Armor: October 31, 2003


: The U.S. Army is not saying much about the "mystery projectile" that went through the side skirts and side armor of an M-1A1 tank last August 28th. Whatever it was, it  just barely missed the tanks gunner (it went through the back of his seat and grazed part of his flak jacket) and put a pencil size hole nearly 50mm deep into the four inch thick armor on the other side of the tank. The damage may have been done by a projectile, not a shaped charge (which uses a jet of super-hot plasma to burn a hole in armor and put a quantity of plasma and molten metal inside the tank.) No known RPG would do that kind of damage. But some Western anti-tank rockets generate a different kind of plasma jet that might create the kind of damage done. A U.S. 25mm armor piercing shell (fired from the gun mounted on the M-2 Bradley armored vehicle) uses a small penetrator, but that penetrator is of depleted uranium, which burns like a flare once it is inside its target. One major unknown is the large number of portable anti-tank weapons (especially Russian and Chinese models) that have not been tested against the M-1 tank. It's not unusual for new weapons to have unpredictable effects once they are first used in combat. Moreover, the thinner side and rear armor of the M-1 is known to be vulnerable to many portable anti-tank weapons. But until the army releases more information, if they have any, the mystery lingers.

Click here for pictures of the damage.


Article Archive

Armor: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close