A while ago (so far back, a great number of you might not even have been playing then), HE was pretty awesome. The rays generated by the explosion didn't need line of sight to weaker armour in order to penetrate it, so, starting at the earliest derp guns, you could easily mess up any enemy tank with more or less reliable damage, even if you could not penetrate his armour. The change to HE mechanics made it pretty unreliable. Turns out, this is the more realistic approach.
As many of you know, the M3 Lee was kind of a terrible design. The 75 mm hull gun was only meant to fire HE at infantry. The 37 mm gun in the turret was meant to combat tanks. Seeing how the Soviets got a whole bunch of Lees, they decided to test their two guns against captured German tanks. The results of the 37 mm gun were not very encouraging. In that same test, the Soviets saw how the 75 mm gun's HE shells fared against the StuG. The result of that was not very encouraging either. The shells either failed to do significant damage to the tank. Some welding seams popped, some armour plates were dented, but the overall structural integrity of the StuG was not compromised.
|Superficial damage of the StuG's side armour from a 75 mm shell next to a penetration from a 37 mm shell.|
"The track is damaged! It can break any second!" Certainly not very impressive. However, let's see what happens when the T-34's turn comes. The results are obtained from the same report (CAMD RF 38-11355-832). Sadly, the quality of the scan is not so great, and the uploader chose not to include most of the photographs, since you can barely see anything in the ones he left in. I wish they were in there, because what happened is quite different from the Lee's attempt.
"Results of shooting at the German PzIV tank from the Model 1940 76 mm tank gun (F-34), installed in a T-34 tank.
76 mm HE-fragmentation steel grenade.
Range: 800 meters. Target: right turret side. Shell struck the turret side hatch. The hatch is torn off. The armour plate at the lower portion of the turret is bent by 50 mm.
Range: 800 meters. Target: commander's cupola. Direct hit. The cupola is torn off and thrown 5 meters to the side. Turret hatches are torn off and thrown 30 meters from the tank.
Range: 800 meters. Target: engine compartment, right side. A breach 130 by 350 mm formed in the hull."
Yikes, looks like there's quite a difference in the guns' effectiveness with HE shells. In game, the M3 Lee's historical gun does 175 damage with an HE shell. The T-34's historical gun, only does 156 damage with an HE shell! Both HE shells have the same penetration.
Looks like Russian Bias didn't make it into the game.
What you can see from this report is that the HE mechanics for medium caliber guns are more or less accurate. You can deal quite a bit of damage, if only you know where to aim. However, large caliber HE appears to be effective regardless of where you aim. The D-25 test (peels a Tiger II slightly, sets the tank on fire) and ML-20 test (tears a Panther turret apart) both proved that HE can be quite effective against tanks.