2008/11/13

Reminder: It's too easy to underestimate

The photo shows an Iraqi Type 69 tanks after capture by the USMC in 1991.

Easily visible is the now well-known slat armor applied to turret rear and sides, almost immunizing these surfaces against shaped charge munitions.

Slat armor is both K.I.S.S. and extremely unsexy - it was occasionally used since at least the 1960's (as secret frontal protection for the Swedish "S-tank", for example), but had its breakthrough only few years ahead when it was understood as excellent protection for lightly armored vehicles against the very old RPG-7 anti-tank weapons.

The 'Western' approach to armor was primarily the compound armor ("Chobham" armor and similar), Israel and the Warsaw Pact additionally embraced ERA (reactive armor) on large scale - and earlier.

This slat armor anecdote from 1991 serves two purposes;
First, it reminds us that something may be highly efficient, but not 'sexy' (it's good to remember the disastrous consequences that the 'spit and polish school' had in the Royal Navy about a hundred ears ago).
Second, it reminds us that big budget high-tech armies have no monopoly on great tools/weapons; sometimes, even third rate armies and despised low-tech systems have 'diamond' components.

Sven Ortmann

edit: I see the irony of posting about underestimating others directly after a harsh critique on an operation that has yet to take place. Feel free to falsify my previous post, I'd love to be wrong on that one.

edit 2009-03-01:
I found another example, slat armor on a BTR-70 during the Afghanistan War (the Soviet episode):

3 comments:

  1. What looks to you like slat armor looks like a custom-mae, wraparound bustle rack to me.

    Not much room inside the turret for plundered Kuwaiti loot.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cannoneer No. 421 November 2008 21:54

    Custom-made.
    Field expedient.
    Feld-Notbehelf

    ReplyDelete
  3. Better photo version; it's visible that a bottom of the cage is missing:

    http://img509.imageshack.us/my.php?image=neu1rc6.jpg

    ReplyDelete

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