[Lone Sentry: Ammunition for German 42-mm Antitank Gun, WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
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"Ammunition for German 42-mm Antitank Gun" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following description of German 4.2-cm Pak 41 ammunition originally appeared in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 19, February 25, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Brief mention has already been made in Tactical and Technical Trends (No. 7, p. 3) of the German 4.2-cm Pak 41 (42-mm antitank gun). This is a tapered-bore weapon, being 42 mm at the breech and 28 mm at the muzzle. High explosive and armor-piercing ammunition is provided. Both the HE and AP ammunition (see accompanying sketch) are characterized by a relatively large propellant charge and a flaring skirt or fin at the base of the projectile. The brass-coated steel shell case is 400 mm (15.75 inches) in length. The skirt of the projectile, which is squeezed down as the projectile travels through the tapered bore, serves to give a large effective base area at the commencement of shot travel. A high muzzle velocity is thus possible with a relatively light weapon. However, owing to the relatively light weight of the projectile, the velocity tends to fall off rapidly, and maximum armor-piercing performance is achieved at short ranges only. The thickness of armor penetration is considerable in relation to the weight of the gun; the hole made, is, of course, small. Barrel wear is high; just what the life of the barrel may be is not known. However, in the case of a similar German weapon, the 2.8-cm Pak 41 (antitank gun tapering from 28 mm at the chamber to 20 mm at the muzzle) the life of the barrel is thought to be not over 400 rounds. The muzzle velocity of the 42-mm is not known; that of the 28-mm is thought to be 4,700 feet per second.

[Ammunition for German 42mm Antitank Gun]

As indicated in the sketch the HE and AP projectiles are similar in shape. They are sometimes referred to as arrowhead ammunition. The perforations or holes (see sketch) are designed to decrease the mass of the skirt or fin as it is squeezed down into the recess in the projectile casing while traveling through the bore. The explosive filling of the HE projectile is blue in color, which suggests Hexagen (trimethylene trinitramine). The nose percussion fuze of the HE shell is aluminum, with the body in two sections. This fuze is of the bore-safe type; before firing, the single coil spring keeps the two half-collars squeezed against the firing pin which is thereby prevented from being depressed; in flight the centrifugal force created by the rotation of the projectile forces the two half-collars apart, and the firing pin is then free to move toward the cap on impact.

The stenciled lettering on the shell case (see sketch) has the following significance:

          First line ............. light antitank gun 41
          Second line ............ weight of propellant in grams
          Remaining lines ........ data on propelling charge

The HE shell case contains 310 grams of propellant and is so stenciled.


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