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Bazooka vs Panzer. Battle of the Bulge 1944 by Steven Zaloga

By Steven Zaloga

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36IN BAZOOKA ROCKETS PANZER DEFENSES ASSESSED EASTERN FRONT LESSONS The Schürzen aprons first saw widespread combat use in the summer of 1943 at Kursk; and they proved to be quite effective. (Sohns 1968: 9) The propaganda service of the Wehrmacht gave a great deal of publicity to the valiant Panzerknacker, which attracted the interest of the highest levels of the German armed forces to the potential threat of enemy close attack against the Panzers. Some senior leaders thought that tanks would soon be obsolete and ineffective due to the advent of new handheld antitank weapons such as the bazooka and Panzerfaust.

This new device was intended to replace the smoke dischargers, mine launchers, and pistol ports. The Nahverteidigungswaffe close-defense weapon was a simple, breech-loaded mortar tube, inclined at 50 degrees and fitted in a traversable mounting on the turret or casemate roof. Besides its use to launch smoke candles, the Nahverteidigungswaffe was designed to mate with a standard 26mm Kampfpistole (combat pistol). A Nahverteidigungswaffe close-defense weapon is shown here toward the top of the photo, fitted to the upper-right corner of the roof of a Panther Ausf G tank.

British and Commonwealth forces were eventually supplied with 2,127 launchers and 86,000 bazooka rockets during the war, but they do not appear to have been commonly used in Europe. Details of the first shipment to the Red Army are obscure: Soviet histories do not mention any use at all even though 3,000 launchers and 8,500 rockets were sent during the war. German accounts suggest it was American examples captured in Tunisia. Due to a combination of secrecy and a lack of time, most US Army units did not receive their Whips until aboard assault transports while at Hampton Roads, Virginia in October 1942.

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