Panzerfaust & Panzerschreck



Panzerfausts in general:

German company called Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft Metallwarenfabrik (HASAG) had started development of this new weapon, which was simply put recoilless rifle firing projectile with HEAT-warhead, already in summer of 1942. German military had used HEAT-warheads in several weapons already earlier and recoilless rifles had been tested in many countries in small numbers already before World War 2, but Faustpatrone developed by HASAG was the first antitank weapon two combine the two successfully and see mass-production. The weapon was first known as Faustpatrone ("fist-cartridge"), later as Faustpatrone klein 30m ("fist-cartridge small 30m") and finally as Panzerfaust klein ("armour-fist small"). Field testing stage was achieved in July of 1943 and the weapon entered to large-scale use with German Armed Forces in August of 1943. The Faustpatrone klein was also the first disposable recoilless rifle ever, since while in theory its tube could be reloaded, it was not a standard procedure.

PICTURE: The basic structure and principle of panzerfaust. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (27 KB).

Basic principle of the weapon was quite simple: Ammunition set in end of the tube was fired off from tube by small explosive charge of black powder acting as propellant. Before use the weapon had to be made ready for use by adding primer and fuse to projectile. Explosion gasses of the propellant charge vented out from other end of the tube making the weapon (somewhat) recoilless. The actual triggering mechanism was quite simple and spring-loaded. The weapon was usually fired by pointing it from under shooters armpit or from top of the shoulder, but demanded caution as the backblast and flame coming from rear end of the tube was lethal up to 2 - 3 meter distance. The danger-area behind the weapon (area clear from any obstacles during firing) was 10 metres and firing panzerfaust from the inside of a building was dangerous. Once the projectile left the tube its previously folded up stabilising fins opened up and stabilised the projectile. First Faustpatrone klein was delivered without sights of any kind, but soon simple sight was added to the design. Basically the sight was just upwards pointing metal rail with one or more holes for different ranges. While aiming the shooter simply lined the suitable hole in metal rail with upper surface of warhead to aim. The explosive used in warheads was about half-and-half (46.6% and 53.4%) combination of TNT (trinitrotoluene) and RDX (tri-hexogen).

PICTURE: Projectile of Panzerfaust 30 (gross). Below it are primer and propellant charge. Notice stabiliser wings, which have opened up. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (108 KB).

Faustpatrone klein was success among German soldiers, even if its range was limited to about 30 meters it gave much better change for ordinary German soldier to successfully fight enemy tank then all earlier one-man antitank weapons in whole German inventory. However, the weapon also had some not so good qualities: Shape of the projectile proved problematic when the weapon was used against armoured vehicles, which had sloped armour: If the projectile hit the armour plane in too small angle it often ricocheted without doing any damage. Another problem was the weapons range, which was only 30 meters or so. Even with these difficulties Panzerfaust klein 30m was light and handy enough to remain in production and use of German Armed Forces until end of World War 2.

PICTURE: Finnish soldier photographed with panssarinyrkki F2 (panzerfaust 30) in Ihantala in June of 1944. This was the more common of the two panzerfaust models used by Finnish Army. The soldier has summer tunic M/36 and Hungarian steel helmet m/38. Photographed by Military official Hedenström. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 155350). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (103 KB).

The improved version called first Faustpatrone 30m and later referred as Panzerfaust 30 and Panzerfaust 30 (gross) was introduced to German use in September of 1944. This new version had more powerful and better shape of projectile, but as it was much larger and it also demanded larger launching tube, which made the weapon notably heavier. This second version was equally effective, but the effective range it had was not any longer than the earlier panzerfaust klein. After Panzerfaust 30 had been introduced the focus in development of panzerfausts was set in improving their range by increasing the propellant charge. This development work lead to introduction of Panzerfaust 60, which replaced Panzerfaust 30 in production in September of 1944. New Panzerfaust 60 soon became the most typical weapon of its type in German use and remained so for rest of the war. Besides larger propellant charge another major improvement introduced with Panzerfaust 60 was new arming/trigger system and sight attached to it. The last production version of panzerfaust was Panzerfaust 100 introduced in January of 1945, it saw battle use only in small numbers before collapse of Germany. The Germans manufactured some 7.4 million panzerfaust during World War 2. While there were several panzerfaust manufacturers HASAG, who had originally developed panzerfaust, was also its main manufacturer. Later on it got known that HASAG had used concentration camp inmates as slave-labour in large-scale for manufacturing of panzerfaust.

During World War 2 Germany delivered panzerfaust also to Italian Social Republic (puppet-state they propped up with Italian Fascists in northern Italy) and Hungarian Government of National Unity. In addition captured panzerfausts were apparently rather commonly used by Soviet Red Army and Polish People's Army particularly in year 1945. Various panzerfaust versions also saw more use with Western Allies, but apparently in more limited scale in less systematic manner. The design used in panzerfaust lineage effected to development of antitank-weapons in many countries after the war with some countries introducing antitank-weapons based on it. Later weapons directly based on Panzerfaust include Argentinian P.A.P.I (Proyectil Antitanque Para Infanteria), Polish Granatik Pc-100 and Swedish Pansarskott m/45 and m/46. On concept and tactical level panzerfaust served as starting point for disposable recoilless rifles and rocket launchers such as 66 mm M72 LAW, RPG-22 and RAC 112 APILAS.


Panzerfaust type:


Projectile weight:

Muzzle velocity:


Panzerfaust klein

54 g

0,68 kg

28 m/sec

30 meters

Panzerfaust 30

95 g

2,9 kg

30 m/sec

30 meters

Panzerfaust 60

134 g

2,9 kg

45 m/sec

80 meters

Panzerfaust 100

(*) 190 g

3,0 kg

60 m/sec

100 meters

(*) Two-stage propellant charge.


100 pshp/F1 "Panssarinyrkki F1"

(Panzerfaust klein)

142 pshp/F2 "Panssarinyrkki F2"

(Panzerfaust 30 gross)

Panssarinyrkki F1

("Panzerfaust klein")

Calibre of warhead:

100 mm

Weapon length:

98,5 cm

Weapon weight:

3,2 - 3,3 kg

Tube length:

80,0 cm

Tube diameter:

3,3 cm

Projectile length:

36,0 cm

Projectile weight:

0,68 kg

Warhead explosives:

400 g (TNT + RDX)

Propellant charge:

54 g (black powder)

Muzzle velocity:

26 - 28 m/sec

Max. effective range:

30 meters

Country of Origin:


Armour penetration:

60 degrees: 140 mm

Finnish use: First 1,700 delivered to Finland in April of 1944. Used by Finnish frontline troops starting from June of 1944.

PICTURE: Panssarinyrkki F1 aka Panzerfaust klein. The colouring of warhead reveals that this is training weapon with nonfuctional warhead. Tube of this panzerfaust has the original German colouring. The text could be translated as: "Attention! flame!" (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (51 KB)


Panssarinyrkki F2

("Panzerfaust 30")

Calibre of warhead:

142 mm

Weapon length:

105,4 cm

Weapon weight:

5,1 kg

Tube length:


Tube diameter:

4,4 cm

Projectile length:

49,5 cm

Projectile weight:

2,9 kg

Warhead explosives:

800 g (TNT + RDX)

Propellant charge:

95 g (black powder)

Muzzle velocity:

30 m/sec

Max. effective range:

30 meters

Max. range:

75 meters

Country of Origin:


Armour penetration:

60 degrees: 200 mm

Finnish use: First delivered to Finland in June of 1944 and used by Finnish frontline troops starting that same month.

PICTURE: Panssarinyrkki F2 aka Panzerfaust 30. The same text, which could be translated as "Attention! flame!". All panzerfaust delivered by the Germans to Finland were painted with dunkelgelb (dark yellow) colour, which was the standard colour used by German Army. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (57 KB)

What is known Finnish Army probably first learned about panzerfaust in January of 1944. The weapon had potential and Finnish antitank-weapon was in need of update, so it was logical to buy some. First delivery of Faustpatrone for Finnish military arrived to Finland with steamship s/s Aune in 11th of April 1944. The delivery contained 1,700 "Faustpatrone klein 30m", 300 Panzerschreck and 3,000 rockets for Panzerschreck. All Panzerfaust of this first delivery were smaller F1-version. Finnish language names introduced for this new weapon were direct translations from German ones: First they were called Käsipatruuna (Faustpatrone/fist-cartridge) and later Panssarinyrkki (Panzerfaust/armour-fist). Officially the Finnish name change did not happen until August of 1944, but Finnish troops had started calling the weapon Panssarinyrkki unofficially already before that.

PICTURE: Besides over the shoulder another optional proper shooting techique with panzerfaust was placing it through arm pit. Sergeant Viikari seen in the photo knocked out two Soviet T-34 tanks with panzerfausts in battle of Sammatus (in Ladoga Carelia) in June of 1944. Photographed by Military official Göte Vainio. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 157806). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (151 KB).

Ballistic data of 100 pshp F1 (muzzle velocity: 26 meters/second):



Flight time

11 meters

5,0 degrees

0,4 sec

17 meters

7,5 degrees

0,7 sec

22 meters

10,0 degrees

0,9 sec

28 meters

12,5 degrees

1,2 sec

33 meters

15,0 degrees

1,5 sec

(Source: Finnish test report, Ballistinen toimisto "K.D. N:o 100/sal".)

PICTURE: Panssarinyrkki F1 repainted dark green in Finland. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (46 KB).

The Germans demanded absolute secrecy from the Finns when it came to Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck, even if the Soviets had already managed capture some of these weapons earlier from them. This absurd secrecy lead to difficult situation in Finnish Armed Forces: The great majority of these new weapons were warehoused far away from frontline and less then 200 Finnish soldiers had received training for them before the Soviet summer offensive of 1944 started. 9th of June Soviet troops under command of Leningrad military district started their massive summer offensive against Finnish troops in Carelian Isthmus. This was the first time since Winter War when Finnish troops faced Soviet offensive supported by huge number of tanks and the limited capabilities of existing Finnish antitank weapons soon became painfully obvious. All antitank guns less then 75-mm in calibre proved quite ineffective against new Soviet tanks and assault guns, while antitank-rifles were practically useless. The delivery of panzerfaulst and panzerschreck, which had arrived 11th of April had been only about the same size, which the Germans usually used to equip single division of they own. In other words it was much too small for the situation in which the Finns found themselves in June of 1944, with troops not yet being trained to use these weapons making things even worse. Further deliveries of panzerfaust and panzerschreck from Germany were started fast. Even the methods of transportation used for these deliveries during June and July of 1944 reveal how urgent and important they were. Instead of being shipped in with cargo ships in normal manner, German aircraft and motor torpedo boasts were used to transport panzerfausts to Finland from their stocks in Estonia and large number was also transferred from German 20th Mountain Army (which was stationed in Lapland) to Finnish Army.

PICTURE: Panssarinyrkki F2 repainted dark green in Finland. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (52 KB).

Starting from June 1944 Finnish Armed Forces received deliveries of two Panzerfaust models:

From these two the F2 variation was slightly more numerous in Finnish use. As the number of Finnish soldiers, who had already received training for these weapons was very small and the training typically no more than a brief introduction. Also often the only training available was what closest soldier with German-language skills quickly managed to translate from German instructions (which arrived with the weapons), or what some soldier who already had used this new weapon could tell to his fellow soldiers. Only the lucky ones among Finnish soldiers got few hours of training with Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck before facing Soviet tanks. The first shot Finnish soldiers fired with these new weapons was typically fired in battle and against real operational Soviet tank. The lack of training often lead to serious accidents: The users were either unaware or forgot the backblast, held the weapon incorrectly or failed taking cover immediately after firing the Panzerfaust/Panzerschreck and could get injured in following explosion. Those Finnish soldiers, who fired their first panzerfaust correctly enough and survived, taught their fellow soldiers how to use the new weapon and many of them developed very successful tank hunters in battles such as Siiranmäki, Tali-Ihantala and Vuosalmi. However, panzerfaust were not exactly problem-free. Not only did the weapon have rather limited range, with post-war Finnish Army manual noting that 45 meters was the absolute maximum range of the weapon, but the design also had other weak points. Primers used panzerfaust proved to be the weak link of the design as they were sensitive to moisture. If the primer did not work the weapon would fail to launch the projectile when trigger button was pushed - so this was a major issue. Finnish soldiers discovered that the primer often malfunctioned after getting wet and some of the primers proved to be duds already to begin with - maybe because of quality control issues or due to sabotage. In principle the solution for these problems was quite simple: extra primers should have been included to equipment issued to soldiers using panzerfaust. But the Germans failed the deliver those spare primers in timely manner - in end of July 1944 Finnish military was still waiting for their delivery. Another issue noted by Finnish military was that German dunkelgelb paint was too visible in Finnish conditions, hence Finnish Army routinely repainted its panzerfausts dark green. 24th of July 1944 Training Department of GHQ of Finnish Armed Forces also issued order according which tube of each panzerfaust was to be equipped with paper tag glued into. The paper tag was to contain text: "Varovaisuutta! Putki ladattu, vaikka pää on irroitettu. Voimakas tulisuihku!" (Caution! The tube is loaded, even if the warhead has been removed. Powerful burst of flame!).

Only about 3,900 of the Panzerfaust delivered to Finland during World War 2 were used in World War 2. The remaining weapons stayed in use of Finnish Armed Forces to post-war era, although training use of live panzerfausts was banned in 1950's due to several fatal training accidents. All panzerfausts that remained in Finnish inventory were sold to Interarmco in year 1960 and exported. The total number sold to Interarmco was 16,746, which included 10,495 panssarinyrkki F1 and 6,251 panssarinyrkki F2. Only small number of deactivated panzerfausts were left behind for museum collections, which received notable reinforcements in year 1987 after weapons cache originally built in 1944 was discovered in municipality of Muhos. Late 1944 Finnish military as preparation against possible Soviet invasion had created network of weapons caches capable equipping fighting force of about 8,000 men. The cache found in Muhos in year 1987 was one of the last to be discovered and among other things contained 40 well-preserved panzerfaust F2 in their original containers.

Finnish Army noted quite quickly that there was a need for training weapon version of panzerfaust, which could be safely used to practice handling and use of real panzerfausts. There had already been far too many accidents with panzerfaust and Army wanted to save real panzerfausts for combat use. German military had apparently solved the problem by distributing its troops leaflet that provided instructions for training weapon, which could be manufactured in its military units, but Finnish Army decided to develop, produce and issue training weapon of its own design. This training weapon was named as harjoituskäsipatruuna (practice fist-cartridge) and developed in late August of 1944. Development work was done in Upseerikoulu (Officer School) with Ordnance Department making some improvements on it before starting of production. This practice weapon used recycled tube from Panzerfaust 30, but was equipped with new firing mechanism, use of which was similar as in real panzerfaust. In addition it had new (small) propellant charge, re-usable (dud) warhead and used 7.65 mm x 15 (.32 ACP) cartridge case filled with black powder as percussion-activated primer. 9th of September 1944 order was made for 1,200 training weapons with 500 propellant charges and primers per weapon - hence the total number of propellant charges and primers was no less than 600,000. It is not known how many of these training weapons and how much of the propellant charges and primers ordered for them were actually manufactured, especially since ending of Continuation War in September of 1944 caused many of previously made orders to be either cancelled or scaled down. Captain O. Kahela was awarded for the development work and Lieutenant Pehrsson recognised as a person behind the improvements and (dud) practice warhead. In addition Sergeant L. Mattila was awarded for his own development of practice weapon version of panzerfaust, prototype of which was delivered to Ordnance Department and may have provided ideas for the officially approved training weapon.

PICTURE: 45 Psn 54 prototypes. The rusted ones in the foreground have markings of Weapons Depot 3, while manufacturer for those nicely blued in the back was Ammus Oy. For quite some time development project of 55S55 recoilless rifle tested both 45-mm and 55-mm weapons. This prototype design got so far that Ammus Oy even manufactured field-test series of several dozen weapons in year 1954 - two nicely blued prototypes seen here may have bee part of that field test series. (Photo taken in storage of Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (82 KB).

Finland was one of the countries, which developed their own antitank-weapon based on German panzerfaust. That weapon is 55 S 55 (55 mm recoilless rifle model 1955), which was early on even referred by Finnish Army as 55/88 Psn 55 (55/88 mm panssarinyrkki 55 aka 55/88 mm panzerfaust model 1955 and 55 N 55 (55 mm nyrkki M/55 aka 55 mm fist model 1955). The weapon was developed by Finnish military and company called Ammus Oy (Ammunition Ltd), whose main business had been ammunition development and manufacturing since being established by year 1937. 55 S 55 was officially approved to use of Finnish Defence Forces in March 1955. While its mass-production version looks quite similar to RPG-7, some of the early 45-mm prototypes bear a striking resemblance for later German Panzerfaust 60 and Panzerfaust 100. Starting 1970's Finnish Defence Forces replaced 55S55 recoilless rifle with new disposable rocket launchers, but it was not officially removed from Finnish military inventory until year 2001.

PICTURE: 55 S 55 recoilless rifle. This weapon weights about 8 kg. Ammunition selection manufactured for it included HEAT round for antitank-use, HE-round for soft targets and phosphorus-round for smoke. Effective range was 300 meters for HEAT-round against armoured vehicles and 600 - 700 for HE-round against stationary soft targets. Armour penetration of HEAT-round about 300 mm. (Photo taken in Panssarimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (46 KB).

Deliveries of panzerfaust to Finland:

Delivery time:


11th of April 1944


13th of June 1944


18th - 26th of June 1944


19th of July - 7th of September 1944




(Source: Marskin Panssarintuhoojat, page 401).

PICTURE: Finnish soldiers are being taught how to use Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck. Photo taken by Military Official J.M Wuorela in Syskyjärvi in July of 1944. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 156315). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (251 KB).


88 rakh/B 54 "Panssarikauhu"

8,8 cm RPzB.54 "Panzerschreck"

While Panzerfaust was quite purely German development Panzerschreck was based to US developed M1A1 Bazooka. Year 1943 the Germans either managed to capture M1A1 Bazooka from US troops in Northern Africa or one of the few sent in Russia. Either way they captured in least one and started developing their own improved version of the weapon. The first German version was officially named "8,8 cm Raketenpanzerbüsche 43" (Rocket tank rifle 43) and the official abbreviation was "RPzB.43". However, German soldiers soon started to commonly call them "Ofenrohr" (stovepipe) and "Panzerschreck" (terror of tanks). The official German name described the weapon quite accurately, as the weapon was portable rocket launcher (while panzerfaust was recoilless rifle): The weapon itself was tube from which the rocket-type projectile equipped with HEAT-warhead was launched. The largest difference between US M1A1 Bazooka and German RPzB.43 was the calibre: M1A1 Bazooka was 60-mm calibre, while RPzB.43 was 88-mm calibre weapon. Further notable differences included the method to create electricity used to ignite black powder propellant charge of the rocket: M1A1 Bazooka carried a battery for this use, while panzerschreck had magnetic coil.

PICTURE: Panzerschreck 54 repainted with Finnish camo pattern. Late July 1944 Finnish Armed Forces HQ issued orders to repaint panzerfaust and panzerschreck delivered to Finland. Weapons repair companies and troops were to paint the ones they already had and the ones delivered after this were to be painted before issuing. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (80 KB).

When compared to panzerfaust the obvious difference was that Panzerschreck was reloadable weapon and because of this demanded crew of two soldiers for using the weapon. Also when Panzerschreck first appeared it had clear edge in effective range compared to panzerfaust, but as panzerfaust was further developed this difference between the two was reduced. Panzerschreck also was more of a specialist weapon, while panzerfaust was weapon issued in large numbers to regular infantry rifle squads. Germans started introducing RPzB.43 for field tests in December of 1943 and soon it entered to large-scale use. However RPzB had one certain defect: Propellant of the rockets (RPzB.Gr.4322) used in its rockets burned until good two meters after exiting weapons barrel and this was very dangerous to the gunner firing the weapon. Fireproof poncho and gas mask (naturally minus filter) added to RPzB gunners clothing introduced temporary solution until better one appeared.

That better solution coming for the field was adding steel shield with small mineral-glass window as protection of the gunner. The shield measuring 36 cm x 47 mm added another 1.5 kilograms to the already considerable weight of the weapon but was well worth it. The improved version of Panzerschreck equipped with shield was named 8,8 cm Raketenpanzerbüsche 54 and was introduced to large-scale production in September of 1943. Summer of 1944 RPzB.54 replaced the earlier RPzB.43 in German use. The next and last version of panzerschreck was "8,8 cm Raketenpanzerbüsche 54/1" introduced with new and improved RPzB.Gr.4992 rockets in December of 1944. Compared to RPzB.54 the new RPzB.54/1 was 25-cm shorter, 1.5-kilograms lighter and thanks to new rocket had better range. The rockets used in Panzerschreck had been named as summer- and winter versions and the weapons front sight had alternative settings for both rocket types. Early on the rear sight was fixed, but later it was replaced with adjustable one. The rockets had different stabiliser system then in Panzerfaust: Stabiliser ring reminding the ones used in aerial bombs. The Germans manufactured about 315,000 panzerschreck and some 2,2-million rockets for them during World War 2.

PICTURE: Finnish soldiers with panzerschreck in September of 1944. Notice that the panzerschreck has been painted with camo pattern. Photographed by Military official U. Laukka. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 164203). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (77 KB).


("Raketenpanzerbüsche 54")

Calibre of warhead:

88 mm

Weapon length:

164 cm

Weapon weight:

11 kg (with shield)

Barrel calibre:

90 mm

Projectile calibre:

88 mm

Projectile length:


Projectile weight:

3,25 kg

Warhead explosives:

660 g (TNT + RDX)

Propellant charge:

? g (black powder)

Muzzle velocity:

100 - 110 m/sec

Max. range:

150 m vs. static tank

120 m vs. moving tank

100 m practical (*)

Country of Origin:


Armour penetration:

90 degrees: 230 mm (German data)

60 degrees: 160 mm (German data)

30 degrees: 95 mm (German data)

60 degrees: 100 mm (Finnish tests)

(*) Practical range vs. moving tanks according Finnish tests.

Finnish use: First delivered to Finland in April of 1944. Used by Finnish frontline troops starting June of 1944.

Finnish military ordered 2,000 Panzerschreck and 20,000 rockets for them from Germany. The total price for this order was 200,000 RM (reichsmark), placing price per Panzerschreck and 10 rockets at 100 RM. It seems that the 10 rockets per Panzerschreck ratio was commonly used in most of the deliveries of these weapons to Finland. Before the Finns signed armistice treaty with Soviets (which stopped all armaments deliveries from Germany) in September of 1944 the Germans delivered 1,854 Panzerschreck and 18,650 rockets for them to the Finnish military.

First delivery of Panzerschreck arrived in the same ship as first delivery of Panzerfaust. All Panzerschreck delivered to Finland were 8,8 cm Raketenpanzerbüsche 54 variation and their rockets type "RPzB.Gr.4322 Wintermunion 43/44". As the name says this particular rocket type was intended also for winter use and could be used in temperatures reaching from -25 degrees Celsius to +25 degrees Celsius. Official German supplied data suggested effective shooting range of 120 metres against moving tank and 150 meters against non-mobile tank. But tests done by Finnish military revealed that the actual effective range against moving target was only about 100 metres. The name "Panssarikauhu" Finnish military adopted for this weapon had exactly the same meaning as German "Panzerschreck" - horror for tanks. Finnish seldom used official name for "8,8 cm RPzB.54", which was 88 Rakh/B54. Finnish official name for Panzerschreck ammunition used was 88 psh-rak/B-27/30

PICTURE: Close up of 88 psh-rak/B-27/30 rocket for Panzerschreck. Notice stabiliser ring painted black. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (75 KB).

The same absurd demand of secrecy also effected training of Panzerschreck use in Finnish Armed Forces. There were practically no Finnish soldiers trained to use this weapon when Soviet started their huge offensive in Carelian Isthmus in 9th of June 1944. Like with Panzerfaust Finnish soldiers mostly learned to use these weapons in middle of battle. For some reason the amount of accidents seem to have been somewhat smaller with Panzerschreck - even if the backblast of this weapon was more dangerous than the one produced by Panzerfaust. This could possibly have something to do with the weapon being seen more complex, so the instructions were read more accurately and followed more exactly. But unfortunately (like Germans observed also) Panzerschreck also gave easily a false sense of high capability, which lead opening fire from too long distance and more often shot missing the target compared to Panzerfaust.

PICTURE: Finnish soldiers photographed trying to get familiar with panzerschreck and panzerfaust delivered to them in June of 1944. The document that one of the soldiers has in his hand is presumably manual of instructions, a temporary Finnish manual for the weapon and its ammunition had been introduced the previous month. Sign with text AJP/5002 indicates that the place is ammunition supply point 5002. Photographed by Military official T. Nousiainen in Kivennapa (in Carelian Isthmus).(SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 153733). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (154 KB).

Ballistic data of Panssarikauhu (105 meters/sec):



flight time

58 meters

1,5 degrees

0,5 sec

78 meters

2,0 degrees

0,7 sec

97 meters

2,5 degrees

0,9 sec

118 meters

3,0 degrees

1,1 sec

135 meters

3,5 degrees

1,3 sec

(Source: Finnish test report, Ballistinen toimisto "K.D. N:o 100/sal".)

PICTURE: Finnish soldier prepares rocket for his panssarikauhu in Vuosalmi (Carelian Isthmus). Photographed by Lieutenant Pauli Myllymäki in August of 1944. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 161719). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (85 KB).

Like with Panzerfaust Finnish soldiers soon excelled with this weapon. Feedback gathered from troops indicated that in mid-July of 1944 soldiers who had used new German-manufactured antitank-weapons in battle considered Panzerschreck to be most effective and reliable of antitank-weapons available to infantry at that time. However weight of the weapon and its ammunition was such that the official team size (of three men) had often been found too small, if weapon and its ammunition had be carried for longer distances. In addition weapon and its ammunition were considered too easily visible, hence soldiers recommended painting them with camo pattern, orders from which were soon issued. Seating inside the (German-designed) transport box for panzerschreck rockets was found to be too loose, this allowed rockets to move inside it, which could damage electric wires leading to igniter. In addition safety pin used in fuse of each rocket had been found difficult to remove. The Finnish official Panzerschreck team size was just three men: One man acted as Panzerschreck gunner, another had submachinegun ready for enemy infantry and the third one carried ammunition for Panzerschreck and sometimes also had Panzerfaust as a backup weapon. Panzerschreck proved good weapon and its longer range proved very useful, but as noted the size and weight also made it much clumsier to use then panzerfaust. Only about 17 % of Panzerschreck rockets delivered to Finnish military were used in World War 2, so over 14,000 of these rockets were still unused when the war ended.

Panzerschreck continued to serve with Finnish Army also after World War 2. June of 1948 Finnish military inventory contained no less than 1.581 weapons. Experiences from peace time training use proved to be less than positive, although panzerschreck remained in training use until late 1950's at which point they were replaced by new 55 S 55 recoilless rifle, which was Finnish development based to Panzerfaust. Remaining panzerschreck and their rockets were sold to Intearmco and exported circa 1959 - 1960. The deal made Interarmco contained 1,571 panzerscreck and 11,176 rockets.

PICTURE: Finnish soldier takes aim with panssarikauhu in Ihantala. Notice Suomi M/31 submachine gun. Photographed by Lieutenant Pauli Myllymäki. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 156037). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (105 KB).

Deliveries of Panzerschreck 54 and its rockets to Finland:

Delivery time / method:



11th of April 1944 / shipped S/S Aune H.



13th of June 1944 / special delivery



23th of June 1944 / special delivery


(*) 5650

26th of June 1944 / special delivery



20th of July 1944 / shipped S/S Lapponia


(**) 9400

6th of August 1944 / shipped S/S Kollaa



25th of August 1944 / shipped S/S Capella






(*) Total number of rockets delivered in these two deliveries was 5,650.

(**) Total number of rockets delivered in these three deliveries was 9,400.

The deliveries with marking "special delivery" were not common transports by ship (the way armaments were usually transported from Germany to Finland during World War 2). Presumably these were the deliveries transported from German stores in Estonia to Finland with aircraft and motor torpedo boats.




Panssarimiina m/42 / Panssarikäsimiina / Panssaripanos m/42

(Antitank-mine m/42 / Antitank hand mine / Anti-tank explosive charge m/42)

(HL-Handgranate and Hafthohlladung 3)

PICTURE: Hafthohlladung 3 and its impact to armour. The target that it is tested against appears to be turret of captured Soviet KV-1 heavy tank. Photographed by Raimo Ranta during a wartime study trip to Germany. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 132898). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (73 KB).


Warhead diameter:

72 mm

Warhead weight:

0.21 kg

Weapon weight:

0,42 kg

Weapon length:

19,0 cm

Time delay of detonator:

? seconds

Attaching method:

Felt disc soaked in glue

Armour penetration:

? mm

Halfhohlladung 3:

Warhead diameter:

150 mm

Warhead weight:

1,5 kg

Weapon weight:

3,0 kg

Weapon length:

27,5 cm

Time delay of detonator:

7,5 seconds

Attaching method:

3 magnets with combined pulling power of 45 kg

Armour penetration:

130 - 140 mm

Finnish use: First patch of 665 bought from Germany in year 1943. Later acquisitions made in year 1944 contained over 5,000 weapons. If Finnish troops actually used these in battle is uncertain, but certain thing is they never used large-scale use with Finnish military.

These highly specialized antitank-weapons with shape roughly resembling champagne bottle and contained high-explosive antitank (HEAT) warhead. Both were used in rather similar manner, since they were designed to be attached to suitable part of enemy tank before activating the fuse. Time fuse allowed soldier using them to take cover before the HEAT-warhead exploded. The main difference between the two designs is that HL-handgranate was attached to enemy tank with glue, while hafthohlladung relied in powerful magnets for this purpose. Also, HL-handgranate had been developed by SS Weapons Academy and presumably the Germans issued it only to Waffen-SS, while hafthohlladung 3 was issued to both German Army (Heer) and Waffen-SS. From these two designs HL-handgranate proved so problematic that it was rather short-lived and the later German development efforts were concentrated to hafthohlladung. The Germans introduced hafthohlladung 3 year 1942 and it was apparently the first version of the hafthohlladung series, which proved to be at least somewhat successful, later it was replaced with hafthohlladung 4. Once panzerfaust started to become available in large numbers, it basically replaced the less-effective hafthohlladung type weapons in German use.

Around 1942 - 1943 Finnish Army was trying to keep up with development of tanks by introducing upgrades to its antitank-weapons inventory. As part of these new acquisitions Finnish Army acquired both HL-handgranate and hafthohlladung 3 from Germany. There seem to have been some problems with coming up correct terminology for the weapon type. Early on Finnish Army called these panssarimiina m/42 (anti-tank mine m/42), but since Finnish inventory contained also normal antitank-mine with the same name, this proved quite confusing and in March of 1944 caused name-change as panssaripanos m/42 (anti-tank explosive charge m/42). Sometimes Finnish documents also refer HL-handgranate as klebe-mine ("glue-mine" in German) and Panssarikäsimiina (Antitank hand mine) appears to have been used as a term for the weapon type sometimes as well. The first acquisition made in year 1943 contained 665 pcs - a limited number that may suggest that they may have been intended for field testing in various units of Finnish Army instead of being issued in more general manner. But one report also suggests that their delivery was part of shipment of weapons provided by Germany free of charge as a gift, which raises the question if Finnish military even ordered them in the first place. Yet one report suggests that the basic design proved promising enough that in 1942 - 1943 there were plans of starting production in Finland, with intention of acquiring as many as 100,000 pcs - although it appears that these plans were forgotten once Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck become available. Later acquisitions made in 1944 contained over 5.000 pcs. According archive documents 1st of September 1944 Finnish troops had 1,567 in their use and another 4,159 had been stored in depots and other storages.

There were some plans of introducing these weapons as close range antitank weapons for antitank-gun and sapper units of Finnish Army, but if this happened is not known for sure. Once issued for testing these weapons apparently proved unpopular among Finnish troops. Even using readily available satchel charges / antitank hand grenades did not require going to touching distance of enemy tanks, since they could be usually thrown from some distance. But using these weapons actually required getting to touching distance from enemy tank and possibly even climbing on top of it. However that was not even their only handicap. For such a close range use the time delay in detonator was quite short, which did not leave much time to soldier to find cover. Glue used in HL-handgranate also proved highly problematic at winter, since it froze in sub-zero temperatures, making the weapon useless. Finnish military made some effort for trying to find more suitable glue for the purpose, but with very little actual results. It is not known in what extent HL-handgranate and hafthohlladung 3 saw actual combat use with Finnish Army.



Erkki Käkelä: Marskin panssarintuhoojat.

Fritz Hahn: Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutsches Heeres 1933 - 1945.

Panzerfaust and other infantry anti-tank weapons by Wolfgang Fleischer.

Field Rocket Equipment of the German Army 1939 - 1945 by T.J. Gander.

Article: Panssarinyrkki by Kari Kuusela. Ase magazine vol. 1/1988.

Article: Panssarikauhut palvelivat 50-luvulle by Kari Kuusela. Ase magazine vol. 3/1988.

Article: Panssarintorjunta-aseet by Lauri Harvila. Kansa Taisteli magazine vol. 10/1976.

Article: Panssarikauhu, Panzerschreck - Raketenpanzerbusche 54 by Kari Kuusela in Suomen Sotilas magazine vol. 3/2004.

Article: Panzerfaust, Panssarinyrkki by Kari Kuusela in Suomen Sotilas magazine vol. 3/2004.

Finnish military manual: Ilmatorjuntamies 1950

Finnish Army test-reports of "Panssarinyrkki F1" and "Panssarikauhu" from June of 1944 (Finnish

Finnish Natioanl Arcives folder T-17674/19: Ammunition Office for Ministry of Defence. Reports about acquisitions of weapons and ammunition in 1939 – 1945.

Finnish Military Archives, archive index T19051, folder 32).

Contents of Finnish Army manual for "Panssarikauhu" (Finnish Military Archives, archive index T19051, folder 32).

Finnish Military Archives folder T19052/2

Finnish military archives, archive references T20206/F9, /F10 and /F11

Finnish military archives, archive reference T20207

Finnish National Archives, archive folder T-21417/1 c:1 sal: Classified briefings and statistics of Ordnance Supply in 1940 - 1944.

Special thanks to Panssarimuseo (Finnish Armour Museum), Parola.

Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki.

Last updated 7th of June 2023
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