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The Panzerbüchse 39, simply known as the PzB 39, was an anti-tank rifle that was used by Germany during World War II.

Description

The Panzerbüchse fired the 7.92 x 94 mm Panzerbüchse cartridge, and had a rate of fire of ten rounds per minute. The muzzle velocity of the Panzerbüchse was about 1,200 meters per second and the effective range was about 320 meters.[1] The Panzerbüchse 39 was also fitted with a muzzle brake and had a front post and rear notches for iron sights.

The weapon was not semi-automatic and had to be recocked after each shot.[2] To do this, the operator must unlock the pistol grip and push it down, allowing the spent casing to be discarded, then the operator had to push the grip back up again and lock. The total weight of the Panzerbüchse system was approximately 12.1 kilograms which is much lighter than its predecessor, the Panzerbüchse 38.[3] The total length of the system was 1.6 meters. At 100 meters, the PzB 39 could penetrate up to 30 mm in 60 degree sloped armor.

At 300 meters, the PzB 39 could penetrate only 25 mm in 60 degree sloped armor.[4] After 300 meters, the armor penetration became so low that the weapon became useless. Still, not many medium tanks of the World War II era had only 30 mm thick armor by 1942, so the PzB 39 was still fundamentally useless in engaging tanks.

Most of PzBs ammunition contained steel cores and many also included a small capsule of tear gas that was supposed to force the enemy tanker crew out of the vehicle. Unfortunately, for the anti-tank riflemen, the design did not work and the ammunition was switched for a tungsten core. The PzB 39 was prone to jamming if too much dirt collected in the barrel.

Variants

The Panzerbüchse 39 had only one variant during its whole service life, and it was the Granatbüchse 39. The GrB 39 had a shortened barrel and a special firing attachment added so that it could fire rifle grenades. The GrB 39 was also fed modified cartridges that fired wooden bullets to propel the grenades. The sights were even modified for aiming only 150 meters. The firing attachment for the GrB 39 is the same type used in the Karabiner 98k rifle.

History

The Panzerbüchse 39 was developed in 1939 to replace the unsatisfactory PzB 38 anti-tank rifle. The PzB 39 came at a time when tanks at very thin armor and the world's nations were all developing their own anti-tank rifles. At first, the PzB 39 had some success, but as tanks evolved rapidly in the wartime environment, the PzB struggled to catch up until it was all but obsolete. Hundreds were used in the Soviet Union in an attempt to destroy as many tanks as possible. Despite production ending in 1941, PzB 39s were used throughout World War II, much less so in the latter years of World War II though. About 39,000 were made in total.

References

  1. http://www.militaryfactory.com/smallarms/detail.asp?smallarms_id=447
  2. Bishop, Chris. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. Sterling Publishing Company (2002), Page 209
  3. http://world.guns.ru/atr/de/pzb3-pzb39-e.html
  4. http://www.antitank.co.uk/german1.htm


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