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"The Almighty Panzerfaust" Topic

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©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2020 9:50 p.m. PST

"Soviet movies set in the initial stages of the Great Patriotic War depict the Simonov and Degtyaryev anti-tank rifles as incredibly effective. In movies that cover the end of the war, not necessarily even Soviet ones, German Panzerfausts are credited with similar effectiveness. One shot = one tank, even from incredible distances. Of course, people do not come to the cinema to wonder why such a wonder weapon did not prevent Soviet T-34s and American Sherman tanks from appearing in the streets of German cities. How effective were German rocket propelled anti-tank grenades really?

It is commonly accepted that the first ancestor of the Panzerfaust was born in 1942, when German tanks still confidently drove along dusty roads, drawing blue arrows on the map towards Stalingrad and the Caucasus. Reports with numbers of Soviet tanks destroyed thrilled the General Staff with news of complete victory of German weapons, and yet there was still a cause for caution. Even after losing a significant portion of its territory, the USSR still produced countless hordes of tanks. Across the Atlantic, American production began to spin up. The tanks that the Americans made at first were not very good, but they were numerous. In 1942 the USA produced over 26,000 tanks of all types, more than the USSR.

Of course, artillery was the main anti-tank weapon. Mines and aircraft came after. However, practice showed that the infantry needs a more effective weapon against tanks, preferably numerous, cheap, and simple to use. Initial requirements were simple: a range of 30 meters and higher effectiveness than the Gew.Pz.Gr.61 rifle grenade…"


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Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2020 6:09 a.m. PST

That is really interesting. Like most total amateurs I assumed that the Panzerfaust in the hands of a 14 year old Hitlerjugend was the terror of any tanker.

Well not for the Russians anyway, not for T34 and KVs, even in urban fighting. Leaves me wondering how effective they proved against Western Allied AFVs, though.

Good find

Legion 414 Mar 2020 9:30 a.m. PST

From everything I've read the Panzerfaust was pretty effective on both the Western and Eastern Fronts. But like the M72 LAW it had a limited effective range. And should be used in an ambush situation in any closed or mixed terrain. E.g. thick woods/jungles, urban, etc., if your position is being overrun or you go on an AT Patrol.

AT Patrol = sneak up on some AFVs, fire your LAWs, throw satchel charges, etc., etc. Run like hell and call in FA to cover your withdrawal. We practiced this at night in West Germany during REFORGER '88. Took out Company of Canadian Leos ! evil grin

In the US ARMY about 1979, we were put in a concrete culvert/foxhole. With an expended LAW. Then an M60 MBT would run over our foxhole. Once it passed we were to pop up and practice "firing" the LAW as the rear of the M60.

Preparing us to fight the masses of USSR/WP waves of armor that may cross the IGB. Making us to not suffer from "Tank Terror" but be confident we could kill enemy AFVs.

Of course along with this tactic, we'd have to use, FA, Mortars, etc. to kill off any Infantry that was in close support of the MBTs.

uglyfatbloke14 Mar 2020 10:28 a.m. PST

x2 Legion 4. I can't say I'm totally convinced by the writers application of the data – it does not tell s anything about how many 'fausts were fired, and of those, how many were hit the target?

Blutarski14 Mar 2020 10:52 a.m. PST

Coox and Naisawald ("Allied Tank Casualties in WW2" US Army Report) estimated that about 13 pct (IIRC) of Allied tank casualties were caused by RPGs over the course of the entire war, but felt that durng 1945 Panzerfausts may have accounted for as many as one-third.

Also, from what I have read, the Soviets became great fans of the Panzerfaust, gladly employing captured examples against their former owners even to the point of issuing their own official "user manual". I also seem to recall that they also tried to manufacture them after capturing a German factory.

There is not doubt, however that the RPG2/B40 was a direct offshoot of the German Panzerfaust series.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2020 12:03 p.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my good friend!. (smile)


jdginaz15 Mar 2020 4:08 p.m. PST

The story of the Soviets capturing a factory and producing more PFs has been shown to be a myth. And why would they need them? They had already captured more than enough.

The RPG1 was based on the PF and Bazooka and was never produced. The RPG2 was a different design.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 8:54 a.m. PST

I imagine the numbers aren't as dismal as presented in the article, nor as good as the marketing people claim. No doubt the true number is somewhere in between.

Proper tactics and actions should help reduce the risk a lot.

If there was little concern for Russian tanks, I doubt they would have bothered to weld all those bed frames to their hulls and turrets before entering into various cities.

If children and old men can be effective firing them, imagine how well trained and battle-hardened troops would be at that.

Automatic weapons fire from men and machines should do a lot to mitigate the actions of those using the panzerfausts.

donlowry16 Mar 2020 9:03 a.m. PST

Coox and Naisawald ("Allied Tank Casualties in WW2" US Army Report) estimated that about 13 pct (IIRC) of Allied tank casualties were caused by RPGs over the course of the entire war, but felt that durng 1945 Panzerfausts may have accounted for as many as one-third.

This was (probably) at least partially due to the decline (in numbers) of other anti-tank weapons. Also, newer model PFs had longer ranges late in the war.

Legion 416 Mar 2020 10:51 a.m. PST

In may have been a case of better than nothing for the average Infantryman, at that time.

Proper tactics and actions should help reduce the risk a lot.
Very much so … especially in the right terrain, e.g. urban or thick forests with the AFVs primarily using roads or trails.

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