U.S. 75mm M61 Tank Round - WWII

75mm M61 Tank Round
75mm M61 HE/APC-T
This is the 75mm APC cannon round used in the U.S. M4 Sherman Tank. The Sherman was the main American battle tank during WWII. Classified as a medium tank it weighed 35 tons and was made in a number of variations with different cannon, this being the type which rolled ashore on D-Day. Although capable of penetrating 3.7 inches of armor at 500 yards, its 75mm gun was a poor match for German tanks like the Tiger and Panther which had 4 to 4.8 inches of frontal armor. The Sherman's corresponding 2.8 inches was easily defeated by the Panzer's 75mm and 88mm high velocity cannon. However, the M4 was simple, reliable and agile, traits the larger German tanks lacked.

(Note spare tracks mounted up font as additional frontal armor.)

M62 Components
75mm PAK 40 Section HE/APC-T
"High Explosive/Armor Piercing Capped-Tracer"

The APC projectile is in three main sections:
o Aluminum ballistic cap (hollow)
o Mild steel piercing cap
o Hardened steel penetrator, with HE component

The softer piercing cap absorbs the shock of the initial impact which prevents the more brittle penetrator from shattering. Without it the round would have to be fired at a much lower velocity. Its blunt profile also helps prevent the round from glancing off sloped armor.
The ballistic cap reduces aerodynamic drag.

Inside, near the base of the penetrator is a small cavity which contains a HE charge. The base fuze/tracer element screws into that.

The sectioned projectile is a German 75mm PAK40 Anti-Tank Round of similar construction.

Today the APC design is pretty much obsolete for tank warfare, due to advancements in armor technology, although it continues to be used in smaller caliber cannon munitions (20-40mm).

Tiger I "88" -vs- Sherman 75mm

Shown above is the M61 with the tracer/fuze element removed. The fuze was designed to have a short delay, allowing the round to penetrate before exploding. The charge is relatively small and was intended to burst the round into shrapnel rather than have a direct blast effect. AP rounds derive their destructive power from kinetic energy.
(This round is dated 1943)

At left is a comparison to the German 88mm Kwk36 HE round used in the PzKpfw VI Tiger Tank.... An unsettling match up on the battlefield!