The Panzerfaust 3 (PzF 3) is a 60mm single-shot, shoulder-launched disposable anti-tank rocket projector (only the sight and firing components are reusable). It underwent design work from 1978 to 1985 as a short-ranged anti-tank/anti-fortification solution to defeat hard targets such as tanks and bunkers, primarily in an urban environment where close-in fighting is to be expected. German development of such weapons stemmed from its earliest anti-tank rifle in World War 1 to the Panzerfaust series of single-use rocket launchers utilized by German military and civilian forces alike in World War 2 under the Soviet invasion. The Panzerfaust 3 is produced by Dynamit-Nobel of Germany and entered service with German Army forces in 1992. It is also produced under license in Japan by IHI Aerospace.
The Panzerfaust 3 exhibited some early design defects when placed into service. Drawbacks included excessive weight for such a one-man, portable battlefield system which led to the weapon being noted as uncomfortably cumbersome. Additionally, early production batches suffered from a tendency to jam during firing - a critical failing to a weapon system expected to function each and every time. Another drawback lay in the weakness of the original rocket which failed to counter the latest in advanced armor as advertised, leading to a redesign of the product. The redesign initiative also took note of minimizing the inherent "back blast" occurring when firing (a design requisite of any rocket launcher today), making the system somewhat safer to be fired from within the confines of a building. Key changes to improved models was the development of a tandem hollow charge warhead which allowed an initial explosion to trigger Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks used on combat tanks for added protection, clearing the armor surface for the main charge to follow.
The PzF 3 features a 60mm caliber while firing a rocket sporting a 110mm warhead. The rocket is of a hollow charge and weighs some 9lbs. The rocket is capable of defeating armor protection of 28 inches thick and fortified, conrcrete-type structures of 5 feet thickness. All told, the complete system is nearly 34lbs and measures 4 feet in length. Muzzle velocity is roughly 500 feet per second while sighting is through the UP-7V telescopic attachment. Maximum effective range is 1,300 feet (approximately 400 meters) while the minimum use range is 65 feet (20 meters) for safety reasons.
The Panzerfaust series exists across three distinct model variants beginning with the original PzF 3. The PzF 3-IT is the improved version with tandem hollow charge warhead to counter ERA block protection while the PzF 3 "Bunkerfaust" is a special development suitable for light-armored vehicles and fortifications. Other designations for variants include PzF 3-T, PzF 3LW and PzF 3LW-HESH.
Operators of the PzF 3 beyond Germany and Japan include Austria, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, South Korea and Switzerland.