This article will examine the kubinka test on the Tiger II tank. Or more specifically, how it was portrayed by a spin doctor named TankArchives. This notorious individual has made a career out of interpreting soviet military reports and memorandums dating from world war 2. He has a long track record of distorting evidence and making dishonest claims, as part of an agenda to change public perception of the nazi-soviet war. It has always been an uphill battle for TankArchives, given the poor performance of the red army against the german heer. Even though they were eventually able to win the war (with the help of britain and america), the soviets were consistently outperformed by their enemy on the tactical level.
TankArchives interpretation of the Tiger II test is one of the more impressive displays of dishonesty that have appeared on his blog. The only incident that tops it was the time he attempted to refute the blogger Christos, who wrote a scathing article on the T-34 tank. (TankArchives used so many red-herrings, non-sequitors, and outright lies that it resulted in ChieftainsHatch going apeshit on him) Right at the start of his article, he presents a picture of the Tiger II tank from after the trials were over... After it had been fired on by 122mm, 100mm, 152mm, and 85mm guns. He acts as if the vehicles damage was inflicted solely by the 122mm gun, which is completely false! We're already getting off to a bad start.
Then, TankArchives begins describing the results of the test in earnest. In the first trial, the Soviet testers used a 122mm A-19 gun which has a slightly higher velocity than the D-25T used by the IS-2 tanks and SU-122 assault guns. Five shots are directed against the upper front plate (UFP), two shots are against the lower front plate (LFP), and two are against the turret face. The armor scheme of the Tiger II tank is as follows. The UFP is 150mm thick and sloped at 50 degrees from the vertical. The LFP is 100mm thick and sloped at 55 degrees. The turret face is 180mm thick and sloped at 10 degrees. You can use these figures to calculate what the relative thickness is.
TankArchives wants you to think the 122mm
A-19 gun did this to the Tiger II all by itself
The firing tests, part one
Shot #1 is an HE shell against the UFP, from 100 meters. The only damage is a shallow scuff mark, and burst weld seams. There was some spalling as well. TankArchives crows about the results, saying the shell has literally torn the tank apart. Which is utter nonsense, as the glacis itself is clearly still intact.
Shot #2 is an AP shell against the UFP, from 2700 meters. The impact left a shallow scuff mark, but did no damage. TankArchives is disappointed by the result and has little to say.
Shot #3 is an AP shell against the UFP, from 500 meters. The impact left a deep scuff mark and caused spalling. TankArchives crows about the results, lecturing about the perils of 'overhardened armor.'
Shot #4 is an APBC shell against the UFP, from 600 meters. The impact actually makes a clean penetration. TankArchives crows about the results, saying the 'low quality' of the armor has let the crew down.
Shot #5 is an APBC shell against the UFP, from 700 meters. The only damage is a shallow scuff mark, and burst weld seams. TankArchives crows about the results, lecturing about the perils of 'overhardened armor.'
Whats interesting about the original five shots against the glacis plate is that only one of them (shot #4) actually managed to penetrate. All the others failed to do so and only caused secondary damage through spalling or whatnot. Shot #4 and #5 used a brand-new APBC shell, called the BR-471B, which has superior performance to regular AP. And yet, there are oddities in the results that TankArchives pays no heed to.
Does he notice that shot #4 (the penetration) hit next to shot #3 (the deep scuff mark)? Nope. Does he notice that the 100 meter range difference between shot #3 and #4 were enough to render the APBC shells ineffective? Nope. Hes is clueless and ignorant as ever. Despite claims to the contrary, it seems that the Tiger IIs glacis plate is actually very tough, and holding up quite well to the abuse.
Also, do you see the boisterous manner in which TankArchives reports on these firing tests? He isn't conveying them in an impartial or unbiased tone. Hes literally cheering from the sidelines like a drunken football fan, ranting about the 'inferior' german tanks and their 'brittle' armor. And he wonders why people don't take him seriously, or dismiss his work as propaganda? It would be funny if it wasn't so idiotic.
The firing tests, part two
Shot #6 is an AP shell against the LFP, from 2500 meters. The impact left a shallow scuff mark, but did no damage. TankArchives is disappointed by the result and has little to say.
Shot #7 is an AP shell against the LFP, from 600 meters. The impact left a shallow scuff mark, but did no damage. TankArchives is disappointed by the result and has little to say.
(After this, there is a big gap, as the soviet testers switched to other guns and fired at the tank. They used 100mm, 152mm, and 85mm guns. Testing then resumes with the 122mm against the Tiger IIs turret, which is already damaged from prior impacts)
Shot #34 is an AP shell against the turret face, from 2500 meters. The shell hit next to a previous shot and knocked a piece of armor loose. TankArchives crows about the results, lecturing about the perils of 'overhardened armor.'
Shot #35 is an AP shell against the turret face, from 3400 meters. The shell cracked the armor, but otherwise did no damage. TankArchives is disappointed by the result and has little to say.
In this firing sequence as well, there are certain oddities. The 122mm gun actually made four shots against the turret face (#32, #33, #34, #35), but TankArchives chooses to only report on two of them (#34, #35). Who knows what his reason for doing this are? The true value of this sequence is questionable, anyway, since the turret has already been damaged by previous shots.
Conclusions about the firing tests
So, what can kindof facts we take away from the kubinka tests with the 122mm gun on the Tiger II? First, the regular HE and AP shells cannot pierce the glacis plate, they can only cause spalling or whatnot. Second, the brand-new APBC shells can only pierce the glacis plate from relatively short range (600 meters and under). Third, all the shells mentioned will perform better against the thinner armor of the turret face.
Another point that must be kept in mind is that there are two different models of 122mm gun. The A-19 which is L/46, and the D-25T which is L/43. The kubinka tests used the longer barreled model, and it could only pierce the Tiger IIs glacis plate with the BR-471B shell. This was an APBC design that wasn't introduced until 1945. It seems clear that the IS-2 tanks would have major problems dealing with the Tiger II, especially in a frontal engagement. The german tank could pierce the soviet tank from a much greater range than vice versa.
Just how powerful were these two guns? A ballistics expert named Robert Livingston compiled data on a large number of anti-tank guns from WW2, and measured their performance with the so called '50 percent criteria.' The 122mm A-19 gun could pierce 206mm of armor at 100 meters. The 88mm kwk 43 could pierce 232mm of armor at 100 meters. So clearly, the long 88 was the more powerful of the two guns, with a very long effective range.
Low quality armor (?) pierced by APFSDS
Low quality armor (?) pierced by APFSDS
There are a number of problems that loom over all the articles written by TankArchives. One of them is that he is clueless about metallurgy and armor engineering. He seems to labor under the delusion that any time the armor doesn't reject the shell with zero damage to itself, that this is somehow indicative of low quality! This is complete nonsense because even high quality armor can fail when subjected to powerful enough attack. Hes the kind of moron who would criticise an RHA plate for being pierced by an APFSDS round. (See the pictures above) Another thing he doesn't understand is that just because the armor suffers a brittle fracture doesn't automatically mean that its defective. Even high quality, ductile plate of RHA can exhibit cracks when attacked in the right manner.
Another problem is the tone in which TankArchives interprets these test results. It is clearly done in the style of someone who is an ultra-nationalist and historical revisionist: Someone who has no interest whatsoever in impartiality. His comments are reminiscent of the dialogue box in God of War, when you score points from racking up combos. "Vicious!" "Sadistic!" "Savage!"; "Inhuman!"; "Bloodthirsty!"; "Relentless!"; "Merciless!" TankArchives isn't even analysing the results, hes just turned himself into a human laugh track.
He presents his claims in such an absurd manner that an intelligent and unbiased observer simply shake their head in disgust and stops reading... Which leaves only the unintelligent or biased observers remaining. Exactly the kindof audience TankArchives wants! Its a brilliant example of nigerian phishing. As wikipedia points out in this article: "By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select." You have to give him credit for that, at least: He knows the market.
The laugh track