Over at Overlord’s Blog, contributor David Lister has written a nice summary of the history of Chobham armor. Here is a brief excerpt:
First things first, Chobham armour isn’t an accurate term, it’s like a family name for modern composites. It’s often used by the Press to describe the concept if not the exact detail to its readers, nearly all of whom couldn’t tell a Tiger from a Sherman reliably. Composite armours are nothing new. In the 1930’s Vickers designed some of its tanks with thin layers of high quality armour plate over thicker layers of much softer quality armour. Or in World War One some British tanks were tested with oak planking as backing to their steel armour. If you push back as far as the medieval period, chain mail and the padded jacket was technically a composite armour. However the post war composites were generally designed to defeat warheads, such as siliceous-core armour, which was great against HEAT warheads but was pretty useless against kinetic energy rounds.
Read the entire article here.
Also, be sure to check out this article that Lister links to in the piece. This is a rather amusing newspaper clip from 1980 showing how wildly inaccurate some of the criticisms of the XM-1 were at the time of it’s entry into service. It should be noted that Robert Icks, the first person quoted in the article, was one of the most knowledgeable tank experts in the US at the time this article was written.