While many Western countries increasingly emphasize tank's anti-tank capabilities at the expense of its anti-personnel (APERS) capabilities, according to the traditional Soviet school of thought tanks are the most important anti-personnel asset on the battlefield, and this is reflected in the range and versatility of APERS rounds available for 125mm guns, and their ratio in the standard tank layout (around 40% of dedicated APERS rounds, in addition to 45% of APERS-capable HEAT-FS rounds, and can be further increased depending on mission) which is unusually high by modern Western standards.

By far the most widely used APERS round is a multi-purpose HE/HE-FRAG/FRAG fin-stabilized round. Its versatility has been lately further increased by introduction of a time-fusing system, Ainet. Other APERS rounds include shrapnel and incendiary, but these are a lot less common.

125mm HEF-FS rounds are reasonably accurate (maximum acceptable dispersion: 0.23mil) and are roughly equivalent to a 122mm artillery round.

The anti-tank efficiency of HEF-FS rounds is limited, but tests indicate that HEF-FS impact on a tank produces severe mobility kill and very likely firepower kill. Lightly armored targets are likely to suffer catastrophic kill.


HEF round line drawing Soviet 125mm HEF-FS rounds have the following layout: the explosive is located in the main body (3) with two driving bands (4). In front of a projectile is a detonator (2) with a protective cap (1). In the rear of the projectile are four folded fins (6) that are attached to the base (7) and are held together by stopors (5) and a plastic ring (8). The later breaks apart upon exit and releases the fins, which unsnap along the axes (9) and provide stabilisation in flight.

The desired mode of round operation (HE, HE-FRAG or pure FRAG) is chosen based on the combination of specific detonator setting and the presense or absense of a protective cap:

HE-FRAG: detonator set to 'O' (open), protective cap is in place. Reaction time 0.01 sec. This is the standard mode of operation, that ensures reliable round behaviour in most conditions and does not require any special preparations by the crew.

HE: detonator set to '3' (closed), protective cap is in place. Reaction time 0.1 sec. This is a special mode intended for increasing the round's penetration before the detonator activates, when used against earthworks and field fortifications. This mode requires the detonator to be turned along its axis with a special key before the round is loaded.

FRAG: detonator set to 'O', protective cap removed. Reaction time 0.001 sec. This is a special mode, mostly reserved for reliable operation against mud and swampy ground at ranges under 3000. The round is extremely sensitive in this mode, requiring the tank to be stopped during its handling, and can even detonate against the protective canvas cap on the gun barrel, or against the rain drops and hail.

The HEF rounds utilise the standard propelling charge (4Zh40 or 4Zh52) and have the muzzle velocity of 850m/s, which makes them quite adequate for most battlefield support missions.

This page is © 2001-2007 Vasiliy Fofanov