MANUFACTURER(S): Degtyaryov Design Bureau; State Arsenals - Soviet Union
OPERATORS: China; Nazi Germany; Soviet Union
ACTION: Manually-Operated Bolt; Semi-Automatic Breech
Detailing the development and operational history of the Degtyarev PTRD 1941 (PTRD-41) Anti-Tank (AT) / Anti-Material Rifle (AMR).
Entry last updated on 3/30/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Degtyarev PTRD 1941 (or "PTRD-41", shortened from "Protivo Tankovoye Ruzhyo Degtyaryova") was the most available anti-tank, anti-material rifle to the Red Army during World War 2. The heavy 14.5mm cartridge held the capability to penetrate armor plating of enemy vehicles at ranges within 500 yards. The weapon could prove useful in defeating enemy armor along such facings as tank turrets, driver compartments, engine blocks and track systems to render an enemy vehicle immobilized. The single-shot PTRD-41 became the most numerous of the available Soviet anti-tank rifles during the war and, therefore, something of a Red Army standard. It was joined by the heavier and more complex 5-shot PTRD 1941 designed by Simonov.
After the Soviet Union invaded Poland through the joint "September Campaign" with Germany in 1939, the Red Army found itself with a large supply of captured Polish Model 35 anti-tank rifles. These rifles became something of a proven commodity for the Polish Army whom used it to some effectiveness against the invading tanks of the Soviet Army. In June of 1941, the Germans then turned on their Soviet ally as Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union through "Operation Barbarossa". Soviet authorities then called for a new anti-tank rifle to be rushed into production. Engineer Vasily Degtyaryov utilized features of both the Polish Model 35 and the German Panzerbuchse 38 series anti-tank guns to create his "PTRD-41". As its designation suggests, the PTRD 1941 was unveiled to Soviet troops through the midway point of 1941. Compared to her contemporaries around the world at the time, both the PTRD 1941 and the PTRD 1941 became capable armor-defeating rifles.
The PTRD-41 was the most basic of rifle designs - in many ways conventional and utilitarian to the core. Her appearance was characterized by the long, slim cylindrical form making up most of the rifle's design. The weapon measured in at over 2 meters (6+ feet) with the barrel making up 1.35 meters (4.6 feet) of the overall length. The barrel recoiled within the stock itself and, during the end of the firing process, opened the breech and ejected the spent shell cartridge after firing. The weapon operated in a single-shot fashion meaning that the chamber would have to be manually reloaded after a single firing - this handled by the manually-operated bolt lever set to the right side of the receiver. The weapon operated from a semi-automatic breech system and held a penetration range out to 550 yards, able to defeat some 25mm of armor thickness at that range. The 14.5x14mm cartridge could be either steel- or tungsten-cored in nature. The weapon fielded a short shoulder stock which was essentially a tube extension with wooden furniture and a somewhat ergonomic shoulder guard. A pistol grip allowed for a firm dominant hand-hold along the curved trigger unit which sat within its protective trigger ring. Ahead of the receiver lay a carrying handle - positioned either above or below the barrel as needed. Ahead of this installation was a simple tubular folding bipod system to help support the forward end during firing. A basic muzzle brake was fitted over the "business end" of the barrel to help compensate for the violent recoil inherent in such a weapon. A standard operating crew of two was the norm but the weapon could be managed by one. The PTRD-41 weighed in at just over 38lbs and, for its day, recorded a pretty hefty muzzle velocity of over 3,300 feet per second.
The PTRD-41 was put to good use by Soviet anti-tank teams but it generally lacked in penetration when the new generation of German tanks were rolled out to front lines. Along with the Soviet Army, the weapon was also utilized by anti-German partisan parties bent on depleting the ranks of the German Army through whatever means necessary. The PRTD-41 was used in all necessary battlefield manners and engaged both armored and soft-skin vehicles as well as enemy personnel directly. When her inability to stop tanks became common knowledge, PRTD-41 crews were keen to engage these vehicles through their open vision ports in an attempt to find some success with the weapon regardless - this practice did not yield promising results, however, for it required some skill and a lot of luck. Soviet PRTD-41 crews did find other uses for the weapon such as in house-to-house fighting where the weapon could easily pierce the walls of buildings to engage dug-in enemy personnel. Some PTRD-41 gun systems were also used to arm various light vehicles when possible, in effect making them make-shift, fast-moving tank destroyers to an extent. If the PTRD-41 failed at tackling the new generation of German tanks, it could still succeed in damaging softer-skinned vehicles. The weapon proved to have some value with the German Army as well, who ended up reconstituting captured examples, redesignated as 14.5mm Panzerabwehrbuchse 783(r), into their own ranks for at least guard duty up until about 1943. Despite her 1940s origin, the PTRD-41 managed an existence after World War 2, even being recorded in the hands of the North Korean Army and Chinese Army during the upcoming Korean War (1950-1953). The weapon may still reside as an active component in some militaries around the world, even today.
Compared to the PTRS-41 produced by Simonov, the PTRD-41 was a much lighter and a less complicated weapon system, albeit inherently limited by her single-shot capability. The growing thickness of German tank armor lessened the value of systems such as the PTRD-41 but her use was maintained throughout the whole of the Soviet war effort nonetheless.