View Full Version : Hand held Anti tank weapons.

2nd of foot
08-21-2012, 12:43 PM
It would seem to be common knowledge that the PIAT was shit and the bazooka the dog nuts and the Panzerfaust the best thing since sliced bread.

As with most things it is never that simple.

Personally I think the PIAT was a good design if a bit over engineered and could have done with one of two lbs being removed from it but as A/T weapons go at 32lbs it was not that heavy (Carl Gustav was 36lb, which when you compare it to a GPMG plus ammo or a radio or a 2 inch and ammo it is all about the same.). Its limiting factor was that it had very little scope for up grades and life extensions. As a weapon it was very short and almost silent with no signature, a big thing when you are firing at short range as all A/t weapons of that time did. Another advantage was the range of ammo available for the PIAT so it had a wider use than just A/T.

The basic concept of the weapon was to provide a recoilless weapon (having fired a number of so called recoilless weapons, they may not push back but your nuts a squeezed and your insides feel it.). To some extent this was achieved by use of a FO big spring which had the job of reducing the recoil. Contrary to most articles written about the PIAT it was not the spring that launched the bomb but the charge in the base of the bomb which was activated by the spring going forward and striking the charge. The inside of the bomb was the barrel so to speak unlike most weapons which have the barrel on the outside. The resulting explosion would be countered by the spring and so not transmitted to the firer, hopefully.

You will read many articles which happily point out that cocking this spring was difficult and very hard under fire. As a competent soldier one would be expected to have done this as part of your battle prep and so alleviate the need to do it as the tank rumbled towards you. Another advantage the PIAT had was that the choice of ammo could be left to when the need arose unlike other weapons of this type. Loading was very quick and simple and could be done by one person.

I came across a comment by another poster on another site that said that the Canadian forces asked the infantry which weapons they found most useful during D-Day and the months after. Number one was PIAT. They also said that the PIAT had accounted for 6% of all tank kills in this time. I have no information to back p this claim and would very much like to see more of this.

Bazooka next.

08-21-2012, 02:35 PM
It's good to see you 2nd. As for your comments, I couldn't agree more as I've also read the 6% PIAT panzer kill figure somewhere. It should be noted that the PIAT may have fired one of the most imported rounds on D-Day at Pegasus Bridge, where a glider borne sergeant annihilated a Panzer Mark IV bearing down on them to retake the bridge.

The Bazooka 2.36" was certainly obsolete in that caliber by the time it was widely issued, but still effective against panzers from the sides and close in. It's hard to believe US troops were still using the 2.36" variant into the Korean War when the 3.5" was already available. The Task Force Smith debacle showed that not only was the first generation Bazooka not powerful enough to contend with the T-34/85 head on, most of the ammo was shit after sitting for five years or more...

08-21-2012, 04:38 PM
I have spoken to a couple of people who both loved and hated the PIAT, I personally have always thought it an underrated weapon.

2nd of foot
08-21-2012, 05:49 PM
When doing some research on some thing I looked at the wiki page on the bazooka and was surprised to find out that it was not liked at all by the end user. One problem being that it did not often work (go bang when you pressed the trigger) and that it was prone to not leaving the barrel.

The US had the same problem as the rest but came to a solution in different way. It would seem that the starting point was the British air to ground rocket, which would make sense as the bazooka was a scaled down version with a barrel to ensure that the firer kept his hansom looks and a too heavy A/T hand grenade. Why they went for so small a rocket is not known unless it was using what was on the shelf. The 60mm war head was not up to the job and it is telling that when the Germans back engineered it to produce the Panzerschreck they increased the war head to 88mm.

Many of the problems with misfires and premature explosions seem to have come from two problems, the poor quality of rocket motors and dents to the barrel. The first was a quality control issue and the second eventually sorted by use of barrel gauges. At this point it should be noted that if after firing the warhead should hit a bump on its way out the barrel it will go bang. This would not be conducive to you good looks. Ignition would also seem to have been a problem until the batteries were replaced with magnetos. All of this resulted in very low troop confidence in the bazooka due to a. not being killed by using it, b. it not going bang as the nasty panzer is rushing towards you, c. it went bang and it hit the nasty panzer who still continued to come at you.

I am not sure if it was a lack of interest by the infantry or over control by the artillery that caused the infantry to have such limited A/T weapons. I was surprised to find that the 37mm M3 was in service till the end of the war when far better A/T guns were in service with other armies.

When comparing the bazooka to the PIAT on the same page it is interesting to see the results, a bit of top trumps :).

PIAT bazooka
MV 76m/s 80m/s although as both are HEAT this has little value but will improve your ability to hit moving targets.
War head HEAT 1.1kg HEAT 1.59kg
length 39 inches 54 inches
weight 32lb 13lb
effective range 110m 140m
max range 320m 370m
penetration 100mm 100m such figures should always be taken with a large pinch of salt. Much is made of the use of sloped armour on tanks. When being engaged by HV A/T rounds this is important but most recoilless A/t weapons have very more curved ark to the trajectory and so attack at more right angles to the armour.

It should also be noted that on firing there was a flash, bang but little smock and the weapon had a back blast area which you did not want to be in on firing. Loading could be slow as you needed another to put the rocket in the launcher and connect the wires before firing although this could be don by one man. As with all rockets hang fires can be a real problem.

On the whole not a bad solution to a problem and one to an extent that we are still using today as a effective A/T weapon, primarily in the form of the 66mm or RPG. Although I would argue that the RPG has taken some of the good points from the PIAT and bazooka. Having no barrel as such the RPG has been able to improve the projectile without changing the weapon system. The bazooka would have been a better weapon if they had done better field trials to start with but t;his seems to be a policy with some companies, windows any one.