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Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck (Weapon 36) [Paperback]

Gordon L. Rottman

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Book Description

20 Aug 2014 Weapon (Book 36)
This lethal man-portable anti-tank rocket launcher enabled Wehrmacht infantry to destroy T-34 and Sherman tanks.

One of World War II's most distinctive weapons, the Panzerfaust was a low-cost, simple, single-shot, throwaway weapon that offered infantrymen the ability to destroy enemy tanks singlehandedly at close ranges. Germany had begun World War II with several inadequate antitank weapons for infantry use, supplemented by improvised and captured weapons and, from 1942, a hand-delivered 3kg antitank shaped charge. As the fortunes of war turned against Germany, what was desperately needed was an antitank weapon that allowed the individual soldier to destroy a tank. Such a weapon needed to be light, low cost and rapidly producible in large numbers, simple to operate and maintain, and capable of killing tanks at short ranges. The weapon that emerged was unlike any previous weapon, and it worked.

The first effort to field such a weapon began with the Faustpatrone 43, a handheld short tube with a propellant charge and an over-caliber, shaped-charge warhead; it was difficult to aim and fire and its range was too short, and it was not well received by the troops. The next effort had a longer tube, a more powerful propellant change, and a larger warhead; this was the first of the Panzerfaust ("armor fist") series of anti-tank weapons. The warhead was propelled by a launcher cartridge. The sights were extremely crude, but more sophisticated sights were unnecessary owing to the short ranges and the fact that tanks were large targets. Panzerfaust models were designated by two- or three-digit numbers indicating their approximate range in meters. The reloadable Panzerfaust 250 was under development at the war's end, as was an anti-personnel high-explosive-fragmentation projectile.

The Panzerfaust was not manned by a dedicated crew but was issued to individuals. Training was extremely simple and given in the form of a lecture and a demonstration, often without even any live fire. German propaganda made much of the Panzerfaust capable of being used by Hitler Youth teenagers, old men of the Volkssturm and even housewives. Over eight million Panzerfäuste of all types were produced, and they became as widely used as hand grenades. They proved to be comparatively effective against tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, as well as fortifications and buildings. Allied troops, notably Soviet forces, made widespread use of captured Panzerfäuste, and they were also supplied to German allies such as Finland, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The Germans provided the Japanese with examples and plans for the Panzerfaust and they went on to develop their own reloadable and much different version called the 45mm Type 5 recoilless anti-tank weapon; it was to be used to defend the Home Islands.

The Panzerfaust had a great deal of influence on post-World War II man-portable anti-tank weapons, notably the Soviet RPG-2 and RPG-7, and West Germany went on to develop much-improved reloadable versions, the Panzerfäuste 2 and 3, the latter of which remains in service. It also led directly to the single-shot throwaway light antitank weapon, or LAW, that emerged in the early 1960s; many are still in use. Featuring specially commissioned full-color artwork and an array of archive photographs, this absorbing study casts new light on one of World War II's most lethally effective weapons - the Panzerfaust.

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About the Author

Gordon L. Rottman entered the US Army in 1967, volunteered for Special Forces and completed training as a weapons specialist. He served in the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam in 196970 and subsequently in airborne infantry, long-range patrol and intelligence assignments until retiring after 26 years. He was a Special Operations Forces scenario writer at the Joint Readiness Training Center for 12 years and is now a freelance writer, living in Texas.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE absolute best book on the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck weapons, bar none! 22 Aug 2014
By danboone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a must have for the scale modeler as well as military historians.

The book is a comprehensive explanation of the history, development and use of Germany's most prevalent anti-tank weapons, the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck. When you finish this book you will know all about these weapons, something that has always been a quasi-mystery to me in the past. This will add a special depth to the high quality photographs that typify Rottman's works.

For the scale modeler, this book is invaluable. The color plates show detailed cross sections of the weapons as well as full color renderings so you will know exactly what color to paint, where to place decals and what the aiming devices look like in detail. The Panzerschreck illustrations were like I have never seen before.

The black and white photographs are high quality and show the weapons being carried, loaded, aimed and fired.

There is a bonus section on precursors to these weapons that has some very good photographs, many of which I had never seen before.

A 4 page reprint of the Panzerfaust 100 issued January 1945 is included and is of high quality and easily readable (in German of course).

I have been studying military history and German weapons all my life; there was always a paucity of information, usually sketchy or incomplete on the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck weapons until now!

The book also explains the influence these weapons had on post war developments including the US M72 LAW and the Soviet RPG 1 and 2.

Johnny Shumate has also included some superb action illustrations that would be worthy of framing. They are so rich in accurate detail that they alone serve as painting guides for scale modelers.

Rottman is a retired Special Forces weapons expert with over 26 years in the military and as such offers a very deep and thorough understanding of these weapons and their deployment.
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