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The Allied forces used a large number of grenades designed to deal with enemy armoured vehicles. These weapons came in a variety of different shapes and forms but had similar basic principles.

Great Britain

No 73 AT grenade Mk 1

Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, No.73, also known as the ‘Thermos bomb’[1]

Great Britain used a number of anti armour grenades. The first of the three hand delivered weapons of this type was the Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, No.73. Known as the ‘Thermos bomb’ due to it’s size and shape, this pure blast weapon was found to have little effect on armour, and was mainly used for demolition work.

A more common weapon, especially during the early years of the war, was the Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, No.74 (ST), also known as the ‘Sticky bomb’ due to the coating of gooey adhesive, which was intended to make the bomb stick to the target after landing. Unfortunately, the adhesive made the bomb stick to anything it came into contact with after the shell halves were removed, resulting in the weapon being used as little as possible due to it’s lack of popularity.

No 75 AT Grenade

Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, No.75, also know as the ‘Hawkins Grenade'[2]

A more effective anti tank hand grenade was the Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, No.75, also know as the ‘Hawkins Grenade’. In addition to throwing, the Hawkins could also be laid as a mine, often in clusters, in order to blow the tracks of a tank which had triggered the crush igniter fuse. This would detonate a blasting charge which made up half the 1.02 kg (2.25 lbs) weight of the weapon. Enough examples were captured at Dunkirk for the Germans to use the type in the minefields for the Atlantic Wall as the Panzerabwehrmine 429/1(e).

The main British rifle grenade was the Grenade, Rifle, Anti-tank, No.68, which was fired from a muzzle cup attached to the No.1 Mk III rifle. Weighing 0.79 kg (1.75 lbs), and capable of being fired from the Northover Projector, the No.68 was withdrawn after 1941, due to it’s lack of effectiveness against anything expect very light armour. [3]

United States of America

M7 Grenade Launcher Rounds

M9A1 Rifle Grenades, with M7 Rifle Grenade Launcher (M1 Garand) and M8 Grenade Launcher (M1/M1A1 Carbine)[4]

Equivalent to the No.68, the Antitank Rifle Grenade M9A1 was an American infantry weapon. Fired from the M7 launcher fitted to an M1 Garand or the M8 launcher fitted to an M1 Carbine, the M9A1 was a ring tailed weapon weighing 0.59 kg (1.31 lbs) with a 0.113 kg (0.25 lbs) warhead, fitted with an impact fuse behind a thin steel nose. Although the weapon’s anti tank capability – range 100 m (109 yards) and armour penetration of 101 mm (4 in) - proved to be limited, it was retained in service due to it’s ability for dealing with fortified infantry positions such as pill boxes. [3]

Soviet Union

RPG 1940

RPG 1940[5]

Unlike the other Allies, the Soviets had neglected development of anti tank weapons, forcing them to rapidly develop some kind of infantry anti tank capability in 1940. The first effort was the RPG 1940, a blast weapon which resembled a stick grenade and was gradually withdrawn. The contemporary rifle grenade, the VPGS 1940, featured a long rod which fitted into the rifle barrel, but was no more successful than the RPG 1940.

A more successful weapon was the RPG 1943. Like the Panzerwurfmine (L), this was a hollow charge warhead weapon, but had a flat fronted warhead, and used two strips of fabric as a tail unit, which was ejected from the throwing handle after the armed grenade was thrown. The RPG 1943 was later developed into the RPG 6. This had four fabric tail strips and a revised warhead shape, which allowed the weapon to also be used for anti personnel work due to it’s good fragmentation effect. [3]

References

  1. Imperial War Museum Collection - Item 30020145
  2. Imperial War Museum Collection - Item 30020151
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 War Machine Magazine issue 105
  4. Jeeper
  5. My Very DZ

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