Ian tests if the Tankgewehr really could take out a British MkIV tank in this experiment. The Tankgewehr antitank rifle was developed by Mauser, the popular gun company, and adopted by the German military as a way to combat the introduction of tanks during World War I. In a rush to develop anti-tank weapons, the Germans came up with this. But did they work? Is it possible for a 13.2mm AP round fired from a Tankgewehr really pierce the armor of a well-built British tank?
Back then, British tanks were covered in steel plates of 6mm, 8mm and 12mm thickness, through hardened to Brinell 440-480. For this experiment, it’s a plate of AR450 armor, set up at a distance of 50 yards. The ammunition being used here is original 1918 production German AP, and the rifle here is an actual Tankgewehr that was confiscated by Allied troops during the war, brought home to the USA as a souvenir.
The Tankgewehr is a large weapon, very long and difficult to handle. The stock now has a pistol grp because the stock is so wide that it’s impossible to hold normally. The corresponding ammunition was supposed to be incredibly hardy, too. The MkIV was the most common kind of tank in use then, so the Tankgewehr was supposed to specifically destroy this.
Ian gets ready to conduct the experiment, setting up the Tankgewehr. One of Ian’s companions fires the rifle, mounted on a tripod. The recoil immediately collapses the tripod, knocking the rifle off-balance – and the shooter along with it.
Upon inspection, the round appears to have done the job, as it went through the armor plate. If there was a person on the other side of that plate, he or she would have been harmed. In slow motion, there is plenty of debris and shrapnel flying off when the bullet hits it. The steel around the hole is discolored, too.
They repeat the shot, but angle the steel plate at 45 degrees. Ian fires this time, and the same thing happens – the tripod collapses. On inspection, the steel showed no bullet holes, but there was a dent. The angle made the difference, he concludes.