That must have been . . . interesting . . .

Reader S. C. sent me the link to this image on Imgur (click it for a larger view).

I’ve no idea when or where the picture was taken.  It’s clearly the 88mm. main cannon of a German Tiger Mk. I tank of World War II.  I wonder what projectile did that sort of damage?  It must have been a pretty hot round – certainly not fired from the standard Sherman tank’s 75mm. cannon, or the Russian 76mm. equivalent.  Perhaps it was the high-velocity British 17-pounder cannon, as fitted to the Sherman Firefly?  That would mean the picture had to be taken somewhere on the Western Front, as Russia didn’t operate any 17-pounders, to the best of my knowledge.  I don’t think they had any equivalent cannon in their own arsenal at that time, unless it was the 85mm/L52 fitted to the later T34-85 tank, although even that gun might not have had sufficient velocity to do damage like that.

Intriguing picture, in any event.  I bet the impact gave the gunner a headache – it must have made the cannon barrel ring like a bell!



  1. Looks like this particular kitty got thwapped with a newspaper across the muzzle. Could something like the SU-100 have done that, or as Richard mentions, another Tiger?

  2. I tried a TinEye search, and got six hits at Reddit for this image. I'm wading my way through them to see if there's any good info. But in the process, I found this image ( supposedly of a Sturmgesch├╝tz III that suffered similar damage.

    Not finding that image at Reddit.

  3. Looking at the dimeter of the hole versus the thickness of the barrel (keeping in mind the 88mm bore of that barrel), I would guess that had to be a 100mm round, likely from a SU-100 tank destroyer. Just maybe a 122mm round hit from one of several vehicles if late enough in the war.

  4. Keep in mind that the steel penetrating power of any given round is almost entirely dependent on velocity at time of impact. My buds and I do a bunch of steel shooting at fairly extreme ranges. Half inch steel is impervious to even .50 BMG at 1000 yards. We have not yet done the research to find the maximum range for full penetration.

  5. The diameter at the far side of the barrel is most likely the true size, as the closer side is ragged, and would be the exit hole.

    My question is whether the cannon was fired afterwards?
    Would the crew have been able to assess the damage while still in action?
    I'm thinking only the driver or the radio/gunner might have been able to view the damage, with the turret facing forward. Not sure if their viewers gave enough angle to see the barrel, though.
    The flash from that gap would have been spectacular, I'm sure!

  6. Was it in front of another German tank and hit a very close range?

    Thinking the trajectory looks flat, possible rising.

    Example of shy never swing your barrel in front of the next tank?

  7. Assuming that the hole in the muzzle brake is not much bigger than 88mm the round that did the damage is quite a bit smaller than 88mm.

    The Russians fielded tens of thousands of Zis-2 57mm anti-tank guns with a high-velocity (>3200fps)AP round. The 76mm gun of the T34 was
    a relative slowpoke at only 2030fps.


  8. That much force, with that much leverage, must have done some damage to the turret mechanism. If not spun the whole this around a bit.

    Bart Noir

  9. I spent a few days looking through old books I have as that photo seemed familiar but sadly could not find anything. The terrain and uniforms are relatively generic so it is difficult to tell whether this picture was taken in Tunisia, Russia or the Western Front.

    However, I did find one paragraph in a book called Kampfgruppe Peiper in which it was mentioned that the 75mm fitted to the Sherman Tank had sufficient power to, in one case, shear off the barrel of a Tiger tank. Therefore it is plausible for such a round or the Soviet equivilant to inflict the damage indicated in the photo.

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