Military Review

Hand anti-tank grenades from the Second World War

Infantry to fight tanks Hand grenades were widely used - both special anti-tank and fragmentation ones. This practice as well as other means of combating armored vehicles originated during the First World War. At that time, a bunch of grenades and heavy grenades used to destroy wire barriers (such as Novitsky’s Russian grenades) were considered as PTAs. In the early 30s, such grenades were "an important means of defense ... especially with a sudden attack of armored units in a closed area." In the Soviet Manual on Small Arms of 1935 and 1938, there was a special instruction on how to knit hand grenades of the 1914/30 samples and the 1933 model. The grenades were tied with wire or twine of five or three pieces each so that the handle of the central grenade looked in one, and the rest of the grenades in the opposite direction. Grenades such as Mils or F-1 tightly bound in a bag. Ligaments were recommended to be thrown along the undercarriage and under the tracks of the tank. The same bundles, however, equipped with several twine weights, were used to detonate wire fences. The German infantry used a bunch of M-24 grenades - they were knitted in seven pieces, a wooden handle with a fuse was inserted only into the central grenade (World War I experience).

Special anti-tank grenades of the beginning of the Second World War were high-explosive heavy projectiles and were the heirs of the heavy grenades used to destroy obstacles in the First World War. The development and introduction of these grenades contributed to the experience of the battles of the Soviet-Finnish war. At first, they worked out a relatively light grenade, but its penetrative (or rather, breaking) action equal to 10 millimeters was clearly insufficient. In 1940, the RPKA received a percussion RPG-40. This grenade was created by MI. Bubble in GSKB-30 at the plant number 58 them. K.E. Voroshilov (this design bureau, headed by NP Belyakov, became the head of the development of grenades). The RPG-40 had a thin-walled cylindrical body, and was able to penetrate 20-mm armor. An inertial instantaneous fuse with a percussion mechanism and a safety check was placed in the handle. Before the throw, a detonator was inserted into the axial channel of the hull through a hole in the lid (modeled on the RGD-33 - a manual fragmentation grenade). On the body posted instructions for the use of grenades. However, soon the grenade on the "armor-piercing" action ceased to meet the requirements of VET - after an explosion on the surface of armor whose thickness exceeds 20 millimeters, it formed only a dent, without causing dangerous armor splitting from the inside.

In 1941, on the basis of this grenade, Puzyrev created an RPN-41 with an 1400-gram explosive charge and increased armor penetration up to millimeters 25. But the reduced throwing range did not contribute to the widespread use of the RPG-41. High-explosive grenades were recommended to be thrown on the chassis, tracks, on the roof of the engine compartment or under the tank turret. The soldiers high-explosive anti-tank grenades were nicknamed "Tanya". These grenades were also intended to "destroy durable closures." Partisans, he was widely used during sabotage and attacks on convoys.

In July 1941, the Northern Front Military Council gave the task of developing an anti-tank hand grenade for production at Leningrad enterprises. Inventor A.N. Selyankin on the basis of RGD-33 with the participation of MG Dyakonov (her designer) created a high-explosive anti-tank grenade with an explosive charge increased to 1000. This grenade also received the designation RPG-41. In 1941, around Leningrad enterprises produced about 798 thousands of such grenades. High-explosive anti-tank grenades with an increased charge of semi-handicraft and factory production were used in the defense of Sevastopol and Odessa, various versions of anti-tank grenades were created in workshops of partisan detachments.

An English anti-tank grenade "No. 73 AT" having a cylindrical body with a length of 240 mm and a diameter of 80 mm was equipped with an inertial fuse and a safety lever. The throwing range was 10-15 meters with a mass - 1,9 kilogram. The body of the grenade was painted yellow-brown and had a red belt. Grenade rushed solely because of the shelter.

The effectiveness of such grenades with a large mass soon ceased to correspond to the main purpose. Due to the use of the cumulative effect, the situation has changed radically. Studies of the cumulative (from the Latin cumulatio - “concentration”, “accumulation”) effect of “hollow charges” were conducted long before. This was due to the needs of builders and engineering troops. In Russia, these studies began military engineer MM. Boreskov in 1865 year. Abroad, this effect is better known as the “Munro effect”. In the USSR, the study of the practical application of these charges in construction was conducted by M.Ya. Sukharevsky in 20-s. At the beginning of the war there were engineering cumulative charges for the destruction of armor and concrete caps. In 1941, the basis for calculating the cumulative combat units was developed at the Scientific Research Institute-6 (the leading scientific research institute of the People's Commissariat for Ammunition), M.Ya. Vasiliev. In October, 1941, at NII-6, conducted tests of shaped charges. At the beginning of 1942, the first Soviet cumulative artillery shell was developed. Research and development of cumulative combat units were engaged in and abroad. A cumulative warhead carries an explosive charge, in front of which there is a forward-facing spherical or conical recess (funnel). When undermined, the resulting gases are focused into a powerful narrow stream of high temperature. At the same time, pressure is generated up to 10 GPa. Speed ​​up to 15 km / s. The metal lining of the funnel ensures the correct formation of a cumulative jet, which is enhanced by the flow of particles of molten metals. The “penetration” effect of such a charge exceeds the caliber of shells and does not depend on the firing range and the speed of the shells encountering armor. In the USSR, at the beginning of the war, in the Military Engineering Academy and the Ostechbyuro of the NKVD, they developed “armored fire fighting” combat units whose basis was a thermite charge, accelerated by powder gases. But they were unsuccessful so the work was stopped. The works were transferred to the actually cumulative warheads, which, for a long time, we called them “armor-burning”, although their striking effect was provided not only by the temperature of the cumulative jet, but also by pressure and speed. Serious problems during the creation of cumulative combat units were maintaining the accuracy in the manufacture and creation of a sensitive and at the same time safe fuse.

Hand anti-tank grenades from the Second World War

In 1943, the RPG-43 manual cumulative grenade appeared in the USSR’s arsenal with a small gap, and the PWM-1 (L) - in Germany.

The PWM-1 (L) consisted of a wooden handle and a drop-shaped body. The case housed a charge from an alloy of RDX and TNT. In the handle was a detonator, and at the end of the inertial fuse, which worked at different angles of contact. A cloth stabilizer was laid around the handle, which opened up with four spring plates. The stabilizer in the folded position held the cap, for its removal it was necessary to take a special tongue. The stabilizer, opening up after the throw, pulled out a sensitive fuse's pin. There was an eyelet on the head for hanging the grenade. The body was painted in gray-beige. Grenade length - 530 mm (handles - 341 mm), case diameter - 105 mm, armor penetration - 150 mm, with an angle of 60 ° - up to 130 mm. The PWM-1 (L) Ub training grenade differed from the battle one in color (red) and in three rows of holes on the body. In service with the German army, hand-held cumulative grenades, according to Heydte, “were pretty quickly driven out by the Panzerfaust RPG (anti-tank grenade).”

RPG-43 was developed by the designer of KB-20 N.P. Belyakov at the end of 42 - the beginning of 43 of the year. In 16 on April 1943 of the year, this grenade passed the test sites, and on April 22-28 - military. Soon it was adopted. In the summer of 1943, the RPG-43 began to enter the troops.

The grenade body had a conical lid and a flat bottom. Under the cover there was a spring of a fuse and a sting. An inertial igniter, a safety mechanism and a two-belt stabilizer were accommodated in the removable handle. Laid stabilizer covered the cap. Before the throw it was necessary to remove the handle and preload its spring by rotation of the fuse. The handle rejoined, the safety pin pulled out of the ring. After the throw, the safety bar flew off, the stabilizer cap crawled from the handle, pulling the stabilizer off, and the fuse was arched. The stabilizer provided the minimum meeting angle and the correct flight of a grenade — forward head.

The appearance of the German tanks Pz.VI "Tiger", Pz.V "Panther" and the heavy tank fighter "Elephant" in the battles on the Kursk Bulge required an increase in armor penetration of grenades to 120 mm. Designers N.S. Zhitkikh, L.B. Ioffe, M.Z. Polevikov in the Moscow branch of the Research Institute-6 NKBP developed a cumulative RPG-6 grenade. In this grenade, the features of the German PWM-1 (L) were guessed. Military trials were conducted in September 1943, and in late October, it was put into service. The RPG-6 had a drop-shaped body with a charge (two pieces) and an additional detonator. The handle had an inertial fuse, a primer-detonator and a ribbon stabilizer. The fuse drummer blocked the check. Ribbon stabilizer (two short and two long) fit into the handle. To keep them there was a safety bar. Before the throw the safety pin was taken out. After the throw, the safety bar flew off, the stabilizer was pulled out, the striker's check was pulled out - the fuse was raised. Thus, the protection system of this grenade was a three-stage (RPG-43 had a two-stage). In terms of technology, the main feature of the RPG-6 grenades was the absence of threaded and turned parts, the extensive use of knurling and stamping. Due to this, it was possible to establish mass production of grenades before the end of the year. RPG-6 compared to RPG-43, was safer to handle and more technological in production. These grenades rushed on the 15-20 m, the fighter after the throw should have taken refuge.

A total of 1942 1945 20 anti-tank and 882 800 37 anti-personnel hand grenades were produced from 924 to 000 in the USSR (1942 thousand in 9232, 1943 thousand in 8000, 1944 thousand in 2830, 1945 thousand, 820,8 thousand, 70 thousand, 6 thousand, 43 thousand, 50 thousand, 3 thousand, XNUMX thousand, XNUMX thousand, XNUMX thousand, XNUMX thousand, XNUMX thousand, and XNUMX thousand. .). You can see a decrease in the number of hand grenades in the system of anti-tank ammunition of infantry. Hand-held anti-tank grenades were supplied by landings, partisan and sabotage detachments — for example, the PD-MM parachute sack, could hold up to XNUMX grenades. RPG-XNUMX and RPG-XNUMX remained in service at the end of the war, but at the beginning of the XNUMX-ies they were replaced by the RKG-XNUMX with a stabilizing parachute and a three-stage protection system.

The main problem with the use of hand-held anti-tank grenades was the slow actuation of the igniter - a grenade that hit the target, could explode, rebounding or rolling down from armor. In this connection, attempts were made to “attach” a grenade to armor. For example, the British used the so-called “sticky bomb” from 1940, the high-explosive grenade №74 ST. A glass flask (ball) with a diameter of 130 of millimeters was filled with nitroglycerin. The ball was worn with a woolen bag, which was covered with a sticky mass. In the long handle there was a remote fuse with a check (delay 5 sec.). The total length of the grenade - 260 mm, weight - 1,3 kg. From the ball before the throw, a cover made of tin was removed, a check was pulled out. However, the pomegranate was not attached to the vertical and wet armor. The high sensitivity of nitroglycerin made the grenade no. 74 more dangerous for the user, not for the enemy.

The British also created a “soft” grenade: its body was a knitted bag, pulled from the bottom with a braid, and tucked into a metal lid on top. The fuse screwed on the cover. The fuse was covered with a cap. No. 82 was thrown at close distances and it did not “roll down” from a horizontal surface. Because of its characteristic form, it was also called “Gamen” (“ham”). It was believed that to defeat a tank, it was necessary to hit two such “hams” on the roof of the engine compartment or the tower.

The German “sticking” grenade consisted of a body in which a shaped charge was placed and a felt pad on the bottom, a grating fuse and a detonator cap “No. XXUMX”. The primer and fuse were similar to those used in manual fragmentation grenades. The felt pad was impregnated with glue and covered with a cap, which was removed immediately before the throw or putting it on the tank. The length of the grenade is 8 mm, the diameter is 205 mm. This grenade was intended to combat armored vehicles and light tanks.

A more interesting magnetic grenade was "N.N.3" (Heft Hohladung - "manual shaped charge") intended to combat all types of self-propelled guns and tanks. At the bottom of the conical case, in which a shaped charge was placed (a mixture of RDX and TNT), three magnets were attached, which “fixed” the grenade perpendicular to the surface of the armor. Removable iron fittings protected against demagnetization and blocked the magnets before using grenades. Blasting cap "No. 8А1". The standard grating fuse (slowing down 4,5 seconds or 7 seconds) was in the handle. The grenade was painted green. The length of the grenade was - 300 mm, and its bottom diameter was 160 mm. The grenade was usually “planted” on a tank when it passed over a trench. It was also allowed to throw at a distance of up to 15 meters, although its “fixing” after the throw was questionable. The German tank forces themselves in 1944-45 protected their cars from magnetic grenades with a tsimemer coating - the 5-6 millimeter layer weakened the force of attraction of the magnet. The surface was wavy. In addition, the Tsimemer protected tanks from incendiary and “sticky” grenades. Magnetic grenade, in fact, was the development of engineering shaped charges, with which, for example, in 40, the German paratroopers managed to capture the fort of Eben-Enamel. NN 3 was probably not a hand grenade, but a mine. In his notes, Colonel General Guderian "disc anti-tank mines, magnetic mines of cumulative action and cans filled with gasoline" referred to the "passive means" of the PTO.

German tank "Tiger" in "zimeritova" plastering against magnetic mines

Portable magnetic mines and grenades used by the Japanese on the islands of the Pacific region. American tank crews to protect their cars from such weapons they used bags from wooden bars fixed on the stern and sides (these bags in Europe served to protect panzerfausts from grenades).

The infantry of the warring parties used grenades and other types. For example, the British had a high-explosive grenade "No. 75" ("Hawkins Mc1") with a flat body. Its length was 165 mm, and width - 91 mm. A pressure plate was placed on top of the case, under it a pair of chemical fuses-ampoules. When ampoules were destroyed, a flame was formed as a result of a chemical reaction that caused an explosion of the detonator capsule. After that, an additional detonator was triggered, detonating the explosive charge of the charge. The Hawkins tossed under the wheel of an armored vehicle or tank track, and was also used on minefields. Such grenades were placed on sleds that were tied to cords. Thus, a “mobile” mine was obtained, “pulled up” under a moving tank. The flat anti-tank mines, fixed on bamboo poles, were widely and quite successfully used by Japanese infantry-tank destroyers: our tankmen encountered this even in 1939 on Khalkhin Gol.

The source of information:
The magazine "Equipment and weapons" Semen Fedoseev "Infantry against tanks"
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  1. Kars
    Kars April 2 2012 09: 14 New
    The weapon of the brave, especially against the tanks.
  2. Brother Sarych
    Brother Sarych April 2 2012 09: 44 New
    Extremely unconvincing "things" - more likely to kill yourself than to hit the target ...
    But there was nowhere to go, so they used ...
    1. Zynaps
      Zynaps April 3 2012 21: 47 New
      not a device for wimps, yes. but quite convincing.

      RPG-41 (aka "Voroshilov kilogram" in the soldier's jargon) was a universal grenade. for it, an additional fragmentation shirt was produced with rhombic lethal elements, which turned this grenade into a powerful anti-personnel one. such grenades were carried in duffel bags by scouts and infantrymen. it's a joke - almost one and a half kilos of explosives with an excellent high-explosive effect. the elite of the Red Army - sappers of the ShISBr, used the RPG-41 as an assault grenade.

      after the war, fragmentation shirts for these grenades in the form of pipes were used in the national economy. repeatedly met them as plumbing in private homes and at several non-military facilities until the end of the 80s. but this is a digression.
  3. ikrut
    ikrut April 2 2012 11: 23 New
    Interesting note. Previously, I did not assume that there were hand-held cumulative grenades. Yes, and did not know about such a variety of hand-held anti-tank weapons. I bow low to the courage and despair of our soldiers who fought against German tanks with such means.
  4. Georg iv
    Georg iv April 2 2012 12: 17 New
    I saw our grenade with a paratrooper in the form of a sectional view from a collector of weapons with a military past. He told me when they were taught to throw them in the 50s, they said that this was the last chance weapon, a very powerful grenade, it would be possible to avenge its heroic death, and even shelters do not always save them.
    1. Felix200970
      Felix200970 April 8 2012 01: 04 New
      The grenade was called RKG-3. The school drove for a long time to learn how to use it before running in tanks. Because the maximum effect of its use was achieved at 90 degree contact with the armor. The parachute stabilized her. Throwing away because of this was also impossible. According to the norm, there were 1 pc. for 3 fighters. As soon as tanking stopped in the infantry, the RCG disappeared from training. I'm afraid not every infantry captain will react correctly to this abbreviation.
  5. mind1954
    mind1954 April 2 2012 17: 32 New
    Thanks for the interesting article!
  6. AlexMH
    AlexMH April 2 2012 19: 00 New
    Impact fuse grenades are generally a very dangerous and unreliable weapon for throwing. And high-explosive - heavy, you will not throw far, the soldier himself will be beaten up with an explosion.
  7. 9991
    9991 April 3 2012 22: 20 New
    I watched the German film Infantry against tanks. Fritz was afraid of our T-34s to colic.
    1. Grigory_78
      Grigory_78 29 May 2017 13: 20 New
      I heard the following - T-34 high-explosive fragmentation shells were the most effective anti-personnel shells of their caliber - uniform dispersion of fragments, a long range at which the fragments retain destructive force, good density of the fragment cloud - the probability of destruction of manpower at a distance of up to 10 meters from the projectile hit much higher than that of German, English, American shells. Which often gave from one to several large fragments and relatively few small ones, scattered very unevenly. Actually, our current 125-mm tank OFS continue this tradition.
  8. Pessimist
    Pessimist April 5 2012 00: 54 New
    In our army, until recently, a kilogram anti-tank cumulative grenade was in service! With a parachute in the handle! Truly, the weapon of the brave !!!