[Lone Sentry: Pz.B. 39 Antitank Rifle; WWII German Infantry Weapons]
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German Infantry Weapons
Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 14, May 25, 1943
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Special Series publication. 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.]


5.  Pz.B.9 39 (ANTITANK RIFLE)

a. General

Antitank rifles are issued to the German Army on a scale of one for each platoon (or equivalent unit). There are at least two types of antitank rifles in use by the Germans: the Polish antitank rifle (model 35), which has been renamed the Tankbüchse, and the Pz.B. 39, a later model of the Pz.B. 38. (See figs. 21 and 22.)

[Figure 21. Pz.B. 39 (antitank rifle).]
Figure 21.—Pz.B. 39 (antitank rifle).

b. How to Identify

Both the Pz.B. 38 and Pz.B. 39 may be identified by—

(1) Folding shoulder stocks with a rubber shock absorber.

(2) Bipod mount and carrying handle.

(3) Muzzle brake.

(4) Single-shot, falling-block action worked by a moving pistol grip in the Pz.B. 39 and by recoil in the Pz.B. 38.

c. Characteristics

(1) General.—The Pz.B. 38 and Pz.B. 39 are light antitank weapons carried by infantry. They are single-shot rifles fired from a bipod mount. The bullet is an armor-piercing projectile with tracer compound and sometimes with a tear-gas powder in the base. The Pz.B. 38 and Pz.B. 39 are basically the same and differ only slightly in appearance and component parts. The description of the Pz.B. 39 which follows will also serve for the Pz.B. 38.

[Figure 22. Overhead view of Pz.B. 39, illustrating cutout folding shoulder stock.]
Figure 22.—Overhead view of Pz.B. 39, illustrating cutout folding shoulder stock.

(2) Table of characteristics.

Principle of operation    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    Single-shot, falling-block action.
Caliber    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    7.92 mm (.312 inch).
Ammunition    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    Caliber .50 case, necked down to take a caliber .312 bullet.
    Front    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    Inverted V blade, with hood for shade and protection.
    Rear    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    Open V notch, nonadjustable, sighted 300 meters (328 yards).
Over-all length:    
    With shoulder stock in place    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    62 1/4 inches.
    With shoulder stock folded    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    50 3/4 inches.
    Effective    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    250 to 300 yards.
    Penetration    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    At 300 yards, 3/4-inch (20° impact) and 1-inch (normal impact) face-hardened plate; at 100 yards, 1 1/4-inch (normal impact) face-hardened plate.
Muzzle velocity    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    3,540 feet per second.
Feed    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    By hand from two ammunition holders that clip on each side of stock forearm, each box holding 10 rounds of ammunition.

d. How to Operate

(1) Safety.—The safety lever is located on the tang of the receiver just to the rear of the breechblock. To put the rifle on "safe," move the safety lever until the letter "S" (sicher—"safe") is exposed. To unlock, move the safety lever until the letter "F" (Feuer—"fire") is exposed.

(2) To load and fire.—Press the bipod lock (see fig. 21), and adjust the height of the bipod by turning the adjusting screw located underneath the pivot point of the bipod. Press the stock release button and snap the shoulder stock into place. Move the safety lever to the "fire" position. Push the pistol grip forward and downward, thus depressing the breechblock. Insert one round into the chamber, which is exposed by lowering the breeehblock (see fig. 24). Close the breechblock by pulling back and up on the pistol grip.

The piece is now ready to fire.10 The safety lever should be kept in the "safe" position until ready to fire.

[Figure 23. Pz.B. 39 in position on edge of road. (The rifle is fired from the prone position.)]
Figure 23.—Pz.B. 39 in position on edge of road. (The rifle is fired from the prone position.)

(3) To unload.—Move the safety lever to the "fire" position. Being careful to keep the finger out of the trigger guard, open the breech by pushing the pistol gip forward and downward. This will eject the cartridge from the chamber. The rifle is now unloaded.

e. Ammunition

The ammunition used has a rimless case the approximate size of the U.S. caliber .50 case, but the projectile is approximately the size of the U.S. caliber .30 projectile. The German nomenclature11 for this ammunition is Patr. 318 S.m.K. for the pointed bullet with steel core, and Patr. 318 S.m.K. (H) for the pointed bullet with hardened-steel core. The ammunition for the Pz.B. 38 and the Pz.B. 39, though of the same caliber as the rifle and machine-gun ammunition, will not function in either rifle or machine gun, as the dimensions of the cartridge case are much larger.

The Polish antitank rifle (model 35), the Tankbüchse (see a, above), uses a similar cartridge, but this cartridge will not function in either the Pz.B. 38 or the Pz.B. 39. It is known as Patr. 318 (P), or Polish cartridge No. 318, and is packed in boxes with green labels printed in Polish and overprinted "Patr. 318."

f. Maintenance

(1) Oiling and cleaning.—The rifle should be given the usual care with respect to cleaning and lubricating. Oil should be used sparingly or not at all in hot, sandy, or dusty country.

(2) Stripping.—Remove the pistol-grip pivot pin by compressing its spring lock and pushing it out from left to right. Remove the trigger pistol-grip group and breechblock from the receiver by pulling downward on the pistol grip. Disengage the breechblock from the trigger pistol-grip by sliding the breech out along the grooves in its sides. The breechblock can be stripped by pressing on the spring-loaded button and sliding the plate upward. Removing the two pins from the side of the breechblock will release the trigger bar and hammer.

[Figure 24. Close-up of breech of Pz.B. 39.]
Figure 24.—Close-up of breech of Pz.B. 39.

(3) Assembly.—Reverse the stripping procedure given in (2), on the opposite page. Be sure that the safety is on "fire" position so that the breechblock can be replaced in its slots in the receiver walls.

g. Accessories

The accessories for these guns are a carrying sling and two ammunition holders that clip on the wooden forearm. A small cleaning kit similar to the rifle cleaning kit is carried by the antitank rifleman.

9 Pz.B. is the German abbreviation for Panzerbüchse, which means "antitank rifle" The German tactical symbol for antitank rifle is [Antitank Rifle Symbol].
10 See fig. 5, p. 8, above, for the method of aligning German sights.
11 See fig. 93, p. 167, below, for one type of label used to identify ammunition for the antitank rifle.

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