Many of the Western-aligned nations of post-World War 2 Europe relied on the proven American "Bazooka" line of anti-tank rocket launchers to counter the tank threat posed by the region's new enemy - the Soviet Union. However, as Soviet armor protection increased about its many tank designs, the American weapon lost much of its anti-armor battlefield value forcing militaries to experiment with - and eventually adopt - several indigenously designed and developed measures such as was the case with West Germany and the Dynamit Nobel PzF 44 2A1 ("Panzerfaust 2") recoilless rocket launcher. The weapon appeared in the early 1960s and was in service until the 1990s. It was also known by the name of "Lanze Panzerfaust" (for "light armor/tank fist") and had a long-form designation in the West German Army inventory of " Panzerfaust 44mm DM2 Ausfuhrung 1 Lanze".
In some ways, the PzF 44 was a rebirth of the effective "Panzerfaust" line begun during the fighting of World War 2 (1939-1945) which saw the Germans introduce several hand-held and shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons to primarily contend with thick Soviet armor. The modern PzF 44 took on a design shape not unlike the Soviet RPG-7 Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) series and featured an integrated optics fit, pistol grip-style management, and rocket-shaped projectile sticking out of the muzzle end. A vertical foregrip was added ahead of the primary grip handle for additional hand-held support. As with the RPG-7, the PzF 44 was to be fired from the shoulder and the launcher could be reused unlike the competing American M72 LAW which was a disposable, single-shot design.
The PzF 44 held inherently more penetration (up to 370mm armor thickness) at range than the competing designs of the period and could engage moving targets out to 300 meters. It utilized a 3.3lb fin-stabilized piercing projectile of 67mm caliber with a maximum range out to about 400 meters. Muzzle velocity was 690 feet-per-second with sighting accomplished through a telescopic assembly fitted over the launch tube and offset to the left hand side.
Arming was accomplished by use of a propellant stick which was inserted into the front section of the launcher. The rocket projectile was then pressed upon this charge which joined the two components together. The rocket was then fully set into the muzzle until its 44mm body was shrouded within the tube, leaving the 67mm head exposed. The recoilless portion of the PzF 44 was achieved by firing out a mass of iron fillings from the rear of the weapon when the rocket exited the muzzle. This produced a "counter-mass" effect which aided in accuracy and allowed for firing from within the confines of a building. The back-blast was out to seven feet for anyone finding themselves near the rear of the weapon - so some care was still necessary.
Beyond its usefulness as an anti-armor solution, the PzF 44 could also be used to blast holes in concrete walls. The weapon was eventually superseded by the more modern Dynamit Nobel Panzerfaust 3 line seen from 1992 on.
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