Bazooka vs Panzer. Battle of the Bulge 1944 by Steven Zaloga

By Steven Zaloga

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Another story is told of a soldier who knocked the turret completely off an enemy tank at 75 yards. The Tiger I heavy tank behind the four men was captured in Tunisia and is fitted with the Nebelkerzen Wurfgerät smoke dispenser on the left side of the turret, but it lacks the S-Mine discharger. Pictured on April 2, 1944 in the Anzio beachhead, this bazooka crew from the 2/30th Infantry (3rd Infantry Division) are still using an earlyproduction M1 launcher without the Ordnance field modifications.

36in bazooka rocket against an improvised screen mimicking Thoma-Schürzen on a derelict PzKpfw IV. Traces of Zimmerit paste can be seen on the far right and on the parts of the turret face. What was not appreciated at the time was that shields actually enhanced the penetration of shaped-charge rockets such as the bazooka. Detonation of the bazooka warhead against a skirt provided more time for the fuze to trigger the warhead, allowing the jet to form more coherently, thus enhancing its penetrative effects.

About 8,500 of these were manufactured in late 1942, and more than 358,400 in 1943. The Wehrmacht encouraged such gallantry with the establishment on March 9, 1942 of the Sonderabzeichen für das Niederkämpfen von Panzerkampfwagen durch Einzelkämpfer (Special Award for Close Attack of Tanks by Individual Fighters), better known as the Panzerknacker award. Many if not most of these awards came in the later years of the war, when German antitank rockets such as the Panzerschreck and Panzerfaust became available.

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