Jump to content

US Tests of Captured German and Japanese Aircraft Armor


Recommended Posts


I just recently got a couple documents digitized (from dtic.mil through a Freedom of Information Act request, which took months) that have some interesting data regarding WW2 German aircraft armor.  I have a couple tests of Japanese armor as well (from Richard Dunn’s book about self sealing fuel tank development) that I thought I’d include as well.


This first document examines steel armor taken from a Ju88 which was tested in 1941.  The second document looks at armor from an He-111 and a Ju-87, tested in 1944.  Unfortunately none of the ballistic testing is attached to the second report.  What’s interesting is that the metallurgical analysis shows the removal of the strategic metals Nickel and Molybdenum from the plates in the 1944 aircraft, and the resulting lower hardness values of the armor.  I’ll post a reference when I can find it, but as I recall from Calum Douglas’ book, consumption of both those metals was heavily reduced in German war industries around 1942, so this makes sense that we see it missing from the armor of these later aircraft.  Of note, all the German plates are homogenous armor.


Here is a test of a 16.5mm face hardened plate from a Japanese Lilly bomber.  Page 1  Page 2

And here is a test of two 13.5mm face hardened plate from a Japanese Oscar fighter.  Page 1  Page 2


It’s interesting to note that the test of the high hardness homogenous Ju88 plate in 1941 and the face hardened Oscar plate both align very nicely with US Navy Penetration tables for .50 M2 AP (the Lilly plate was shot with M8 API) found on page 140 of this document.  It’s also interesting to note that all the plates suffered from cracking - it would appear that aircraft armor could only stand up to a very limited number of impacts from heavy AP rounds.

Edited by VBF-12_KW
  • Like 1
  • Upvote 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...