Military Review

Mauser Tankgewehr M1918 anti-tank rifle. First of its kind


PTR T-Gewehr early release with bipod from MG 08/15, the shutter is open. Photo

In September 1916, Great Britain first applied to the battlefield. Tanks, and soon this technique became a regular participant in the battles. The German army immediately began to look for ways to deal with tanks, including create anti-tank weapons suitable for use by infantry. The most notable result of such searches was the appearance of the Tankgewehr M1918 anti-tank rifle from Mauser.

Problems and solutions

By 1916, the German army was already armed with an armor-piercing rifle cartridge of 7,92x57 mm with a Spitzgeschoss mit Kern (SmK) type bullet. The parameters of such ammunition were sufficient to defeat the early British tanks, and regular army rifles turned into anti-tank rifles. In addition, the SmK bullet was quite effective in anti-aircraft fire.

However, after a few months more advanced tanks appeared with enhanced armor. The survivability of aircraft also grew steadily. The SmK bullet lost its effectiveness and required replacement. The army needed new means to combat armored vehicles and aviation.

In October 1917, the Gewehr-Prüfungskommission (GPK) commission launched a program for the development of a new rifle complex. To deal with tanks and aircraft, it was necessary to create a heavy machine gun and a cartridge for it. Subsequently such weapon called MG 18 Tank und Flieger.

Rifle with a new bipod. Wikimedia Commons Photos

However, the development of the rifle complex could take a lot of time, and new weapons were required as soon as possible. In this regard, there was a proposal to create a special anti-tank rifle of the simplest design possible, which could be put into production as soon as possible. Despite obvious limitations, even such a temporary solution allowed us to obtain positive results.

In November 1917, Mauser received an order to create a promising PTR. To accelerate work in the conditions of a lack of resources, the project was given a high priority - the same as the production of submarines. Thanks to this, in January 1918 the first prototype was manufactured, and in May they launched mass production.

The new model was adopted as the Mauser Tankgewehr M1918. Also abbreviated as T-Gewehr.

New cartridge

As the basis of the program, a new cartridge with high penetration characteristics was considered. In the early stages of its project, the Mauser studied several similar structures with a bullet of 13 to 15 mm caliber and various characteristics.

Britain is studying trophies: a .303 British rifle cartridge (left) compared to the German 13.2 mm TuF. Wikimedia Commons Photos

The solution was found thanks to the Polte cartridge plant from Magdeburg. He has already created an experimental cartridge with an armor-piercing bullet of 13,2 mm caliber and a 92-mm sleeve with a partially protruding flange. The finished cartridge was adopted under the designation 13.2 mm Tank und Flieger (TuF).

The cartridge was equipped with a 13,2 mm bullet with a hardened steel core. It was possible to obtain an initial speed of 780 m / s at an energy of 15,9 kJ. At a distance of 100 m this allowed to penetrate 20 mm of homogeneous armor (angle 0 °); 300 m penetration decreased to 15 mm.

Scale rifle

To speed up the development, they decided to make the new T-Gewehr based on the design of the serial Gewehr 98 rifle, supplemented by some elements from the Gewehr 88. This allowed us to do without a long and complicated search for technical solutions to obtain the desired result. However, the original design still had to be scaled for a new cartridge, refined taking into account different energy and improved ergonomics.

T-Gewehr was a single-shot large-caliber rifle with a sliding bolt. The barrel with a reinforced receiver and the simplest trigger was fixed on a wooden bed. The store was absent; it was proposed to supply cartridges through a window for ejecting cartridges.

Mauser Tankgewehr M1918 anti-tank rifle. First of its kind
German PTR and British SMLE rifle. Photo

Experienced rifles and the first 300 serial received a rifled barrel with a length of 861 mm (65 klb) with relatively thick walls. Later, thinner trunks with a length of 960 mm (73 klb) were produced. They allowed to reduce the total mass of the rifle, as well as slightly improve combat qualities.

PTR received a shutter made on the basis of the decisions of the Gew.88 and Gew.98 projects. Its main part was distinguished by its large size and corresponding mass. Locking was carried out by two pairs of combat stops in the front and rear parts of the bolt. As before, in the back there was a fuse flag that blocked the movement of the drummer. In the event of a breakthrough of gases from the liner, three holes were provided in the bolt — through them, gases from the projectile channel were discharged to the outside.

The first 300 rifles retained the full-time sight from Gew.98, marked up to 2000 m. Next, a new open sight was used with markings from 100 to 500 m. Effective shooting at tanks with 500 meters or more was excluded. Moreover, most modern enemy armored vehicles could be hit with only 300 m.

A small part of the rifles received a solid wooden box. Most were equipped with glued stocks with attached bottom of the butt. The reinforced box had a neck too thick, which is why a pistol grip appeared under it.

Calculation of Tankgewehr on a position. Photo

The PTR of the first issues was equipped with a biped bipod from the MG 08/15 machine gun. It was not too comfortable and later gave way to a new one, designed specifically for T-Gewehr. The standard mount for the bipod on the bed made it possible to put the rifle on all installations compatible with a light machine gun. The troops often improvised and put the PTR at other bases, including trophy.

Depending on the barrel, the M1918 PTR had a length of not more than 1680 mm. Late rifles with a long barrel without a cartridge and a bipod weighed 15,7 kg.

Rifles in the service

Already in the early summer of 1918, the first serial PTR of the new model went to units on the Western Front, where the Entente actively used tanks. Serial production was launched at the Neckar factory in Obendorf. Quite quickly, the enterprise reached the highest production rates. 300 PTRs were produced daily. Until the end of the war produced approx. 16 thousand of such products.

The weapons were transferred to infantry regiments, where special rifle divisions were formed. Each regiment was supposed to only 2-3 PTR, however, the proposed tactics of use made it possible to realize the potential of weapons even with a small number.

Anti-tank rifle on the machine gun mount of the captured Mark IV tank. Photo

The calculation of the rifle consisted of two people - the shooter and assistant. Due to the specifics of the combat work, the PTRs were trusted by the most brave fighters who were able to let the tank 250-300 m away and shoot it in cold blood. Wearable ammunition included 132 rounds of 13.2 mm TuF. The arrow relied on a bag of 20 rounds, the rest carried the second number.

The main tactic of using T-Gewehr was to focus on tank hazardous areas. The shooters were to fire on approaching tanks, trying to damage vital units or injure the crew. In this they were helped by fighters with regular SmK rifles and bullets.

13,2 mm bullets could penetrate the tank’s armor and cause damage to units or people. Cracking of the armor and the destruction of rivets were also observed, giving a stream of fragments without direct penetration. The simultaneous use of anti-tank rifles and rifles increased the chances of incapacitating the tank.

It should be noted that the PTR from the Mauser did not differ in convenience and ease of operation, which affected the combat use. The rifle had no means of reducing recoil. To avoid injuries, the shooters had to change after several shots. However, in this case, there were headaches, temporary hearing loss and even dislocations. It was Tankgewehr that caused the jokes about weapons, from which you can shoot only twice - according to the number of healthy shoulders.

Canadian soldiers are studying German PTR on a wheeled machine. Photos Archives Canada

In general, the Mauser Tankgewehr M1918 anti-tank rifle has established itself as a fairly effective, but difficult to use weapon. It significantly strengthened the defense of the German troops and caused damage to the enemy. The exact losses of the Entente from PTR fire are unknown. However, they were sufficient to stimulate the development of armored vehicles and crew protection equipment.

After the war

The period of active use of P-T-Gewehr PTR lasted only a few months - until the ceasefire. During this time, part of the issued rifles was lost or decommissioned, but the army had at its disposal significant stockpiles of weapons. Soon, the Treaty of Versailles determined their future fate.

Under the terms of the peace treaty, Germany was prohibited from arming anti-tank rifles. The accumulated stocks of M1918 products were seized as reparations and shared between several countries. Part of the rifles soon hit the secondary market. So, Belgium received several thousand PTRs, and then sold a significant part of them to China.

German PTRs dispersed to many countries and underwent careful study. Attempts were made to copy and refine the existing design - with different results and successes. Their main result was an understanding of the fundamental possibility of creating a relatively light anti-tank system for infantry. Soon, this concept was developed, as a result of which new variants of anti-tank rifles appeared.

It is worth recalling that the Mauser Tankgewehr PTR was developed as a temporary measure in anticipation of a heavy machine gun. The latter was able to create and even released an extremely small series, but it was the "temporary" rifle that was widely used. Moreover, it became the first model of a new class and led to the emergence of a mass of new weapons of a similar purpose.
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  1. bionik
    bionik April 18 2020 07: 20 New
    A group of German attack aircraft.
    1. Pashhenko Nikolay
      Pashhenko Nikolay April 18 2020 07: 46 New
      The smallest gave the biggest gun))
      1. swnvaleria
        swnvaleria April 18 2020 11: 52 New
        he probably shot at planes, flattened him with recoil
    KVU-NSVD April 18 2020 10: 07 New
    With such a caliber, the simplest design, without a muzzle compensator ... recourse oh and the shoulder probably hurt from the wild recoil ... the bipods were hardly much saved ..
    1. Peter is not the first
      Peter is not the first April 18 2020 10: 45 New
      I think that in this cuirass, which is pictured above, the recoil of a powerful cartridge was distributed evenly over the whole body and it was possible to withstand more than "one shot on a healthy shoulder." But here be him ...
      1. KVU-NSVD
        KVU-NSVD April 18 2020 10: 51 New
        The attack aircraft fled in cuirasses and that wasn’t all the essence of time, but “to work,” the rest of the army of the acre of cloth “overcoat” wore nothing. It is unlikely that the anti-tankers had a full-time cuirass, they do not need to be ambushed, and the poor fellow would have fished to drag it in addition to the PTR and ammunition, not counting the rest of the equipment.
  3. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I April 18 2020 12: 17 New
    The Germans managed to save some part of the 13,2 mm PTR ... to hide. In the 30s, these PTRs were used in training centers for training “anti-tankers” ... Yes, and in the USSR in the 41st some time they produced 12,7-mm Sholokhov PTR, created on the basis of the German 13,2-mm PTR .. .
    1. Mister X
      Mister X April 18 2020 18: 04 New
      Quote: Nikolaevich I
      And in the USSR in the 41st some time they produced 12,7-mm Sholokhov PTR

      The Soviet version was equipped with a TDK and a shock absorber on the butt.
      Specialists from Tula finalized the German design.
  4. akinfeeffr
    akinfeeffr April 18 2020 16: 50 New
    It looks harmonious, did not know anything about this gun, thanks!
  5. awdrgy
    awdrgy April 18 2020 19: 36 New
    Canadians take off smartphones like)
    1. Aag
      Aag April 20 2020 11: 17 New
      Did they publish an article for me twice? Thanks, I understood the first time.)))
      Thanks for the article. hi
      1. awdrgy
        awdrgy April 20 2020 15: 33 New
        Current, I did not understand anything))
        1. Aag
          Aag April 20 2020 16: 25 New
          I have the text of the article two times in succession (with photo) on the smartphone crawls out.
          1. awdrgy
            awdrgy April 20 2020 16: 27 New
            And I have one. Sometimes it’s a glitch.
            1. Aag
              Aag April 20 2020 17: 07 New
              Question to the author of the article. Method for making trunks for a new caliber? Turning, drilling, forging, broaching, (well, apparently, not casting))))).
              No, really, I want to understand (the beginning of the last century, the country a producer is an outcast in the world): equipment, production capacities, resources from where? It is clear that the scale is not Linkor’s, but, as they say, a chicken is biting.
              It sounds dissonant, but the impression is that for the Russian Federation, in the current conditions, this is very relevant. (When shipyard workers go to replace their tools, consumables, here, the site skipped).
              1. Aag
                Aag April 20 2020 17: 14 New
                Sorry, pent ...
                The company (Irkutsk), in which I work, buys cutting discs for angle grinders, made in China, (Bosch) in Moscow, sells to Zvezda! Zashib, but the Russian Railways are loaded!
                If something is not clear, please correct ... hi
              2. awdrgy
                awdrgy April 20 2020 17: 54 New
                Of course, I’m not an author, but the question is interesting — apparently they removed it, removed the stress, carried out a heat treatment, then they drilled. Deep drilling was already (although probably more primitive than now)
                1. Aag
                  Aag April 20 2020 18: 38 New
                  Of course, nobody will disclose the subtleties of the process. The question, apparently common, to the entire community of the VO. Once we often speak about weapons and armaments, it would be nice to touch on the topic of technologies, methods and methods for producing the subjects of our discussion, interest, and to some extent adoration ... We must pay tribute to some authors of articles, they are trying to do it. But, for the most part, they are limited to phrases such as "there were no opportunities", "production potential did not allow", etc.
                  I realize that it was only my desire, but, along with this, I think that part of the audience will support me in this regard.
                  1. awdrgy
                    awdrgy April 20 2020 19: 11 New
                    It would be interesting, but it’s up to the authors, there was an article that, at the moment, it’s not going through the best of times (income has declined)
                    1. Aag
                      Aag April 20 2020 19: 13 New
                      Again damned capitalism, with an insatiable thirst for profit? Well, or raising funds for a living ...
  6. Sniper Amateur
    Sniper Amateur April 21 2020 21: 57 New
    Until the end of the war produced approx. 16 thousand of such products.
    The weapons were transferred to infantry regiments, where special rifle divisions were formed. Each regiment was supposed to only 2-3 PTR

    "I do not believe!" (with)
    Well then, how long was it in the West in the 1918th German regiments ?? !!