Antitank rifles are issued to the German Army on a scale of one for each platoon (or equivalent unit). This article discusses in detail the types of antitank rifles in the German Army, how to distinguish between them, their technical and operational features, on how to manage them and also the associated accessories. The usage of these rifles differs straight from the source based on their context of use. For example, it may be mounted on a vehicle on a mobile scenario, fixed on a platform on the side of a road with a gunman or on the top of a building. There are at least two types of antitank rifles in use by the Germans: The Polish antitank rifle (model 35), which has been renamed the Panzerbüchse Pz.B. 38 (antitank rifle) and the Panzerbüchse Pz.B 39, a later model of the Pz.B 38.
b. How to Identify
Both the Pz.B.38 and Pz.B.39 may he identified by:
(1) Folding shoulder stocks with a rubber shock absorber
(2) Bipod mount and carrying handle
(3) Muzzle brake
(4) Single-shot, falling-block action worked by a moving pistol grip, Pz.B.38 and by recoil in the Pz.B.39
Pz.B. is the German abbreviation for Panzerbüchse, which means “anti-tank rifle.” The German tactical symbol for antitank rifle is to the left.
(1) General. The Pz.B.38 and Pz.B.39 are light antitank weapons carried by infantry. They are single-shot rifles fired from a bipod mount. The bullet is an armor-piercing projectile with tracer compound and sometimes with a tear-gas powder in the base. The Pz.B.38 and Pz.B.39 are basically the same and differ only slightly in appearance and component parts. The description of the Pz.B.39 which follows will also serve for the 38.
(2) Table of characteristics.
Principle of operation: Single-shot, falling-block action
Caliber: 7.92 mm (.312 inch)
Ammunition: Caliber .50 case, necked down to take a caliber .312 bullet
Sights: Front Inverted V blade, with hood for shade and protection
Rear Open V notch, non-adjustable, sighted 300 meters (328 yards)
Carrying handle Folding shoulder stocks
Over-all length:With shoulder stock in place: 62 1/4 inches, with shoulder stock folded 50 3/4 inches
Range: Effective 250 to 300 yards
Penetration: At 300 yards, ¾ inch (20 degrees impact) and 1 inch (normal impact) face-hardened plate; at 100 yards, 1 ¼ inch (normal impact) face-hardened plate
Muzzle velocity: 3,540 feet per second
Feed: By hand from two ammunition holders that clip on each side of stock forearm, each box holding 10 rounds of ammunition.
d. How to Operate
(1) Safety.-The safety lever is located on the tang
of the receiver just to the rear of the breechblock. To put the rifle on “safe,” move the safety lever until the letter “S” (sicher = “safe”) is exposed. To unlock, move the safety lever until the letter “F” (Feuer = “fire”) is exposed.
(2) To load and fire. Press the bipod lock and adjust the height of the bipod by turning the adjusting screw located underneath the pivot point of the bipod. Press the stock release button and snap the shoulder stock into place. Move the safety lever to the “fire” position. Push the pistol grip forward and downward, thus depressing the breechblock. Insert one round into the chamber, which is exposed by lowering the breechblock. Close the breechblock by pulling back and up on the pistol grip. The piece is now ready to fire. The rifle is fired from the prone position and should be kept in the “safe” position until ready to fire.
(3) To unload. Move the safety lever to the “fire” position. Being careful to keep the finger out of the trigger guard, open the breech by pushing the pistol grip forward and downward. This will eject the cartridge from the chamber. The rifle is now unloaded.
The ammunition used has a rimless case the approximate size of the U. S. caliber .50case, but the projectile is approximately the size of the U. S. caliber .30 projectile. The German nomenclature 11 for this ammunition is Patr. 318 S.m.K. for the pointed bullet with steel core, and Patr. 318 S.m.K. (H) for the pointed bullet with hardened-steel core. The ammunition for the Pz.B.38 and the Pz.B.39, though of the same caliber as the rifle and machine-gun ammunition, will not function in either rifle or machine gun, as the dimensions of the cartridge case are much larger.
(1) Oiling and cleaning. The rifle should be given the usual care with respect to cleaning and lubricating. Oil should be used sparingly or not at all in hot, sandy, or dusty country.
(2) Stripping. Remove the pistol-grip pivot pin by compressing its spring lock and pushing it out from left to right. Remove the trigger pistol-grip group and for one type of label used to identify ammunition for the antitank rifle breechblock from the receiver by pulling downward on the pistol grip. Disengage the breechblock from the trigger pistol-grip by sliding the breech out along the grooves in its sides. The breechblock can be stripped by pressing on the spring-loaded button and sliding the plate upward. Removing the two pins from the side of the breechblock will release the trigger bar and hammer.
(3) Assembly. Reverse the stripping procedure given in (2), on the opposite page. Be sure that the safety is on “fire” position so that the breechblock can be replaced in its slots in the receiver walls.
The accessories for these guns are a carrying sling and two ammunition holders that clip on the wooden forearm. A small cleaning kit similar to the rifle cleaning kit is carried by the antitank rifleman.