Panzerschreck
Overview
 
Panzerschreck was the popular name for the Raketenpanzerbüchse (abbreviated to RPzB), an 88 mm calibre reusable anti-tank
Anti-tank warfare
Anti-tank warfare was created by the need to seek technology and tactics to destroy tanks and their supporting infantry during the First World War...

 rocket launcher developed by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Another popular nickname was Ofenrohr ("stove pipe").

The Panzerschreck was designed as a lightweight infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 anti-tank weapon. The weapon was shoulder-launched and fired a rocket-propelled, fin-stabilized grenade
Grenade
A grenade is a small explosive device that is projected a safe distance away by its user. Soldiers called grenadiers specialize in the use of grenades. The term hand grenade refers any grenade designed to be hand thrown. Grenade Launchers are firearms designed to fire explosive projectile grenades...

 with a shaped charge
Shaped charge
A shaped charge is an explosive charge shaped to focus the effect of the explosive's energy. Various types are used to cut and form metal, to initiate nuclear weapons, to penetrate armor, and in the oil and gas industry...

 warhead
Warhead
The term warhead refers to the explosive material and detonator that is delivered by a missile, rocket, or torpedo.- Etymology :During the early development of naval torpedoes, they could be equipped with an inert payload that was intended for use during training, test firing and exercises. This...

.
Encyclopedia
Panzerschreck was the popular name for the Raketenpanzerbüchse (abbreviated to RPzB), an 88 mm calibre reusable anti-tank
Anti-tank warfare
Anti-tank warfare was created by the need to seek technology and tactics to destroy tanks and their supporting infantry during the First World War...

 rocket launcher developed by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Another popular nickname was Ofenrohr ("stove pipe").

The Panzerschreck was designed as a lightweight infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 anti-tank weapon. The weapon was shoulder-launched and fired a rocket-propelled, fin-stabilized grenade
Grenade
A grenade is a small explosive device that is projected a safe distance away by its user. Soldiers called grenadiers specialize in the use of grenades. The term hand grenade refers any grenade designed to be hand thrown. Grenade Launchers are firearms designed to fire explosive projectile grenades...

 with a shaped charge
Shaped charge
A shaped charge is an explosive charge shaped to focus the effect of the explosive's energy. Various types are used to cut and form metal, to initiate nuclear weapons, to penetrate armor, and in the oil and gas industry...

 warhead
Warhead
The term warhead refers to the explosive material and detonator that is delivered by a missile, rocket, or torpedo.- Etymology :During the early development of naval torpedoes, they could be equipped with an inert payload that was intended for use during training, test firing and exercises. This...

. It was made in much smaller numbers than the Panzerfaust
Panzerfaust
The Panzerfaust was an inexpensive, recoilless German anti-tank weapon of World War II. It consisted of a small, disposable preloaded launch tube firing a high explosive anti-tank warhead, operated by a single soldier...

, which was a disposable recoilless rifle
Recoilless rifle
A recoilless rifle or recoilless gun is a lightweight weapon that fires a heavier projectile than would be practical to fire from a recoiling weapon of comparable size. Technically, only devices that use a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles. Smoothbore variants are recoilless guns...

 firing an anti-tank warhead.

History

In 1941, when the Germans encountered the new Soviet tank designs such as the T-34
T-34
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II...

, they quickly discovered the effectiveness of the high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) round against this new threat. The need of a more effective infantry anti-tank weapon than the Panzerbüchse 39 (PzB 39) anti-tank rifle
Anti-tank rifle
An anti-tank rifle is a rifle designed to penetrate the armour of vehicles, particularly tanks. The usefulness of rifles for this purpose ran from the introduction of tanks in World War I and until the Korean War...

s was paramount for the German army.

Development for a weapon using the HEAT principle quickly ensued. The first development was a converted anti-tank grenade launcher version of the P.z.b 39 anti-tank rifle called the G.z.b 39. Further development created the Faustpatrone and later the Panzerfaust which were highly effective against Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 armor, but lacked the range and multi-purpose nature of the 2.36-inch (60mm) M1A1 "Bazooka"
Bazooka
Bazooka is the common name for a man-portable recoilless rocket antitank weapon, widely fielded by the U.S. Army. Also referred to as the "Stovepipe", the innovative bazooka was amongst the first-generation of rocket propelled anti-tank weapons used in infantry combat...

. German troops captured many Allied bazookas in North Africa
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

 as well as some lend-lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 versions on the Eastern front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. The German army quickly developed an enlarged German version of the M1A1 Bazooka, the Raketenpanzerbüchse, which used a bigger 88 mm round and had double the penetrative performance. It proved itself against Allied armor on all fronts, earning the nickname "tank terror".

The first model was the RPzB 43 which was 164 centimetres (5.4 ft) long and weighed about 9.25 kilograms (20.4 lb) when empty. Operators of the RPzB 43 had to wear a protective poncho and a gas mask without a filter to protect them from the heat of the backblast when the weapon was fired. In October 1943, it was succeeded by the RPzB 54 which was fitted with a blast shield to protect the operator and was heavier weighing 11 kilograms (24.3 lb) empty. This was followed by the RPzB 54/1 with an improved rocket, shorter barrel and a range increased to about 180 meters.

Firing the RPzB generated a lot of smoke both in front and behind the weapon. Because of the weapon's tube and the smoke, the German troops nicknamed it the Ofenrohr ("Stove Pipe"). This also meant that Panzerschreck teams were revealed once they fired, making them targets and, therefore, required them to shift positions
Shoot-and-scoot
The term shoot and scoot refers to an artillery tactic of firing at a target and then immediately moving away from the location where the shots were fired. The reason for this is to avoid counter-battery fire - fired by enemy artillery or delivered by attack aircraft and helicopters, in order to...

. This type of system also made it problematic to fire the weapon from inside closed spaces (such as bunkers or houses), filling the room with toxic smoke and revealing the firing location immediately. This was in contrast to the British PIAT
PIAT
The Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank was a British hand-held anti-tank weapon developed during the Second World War. The PIAT was designed in 1942 in response to the British Army's need for a more effective infantry anti-tank weapon, and entered service in 1943.The PIAT was based on the spigot...

's cumbersome, non-smoking, spring launch system, or the Panzerfaust
Panzerfaust
The Panzerfaust was an inexpensive, recoilless German anti-tank weapon of World War II. It consisted of a small, disposable preloaded launch tube firing a high explosive anti-tank warhead, operated by a single soldier...

's short burst launch system.

The Panzerschreck was an effective weapon. Allied bazookas had problems with newer up-armored German tanks later in the war, most notably the Panther tank
Panther tank
Panther is the common name of a medium tank fielded by Nazi Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV; while never replacing the latter, it served alongside it as...

 and the Tiger tank
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

. By comparison the Panzerschreck rocket could penetrate over 200 mm of armor, which was only found on the IS-2 Soviet tanks. However, this extra hitting power required extra weight. The rocket projectile weighed 3.3 kilograms (7.3 lb).
One direct hit was usually enough to destroy any Allied
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 armored vehicle. When handled by well-trained crews, this weapon became the bane of Allied armored units, who frequently attempted to add improvised protection to their tanks, e.g. sandbags, spare track units, logs and so on. Most of this makeshift protection had little effect, and overtaxed the vehicle's engine, transmission, and suspension systems.

See also


External links

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