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"German 50-mm Antitank Gun 38" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following military intelligence report on the German 50-mm antitank gun was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 15, Dec. 31, 1942.

[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.]


a. General

This weapon was introduced in 1941 to replace the 37-mm antitank gun. It is one of the most effective German antitank guns at present in service. The following sketch illustrates this gun.

[German 50-mm Antitank Gun]

The barrel is of monobloc, loose-barrel construction, and is fitted with a muzzle brake.

The carriage is of the split-trail type, and is carried on solid rubber tires 31 1/2 inches in diameter. There is a third detachable wheel to increase the speed of bringing the gun into action.

The shield consists of two 4-mm sheets of armor plate spaced about 1 inch apart. The left side of the shield has a sighting port.

The gun is normally towed by a half-track. There is also a self-propelled type. Recently, the gun, without a muzzle brake and electrically fired instead of by percussion, has been mounted in the latest type of Mark III tank.

The gun fires AP shell, and AP 40 shot. The latter is a light shot with a ballistic cap and a tungsten carbide core, which has a good armor-piercing performance at ranges under 500 yards. The following table gives the complete data on the three types of ammunition.

     Type     Weight of
     Length of
     Weight of
      Fuze      Identification    
AP tracer shell9 lbs 3 oz21.4 in4 lbs  9 ozBaseProjectile black
HE shell7 lbs 3 oz23.7 in3 lbs 15 ozNoseProjectile dark green
AP 40 shot----------2.025 lbs-----Projectile black

The following figures show the penetration of the two different types of armor-piercing shells.

(a) AP shell:

60-mm (2.36-in) homogeneous plate at 250 yards at 20°;
60-mm (2.36-in) homogeneous plate at 1,300 yards at normal.

The above figures are probably conservative, and were deduced from trials with a limited supply of ammunition.

(b) AP 40 shot:

90-mm (3.54-in) homogeneous plate at 330 yards at 20°;
64-mm (2.54-in) homogeneous plate at 440 yards at 20°.

The above figures are unconfirmed.

b. Particulars

Muzzle velocity (AP)     2,740 f/s
Muzzle velocity (AP 40)3,940 f/s
Muzzle velocity (HE)1,800 f/s
Maximum range (HE)2,640 yds
Maximum range (AP)1,540 yds
Maximum range (AP 40)770 yds
Effective range (AP)1,000 yds
Effective range (AP 40)500 yds
Effective range (HE)2,000 yds
Rifling21 grooves, twist 1 turn in 32 cals
Weight of complete equipment2,016 lbs


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