What is the T-34?
The year is 1941 and Operation Barbarossa is in full swing. Above all, this was an attempt by Nazi Germany to break their non-aggression pact and seize territory from the Soviet Union. However, the technological strides made over the course of the Second World War played a key role in how it ended.
Mikhail Koshkin, a candy-maker turned engineer, designed the tank T-34. Through clever usage of basic physics, this tank proved one of the most influential weapons of the war. The first idea he applied was a way to improve the thickness of tank armour, which was done by tilting the armour so its horizontal thickness could be much higher
How was it effective?
In plain English rather than math, the idea uses the diagonal length of the plate to thicken the armour. When hit by a bullet or enemy shell, the object will have to go through a larger length of armour than if it were to hit a flat plane in a perpendicular fashion.
Another trick used by sloped armour has to do with the chance of a ricochet. A ricochet is when a fast-moving projectile bounces off of a surface. While ricochets are too complex to solve using math, a handful of working models are devised such as this one, created for legal professionals. When a shell hits the armour at a very low angle, the resulting velocity after a ricochet is much lower. Therefore, there is more resistance throughout the strike and thus a greater chance for the ricochet to happen.
Finally, sloped armour also takes advantage of the shape of a tank shell. Tank shells are shaped like wedges for many reasons. The two main ones are to travel through the air more easily and to concentrate force onto one point on impact. Sloped armour can negate this by distributing the force over one side of the triangle created by the wedge.
While the clever usage of existing knowledge may not carry the same weight as a landmark discovery, it can still have an incredible impact on the world we now know today.