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The HHL-3, or Hafthohlladung, sometimes called the "Panzerknacker" (German: "Tank-Buster", "Safe-Cracker"), was an anti-tank grenade, sometimes considered an anti-tank mine, that was used by Germany during World War II.

Description

Unlike most other anti-tank grenades the HHL-3 utilized magnets in order to stick onto enemy tanks and armored vehicles. The Hafthohlladung's 1.5 kilograms of explosives could penetrate up to 140 millimeters of armor or 500 millimeters of concrete.[1][2]

The shape of the grenade was very similar to an upside-down funnel, with three magnets at the opening. The tip of the cone held the safety cap, which covered the igniter.

The HHL-3 was not thrown, but manually attached. Its fuse length was only 4.5 seconds. Because of this, successfully attaching it to tanks was a very hazardous process. To detonate the device, the operator had to first remove the safety cap and then pull the friction igniter. From there, the operator had to get close to the target, attach the explosive, get out of range, and wait for detonation.[3] Alternatively, the user could attach the mine before pulling the igniter.

History

HHL-3 2

A German soldier demonstrating the proper way to attach a Hafthohlladung to a tank.

The HHL-3 first entered service in 1942 with German anti-tank units.[2][4]

The HHL-3 was very effective against enemy tanks, but proved to be highly dangerous to the troops who operated it. The soldier had to expose themselves to the enemy to use the mine correctly, and was put in even more danger due to the short timer of the fuse. In May, 1943, a version with a longer fuse was produced to fix this problem.[2]

Because of the German belief that the Allies possessed magnetic mines in large numbers like the HHL-3, Zimmerit anti-magnet paint was created. This protective system was commonly used on German tanks like the Tiger and Panther.

In 1944, HHL-3 production ceased in favor of the safer Panzerfaust. In total, about 555,000 HHL-3s were made.[2][5]

Weapon hafthohlladung6

An HHL-3 (left) and an HHL-3.5 (right).

Variants

  • HHL-3: The original Hafthohlladung with 1.5 kilograms of explosives and a 4.5 second fuse. This version was funnel-like in shape
  • HHL-3.5: Technically the same designation as the original. This bell-shaped version was introduced in May of 1943. It was 3.5 kilograms in weight, and featured a lengthened 7.5 second fuse time for safety.[2]

References

  1. http://www.lonesentry.com/manuals/german-grenades/hafthohlladung.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 http://ww2db.com/weapon.php?q=333
  3. http://www.lexpev.nl/grenades/europe/germany/hafthohlladung33kilo.html
  4. http://www.lssah.com/LAH_WEAPONS.html
  5. http://www.inert-ord.net/ger03a/gerat/index.html


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