What Makes Spaced Armor So Effective?

You’ve probably seen the additional plates mounted on a number of in-game vehicles. But have you ever wondered what they’re for? Well, to answer your question, this is what’s known as “spaced armor.” Essentially, it’s extra protective armor that reduces the impact of incoming projectiles, while saving on weight and cost.

So, where did it come from, how effective is it, and where is it used? With the VIIIS-2 shielded currently on offer in the Premium Shop, WG thought this would be the perfect time to take a closer look at spaced armor.


“Spaced armor” refers to two or more armor plates spaced slightly apart, and representing approximately 10% of the total armor weight. The thinner plate, often made of steel or rubber, is usually welded or bolted onto the side of the vehicle—typically around the tracks, front, or sides of the tank, or where the ammunition is stored—to best protect the most vulnerable sections.

Left: The Excelsior (in-game) Right: The IS-2 shielded (in-game)


Reducing Penetrating Power
The aim of the thin plate is to essentially absorb the major impact of a projectile some distance from the main armor, preventing the full force of the detonation from breaching the main armor. The hollow space between the plates increases the shell’s travel time, thus reducing the charge’s penetrating power. Even 2 inches (5 cm) of spaced armor is enough to dampen the effectiveness of a projectile.

When sloped, the additional armor reduces the full force of anti-tank rounds and shells by deflecting or splintering the round. Conversely, when the armor is not sloped, it increases protection, because explosive projectiles detonate on the spaced armor before they reach the main armor. The most effective angle is approximately between 60-65°, or 300° when dealing with AP (Armor Piercing) shells.

“Placing a 1/2″ (2.5–5 cm) thick plate in front of the 6″ (15 cm) thick armor reduced the range at which the target could be defeated from 2,900 yards (2,650 meters) to 350 yards (320 meters)!”

– Spaced Armor Paper Presented at the Second Tank Conference Ballistic Research Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 27-29 November 1950

Cost and Weight Savings
Spaced armor is most efficient when the most exposed plate breaks up the attacking projectile. Spaced armor arrangements can save between 10–50% in cost and weight over solid armor, with little compromise in overall protection. This figure fluctuates depending on the angling, type of penetration, and other various factors.

Left: The M48A2 Räumpanzer (in-game) Right: The T-34 shielded (in-game)


Germans Ahead of the Curve
The Germans first used spaced armor in World War I on the Schneider CA1 and Saint-Chamond tanks. However, spaced armor became increasingly common in the Second World War, as Germans began to frequently fit it on tanks, assault vehicles, and motorized artillery mounts with thin plates suspended by brackets along the hull and turret sides. This made the armor more effective against anti-tank fire amid the onslaught of Allied anti-tank rifles, APCR (Armor Piercing Composite Rigid) shells, and HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank) weapons.

“The Armored and Mechanized Forces HQ notice from January 25, 1944, stated the wire-mesh screens seen on German Pz.Kpfw. IV tanks were a reliable defense against HEAT shells and mines.”

– Spaced Armor Paper Presented at the Second Tank Conference Ballistic Research Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 27-29 November 1950

Left: The Panzer III with spaced armor Right: The Schneider CA1

The Pacific Theater
The Allies also added their own spaced armor as a field modification. For example, the M4 Sherman was fitted with spaced armor to mitigate Japanese 47 m APC shots in the Pacific. The 1/10 caliber plate removed the shell cabs, which shattered against the metal and often failed to penetrate the main armor. Given such great results, the Allies planned to install steel plates on tanks in the Pacific. However, the official end of the war in Japan, known as V-J Day, came before the more widespread use of sloped armor could be deployed.

Modern Battle Tanks
Today, most modern main battle tanks, such as the Leopard 2 or T-72B, and some advanced light tanks use spaced armor with upgraded NERA armor. This explosive reactive armor is reasonably inexpensive, easy to install, and can cleverly control shockwaves to minimize shell impact.

Spaced armor is even used in spacecraft design to protect the machine from flying debris, particles, and meteorite fragments in space.

Left: The T-72B Main Battle Tank Right: Leopard 2 with spaced armor

Do Screens Work in the Game? Try Spaced Armor In-Game Today

Ready to try out space armor for yourself? Roll out in-game and show off your prowess in battle. Check out a few of the in-game vehicles featuring spaced armor below. Which will you play first?

Based on its characteristics, the VIIIS-2 shielded is similar to the researchable VIIIS Tech Tree tank. However, due to the weight of its screens, the tank is somewhat lacking in mobility. So, what are these screens good for anyway?

In fact, screens can protect the vehicle from HEAT shells and lessen the damage of HE shells. Screens provide a good advantage over enemies that lack APCR shells. The screen is only 5 mm thick, but even that is enough to stop a 152 mm HEAT shell from an VIISU-152 .

Left and right: The IS-2 shielded (in-game)

5 thoughts on “What Makes Spaced Armor So Effective?

    1. Of course they were. Who’s the idiot at WG who wrote this article… Can’t even get his facts straight.

  1. During World War I, the Germans had many Beutepanzers in their arsenal, far exceeding the production of their own tanks. Beutepanzers were given a German national cross and new camouflage. By the end of the war, a total of 170 Beutepanzers were still in running condition with 35 reported to be battle ready. In comparison, over a third of the 20 A7V tanks built by Germany had been destroyed or captured by then.

    There are a number of photographs of a working Saint-Chamond French tank under German control. It was called ‘Petit Jean Pas Kamerad’ (‘No Mercy Little Jean’).

    There is a photograph of a late production French-built Schneider CA.1 Beutepanzer that had been used in action against the US 1st Infantry Division and was then knocked out by artillery shells near Froissy on 20 July 1918.

    Who’s the idiot now?

  2. I have Excelsior and Strv 103B – and can confirm that in-game this armor provides surprises.

  3. Unfortunately, World of Tanks is based mechanically on modern arms and armor. The AP normalizes like it’s the most modern species of APFSDS, the HEAT does not ricochet like it has post-2000 fuses, and everything is treated as if it were Cold War RHA, even and especially the pre-war cast armor.

    As an added/funny bonus: HEAT penetration is mostly a function of distance. The distance before the jet starts spreading or breaking up, that is. Of course, it breaks up much faster in steel than in air, or even faster in glass and plastics. Naturally, this was not well understood in WW2, and the copper linings used in HEAT were often pure copper, rather than the eclectic copper alloys we have now.

    That is to say… WoT’s HEAT performance exceeds almost all HEAT rounds today. The penetration loss per distance is nearly a non-factor. Only the most advanced HEAT–say, post-1990 for American, maybe later 2000’s for Russia–can stay together that long.

    Presently, in WoT, spaced armor is not even sufficient for fusing HEAT or HE. HE was reworked to be completely inept AP, and most spaced armor in the game is insufficiently far away enough from the hull to reduce HEAT penetration. Look to the Super Conqueror as a baseline, and maybe add more standoff distance if you want a serious reduction.

    In closing, spaced armor provides no more protection in-game than additional thickness of the same slope. With very rare exception, WoT could model the spaced armor as just higher thickness chassis and nobody would know the difference without staring at the collision models.

    In reality, as this article (roughly) attests, spaced armor had a very good effect in reality. Often, the weight in supporting structure, and the larger volume required, often made the tradeoff not worthwhile. For the vehicle designs that adeptly covered the shortcomings, it was a great boon. If only it were so in WoT.

Leave a Reply