German Racketenpanzerbuchse 43

German Racketenpanzerbuchse 43

German Racketenpanzerbuchse 43

Type Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher
Overall Length 159.25cm
Weight 9.30kg
Capacity 1 rocket
Caliber 88mm
Country of Origin Germany


Similar in appearance and operation to the American M9A1 ‘Bazooka,’ the German Racketenpanzerbuchse ‘Panzershreck’ (Armor Terror) rocket launcher was a shoulder-fired weapon handled by a two-man team. It fired an armor piercing, a high-explosive rocket that weighed slightly over 3.16 kilograms (7 pounds).

The World War II German anti-tank Rocket Launcher Model 43 was one of those weapons that were nearly as threatening to the shooter as it was to the object being fired upon. Resembling the American M9A1 ‘Bazooka’ in appearance and operation, it was larger and heavier (9.3kg, or 20.5lbs) than its American counterpart, and fired a 88mm (3.5in) diameter rocket projectile, as opposed to the M9A1’s weight of over 7.26 kilogram (16 lbs.) and the M9A1’s projectile diameter of 59.944mm (2.36″).

Made of olive drab and brown-painted sheet metal, the RPzB43 was equipped very merely with a front sight, a rear view, and a sling. To operate, the launcher was held on the shooter’s shoulder. The gunner’s assistant slid the rocket into the breech where it was prevented from slipping back by a retaining catch and from sliding forward by a spring-loaded plunger that engaged the front end of the tail unit. An electrical connection was located inside a housing at the left rear of the tube. The firing mechanism located under the machine consisted of a spring-loaded rod and cylinder that contained a magnetized rod and coil—basically a simple hand-powered generator. Two wires attached to this generator connected to the socket on the launcher. When the gunner squeezed the trigger mechanism, the magnetized rod passed through the coil, generating an electric current. This current was transmitted to the primer element of the rocket’s propellant, igniting it.

The German Racketenpanzerbuchse 43 had a maximum range of about 144.28 meters (132 yards) and a muzzle velocity of 126.06 meters/second (346 feet/second). The projectile, of the hollow charge type, had a nose fuse. The motor tube held the propellant, and the tail featured circular fins.

Because of the dramatic and very unpleasant muzzle blast that accompanied firing the RPzB43, it was necessary for the operator to wear a protective mask and goggles. This was alleviated to some extent when the Germans introduced an improved model, the RPzB54, which incorporated a face shield.

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