A Collection Of German Armored Vehicles From The Second World War

The following collection of tanks is part of my attempt to further explore the vehicle rules. It came about after I started working on several Digital Hero projects involving vehicles of different sorts. I also wanted to try and define these tanks in a more comprehensive manner than the brief collection of panzers featured in the HERO System Vehicle Sourcebook. While Steve Long's Panzer V is an excellent write-up, I wanted to go into more detail into the other models, beyond what he'd done. I also wanted to tinker around with sloped armor and its effect on DEF, as first examined in the original version of The Golden Age Of Champions.

My primary source of information on the tanks I am writing up is a book titled German Tanks Of World War II. A hardback book of 160 pages, it covers just tanks—there are no half-tracks, or multi-wheeled armored/scout cars in here. However, each tank is given its own section, and there is a very comprehensive set of specifications for one version of each model of panzer. These specifications give such information as armor thickness (per location), as well as slope, allowing one to get a general idea how well each tank was protected. It also lists length and width (in meters), top speed on road and cross-country, armament, and even ammunition loads for said armament. Perfect stats for the HERO System gamer.

Translation Comments

Much of the translation was fairly simply to do. The length and width of the hull gave me SIZE, while the weight told me how much STR (and Knockback Resistance) to give the tank. As all of these tanks are SPD 2, Ground Movement was simple—just consult the chart on page 38 of The Ultimate Vehicle. I applied the Limitation of Only On Appropriate Terrain (-1/4) as it best simulated the reduced speed and handling of tanks when off-road.

For armament, I consulted the weapons lists in the Firebird version of The Golden Age Of Champions. After much internal debate, I decided to use the Damage Classes listed for the weapons in that book rather than the ones listed in the HERO System Vehicle Sourcebook. This was mainly to try and mark the differences between WWII weaponry and modern weapons. For example, in The Ultimate Vehicle, the 120 mm cannon used in the M1A1 Abrams is a 8d6 RKA with +1 STUN. The HERO System Vehicle Sourcebook lists the Panzer V Panther's 75 mm cannon as a 7d6 RKA with +1 STUN. This leaves one with 3 damage classes to go from 75 to 120 (For the record, the 88 mm cannon is supposed to be a 7d6+1 RKA). I presume the 105 mm cannon carried by some tanks would then be a 7 1/2d6 RKA. My only problem with this is that it allows WWII tanks to have a chance of affecting an M1A1. This just doesn't seem right. Everything I've heard about both Gulf Wars has the American M1A1s virtually immune to anything the Iraq armor carried, and here we are talking Russian tanks from the 70s and 80s, not 50 year-old panzers.

The DEF of the tanks is a tough question. I'm basically working from DEF numbers given in various sources (see the bibliography) and sort of averaging them out. I am also working with the idea of sloped armor giving one more DEF. I got the idea from the Firebird version of The Golden Age Of Champions. There they presented a sloped armor advantage that while it looked good, didn't exactly make sense. Here is my take on the matter:

  1. DEF as listed presumes the armor has no slope, i.e. the armor plate is roughly at a 90 degree angle in relation to the ground.
  2. Sloped armor is better at absorbing incoming weapons fire. It is also is effectively thicker without adding on any additional weight. Thus, 1 inch of armor given a 45 degree slope ends up something like 1.5 to 2" thick for any attack hitting it fairly dead on. One can slope armor at any angle (of course), but for simplicity's sake, I am going with three break points: 60 degrees (the least amount of slope), 45 degrees, and 30 degrees (the greatest amount of slope).
  3. Sloped armor really only defends against projectiles. It won't help if you run into something solid (for the most part), if the tank is hit with an energy attack (usually), if a brick punches the tank, or if some sort of physical "rending" attack shreds the tank.
  4. Armor that slopes around 60 degrees should get an additional +1 DEF for every 2 DEF gained simply from having thick armor. This +1 DEF has the following limitations: Activation Roll 14- (-1/2), Limited Coverage (varies), Only Versus Physical Projectiles (-1/2).
  5. Armor that slopes around 45 degrees should get an additional +1 DEF for every 1 DEF gained simply from having thick armor. This +1 DEF has the following limitations: Activation Roll 14- (-1/2), Limited Coverage (varies), Only Versus Physical Projectiles (-1/2).
  6. Armor that slopes around 30 degrees should get an additional +2 DEF for every 1 DEF gained simply from having thick armor. This +2 DEF has the following limitations; the first point of DEF has Activation Roll 14- (-1/2), while the second has Activation Roll 11- (-1). Only one Activation Roll is made for this additional DEF. All DEF also has: Limited Coverage (varies), and Only Versus Physical Projectiles (-1/2).

Readers may notice this makes some tanks nigh impossible to harm. Well... this is true. Certain WWII tanks were pretty much unkillable—if all you did was fire at their front. The massive Jagdtiger had upwards of 10" of front armor, with some of it at a 40 degree slope. Nothing the Allies had could penetrate it (by the same token, its 128 mm gun could penetrate nearly 7" of armor at a range of 1.8 miles!). And before you say this means the 120 mm gun on the M1A1 Abrams couldn't kill such a tank, remember this:  the M1A1's main gun should have the Armor Piercing advantage, especially if DU rounds are being used. Also, if one uses Hit Locations, called shots to specific targets will negate the additional DEF fairly quickly.


Cloutier, Chris. The Golden Age Of Champions (Firebird Limited edition).
Cloutier, Chris. Golden Age Of Champions (HERO Games edition).
Greenwade, Bob and Steve Long. The Ultimate Vehicle.
Hart, Dr. Stephen and Dr. Russell Hart. German Tanks Of World War II.
Long, Steve. HERO System Vehicle Sourcebook.
Rakonitz, David and Steve Long. The Ultimate Brick.

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