Post-war use of German 37–50 mm anti-tank guns
In the initial period of World War II, the basis of the Wehrmacht's anti-tank defense was 37-mm guns, capable of effectively hitting armored vehicles with bulletproof armor. However, after the Germans were faced with tanks, which had anti-ballistic armor, the question arose of intensifying the supply of more powerful anti-tank guns.
However, despite certain efforts, by the time of the attack on the USSR, most of the anti-tank artillery in the first line troops was 37 mm caliber. Guns 3,7 cm Pak. 35/36 could successfully penetrate the armor of light Soviet tanks T-26, BT-5 and BT-7. But the light and compact 37-mm guns, nicknamed “door knockers,” had great difficulty countering the T-28 and T-34 medium tanks, and in most cases were powerless against the heavy KV-1. More powerful 50 mm 5 cm Pak guns. 38 performed better, but they also did not have the required efficiency.
Although the 37 and 50 mm German anti-tank towed guns quickly faded from their primary roles and were replaced by more powerful artillery systems in the second half of the war, their use continued until the end of hostilities.
In the post-war period, some states retained German-made 37–50 mm towed guns in service, and they were used in a number of armed conflicts.
37 mm anti-tank guns
Until the second half of the 1930s, it was believed that light anti-tank guns of 25–40 mm caliber were sufficient to reliably destroy enemy armored vehicles. Germany was no exception in this regard.
At the end of the 1920s, specialists from the Rheinmetall-Borsig AG concern created a very advanced 37-mm anti-tank gun by the standards of those years, which was put into mass production under the designation Tak. 29 (German: Tankabwehrkanone 29). This weapon was the best in its class, far ahead of developments in other countries and was exported to about a dozen countries.
Thus, 12 such guns were delivered to the USSR, and another 499 were manufactured under license in the early 1930s. The first specialized Soviet-made anti-tank artillery system was put into service under the name “37 mm anti-tank gun mod. 1930." The famous Soviet “Sorokopyatka” traces its ancestry to the German Tak. 29.
At first, the 37 mm gun was offered to foreign buyers, and it was adopted into service in Germany under the name 3,7 cm Pak. 29 took place in 1932. The Reichswehr received a total of 264 guns of this model.
Gun 3,7 cm Pak. 29 had a 45-caliber barrel with a horizontal wedge bolt, which ensured a rate of fire without aiming correction - up to 20 rounds/min (combat rate of fire - up to 15 rounds/min). The carriage with sliding tubular frames provided a large horizontal aiming angle of 60°, and a maximum barrel elevation angle of 25°.
Due to the fact that the chassis with wooden wheels was designed for horse traction, the 3,7 cm Pak. 29 did not fully satisfy the military's requirements. In 1934, a modernized version appeared, with wheels equipped with pneumatic tires that could be towed by a car, an improved carriage and an improved sight. Taking into account all the changes, the mass of the gun in firing position was 480 kg. Designated 3,7 cm Pak. 35/36 (German: Panzerabwehrkanone 35/36) gun was adopted by the Wehrmacht as the main anti-tank weapon in 1936.
37 mm gun 3,7 cm Pak. 35/36 on museum display
Overall 3,7 cm Pak. 35/36 had characteristics corresponding to the 3,7 cm Pak gun. 29, and thanks to its relatively light weight, the crew of 5 people was able to roll the gun over short distances on their own.
Each 37 mm gun carried 250 rounds of ammunition. The main one was considered to be a shot with an armor-piercing projectile 3,7 cm Pzgr. 36 (120 rounds in ammunition), there were also rounds with 3,7 cm Pzgr coil-type sub-caliber projectiles. 40 (30 shots) and 100 shots with 3,7 cm Sprg fragmentation projectile. 40.
An armor-piercing projectile weighing 0,685 kg left the barrel at a speed of 745 m/s and at a distance of 300 m at an impact angle of 60° could penetrate medium-hard armor up to 30 mm thick. A sub-caliber projectile weighing 0,355 kg with an initial speed of 1 m/s penetrated 020 mm armor under the same conditions.
The fragmentation shell weighed 0,62 kg and contained 44 g of explosive. In addition, for the Pak gun. 35/36, a special over-caliber cumulative ammunition Stiel.Gr.41 weighing 9,15 kg was developed, containing 2,3 kg of explosives and fired with a blank 37 mm cartridge.
The armor penetration of a cumulative mine with a maximum firing range of 300 m was 180 mm, which was enough to destroy any heavy tank of the World War II era. However, the short firing range, low flight speed and baggy loading of the over-caliber mine significantly reduced its combat value.
In the Wehrmacht, each first-line infantry division according to the 1940 states was supposed to have 75 Pak guns. 35/36. By the beginning of World War II, the troops had 11 Rak guns. 250/35. By June 36, 22, this number had risen to a record 1941 units. In total, about 15 Pak guns were produced. 515/16.
But with very good characteristics for the 37-mm caliber, armor penetration Rak. 35/36 was not enough to confidently fight tanks that had anti-ballistic armor, and already in 1942 the number of 37 mm guns in the first line troops decreased sharply. Nevertheless, a complete rejection of Cancer. 35/36 did not happen. In anti-tank divisions of parachute and mountain divisions they remained until 1944, and in fortified areas, occupation units and second-line formations - until the end of the war. About one and a half hundred of these guns were placed in the anti-landing fortifications of the Atlantic Wall.
Due to their compactness and low weight, 37-mm anti-tank guns in a number of cases performed well in street battles at the final stage of hostilities. As of March 1, 1945, the Wehrmacht and SS troops still had 216 37-mm “beaters”, and 670 such guns were stored in warehouses.
Taking into account the fact that the 37-mm cannon Cancer. 35/36 were very widespread in the armed forces of Nazi Germany, they often became trophies of the Red Army.
The first cases of using captured 37 mm guns were noted in July 1941. But regularly Cancer guns. 35/36 began to be used against enemy armored vehicles in the fall of 1941. Soviet troops at the end of 1941 - beginning of 1942, during counterattacks near Tikhvin and Moscow, captured several dozen serviceable Rak guns. 35/36. This made it possible to equip a number of newly formed anti-tank fighter divisions with captured guns.
Combat characteristics Cancer. 35/36 made it possible to successfully combat early modifications of the German medium tanks Pz. Kpfw. III and Pz. Kpfw. IV, as well as with light Pz. Kpfw. II, PzKpfw. 35(t) and PzKpfw. 38(t).
In fact, when firing at armored vehicles in the initial period of hostilities on the Eastern Front, the German 3,7 cm Pak gun. 35/36 was not inferior to the Soviet 45-mm anti-tank gun of the 1937 model. This is explained by the fact that Soviet armor-piercing shells in 1941 did not meet the declared characteristics. Due to a violation of production technology, when colliding with armor plates, 45-mm shells split, which greatly reduced armor penetration.
A number of sources say that the actual armor penetration of a 45-mm projectile in 1941 was only 20-22 mm at 500 m. At the same time, the 45-mm O-240 fragmentation grenade weighing 2,14 kg contained 118 g of TNT and the fragmentation effect more than twice the size of a 37 mm German fragmentation shell.
By the beginning of 1943, it became clear that the German 37-mm cannon could no longer act as an effective anti-tank weapon, and the Red Army began to use it only for training purposes.
Before the start of World War II, German 37-mm anti-tank guns were supplied to Turkey, the Netherlands, Spain and China. During the war, 3,7 cm Pak guns. 35/36 were received by Hungary, Slovakia and Finland. In the first post-war decade, the armed forces of Turkey, Spain and Finland trained their artillerymen and conducted firing exercises with 37 mm guns.
It is worth mentioning the use of German 37 mm guns in China. In 1930, Germany sold several dozen 3,7 cm Pak to the Chinese government. 29 with wooden wheels. After testing these guns, a license agreement was concluded and a package of documentation was received to launch the production of 3,7 cm Pak. 29 at Chinese enterprises. Chinese generals wanted to saturate their army with modern anti-tank weapons, but reality diverged from their plans. In total, the plant in the city of Changsha managed to produce a little more than 200 German-style anti-tank guns. In China, the 37-mm gun of its own production was designated Type 30.
37-mm Type 30 anti-tank gun at the War Museum of the Chinese Revolution
Shortly before the break in military-technical cooperation between Germany and China, the Rheinmetall-Borsig AG concern sold a number of 3,7 cm Pak 35/36 guns, which were also used in combat.
Chinese crew with 37-mm anti-tank gun 3,7 cm Pak 35/36
During the initial period of the war in China, the Imperial Japanese Army used Type 89 medium tanks (maximum armor thickness 17 mm), Type 92 light tanks (maximum armor thickness 6 mm), Type 95 light tanks (maximum armor thickness 12 mm) and Type 94 wedges ( maximum armor thickness 12 mm). The armor protection of all these vehicles could easily be penetrated at actual firing range by a 37mm shell fired from a Type 30 or Pak 35/36.
In addition to fighting Japanese armored vehicles, 37 mm guns were used by warring parties during the civil war. After the flight of part of the troops and the leadership of the Kuomintang to Taiwan, and the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, PLA units began to switch to Soviet weapons. The 37 mm Type 30 and 3,7 cm Pak 35/36 guns remained in Chinese artillery training units until the late 1950s.
50 mm anti-tank gun 5 cm Pak. 38
In the mid-1930s, specialists from the Rheinmetall-Borsig AG concern began creating a new 50-mm anti-tank gun, which was supposed to replace the 3,7 cm Pak 35/36 in the army. However, due to organizational inconsistencies and technical difficulties, the first 5 cm Pak guns. 38 arrived only at the beginning of 1940. At the beginning of June 1941, the troops already had 1 guns. A total of 047 9 mm guns were fired. Their production ended in 568.
50 mm anti-tank gun 5 cm Pak. 38 on museum display
At the time of its appearance, the 50-mm German anti-tank gun had very good characteristics, but was overweight for such a caliber. Its mass in combat position was 830 kg. In the vertical plane, the gun could be aimed in the range from –8 to +27°. The horizontal firing sector is 65°. Rate of fire – up to 14 rds/min. Calculation – 5 people.
Armor-piercing projectile 5 cm Pzgr. 39 weighing 2,05 kg, accelerating in a 60-caliber barrel to a speed of 823 m/s, pierced 500-mm armor at a normal distance of 70 m. 5 cm Pzgr. sub-caliber projectile. 40 weighing 0,9 kg had an initial speed of 1 m/s, and at a distance of up to 180 m could penetrate 200 mm armor. The ammunition also included shots with a 100 cm Sprgr fragmentation grenade. 5 weighing 38 kg, which contained 1,81 g of explosives.
For the first time, our troops captured a significant number of German 50-mm anti-tank guns with a supply of shells near Moscow. Even more of these guns were among the trophies of the Red Army after the defeat of the Germans at Stalingrad.
In 1943, the Red Army had several artillery anti-tank fighter divisions armed with 5 cm Pak. 38. In terms of its ability to combat enemy armored vehicles, the 50-mm German cannon was approximately equivalent to the Soviet 76-mm ZiS-3 gun, which was used in divisional and anti-tank artillery. Trophy 5 cm Pak. 38 provided fire support to the Soviet infantry and covered tank-dangerous areas until the last days of the war.
To tow 50-mm German-made guns, the Red Army used horse-drawn teams, Soviet and German tractors, as well as trucks and armored personnel carriers received under Lend-Lease.
In mid-1945, the artillery units of the Red Army and weapons assembly points had more than 400 5 cm Pak guns suitable for further use. 38. In the post-war period, captured 50-mm guns were used for target practice by a group of Soviet troops stationed in Germany.
As part of the rearmament program for the Bulgarian army in 1943, the Germans supplied 404 50-mm anti-tank guns. In September 1944, Bulgaria declared war on Germany and these guns were used against German forces. Some of the Bulgarian anti-tank artillery was lost in the battle. As of January 1, 1945, there were 362 5 cm Pak guns in stock. 38.
At the final stage of hostilities, units of the Bulgarian People's Army managed to recapture several 50-mm guns and a couple of dozen captured 5 cm Pak guns from the enemy. 38 were transferred by the Soviet side. Thus, by the time of the surrender of the Third Reich, the original strength of Bulgaria's anti-tank artillery was restored.
Anti-tank guns 5 cm Pak. 38 next to 76 mm ZiS-3 divisional guns in the Bulgarian National Military History Museum
After the end of World War II, most of the Bulgarian guns were 5 cm Pak. 38 were placed in fortified areas built along the border with Turkey. German 50-mm guns were in service with the Bulgarian army until the mid-1960s.
The first use of captured 50 mm guns by soldiers of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia was recorded in March 1943, when soldiers of the 1st Proletarian Division captured several 5 cm Paks. 38 and successfully used them in the battles on Neretva.
50 mm Pak anti-tank gun. 38, captured by the Yugoslav army
After the liberation of Yugoslavia from the Nazis, the Yugoslav army received several dozen 50-mm guns, and they were used in combat units until the early 1950s.
In the late 1940s - early 1950s, the Soviet Union donated a large amount of captured German equipment to the PRC. weapons and ammunition.
50 mm anti-tank gun 5 cm Pak. 38 on display at the War Museum of the Chinese Revolution
In addition to riflemen, howitzers and mortars, the Chinese communists were supplied with 50 mm 5 cm Pak anti-tank guns. 38, which subsequently fought in Korea along with the Soviet 45 mm M-42, 57 mm ZiS-2 and 76,2 mm ZiS-3.
Although there is almost no reliable information regarding the post-war use of German-made 50 mm anti-tank guns in other countries, it can be confidently stated that the 5 cm Pak. 38 were actively used in many armed conflicts in the 1950s and 1960s.
So, in the Museum's collection stories The Israel Defense Forces (Bati HaOsef Museum), located in the Neve Tzedek area of Tel Aviv, has a German 50-mm Pak cannon. 38.
Gun 5 cm Pak. 38, on display at the Israel Defense Forces History Museum
During the preparation of this publication, I was not able to find out how this weapon got into the Israeli museum. It can be assumed that the 50 mm German-made anti-tank gun was supplied by Czechoslovakia. It is known that Prague initially sold surplus German-style weapons to the Israelis, and after the Jewish state, having defended its independence, took pro-Western positions, Czechoslovakia began selling captured weapons to Arab countries.
Thus, the 5 cm Pak gun. 38, now in the collection of the Israeli Museum, could have been directly supplied by Czechoslovakia or recaptured during one of the Arab-Israeli wars. I hope that readers of Military Review living in Israel will be able to shed light on this issue.
Although the 50 mm fragmentation grenade contained a relatively small explosive charge and could hit enemy personnel at a distance of up to 5 m from the point of explosion, French troops used German 5 cm Pak cannons. 38 against guerrillas in Southeast Asia.
Most of the 50 mm guns at the disposal of the French armed contingent in Vietnam were used in stationary positions. Located in the vicinity of military bases, captured German cannons fired direct fire while repelling attacks by Viet Minh fighters.
Attempts were also made to deploy 5 cm Pak guns. 38 on railway platforms. However, this was soon abandoned. For arming armored trains that protected railway communications, 20-mm and 40-mm automatic guns, as well as mortars with a caliber of 60, 81 and 120 mm, were better suited.
Initially, in one publication, I intended to review all the German anti-tank artillery that remained in service after the end of World War II. But due to the large amount of information, we will talk about guns of 75–128 mm caliber in the next article.
Продолжение следует ...
- Linnik Sergey
- Post-war use of pistols manufactured and developed in Nazi Germany
Post-war use of submachine guns produced in Nazi Germany
Service and combat use of the German repeating rifle Mauser 98k after the end of World War II
Post-war use of self-loading rifles and machine guns produced in Nazi Germany
Post-war use of German 37 mm automatic anti-aircraft guns
Post-war service of 88–128 mm anti-aircraft guns manufactured in Nazi Germany
Post-war use of captured German mortars
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