Armour Guide: 3. Ammunition Types


Armour-Piercing (AP).


Armour-Piercing, Cap (APC).


Armour-Piercing, Ballistic Cap (APBC).


Armour-Piercing, Cap, Ballistic Cap (APCBC).


Armour-Piercing, Composite, Rigid (APCR)/Hyper-Velocity, Armour-Piercing (HVAP).


Armour-Piercing, Discarding Sabot (APDS).


High-Explosive, Anti-Tank (HEAT).


High-Explosive, Squash-Head (HESH).

-HE, -T

The High-Explosive (-HE) and Tracer (-T) suffixes are appended to other ammunition acronyms, to describe special characteristics of the shot.

-HE refers to a high-explosive filler in the shot, which is designed to detonate inside the target, after the armour has been penetrated. This explosion greatly increases the damage done by the shot in the tight confinements of an armoured vehicle.

-T refers to a tracer element in the shot embedded in a small cavity in the shot base, which works just like the tracer element of infantry weapon ammunition.

Nomenclature Variations

In the above section, the ammunition type acronyms used are those most commonly seen in modern publications. During World War II, however, the acronyms above were not always spelled or used in the same way.

For example, the US did not use the ballistic cap (BC) acronym or the high-explosive filler (-HE) suffix in their ammunition nomenclature. Rather, the text describing the shot would refer to a ballistic windshield and bursting charge. One might therefore think that the Projectile, Fixed, A.P.C.-T., M82 refers to an APC-T shot, when in reality, it is an APCBC-HE-T shot (Armor-Piercing Ammunition for Gun, 90-mm, M3).

Worse is the German nomenclature, which only implicitly refer to the ammunition type. Unless familiar with German ammunition, it would be impossible to guess that 8,8 cm Pzgr Patr 39 refers to an APCBC-HE shot (Merkblatt geheim 28/1, D 460/1+).

In order to avoid confusion in this article, only the modern-day acronym variants are used in the text of this article. When referring to a specific shot type, the original name will be written with emphasis, with the shot caliber and modern acronym in parantheses, to allow the reader to quickly determine the shot type without compromising historical accuracy (e.g. Projectile, Fixed, A.P.C.-T., M82 (90 mm APCBC-HE-T)).