MANUFACTURER(S): State Factories - Soviet Union
OPERATORS: Albania; Bulgaria; Czechoslovakia; East Germany; Hungary; Poland; Romania; Soviet Union
ACTION: Contact Explosive; Thrown
CALIBER(S)*: Not Applicable
Detailing the development and operational history of the RPG-40 Anti-Tank Stick Grenade.
Entry last updated on 9/10/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
RPG-40 (ruchnaya protivotankovaya granata, translating to "hand-held tank grenade") was a standard anti-tank hand grenade utilized by the Soviet Union Red Army during the early years of World War 2. As its designation suggests, the RPG-40 entered service with the Red Army in 1940. It would be ultimately used by Soviet-allied nations as well and see extensive actions throughout World War 2. Early on in the conflict, the RPG-40 proved its worth against the first generations of German light tanks (namely the Panzer I and Panzer II series) and even against the Panzer III medium tank. However, with the arrival of the better-armored Panzer IV medium tank - and this being followed into service by the formidable Panzer V "Panther" series - the RPG-40 was somewhat outclassed for the anti-tank role in part due to its simple High-Explosive (HE) warhead. The RPG-40 was, therefore, replaced in Red Army service by the improved RPG-43 series of 1943 which sported a shaped charge HEAT (High-Explosive, Anti-Tank) warhead and proved much more effective against thicker armor sets.
Design of the RPG-40 was decidedly Soviet in nature - highly simplistic and easy to produce. It consisted of nothing more than a canister warhead mounted onto a cylindrical carrying handle. Weight was roughly 2.68lbs and length from top to bottom was 7.86 inches. The canister portion of the grenade housed 1.35lbs of TNT (TriNiTrotoluene). The explosive nature of the RPG-40 was actuated by contact, which meant that the Soviet soldier need only throw the RPG-40 onto or against his intended target. However, this also meant that the soldier was required to expose himself to the battlefield environment and, with the RPG-40 weighing more than a conventional lobbed hand grenade, this also meant that the soldier would have to be in relatively close proximity to the enemy vehicle. The 760 grams of TNT in the warhead could penetrate up to 20mm of armor protection.
The RPG-40 was used beyond the Red Army by army forces of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, post-war East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania.