TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — 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.]



7. Antitank Weapons

a. RIFLES. The original German antitank rifles were the 7.92-mm Panzerbüchse 38, with automatic extraction mechanism, and the 7.92-mm Panzerbüchse 39, operated entirely by hand. These weapons were not very effective and are now obsolete. Next followed the 20-mm Solothurn, which was issued in two models: one single shot, and the other both single shot and automatic. The tendency during 1944 has been to adopt antitank grenade launchers in preference to rifles, and the only relic of these four models is the Granatbüchse, which is a Panzerbüchse 39 modified to fire rifle grenades from a rifle launcher cup.

b. RECOILLESS ANTITANK GRENADE LAUNCHERS—Panzerfaust. This is a series of antitank grenade launchers each bearing the name Panzerfaust but each having a different number after the name.

(1) Panzerfaust 30

(a) General Description. This weapon, also known as the Faustpatrone 2, was the first of the four models of recoilless antitank grenade dischargers to be produced. It is designed for use against armor at ranges of about 30 yards, at which range a penetration of just over 200 mm is obtained.

The weapon consists of a steel launching tube, containing a percussion fired propellent charge. A hollow-charge antitank grenade is fired from the tube.

The weapon is fired from the standing, kneeling or prone positions, aim being taken over the vertical sight and the forward end of the bomb.

(b) Characteristics.

Diameter of tube   . . . . .   1 3/4 inches.
Over-all length   . . . . .   41 inches.
Weight   . . . . .   11 pounds.

(c) Ammunition. The grenade is provided with spring steel fins which are wrapped around the tail for loading and which are released as the projectile leaves the tube and stabilize the bomb during flight.

(2) Panzerfaust Klein 30

This weapon, also known as the Faustpatrone 1 or Gretchen, is a smaller version of the Panzerfaust 30 and has a differently shaped projectile head. The system of operation is the same and the range is again about 30 yards. A penetration of 140 mm is claimed for this projectile.

(3) Panzerfaust 60

This launcher is similar in appearance to the Panzerfaust 30. A redesigned firing mechanism has been fitted and also a new sight, which has apertures for 30, 60 and 80 meters.

The tube of this weapon is slightly thicker than that of the Panzerfaust 30 and the weight has been increased to 13 1/2 lbs.

The penetration figure of 200 mm for the Panzerfaust 30 will apply equally well to this weapon.

(4) Panzerfaust 100

This is the latest of the Panzerfaust series of antitank launchers to be encountered. In appearance it is similar to the Panzerfaust 60, though slightly increased in size and performance. A penetration figure of 200 mm is claimed for this weapon, which is sighted up to 150 meters.

c. ROCKET LAUNCHER (Raketenpanzerbüchse 54). (1) General description. This weapon, which is also known as the Ofenrohr (Stovepipe) or Panzerschreck (Tank Terror), is similar to the U.S. 2.36-inch rocket launcher (Bazooka) and fires a hollow-charge rocket projectile. The launcher consists of a steel tube provided with fore and back sights and a cocking lever and trigger which operate an electrical firing mechanism. For firing, the rocket is inserted in the rear of the tube, where it is retained in position by a catch and makes a contact with the electrical leads at the rear of the launcher. When the trigger is pressed, a magnetized rod passes through a coil located in a housing underneath the projector. This generates a current which provides the spark necessary to ignite the propellent charge in the tail end of the projectile. Later models of this projector are fitted with steel protective shields clamped around the barrel. In each shield there is an observation window on the left of the firer. These shields eliminate the necessity for the firer to wear protective clothing. The Germans claim an effective range of 120 meters (130 yards) for this weapon.

(2) Characteristics.

Caliber   . . . . .   88 mm (3.5 inches).
Length, over-all   . . . . .   5 feet 4 1/2 inches.
External diameter   . . . . .   3.7 inches.
Weight   . . . . .   20 1/2 pounds.
Maximum range   . . . . .   132 yards.

(3) Ammunition. The projectile is a 7-pound hollow-charge rocket containing a propellant in the tail tube. The rocket is equipped with a nose fuze and a circular tail fin. It measures 2 feet 1 1/4 inches in length.

d. HEAVY ROCKET LAUNCHER (Raketenwerfer 43 or Püppchen). (1) General description. A heavier version of the Raketenpanzerbüchse, this weapon fires hollow-charge rockets against tanks. The barrel, mounted on a two-wheeled, single-trail carriage with protective shield, has a simple hinged breechblock with striker mechanism. No traversing or elevating wheels are provided on the carriage; the gun must be held at the required elevation by a spade hand grip and manually traversed on a traversing slide. The weapon has a front sight and an adjustable rear sight mounted on the barrel. The rear sight is graduated from 180 to 700 meters (195 to 765 yards). This may mean that the weapon can be used in an antipersonnel role as a mortar at long ranges.

(2) Characteristics.

Caliber   . . . . .   88 mm (3.5 inches).
Length, over-all   . . . . .   9 feet 2 inches.
Weight   . . . . .   270 pounds (approximately).
Width of carriage   . . . . .   3 feet 3 1/2 inches.
Height of barrel   . . . . .   1 foot 6 inches.
Elevation   . . . . .   18° to +15°.

(3) Ammunition. The projectile is an 88-mm hollow-charge rocket similar to that used with the Raketenpanzerbüchse, but with a flash cap in the center of a rimmed base fitting over the end of the stabilizing fins. The rimmed base serves as a cartridge case and remains in the breech after the projectile has been fired.


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