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Joined: 24 Apr 2006 Posts: 330 Location: Indiana, USA
Posted: Tue May 09, 2006 5:44 am Post subject: WW2 German Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck - Finland Army WW2
While most people think that it was the US Army that introduced the first successful recoiless antitank weapon in WW2 with the famous 2.36 inch/60mm Bazooka it was actually the German Army with the 88mm/3.46 inch Panzerschreck reuseable rocket launcher and the Panzerfaust recoiless (Davis Principle) disposable infantry weapons. The Panzerfaust especially changed antiarmor warfare drastically. It was cheap, easy to use and could kill any tank on the battlefield. The US Army "Bazooka" on the other hand was ineffective against any but the lightest armored tanks unless the enemy tank could be engaged from the sides or rear and even then it was not effective. During WW2 the US Army airborne division in France captured a German truck loaded with reloads for the 88mm rocket launcher. US Army General Gavin ordered all Panzershreck launchers to be found. And during the airborne operations in Holland and later in Germany they used that German weapon as their principle antitank weapon. General Gavin after WW2 even encouraged the US Army to put the Panzerfaust into production. Many military historians believe the disaster that struck the US Army in the first months of the Korean War would not have happened if they had been equipped with the cheap and effective Panzerfaust. Also, the Russian Army used the last models of the Panzerfaust as the bases for their RPG-2 which in turn resulted in the famous RPG-7 we see on the news programs and in newspapers.
Below is scanning of a very-VERY rare publication. It is the training manual that the Finnish Army put together in late 1943 for the Panzershrek and Panzerfaust which the Germans had supplied them to counter the Russian Army tanks. One photo shows the best part of each enemy tank to attack. It also shows a Panzerschreck gunner preparing to fire wearing a gas mask. This was not because the Finnish Army feared the Russians would use gas warfare. But because like the US Army bazooka the Panzerschrecks rocket motor did not burn completely before exiting the launcher and could cause the gunners face or eyes to be burned.
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Photos below are thumbnails. Please click each on to see full size.
Above photo shows chart as to where armor on various tanks is thickest and thinner.
Above photos shows proper way to aim the Panzerfaust 100mm version (ie later versions were 142mm). Second photo shows components. The snap system to set off the ejection charges was unique and extremely safe. Flipping it up set it on arm and also the sight. But the fuse system for the shape-charge projectile was extremely dangerous and emplaced only at the last minute before use. Many Panzerfaust gunners died when they pushed the firing lever and the projectile exploded at that instant. Finally, the 100mm version of the Panzerfaust had a penetration of approximately 140mm/6 inches and the later 150mm diamter projectile version 200mm/8 inches (ie the highest of any infantry antitank weapon in WW2). Penetration for the Panzerfaust projectiles would have been even greater if a stand-off probe had been fitted. But in those days how and why HEAT/Shape-Charge Warheads was not full understood.
Above photos show various components of the 88mm Panzerschreck rocket launcher, loading and firing positions. The Panzerschreck rocket projectile could penetrate up to 160mm/6 inches of armor, compared to the US Army Bazooka which could penetrate only 4 inches. Also unlike the Bazooka the Panzerschreck had a stand-off probe which enhanced penetration (ie the Germans never figured out why it worked that way, they only knew it worked). But the Panzerschreck had one featured that did not endear itself to its gunners. It has a HUGE flash and blast launch signature that revealed to the enemy where the gunner was. But if a Panzerschreck gunner hit his target the tank was destroyed.
Last edited by jackehammond on Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:46 am; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 06 Oct 2005 Posts: 389 Location: Thessaloniki, GREECE
Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:28 am Post subject:
In fact the first weapon in the video is the 8,8cm Raketenwerfer 43 Puppchen.
In 1944 the Anhaltisch/Westfalische Sprengstoff AG of Reindorf (also known as WASAG), submitted a design for the German Army requirement for a light anti-tank gun. This particular design, by Dr. Erich Von Holt, was original in its approach. The idea was to use a “Raketen Panzerbuchse 54”, better known as an “Ofenruhr” or “Stove Pipe”. Similar to the American 2.36 inch Bazooka. The tube, unlike a pipe, had a simple sliding breach block, which, when closed, sealed the rear of the weapon. This gave the specially prepared 88mm hollow charged rocket a greater velocity and range than the standard Panzerbuchse 54, which had a velocity of 110 metres/second and a maximum range of about 150 meters. The Raketenwerfer 43 “Puppchen” (doll), had a considerably better performance with a improved muzzle velocity of 180 metres/second and an effective range of 700 metres.
The ring stabilized 88mm rocket projectile was competent to perform admirably along side its conventional cousin in penetrating armor plate up to 160mm thick with the advantage of a single round only weighing 2.60 kg.
About 1,000 “Puppchens” were believed to have been manufactured. The accuracy and the high performance of the weapon was quickly learned by the OKH Oberkommando des Heers, (Army High Command) on July 1st, 1944 stating that “The special badge awarded for single-handed destruction of an enemy was not applicable when a Puppchen was used in its destruction”. So good was this weapon.
The advantage of the Puppchen, with the breach loading arrangement, presented several disadvantages over conventional light anti-tank weapons. A relatively high recoil required the weapon to be mounted on a wheeled box section carriage which increased its weight considerably. However, as a mobile weapon it proved itself to be relatively easy to maneuver and bring into action quickly. The Puppchen could be fired with or with the wheels being mounted. On the Russian Front it was often mounted on skis (like the configuration of this kit).
Total Length: 2870 mm
Width: 990 mm
Firing Height without wheels: 470 mm
Total Weight with wheels: 149 kg
Weight without wheels: 109 kg
Horizontal field of fire: 60 degrees
Elevation from: +15 to –18 degrees
Maximum effective range angainst armoured targets: 230 m
Maximum effective range against ground targets: 700 m
Rate of fire: 10 rounds per minute
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