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Panzerbuchse 38 (PzB 38) Anti-Tank Rifle (1938)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/24/2014

The Panzerbusche 38 series was based on the World War 1-era Mauser T-Gewehr anti-tank gun.

The Panzerbusche 38 (PzB 38) was an early-war anti-tank rifle design attempt by Gustloff Werke for use by the German Army. B. Brauer based this design on the World War 1-era Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr which featured an artillery-like breech system. Like the T-Gewehr, the PzB 38 operated from a manually-actuated bolt-action system and fired only single armored piercing rounds (requiring manual reload after each firing). Production was handled by Rheinmetall-Borsig and production counts state that some 1,400 to 1,600 examples were delivered to the German Army with 60 available at the time of the German invasion of Poland in September of 1939. Despite its availability, the type was never installed as the standard German anti-tank rifle in the German Army. Instead, the type was simplified for mass production in the form of the Panzerbusche 39 (PzB 39) anti-tank rifle series to which some 25,300 examples of the type were delivered - 568 of these for the German invasion of Poland.

In service, the PzB 38 showed some promise but her complicated design structure and manufacturing process ensured that there would be problems in the field and production would never keep up with demand. As such, a simplified, streamlined and lighter version was designed as the PzB 39 to help reduced costs and jamming. By this time, however, the Allies had begun fielding medium- and heavy-class tanks in number and the improved armor protection limited the battlefield usefulness of the PzB 38 and PzB 39 - limited to tackling just light armored vehicles and light-class tanks.

The PzB 38 was only used throughout the early war years and abandoned thereafter, directly replaced in production by the newer PzB 39 series.

The PzB 38 fired the proven 7.92mm armor-piercing cartridge. She measured in at 63.5 inches with her stock wholly extended and her barrel alone was 42.7 inches in length. The folding stock and bipod attachments allowed for some portability during transport but she remained a heavy weapon system, weighing in at 35.7lbs. Muzzle velocity was 3,970 feet per second and armor penetration against a 90-degree surface was good out to 328 yards against 25mm thickness.

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Specifications for the
Panzerbuchse 38 (PzB 38)
Anti-Tank Rifle

Country of Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer: Gustloff Werke; Rheinmetall-Borsig - Nazi Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1938

Overall Length: 1615 mm (63.58 in)
Barrel Length: 1,085.00 mm (42.72 in)
Weight (Empty): 35.71 lb (16.20 kg)

Caliber*: 7.92mm
Action: Single-Shot; Bolt-Action; Manually-Actuated
Feed: Single-Shot
Muzzle Velocity: 3,970 ft/sec (1,210 m/sec)
Rate-of-Fire: 10 rounds per minute
Range: 1,640 ft (500 m; 547 yds)
Sights: Front Post; Rear Notch

* Listed caliber(s) for firearms may be model dependent if more than one model type/chambering was produced. Always consult official manufacturer's information or a licensed dealer.

Panzerbusche 38 (PzB 38) - Base Series Designation.

Panzerbusche 39 (PzB 39) - Lightened, streamlined improved version replacing the PzB 38 series.

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