For Our Comrades

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

After the bazooka’s first successful demonstration, the new weapon went immediately into production — but not for our American troops:

A week later General Marshall and members of the Soviet and British military delegations witnessed a second demonstration held at Camp Simms in Washington D.C. The Soviets were so impressed that they asked Marshall to supply them with bazookas immediately even though the weapon was still being improved. Marshall issued verbal orders that 5,000 of the rocket launchers, along with necessary quantities of rockets and practice ammunition, be produced for lend-lease purposes within a month. The General Electric plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, learned on 20 May that it had to build the weapons as soon as possible. The company completed the initial batch of bazookas by 24 June and shipped them to the Soviet Union shortly afterwards.

The M1 rocket launcher first saw action with US troops in November, 1942, in North Africa:

Both the rocket and the launcher had to undergo a number of improvements to make the combination a more potent weapon. In late 1943, the Army introduced the M9 version of the bazooka with a more powerful rocket — the M6A3. The Germans, based on their battle experience against Soviet tanks, were already fielding thicker and better-designed armor on new panzer models. To further counter shaped-charge warheads, they also devised additional measures that could be added to old and new tanks alike, including armored skirts that prematurely detonated incoming rockets. As a result, bazooka teams were forced to target less well-protected — and more difficult to hit — areas of enemy armored vehicles, such as tracks, suspension, or the rear engine compartment.

The Germans, who had captured copies of the early model bazooka in Russia, borrowed from Uhl’s and Skinner’s original design to produce their own 8.8-cm. rocket launcher. The German Panzerfaust—with a larger, more powerful warhead—had significantly greater armor penetration. The Americans, in turn, captured copies of the enemy rocket launcher and began designing a larger version of the M9, later designated the M20 Super Bazooka, in late 1944. However, the M20 did not see active service before World War II ended.

Comments

  1. Dan Kurt says:

    The Panzerschreck (lit. “armor fright” or “tank fright”) was the popular name for the Raketenpanzerbüchse (abbreviated to RPzB), an 88 mm calibre reusable anti-tank rocket launcher developed by Nazi Germany in World War II. Another popular nickname was Ofenrohr (“stove pipe”).

    The Panzerfaust [lit. "tank fist"] was a disposable recoilless rifle firing an anti-tank warhead. No rocket was involved. It was called by troops as the St. Gabriel weapon as the soldier firing one would soon be hearing St. Gabriel blowing his horn.

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