8.8 cm Raketenwerfer 43

The 8,8 cm Raketenwerfer 43 (German: “Puppchen”) was an 88 mm calibre reusable anti-tank rocket launcher developed by the Nazi Germany during World War II.

It was given to infantry to bolster their anti-tank capability. The weapon was fired from a small two-wheeled gun carriage which fired a rocket-propelled, fin-stabilized grenade with a shaped charge warhead. Approximately 3 000 units were completed from 1943 to 1945. It was made in much smaller numbers than either the Panzerschreck, which was based on the American Bazooka, or the Panzerfaust, which was a disposable recoilless rifle firing an anti-tank grenade. This is partly because it was realized that a simple hollow tube with an ignition device was all that was needed to launch the 88 mm rocket, rather than an elaborate miniature artillery piece with carriage and breech.

Puppchen: In 1944 the Anhaltisch/Westfalische Sprengstoff AG of Reindorf (also known as WASAG), submitted a design for the German Army requirement for a light anti-tank gun. This particular design, by Dr. Erich Von Holt, was original in its approach. The idea was to use a “Raketen Panzerbuchse 54”, better known as an “Ofenruhr” or “Stove Pipe”. Similar to the American 2.36 inch Bazooka. The tube, unlike a pipe, had a simple sliding breach block, which, when closed, sealed the rear of the weapon. This gave the specially prepared 88mm hollow charged rocket a greater velocity and range than the standard Panzerbuchse 54, which had a velocity of 110 meters/second and a maximum range of about 150 meters. The Raketenwerfer 43 “Puppchen” (doll), had a considerably better performance with an improved muzzle velocity of 180 meters/second and an effective range of 700 meters. The ring stabilized 88mm rocket projectile was competent to perform admirably alongside its conventional cousin in penetrating armor plate up to 160mm thick with the advantage of a single round only weighing 2.60 kg. About 1,000 “Puppchens” were believed to have been manufactured. The accuracy and the high performance of the weapon were quickly learned by the OKH Oberkommando des Heer, (Army High Command) on July 1st, 1944 stating that “The special badge awarded for single-handed destruction of an enemy was not applicable when a Puppchen was used in its destruction”. So good was this weapon. The advantage of the Puppchen, with the breach loading arrangement, presented several disadvantages over conventional light anti-tank weapons. A relatively high recoil required the weapon to be mounted on a wheeled box section carriage which increased its weight considerably. However, as a mobile weapon it proved itself to be relatively easy to maneuver and bring into action quickly. The Puppchen could be fired with or with the wheels being mounted. On the Russian Front it was often mounted on skis. They were very popular with the German paras, as they were lighter weight and easier to maneuver than the Pak38’s etc they were otherwise issued with. With a rat of fire of 10 rounds a minute and the free-floating nature of the barrel aiming, them to aim and bring it to bear upon a target was lightning quick. Easily pulled by two men, and its small compact size meant it was ideally suited to the bocage fighting. So, the same AT/AP values as the Panzershreck.

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