Thursday, August 4, 2016

Revisiting Pen and Armor values for Team Yaakav

As I have been digging into the literature on the Lebanon war, I've come across some new information that made me want to rethink the conclusions and assumptions I made when I first made my unit cards for the various tanks on both sides.

Armor Penetrations

I came across a really revealing passage in "Operation Peace for Galilee" by Richard Gabriel.

"The Merkava's special armor also proved itself.  The Israelis have a data base of tank-armor protection against which they assess the performance of their M-60 and Centurion tanks and the enemy's T-62's.  The Israeli analysis showed that, under fire, there is a 61 percent probability that a round striking a tank will penetrate.  For the Merkava, the rate at which rounds striking it penetrated was 41 percent.  In addition, there is a 30 percent probability that a penetrating round will also penetrate the crew compartment; in the Merkava, it was 13 percent.  Its special armor and the placement of the engine in the front makes it almost invulnerable from the front.  No known tank round can penetrate the front glacis to the crew's compartment.  IDF data also show that in 31 percent of tank hits the tank will catch fire; by comparison, the Merkava caught fire only 15 percent of the times it was hit.  The data show that of tanks lit afire, 85 percent to 90 percent are completely destroyed.  In Lebanon, no Merkava was lost as a consequence of being set aflame."

I'm going to use this as my basis along with set armor values from Team Yankee for determining Pen and Armor values for the other tanks.  But first, I need look at penetration values.

I'm using a couple sites for armor penetration values.
1. Tankograd -  This is a very well researched site with everything referenced.  There is a page for T-62 and T-72 (plus BMPs and other Soviet armor.
2.  World of Tanks post -  The references used on this page are a broken link but the values they have match those for those on the Tankograd site.
3.  Steel Beasts -  The data on this site has a lot higher penetration that other sites but it has some interesting notes about the different rounds.  I'm using the notes not the penetration values.

Ammo for T-62

Here are the possible rounds the Syrians could of used in 1982 in their T-62's:

BM-6 - used in Yom Kippur War, 1973.  280mm penetration at 0 degrees and 1000m* (Tankograd).  246mm at 2000m (World of Tanks)

BM-21 - 330mm penetration at 0 degrees and 1000m (Tankograd)

BM-6 Round
Ammo for T-72

BM-9 - 245mm penetration at 0 degrees and 2000m (Tankograd). The original APFSDS round for the 125mm gun.  It was sent out with the T-72 Urals.  According to Steelbeasts website, this was the round probably used by Syrians in 1982.

BM-15 - 310mm penetration at 0 degrees and 2000m (Tankograd).  This is the next better round that Syrians could of had.

BM-15 Round

Ammo for T-55

BM-8 - 238mm penetration at 2000m; 257mm at 1000m (worldoftanks site).  SteelBeasts assumes Middle East countries used this until mid-80s.

BM-25 - 296mm penetration at 2000m; 320mm at 1000m (worldoftanks site)

APDS Round for T-55
 Ammo for Israeli 105mm

After Sultan Yacoub, the Syrians found a new round in the tanks they captured; the M111 "Hetz" round.  You can read all about it at ((  Gabriel says this about it in "Operation Peace for Galilee":

"In addition, the Israelis have developed a new round for the 105mm gun, an armor-piercing, fin-stablized, discarding-sabot hypershot round.  This Hetz, or arrow round, can reach and penetrate tank targets at a range exceeding 5,500 meters.  This means that the Israeli tank's ability to engage in combat at a range of the larger Soviet T-62 and T-72 gun."

M111 "Hetz" - 310 mm at 2000m (worldoftanks site also collaborated at )

The previous round was the L52 round used during Yom Kippur war, 240mm penetration at 2000m.

M111 round on left

Gun Summary

I'm going with the more likely rounds used during this war.  The BM-6 round for T-62, BM-9 round for T-72 and BM-8 round for T-55.  At 2000m, the penetrations are 246mm, 245mm and 238mm, respectively.  Very similar.  The Israeli Hetz round was found in captured tanks so I'll use that as the standard Israeli round.  It has 310mm penetration - markedly better than the older Soviet rounds.

Armor Values

I wanted to keep the standard so kept the T-72 armor from Team Yankee and gave the Merkava 1 the same armor as the US M1 Abrams.  Looking at the armor values in my A Fist Full of TOWs 3 book, that was acceptable.  I then used the Israeli penetration statistics to back out what the penetration should be for the Soviet guns.  The Merkava was penetrated 40% of the time.  I thought I could round that down to 33% due to the very low chance of crew compartment penetration.  With this in mind, I set the Soviet penetration values as 20 (for all guns since the penetration values were very close), two above the the Merkava's front armor.  At normal range, this will give the Soviet tanks a 1 in 6 chance of taking out the tank from the front (something that was shown to be very difficult).  I set the Remount value to 2+ due to the very low chance of crew compartment penetration and being set aflame.  Also, due to the advanced armor, I gave the Merkava I the BDD rule against HEAT weapons.  Wiki says the Merkava didn't get composite armor like Chobham until the 3rd version.

Looks like this Merkava fell off one of the mountain roads

With the Soviet guns at Pen 20, I needed to set the M-60 armor to fit the penetration probability of 60%.  I chose a front armor of 16 as that would allow the tank to be penetrated 50% of the time at normal range and the additional 1 in 6 chance of bailing.  The remount was set to 3+ since the crew compartment penetration was about twice of the Merkava.  Since the M-48 armor was slightly thinner than the M-60, the front armor value of the M-48 was set to 15.  That would give the M-48 a 1 in 6 chance of bouncing an incoming shot which seemed about right.

The Israelis tanks, with their Hetz ammo, have one better penetration than the Soviet rounds, Pen of 21.  I kept with Team Yankee front armor of 16 for the T-72.  The T-62 had 5-10% more armor than a T-55.  Since the guns are the same penetration, I wanted some difference between the tanks, so I figure the T-62 will have one better armor than the T-55.  The T-62 Tankograd website has the following on it's armor (,

"Like the T-55 before it, the hull of the T-62 was essentially immune to American 90mm APBC at ranges exceeding 1000 m. However, due to the lack of any improvements to the armouring scheme meant that the T-62 had absolutely no chance of surviving the new British 105mm L7 cannon and its APDS ammunition any closer than 2000 m, even in a hull-down position."

Not looking good.  So, I gave the T-62 a front armor of 15.  Against the Israeli Pen of 21, the T-62s only chance of survival is rolling a 6 and then it's more than likely bailed.  The T-55 with a front armor of 14 doesn't even get that.  It's only hope is getting hit at long range.  The armor values of the T-62 and T-55 might be a bit high compared to the more heavily armored T-72 when the game is based on a D6 you can't have very big differences between armor and pen before absolute blow outs occur.  I think these odds of saving make sense. My FFT3 book has the M-60 with one higher armor than the T-62 also but, again using a D6 that limits the range you have to work.

T-55 from Syrian 85 (Mech.) Brigade, hit on the Beiruit-Alei road

 Updated Unit Cards

Here is a link to my updated unit cards.  They are in Microsoft PowerPoint - link


*An interesting tidbit from Tankograd:

"It be remembered that the Soviet standard for certifying armour piercing projectiles is a V80, or 80%, referring to the expected consistency of achieving full armour perforation given a certain projectile velocity. In formulas, V80 must replace V50 (50% armour perforation). For example, if a certain projectile has to penetrate 500mm of steel, then at least 80% of all projectiles of that type must achieve that standard. This is very different from the NATO standard of only 50%. Soviet standards were not only stricter, but the steel they used for targets was of a greater hardness than NATO targets. In reality, the given penetration data does not correspond to the actual achievable penetration of these shells."

Monday, August 1, 2016

Reviews - Command Decision T-55 and Lebanon War books

Command Decision T-55 Tank Review - 15mm

I have a friend that swears by these models.  I'm usually a Quality Cast person but ever since the supplier I got them from went under, I've been exploring new manufacturers.  The figures are 15mm and all pewter.  They seem to fit in with my other figures, so no problem with being over or under size.  I got six of them to work on.  They come in packs of three.

Quality - These are definitely good quality futures.  The tracks and hull were cast well.  Just the little flash and mold injection spots you need to clip off and sand down.  All the turret had a seam a little bit above the bottom I had to sand off.  That was the biggest job putting them together.  The main gun barrel didn't fit in smoothly, so I just took a drill to the hole and widened it up a bit.  No biggie.  Each pack came with 4-5 tank commander  figures.  It took a bit of doing to get them to sit right in the hatches and then glue the hatches either in front or behind them and get it to stick.

Cost - You get 3 for $25.  If you have the Old Glory Army discount card, it's 40% off so $15 for the pack.  That's the best value I know of.

Painting - No trouble painting them either.  The tank came out pretty crisp and it wasn't hard to get the washes and highlights on.

Lebanon War books

I picked up a number of used books off Amazon.  Here is a quick review on each of them.

Operation Peace for Galilee by Richard Gabriel
This is probably the best book out there on the war.  What makes this one special is Gabriel is a US reporter and was invited to come over to write about the war by an Israeli newspaper.  However, his condition was that there would be absolutely no state interference and he would be free to interview anyone.  Israel surprisingly agreed to it.  Having to go through a lot of US Army OPSEC and PAO reviews myself, that is nothing short of amazing.  Gabriel also know a number of high level PLO officials from his college days, so could get views from all sides.
There isn't a lot of detail on the battles, but the lessons learned and discussion section at the end is gold.  Throughout the book you get lots of good tidbits like the Syrians attached 2-3 tanks at a time to the commandos.  The section from the tanks designers themselves and what would penetrate what I'll go over in another post when I review the stats for the various tanks involved.

Double thumbs up on this book.  If you were to get only one book on the war, this would be it.

The Lebanon War 1982 by LT COL David Eshel, IDF

The standout feature for this book is the pictures.  It is pack full of pictures, both color and black and white.  It is definitely written with an Israeli bias.  There are a couple white up about some of the battles, but nothing the other books cover in more detail.  The book was published in 1982, so right after the war.  There are great pictures for every vehicle used in the war.  This is definitely a good one to get for any modelers.

Here are two examples of the pictures in the book:

Israeli Tank Battles, Yom Kippur to Lebanon by Samuel Katz

This book has a lot more detail on the tank battles than the others.  Katz is ex-IDF and has written a number of other books on Middle East wars.  The majority of the book is about the Yom Kippur war; about the last quarter is on Lebanon.  Due to the very difficult terrain, big tank fights were pretty rare in Lebanon but Katz covers the bigger action in pretty good detail.  Infantry did a lot of the fighting over in Beirut and that is touched upon but not nearly as much as the tanks are.  There are a few good pictures in the book but they are all black and white.   

 My War Diary, Lebanon June 5 - July 1 1982 by LT COL Dov Yermiya, IDF

This isn't a book on battles or equipment, but more of a commentary on what LTC Yermiya experienced.  Right from page one you know this guy is thinks Israel has gotten away from what it stood for and what he fought for in the War of Independence.  He is in charge of logistics and taking care of the refugees and getting the occupied towns back up and running.  He is against the war from the get go but thought he could do some good, so he went when he was called up.

He writes about his experiences in trying to work with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to get water, the horrible conditions in the slums and prisoner camps, and the anti Arab attitudes of some of the Israeli officers.  Every so often he really goes on some rants.  He really hates his country at the end.  This is more of a political rant book but some of his experiences are interesting.  He actually got kicked out of the army from writing this and some newspaper articles.  It's not really up my alley but others might find it interesting.