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"Was German HE better than everyone else's?" Topic

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696 hits since 2 Feb 2024
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Joe Legan02 Feb 2024 11:41 a.m. PST

Last December on this board we talked about caliber of weapon and how "weight of fire" was really the most important predictor of how much damage a gun would do in combat. So my title asks a second question.
Did some countries have better ammo than others?
I ask because in my game boom and zoom firepower is currently determined by weight of fire with a 20% bonus for nose mounted weapons. Should the Germans get another bonus for their cannon because of their ammo?
I just don't know that much about it.
I was going to email wolf but thought I would open it up


Kelly Armstrong02 Feb 2024 6:12 p.m. PST

"ammunition" involves lots of factors including explosive charge, fuzing, and propulsion (burning versus detonating). Each country had different recipes and indeed the same country would have multiple recipes. but roughly speaking, no one of the major warring countries had a clear superiority or inferiority to another as the science of making energetics and ammo was pretty much standard. About the only exception I can think of was proximity fuzing for AA and artillery. That was a game changer but I don't believe a war-winner by itself.

Well then there is the atomic bomb . . .

emckinney02 Feb 2024 10:40 p.m. PST

Start here:

Especially the World War 2 Fighter Armament Effectiveness page and the Analysis page.

Martin Rapier03 Feb 2024 12:21 a.m. PST

I don't think differences in HE composition made any significant difference in air combat. However the more general point is that 20mm and 30mm cannon are far more effective weapons at shooting things down than.303 or even 50 cal bullets.

Joe Legan03 Feb 2024 8:56 a.m. PST

Thank you all for the erudite comments. Kelly, that is what I thought but didn't want to miss anything. McKinney, that is a great site! Thanks. I will compare his numbers with the numbers Dom showed me but it looks like they line up pretty well.
Martin, the way I am currently taking into account the HE effect of cannon shells is a modifier on the damage chart. Otherwise I am going by weight of fire for firepower dice. This does show the "weight of shot" of the heavy cannons. Good point sir.

Thanks all again.


Umpapa05 Feb 2024 12:43 p.m. PST

Remember that slave workers working in German Nazi factories often sabotaged ammo and equipment. In 1939 polish trenches were sometimes bombarded with duds which inside have a card: "Greetings from Czechia." My own father was poisoning cars oil with sand or other additives – just before refuelling , when German overseer was distraced by another boy. Most prized prank was of course adding a bit of CaC2 Calcium carbide during refuelling (after several km car goes boom) – calcium carbid lamp were very popular. Brother of my father who was working in Uboot shipyards camp was amazed by the fact (especially after Stalingrad) how those Uboots could at all return from sea being objects of regular sabotage of all those slave workes from Poland, Yugoslavia, France, Belgium, Greece etc who hated Germans more than valued their own life.

Of course sabotage was punished by death, but so were also a lot of other things – so really it was not a big deterrent. You could die anytime anyway.

Wolfhag05 Feb 2024 6:59 p.m. PST

For the nose-mounted guns, I would not give a modifier. They are more effective because the dispersion is smaller than wing-mounted guns unless the target is at the range of harmonization for wing-mounted guns. If the target is not in the harmonized range it could be 10-30% less effective. Nose-mounted guns are normally more accurate because you don't get the wing flexing from the recoil and don't have to worry about the convergence point. Many German pilots had their wing 20mm guns removed for better performance and didn't need them against fighters.


See some examples: link

To complicate things, the smaller the dispersion the better your aim needs to be to get hits on your target. A large dispersion allows for hits with poor aiming. However, nose-mounted guns will have a "buzz saw" effect on the target, the shooting will have somewhat of an all-or-nothing effect on the target because of the concentration.

Generally, it's a tradeoff. Nose mounting is better for long-range shots, and better for head-on and ground strafing. Wing mounts tend to be better in deflection shots and in turns.


Joe Legan06 Feb 2024 9:49 a.m. PST

UP, Great point. Many stories of that. Sounds like your father was very brave.
Wolf, hope you are well. I see what you are saying but am not convinced. Pilots throughout the war opened up too far away. That is one of the thing that separated aces from the rest. No one but the US navy taught deflection shooting. I still think a small bump is justified. To me your average pilot is only going to hit someone on purpose, at long range from behind. 20% will never be more than one die and sometimes not even that. I do appreciate the info as always. I appreciate the discussion and obviously will require more thought on my part.

Thanks everyone!


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