Der Engel wrote:
I've been working on some scenarios involving later models of Panzer IIIs and had some questions about their armor...
Right now, I have H, J, and L all coming in around 5/3 (based on thickness and also comparing ratios to Flames of War stats). Anyone have any different thoughts? I know that the L version had spaced armor added to it, but not sure if it added that much to make a distinguishable difference...
The Germans tried a variety of things to better protect their armoured vehicles. Spaced Armour was just one thing.
Actually yes it did have great effect, and its use by Germany was often misunderstood and not taken into account in most wargames.
In early 1942 the Germans started using large scale spaced armour plates and skirts on their vehicles for multiple reasons. They had studied the use of it on French vehicles and understood the value of it. Spaced armour worked to essentially double the effectiveness of the armour against the shells of that era. So adding 20 mm spaced was effectively the same as adding 40mm of armour with half the weight.
There was also the increased use of anti-tank mines and HEAT based shells, which spaced armour was exceptionally good at stopping. From what I have read the German spaced armour worked fairly well against the cheaper Russian cannon warheads of the time, at least into 1944 when the JS series started using slightly different tank rounds. The spaced armor also served to protect the crew in the vehicle from Concussion effects of large calibre HE rounds like the 25 Pounder and some Russian guns. The use of magnetic mines on vehicles was also heavily curtailed as they also use HEAT principles or Concussion effects to do damage.
The German tank designers understood the danger of HEAT rounds to the enemy early on, and used them to great effect with the PzKw IV and later the 75mm versions of the 234 and Pzkw III. The only draw back to HEAT rounds is that they do not work as well against Cast Armour such as the Matilda and several of the French tanks like the Somua.
Really anything with Spaced Armor or Skirts should get +1 DEF against HE and HEAT attacks and Close Assault.