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.]



4. Ground Weapons

a. GENERAL. The Germans have a large number of weapons capable of firing chemical warfare munitions—guns, mortars, howitzers, and projectors—with varying calibers and ever-increasing types.

b. GUNS. No less than 12 guns of 75-mm caliber, including a self-propelled model, fire smoke shells. The limitations of gas shells for artillery are clearly recognized by the Germans. Although thus far no German gas shells have been captured, reports indicate that for some time they have been building up extensive stocks of gas-filled shells, 105-mm and 150-mm being the favored calibers. Smoke shells for several types of 105-mm guns, two of which are self-propelled, are known. Smoke shells weighing approximately 86 pounds are provided for 150-mm self-propelled guns, known as the "Grizzly Bear" and the "Bumble Bee". There are also smoke and incendiary shells for the 150-mm heavy infantry gun.

c. MORTARS. The basic weapon of German chemical warfare troops is the 105-mm mortar, two models of which are known. In addition to the 81-mm mortar, the Germans have a 12-cm mortar that is identical with the Finnish 12-cm mortar made by Tampella. They also have copied the Russian 12-cm mortar. Revolutionary in design are the 20-cm and 38-cm spigot mortars. While these mortars are primarily intended for the destruction of obstacles, minefields, and gun emplacements, smoke shells are provided and there is apparently no reason why gas or incendiary fillings could not be substituted for HE.

d. HOWITZERS. Smoke shells are provided for two types of light field howitzers of 105-mm caliber and three types of 150-mm heavy field howitzers. Projectiles weighing 80 pounds filled with blister and choking gases, for the heavy field howitzers are reported.

e. PROJECTORS. Two general types of rocket projectors have made their appearance during the current war: the Nebelwerfer (literally, smoke projector) and the Schweres Wurfgerät (heavy throwing apparatus). For details of these weapons see Section VII of Chapter VII.

f. SMOKE GENERATORS. (1) General. Smoke generators are often referred to as "thermo-generators" due to the fact that they produce smoke by the "hot" process, namely, by the combustion of the smoke materials. They may be stationary, thrown by hand or rifle, or by dischargers mounted on tanks. Also, they may be fastened on floats or buoys for amphibious operations.

(2) Smoke Candle 39 (Nb.K.39). This smoke generator consists of a metal can, 5 3/4 inches high by 3 1/2 inches in diameter, provided with holes in the top for smoke emission. It weighs approximately 4 3/4 pounds and is painted green, with two white bands around the body. The Berger-type smoke mixture, consisting of two parts of zinc dust to three parts of hexachlorethane, is fired by a pull type igniter and burns from 4 to 7 minutes.

(3) Smoke Cylinder (Rauchrohr). Designed primarily for use against tanks, this munition consists of a cylinder 10 inches long with a diameter of 1 inch. It contains 7 1/2 ounces of a smoke mixture composed of zinc, magnesium, and hexachlorethane. Its total weight is 11 ounces. Ignited by a pull type igniter, it burns 3 to 4 minutes, emitting a dark gray smoke.

(4) Long-Burning Smoke Generator (Langekerzer 42, Nb.KL 42). This long burning smoke generator is a green, cylindrical metal container with an over-all height of 19 inches and a diameter of 6 5/6 inches. It contains approximately 36 pounds of a smoke mixture consisting of zinc, zinc (or ammonium) chloride, and hexachlorethane. Its total weight varies from 35 to 49 pounds. The ignition is electrical or by means of a pull wire. The generator burns 15 to 30 minutes, emitting a whitish gray smoke sufficient to provide a screen 200 yards wide, 400 to 500 yards long and 40 yards deep under favorable conditions.

(5) French smoke floats. German E-boats are reported to have used French 132-pound smoke floats consisting of a container, filled with Berger Mixture, a flotation device, a lid, and an igniter. The emission period is 4 to 5 minutes.

g. SMOKE GENERATOR PROJECTORS FOR ARMORED VEHICLES. The Pz. Kpfw. III and Pz. Kpfw. VI are provided with smoke generator projectors (dischargers), which are mounted on each side of the turret. They consist of three cylindrical tubes, 6 inches in length by 3.7 inches in diameter, mounted on a bracket one above the other at a fixed elevation of 45 degrees, but slightly splayed to give a lateral spread to the generators. Nb.k.39 smoke generators are fired from inside the turret. Panther and Tiger Model B tanks are fitted with smoke generator dischargers mounted flush in the right rear top of the turret, at an angle of 60 degrees to the turret roof. They are mounted in a circular ring in such a manner that they may be traversed through 360 degrees. The barrel, 7 1/2 inches long by 3 5/8 inches in diameter, is fitted with a breechblock. The firing mechanism is operated by a trigger from within the tank, projecting the Nb.K.39 smoke generators.

h. SMOKE SPRAYERS. Smoke sprayers (Nebelzerstäuber) disseminate a liquid smoke-producing material by the application of compressed air. The smoke liquid, generally chlorsulfonic acid, is atomized or dispersed as minute particles which vaporize and quickly condense again as very fine droplets by absorption of water vapor from the atmosphere. The process is "cold" as distinct from the "hot" process of the smoke generator. The Germans have a variety of smoke sprayers for diverse uses: stationary, portable, mounted on vehicles or tanks, carried on board ship or aircraft, and floating on buoys.

i. GRENADES. Nebelhandgranate 39 and 41 are smoke hand grenades containing a hexachlorethane mixture. They are of similar design. Both are painted green and are distinguished by the inscription Nb. Hgr. 39 (or 41) in white, with a white broken line beneath the lettering. The Germans have two types of glass hand grenades, known as Blendkorper 1H and Blenddkorper 2H, charged with a mixture of titanium tetrachloride (FM) and silicon tetrachloride. They also have incendiary frangible hand grenades of the Molotov-cocktail type, consisting of a pint glass bottle filled with a mixture of benzene and creosote oil. This type is intended primarily for use against tanks.

j. GAS MINES. The German gas mines are referred to as spray canisters (Spruhbüchse). They are used by the ground forces for contaminating ground, roadblocks, buildings, or inaccessible places. They are also used for harassing landing parties on tidal beaches and for delaying armored vehicles and troops. The mines can he laid at the sides of roads, under bridges, in woods, or in other convenient locations and may be actuated by time mechanism or pressure fuzes. One mine can contaminate an area of 20 to 25 square meters.

k. BULK CONTAMINATION. Any liquid-spraying apparatus (Spruhgerät) may be used for bulk contamination. Tanks, armored cars, and trucks may be equipped with apparatus for spraying gas and smoke. Chemical trucks are included in the equipment for the special gas companies. The special spraying apparatus of the decontamination battalions is a potential contaminating apparatus as well, since it may readily be used for offensive purposes, spraying liquid "gases" instead of decontaminating liquids.

l. MOBILE FLAME THROWERS. A flame thrower is a pressure-operafed apparatus which projects a jet of liquid ignited as it leaves the gun. Its essential features are: a fuel container, a device for forcing the fuel out of the container, a projecting tube with a nozzle at its end, and an igniting system to set the jet of fuel aflame. The principle types developed by the Germans are as follows:

(1) Flame thrower, portable, Model 35. This is the type with which Germany started the present war. It is a modified version of the 1918 model. Both fuel and compressed nitrogen containers are housed in one cylinder. The nitrogen is used for propulsion of the fuel, which is ignited at the nozzle by a jet of hydrogen flame. Both ejection and ignition of the fuel are controlled by the same trigger placed on the top of the gun. It can fire ten one-second bursts as far as 30 yards. Weighing 79 pounds it is too heavy for a single man in action.

(2) Flame thrower, portable, Model 40. This is a "lifebuoy-type" flame thrower, weighing only 47 pounds. However, the decrease in weight has been accomplished by a one-third reduction in fuel, as compared with the Model 35. The range is unaltered.

(3) Flame thrower, portable, Model 41. This consists of two cylinders, one for fuel and the other for compressed nitrogen. The complete apparatus weighs 35 to 40 pounds. Ignition is by hydrogen, which flows over an electrically heated wire at the nozzle, where it is lighted and in turn sets the oil afire. Firing is by the "hot" method: the oil is ignited each time the trigger is pulled: thus, the target can not be first sprayed with oil and then set afire. Five blasts can be fired, producing a flame of 700 to 800 degrees centigrade.

(4) Flame thrower, portable, Model 42. In appearance it is similar to Model 41, but is slightly shorter and differing in one essential point: the ignition system. The hot-spot hydrogen jet ignition system of the older model has been replaced by the cartridge system. This consists of a cartridge magazine in which there are ten rimless, blank, 9-mm pistol cartridges, loaded, fired, and ejected in automatic succession at each pull of the trigger. Since the fuel ejection and the firing mechanisms are operated by the same trigger the result is the "hot-firing", wherein prior drenching of the target with oil is impossible. The jet of the fuel is set afire at the instant it leaves the nozzle. The apparatus weighs about 30 pounds empty and up to 40 pounds full. It holds approximately 7 1/2 gallons of fuel, a black oil smelling like creosote. The fuel ejection is by compressed nitrogen gas under a pressure of 441 pounds per square inch. There is no reducing valve on the nitrogen line. The oil is sufficient for 5 to 6 blasts, each lasting 3 seconds, reaching a range of 25 to 35 yards.

(5) Para-Flame Thrower (Einstoss Flantmenwerfer). This is another variety of the portable flame thrower. It is the standard one used by the paratroops and also is used to a great extent by the SS. It weighs 23 3/4 pounds. The fuel is the usual black liquid used in other German flame throwers. It is fired from the shoulder, throws a flame 38 yards long, lasting 2 to 3 seconds. It is said to possess a constant, steady pressure producing an even flame. Also, it is claimed that it can be aimed accurately.

(6) Trailer flame thrower. This is a flame thrower that bears a resemblance to a "field gun", since it is mounted on a chassis and is towed by a motor vehicle. Fitted on the frame is a box-shaped sheet metal body which contains the fuel tank, the pump, and the engine. The fuel tank is 4 feet 11 1/2 inches by 1 foot 9 1/2 inches, and holds 40 gallons of creosote oil. The pump is a gasoline engine-driven, centrifugal pump. The flame gun is mounted on a spigot on top of the fuel tank to facilitate traversing; the gun itself is carried on trunnions to permit elevating and depressing. It can be traversed 45 degrees each way and elevated between +30 degrees and -10 degrees. The fuel is ignited by an electric spark and the flame will last 24 seconds at a range of 45 to 50 yards, using 1.46 gallons of fuel per second. It has an over-all length of 7 feet 11 inches and weighs 900 pounds. When operating it makes a noise which can be heard easily at a distance of 300 yards.

(7) Flame thrower on armored car (half-track) (Sd Kfz 251.) Two flame throwers are mounted on the rear of an ordinary 3-ton half-track armored vehicle, but are controlled from the front seat next to the driver. The flame throwers may be traversed 160 degrees. Length of hose is 11 yards. The tank holds 185 gallons of the usual German flame thrower fuel. A centrifugal pump propels fuel with a consumption rate of 2 gallons per second. The fuel is sufficient for 80 bursts of 1 to 2 seconds each at a range of 40 to 50 yards. The weapon is fired by an electrogasoline system.

(8) Flame thrower on Panzerjäger 38 Chassis. (le. Pz. Jäg. 38 Chassis). The flame thrower is mounted offside on the front of the self-propelled Panzerjäger 38. The fuel capacity is 154 gallons. with a consumption rate of 1.8 gallons per second. Fuel release is controlled by hand through a 14-mm nozzle. The range is 55 to 66 yards.

m. STATIONARY FLAME THROWERS. (1) General. These are called Abwehr Flammenwerfer by the Germans, a nomenclature that implies the defensive nature of the weapons. They are also known as static flame throwers, emplaced flame throwers, fougasse flame throwers, and flame thrower mines. The latter name is probably due to the fact that they are buried directly behind minefields or are dispersed among the mines to "thicken up" the defense and fired by remote control. Usually they are emplaced behind wire entanglements facing in the direction of probable attack to cover road blocks, landing beaches, harbor walls, and to act as movable obstacles at a gap in defense walls. They are buried at intervals of 12 to 30 yards, well camouflaged, leaving only the horizontal muzzle projecting above the ground. Groups of emplaced flame throwers are controlled from a central point, usually a small pillbox, and are operated either by remote electric control or by trip-wire mechanism.

(2) Emplaced flame thrower (Abwehrflammenwerfer 42). (a) General. This apparatus consists of fuel container, flame tube, and propellent container. Necessary accessories are slow burning powder propellant, electric squibs, wire, storage battery, and fuel. It has an over-all height of 2 feet 6 inches.

(b) Fuel container. The fuel container is a cylindrical tank 21 inches high and 11 3/4 inches in diameter. It has iron carrying handles, and a capacity of 8 gallons. The fuel is a black viscid liquid smelling like coal tar. It is a mixture of pitch and light, medium, and heavy oils. It is a little thicker than the usual flame-thrower oil. The fuel tank holds 7.7 gallons.

(c) Flame tube. The flame tube is a 2-inch metal pipe rising vertically and centrally from near the bottom of the fuel container; after passing through the top it curves and extends horizontally a distance of 20 inches. This gives the apparatus a total height of 30 inches.

(d) Propellent container. This is a cylinder 10 inches high by inches in diameter. It contains slow-burning powder, an ignition squib, and firing wires. The propellent powder is either black powder or a mixture of nitrocellulose and diethylene glycol dinitrate. The pressure produced by the explosion of the propelling charge ejects the fuel.

(e) Performance. Both electrical squibs fire simultaneously into the pressure chamber. One ignites the propellent powder which generates pressure to force the fuel out through the flame tube; the other ignites the fuel as it passes out of the nozzle. There is an ignition composition of aluminum and barium nitrate at the nozzle. The flame, 5 yards wide and 3 yards high, lasts 1 1/2 seconds. The range is 30 yards.

n. FLAME-THROWER TANKS. (1) General. These are tanks in which flame throwers are mounted. The flame thrower and its accessories, the fuel tanks, projecting hose, gas cylinders, pump, engines, and ignition system are all so housed in the turret that the vehicles preserve the external appearance of ordinary tanks. They have undergone several modifications and some are obsolescent.

(2) Flame-Thrower Tank Pz. Kpfw. II (F) (Sd. Kfz. 122). This tank has two flame throwing projectors, each mounted in a small turret well forward on the track guards but operated electrically from panels in the turret. The turrets have a traverse of 180 degrees, elevation of 20 degrees, and depression of 10 degrees. Seventy gallons of fuel are kept in two tanks mounted externally on the track guards. The fuel tanks are protected by shields. Fuel is projected by compressed nitrogen. It is sufficient for 80 shots of 2 to 3 seconds duration at a range of 35 yards. Ignition is by acetylene flame.

(3) Flame-Thrower Tank Pz.Kpfw.III; Model L. A flame thrower in the turret replaces the normal 50-mm gun (5 cm Kw.K.39), which it resembles outwardly. Traverse is 360 degrees, and elevation is from -10 degrees to +20 degrees. The fuel is a black, sticky oil smelling of creosote and is sufficient for 70 to 80 shots of 2 to 3 seconds duration. The range is 55 to 65 yards. The fuel, 225 gallons, is carried in tanks mounted inside the right and left side.


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