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German cross  The Panzerschreck user guide  German cross

Practical use
For all practical purposes the Panzerschreck is just a piece of metal tubing with an outdated electrical current producing system. The "dangerous part" of it is the rocket that is long since gone. But it is still considered a weapon by most governments today, even though ammunition is unavailable. I have never heard about a "live" Panzerschreck round that has been fired in modern times, but to satisfy my American readers: Disclaimer! None of the text on these pages must be considered as guidelines for actual use, and I will not be held responsible for any damage that might occur from use of an actual Panzerschreck. These pages are a theoretical study only!

To be able to describe how the actual weapon was used, combined with the drills conducted by the crew, the best source is the actual user manual; the D 1864/1. Since this is written in German and most of my readers are "less than fluent" readers of German (including myself) I have chosen to translate it to English. I have kept the layout and original pictures from the manual, but left out the index and non-interesting bits. The complete original manual is downloadable here. After the English manual below you will find a translated version of the Panzerbeschuß tafel nr 25, which is also an important part of the practical use. The Merkblatt 77/2 has the instructions for educational and tactical use of the Ofenrohr. This has not been translated yet, so only the original version is available. A US contemporary study of the tactics applied by Panzerschreck crews can be studied at Lonesentry.com
Time to see what the manual dictates then!

User manual for the Panzerschreck

A.    Weapon

1.    What is the Panzerschreck?
A recoilless handheld anti-tank weapon able to take out even the heaviest tanks out to a distance of 150 meters.

2.    The weapon and its parts (Picture 1)
The shield (see annex 1) protects the firer against the burning powder particles that will be flying to the rear from the rocket that has been fired.  A hand protector should be mounted by the units to protect the right hand of the firer. The loops at the front of the shield are used to attach camouflage.

3.    Weapon care
Protect against dents. Avoid bending the front sight when the weapon is laid down. Check that the launch tube is clear prior to firing. Clean the launch tube with an improvised cleaning rod. Small amounts of firing residue does not hurt since the rocket has enough play. Holes in the launch tube do not constitute a problem as long as they are turned away from the shooter. Shoot only from dented or damaged launch tubes if the rocket can pass through without any obstructions. (Check: slip a rocket through manually). Slight dents can be repaired through improvised methods.

B.    Ammunition

4.    What is the 8,8 cm R PzBGr 4322?
A fin-stabilized rocket with point detonating fuze. Use only against tanks, due to a low fragmentation effect it is not effective as a high explosive grenade. The ability to penetrate armour is a result of the shaped charge effect.

5.    The rocket and its parts (see picture 2).
Warning! Ammunition marked “Arkt” on the combustion chamber is ammunition for winter use. Only to be used in the temperature range from -400C to +300C. The ammunition box is marked with black rings. Identification of the summer ammunition: A black cross on the lid of the ammunition box. Only to be used in the temperature range from -50C to +500C.

6.    Handling of the ammunition
Store as dry as possible. Do not expose to direct sunlight or temperatures above +500C. Pay attention to the temperature markings on the ammunition box! The combustion chamber can split if the propulsion charge is warmer than allowed at the time of ignition. Danger!  Rockets that have been warmer than the allowed maximum temperature can be used once they have cooled down again.
In a cold environment the accuracy will be lower (shorter engagement range), but the effect against the target will not be affected. Best hit-probability will be achieved when the temperature of the ammunition is kept 100 below the maximum temperature. Winter ammunition can be used up to +300, so best results will be achieved at +200. Due to this the ammunition should be stored in bunkers or shelters prior to use during winter. It is then possible to engage and destroy targets out to 180 m.
Lightly bent but still loadable ammunition should only be used for target practice. Ammunition with bent tail-sections will not hit the target. Heavily bent ammunition must be destroyed (see Nr. 15).

7.    Care of the impact fuze
The fuze is equipped with a safety pin that makes it safe to transport and drop. Remove safety pin shortly before use. Do not drop the rocket once the safety pin has been removed; the rocket might explode instantly when it is fired or if it is dropped again. The fuze is armed after 3 m.

8.    Further ammunition types:
Training rocket: 8,8 cm R PzBGr 4320 Bl. -
live rocket, dummy warhead
Drill purpose rocket: 8,8 cm R PzBGr 4329 Ex. -
totally inert.

C.  Use

9.    Preparations before use
Only use the weapon with a shield mounted (compare with Nr 2.)! Be aware of camouflage! Use ear protectors!

Gunner: If the shield is missing wear a gasmask (without filter)! Gloves on! Use a hood, a shelter half or similar to protect the ears.

Adjust the front sight according to temperature and type of ammunition (see picture 10 and annex 2). Always use the lower alignment mark with summer ammunition.

Aiming position:  Place weapon with the shoulder rest loosely on the upper arm as far forward as possible (better aiming will be achieved with longer distance between eye and sight). Do not pull the weapon to the rear. Grip the trigger guard close underneath the launch tube with the left hand to avoid burn injuries.  If shooting from a prone position make sure that the legs are clear of the rear end of the launch tube (compare with pictures 3 and 4).

Picture 3

Picture 4

Take up position to the left of the launch tube behind the gunner if possible.
Preparation of the ammunition: Collect the rockets from the ammunition boxes or backpack and check that they are clean and undamaged (snow or ice in the tailfin section). Remove both ends of the tape.

10.  Loading

a)    Gunner:
Cock and apply the safety, by pulling the cocking handle to the rear until the safety is engaged (see picture 5).

Give the notification “Ready”.

b)    Loader:
Remove the safety pin from the fuze! (Keep it for further use, see Nr 14).
Insert rocket into the launch tube!  Hold the rocket in the centre of gravity, depress the catch and push the rocket into the launch tube until the hand touches the breech guard (see picture 5).

Change the grip, grasp the nozzle (see picture 6) and push the rocket lightly into the launch tube until it stops against the stop bolt.

Picture 6

     Release the catch and pull the rocket rearwards until it touches the catch (see picture 7 and 8 for positioning of the tail-section).

Plug the contact into the contact box, move hands away from the rear end of the launch tube.

Give the notification “Ready”.

Keep away from the rear end of the weapon; otherwise you will be caught by the jet fire!

Hands away when the weapon is loaded and the plug has been inserted! Turn face away from the launch tube when the weapon is fired!

Don’t use force if the rocket isn’t easily inserted, check cause, unload, and destroy faulty rockets.

11.   Firing

a)    Release the safety catch:
Depress the safety inside the cocking handle. The handle will return to its forward position (see picture 9).

b)    Aim over the notch and post (see picture 10).
The adjustable post must be corrected according to temperature and type of ammunition used. If the weapon repeatedly  shoots too short or too long the sight must be adjusted by adjusting the post lower or higher (see annex 2).

c)    Aiming points:

With engagement ranges less than 75m the aiming point must again be higher.  When shooting uphill or downhill: aim lower; for example if the difference in ground height is 300 and the engagement range is 120 meters let the target sit on top of the post.

d)    Lead allowance:
Install a wider rear sight plate according to Annex 3, Nr 27 to be able to shoot at moving tanks. See picture 12 for aiming.

e)    Range finder:
If the tank appears in the sight-window according to picture 13 it is 150 m away (applies to T34).

Picture 13

f)      Firing:
Pull the trigger slowly.

g)    When changing position with a loaded weapon make sure that the safety is on.

12.  Process during firing:
Pulling the trigger will release the firing rod which will in turn hit the impact generator and produce a current that will ignite the propelling charge.  Current circuit:  Impact generator – cable mounted to the weapon – contact box – contact and wire – ignition device (bridge igniters with filaments) – wire soldered to the nozzle – iron parts of the rocket (the isolating paint has been scraped off by the contact bolt) – contact bolt – iron parts of the weapon – impact generator.

13.  Failure to ignite:
Check that the contacts are faultless. Has the paint on the tail section been scraped by the contact bolt?
Loader, be careful!
Retarded ignition is a possible danger; wait 2 minutes if possible.
When everything has been checked squeeze the trigger again.
If it still fails to work, destroy the rocket.
The weapon is unserviceable if it still doesn’t work.  Use a new weapon.

14.  Unloading:
Unplug the contact. Depress the catch. Pull the rocket out of the tube, replace the safety pin and secure it to ensure it doesn’t fall out.

15.  Duds and unserviceable rockets must be blown up by technical personnel.

16.  Danger!  A jet fire will be emitted from the rear end of the launch tube. The ignition device will fly 30 m to the rear. Loader: Pay attention during change of target and position. Keep away from the end of the launch tube. Keep flammable objects away. Place ammunition to the side.

Annex 1

Instructions for the mounting of shield, safety guard and adjustable sight with cover plate on earlier versions of the weapon

17.  Shield

a.    Installation: Install the shield in front of the rear sight with the box closer in such a way that the shield is held tight and the gunner can aim withouth any obstructions through the window. The shield  should always be mounted on the weapon. Only to be removed during transport as goods.

b.    Installing and changing the glass:  The glass in the window and the spares carried in the container on the shield should all be framed on both sides according to picture 14 with ammunition-tape, insulating tape or similar product prior to shooting.  One piece of glass should be installed in the window, the rest in the container.  

     Glass that hasn’t been taped will shatter. Replace shattered or cloudy glass with new ones.
Requests for replacement parts:  Through the supply system with the article name “Replacement glass for the Panzerschreck shield”.

18.  Safety guard
The safety guard will help avoiding snow or sand from entering the launch tube when the gunner is moving into a firing position.

Installation: On the launch tube, close behind the front sight (see picture 1). Open the arms and close them again around the launch tube. Secure the safety guard by hammering down the locking piece.

19.  Adjustable front sight
The front sight is adjustable, because the elevation of the tube depends on the changing temperatures. The wing nut makes the adjustment easier.

Installation: Remove the old front sight. Replace it with the new adjustable front sight with wing nut and clamping piece according to picture 15.
Test and check the sight line according to Annex 2.
Mark out the upper and lower alignment mark (for winter ammunition +200 or  -250 C).
Secure the wing nut by flanging.

20.  Cover plate
The cover plate is used to protect the window glass in the shield.

Installation: Should look like picture 15, install it on the middle of the sight bracket with the bolt, nut and washer.  Secure the nut with a punch strike.

Annex 2

Checking and adjusting the sight line

Check and adjust the sight line whenever the opportunity arises, if possible by technical personnel.

21.  Draw up a target board according to picture 16.

22.  Place the target board upright at a distance of 10 m.

23.  Use a triangular file and cut 4 grooves in each end of the launch tube at a 900 angle opposing each other (grooves should be 1mm deep).
Place threads in the grooves and secure them with grease or wax to make a crosshair in each end. Centre of the crosshair must be exactly in the centre of the launch tube.

24.  Place the launch tube axis on the aiming point S.

25.  Adjust the front sight in height, and for newer weapons the rear sight sideways, so that the sight line is aligned when the top of the front and rear sight aims at the lower edge of the upper aiming point V (for winter ammunition at +200 C).  Place the upper alignment mark at the sight bracket in the same height as the mark on the adjustable front sight (according to picture 10).  Place the lower mark (for winter ammunition at -250 C) the same way.
Check that the centre axis is still on the aiming point S after the correction.

Annex 3

Improvements suggested by the units

26.  Make a hand guard according to picture 17 from sheet metal and install it to the upper part of the shield with a screw and nut, friction will hold the lower part.
 It must be ensured that the shield is removable.

27.  Make and install a widened rear sight plate.  Make a widened rear sight plate according to picture 18 from 1,5 mm thick sheet metal and reduce the height of the rear sight bracket by 4 mm. Replace the old sight plate with a widened sight plate in the middle of the bracket with nuts and screws (for practical use see Nr. 11d.)
Oblong holes must be added to the rear sight bracket on weapons that haven’t had the sight plate previously added.

28.  To ease the loading of the rocket a ramp should be added to the catch (picture 19) and separate ramps welded to the struts of the breech guard (picture 20).

Anti-Tank Target board

Nr. 25 
(dated 1.7.44)

8,8 cm R Pz B 54


8,8 cm R Pz B Gr 4322


 = Devastating effect
 = Imobilizing, partly devastating effect
 = No effect

Information about the weapon and its use, aiming points, leading distance and so on can be found in D 1864/1.

Combat range

up to 150 m

Nr. 25

Guidelines for fighting enemy tanks

1.    Keep calm and be cold-blooded! Let the tank come close. Shoot at the closest possible range.

2.    Camouflage! Use every opportunity to camouflage. Whenever possible, fight enemy tanks
from concealed positions and from unexpected directions.

3.    Judge the distance meticulously! Aim carefully!

4.    Obtain the best possible impact angle! Best effect is obtained when the front or side is fully
recognizable, poorest effect at target crossing diagonally (450).

5.    Observe the effect of the rocket! All hits haven’t got a devastating effect.

6.    Take care of the weapon and ammunition. Correct care and cleaning will reduce the
danger of malfunction during fighting.


The 8,8 cm R Pz B Gr 4322 will detonate at impact with the armour-plate – outside the plate – and will punch a hole through it with the explosive charge. The hole will always be smaller than the calibre.  At the same time shrapnel flying sideways will have an effect against the accompanying infantry or troops riding on the tank. The effect against the armour will be the same at all relevant ranges. It will only be weakened by a lowered angle of impact.

Remarks to the Anti-Tank Target board

The effect shown is based on a side angle of 600. It applies to all earlier versions (including assault guns) of the tanks listed.

More Information about Anti-tank fighting can be found in the H.Dv. 469/3. 

Needs for resupply of the Anti-Tank Target board should be directed to the field manual service or under urgent circumstances to the “Staff Officer for Anti-tank fighting with the AOK”.


Real life

For full size click on the picture

A page from a notebook, handwritten with a pencil. It was discovered in a stack of papers on a fleamarket in Northern Germany last year, and aquired for the net sum of one euro.

I 1. Gefr. Brunnenberg
2. Obgefr Rademacher
II 1. Kan. Hammermeister
2. Gefr. Matiszik
III 1. Gefr. Nebelung
2. Gefr. Hämmerle
IV 1. Gefr. Leopold
2.   II Drobny
V 1. Gefr. Meier
2.   II Volkhein
VI 1. Gefr. Krügel
2. Obk. Thöda

This handwritten notebook page doesn't give us much information, apart from the names of soldiers most likely long dead by now. But some information can be extracted.

The roster list belongs to a unit with 6 Panzerschrecks (Ofenrohr), listed as I to VI.
Each weapon had a crew of two; one gunner and one loader, listed as 1. and 2.
Rank obviously didn't matter who was made gunner as much as experience, as all gunners are lance-corporals (Gefr. short for Gefreiter), while two of the loaders are corporals.
The crews are made up of soldiers from different units. Most appears to be infantry men, while the ones titled Kan. and Obk. (Kanonier and Oberkanonier) have been trained as artillery men.

Order of battle / OOB / ORBAT

All armies with some dignity and self respect will have a Order of battle. All units will be assembled, like a puzzle, according to a list. And this list will specify the personell, the tasks and capacities and the material/equipment needed to complete the specified unit. The Wehrmacht used lists called Kriegsstärke- und Ausrüstungsnachweisungen. Once a unit was established they kept records, with the renowned German Gründigkeit, and reported to the higher echelon the current inventory, losses, resupplies etc. The leading expert on the German WW2 ORBAT in Norway, Simon Orchard, has shared the following list!

This is the inventory for Armee Abteilung Narvik as of 1. May 1945, 7 days before the war ended. The unit was entitled to 684 pieces of the 8,8 cm R. Pz. BU. 54 (Pz.Schr.).But they had only 360 weapons in use with the troops, and another 101 in their unit arsenal.

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