on wheel assembly

5cm anti-tank Gr.41 on turret

7.5cm HE round on tracks

Indication

l.F.H.18 HE round on tracks

l.F.H.18 Pz.Gr. on turret

l.F.H.18 with special ammunition on turret

Indication

Turn the Mark II facing frontally.

Against the front all weapons that had indication from the side.

3.) Following this advance of all weapons to 400m

Fire on the front turret by all weapons in the same order as before. After this advance of all weapons with no indication to 200m.

At this range also indication by 2cm tank gun with Pz.Gr.40 and 41.

The original document is attached below. Comments and corrections more than welcome.

German report on firing trials results against Matilda II, 19 March 1942

16 thoughts on “German Firing Trials against the Matilda II

  1. Hi

    Yes, the PzGr 40 was a tungsten-core arrowhead. But the only PzGr 41 I can find was for taper-bore guns (such as the Panzerbuechse 41). I don’t think the projectile number existed for standard guns such as the 50mm AT and tank guns.

    So the only explanation I have at present is that the person typing the memo made an error.

    But I may well be wrong.

    All the best

    Andreas

  2. Pingback: Crusader - Page 4 - World War 2 Talk

  3. Pingback: German guns vs. Matilda II: help needed

  4. The pz.gr. 38 rot was the early 75mm AP round. It is listed here http://www.lexpev.nl/downloads/geschossringbuch.pdf as the K.gr rot pz. I’ve seen it called the m. 38 AP round other places. It probably was used as a stop gap until production of the improved normal round could be ramped up.
    The normal 7.5cm Pzgr was the Pz.gr. 39.

    The Panzerbuechse 41 probably was the 7.5 cm Pzgr 41 (HK) an arrowhead style APCR.
    In March 1942 I would guess the Germans were in the process of testing the new 75mm PaK 40 and used the Matilda II as target to see what it could do.

  5. This is interesting if a puzzle of sorts. I would assume that it is a ‘field shoot’ and in theatre. I think it is a test of the APCR (Pzgr 40 models) and other ‘best of’ weapons against the Mark II (perhaps obvious).

    The explanation I can think of, for the 5 cm ammunition, is that they have two models of the Pzgr 40. That is, Pzgr 40 and Pzgr 40/1. These are similar and can be viewed in the link Mobius provided. It is a clerical mistake most probably. Both 5,0 cm Pzgr 40 and Pzgr 40/1 had ausf (variants) but that may mean materials. All used the same ‘bolt’ of 21mm Tungsten carbide, but the main difference is the weight overall of the projectile, and the resulting velocity.

    The 2.8cm is the squeezebore weapon as has been described.

    The Pz. Gr 38 is an early HEAT round for the 7,5 cm KWK . 7.5cm Pz.Gr. is actually the K. Gr. Pz Rot early 75mm large capacity (0.08 Kg explosive) armor piercing round.

    There were no 7,5 cm Pzgr 39 at this time. I am not sure if the Germans actually did use the 7,5 cm Pzgr 39 on the short barreled 7,5 cm KWK 37 weapon, or if made much of a difference at the velocities it achieved in those short weapons.

    If this is a Field shoot, and given the date, there are no Pak 40’s in theatre. They don’t have KWK/StuK 40 weapons either.

      • Yes, the rare Diana actually used a ‘stock’ Soviet F-22 weapon. that is, used either stock Soviet ammunition or the German equivalent. It was not a reworked weapon like the 7.62 cm Pak 36 that fired the German ‘Pak 40’ brass with German 7.62 cm Pzgr 39.

  6. Also, a small detail, but the report does call out both KWK 5,0 cm weapon (tank) and the 5,0 cm Pak 38. At that time, the Panzer III would have both L41 and L60 versions of the 5,0 cm KWK. The Pak 38 was only L60.

    My understanding is that the L41 weapons did not get much improvement from Pzgr 40 type ammunition. Some reports claim that the cartridge brass would even split, jamming the weapon during a firefight.

    • The test was held on 19 March. They would just before have received the Panzer III with the L60 gun, and the vast majority were still the L42 model.

  7. Do you have a breakdown of the actual Panzer models and types sent to North Africa. I am mostly wondering about Panzer III. Did they receive 37mm versions? How many Panzer III L42 and what dates? Thanks

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