The Panzerfaust 3 is a modern disposable recoilless anti-tank weapon, which was developed between 1978 and 1985 and put into service by the Bundeswehr in 1992. It was first ordered in 1973 to provide West German infantry with an effective weapon against contemporary Soviet armour, thereby replacing West Germany’s aging PzF 44 Lanze launchers.
The Panzerfaust 3 consists of a disposable launcher tube holding the projectile and a reusable firing and sighting unit. The projectile consists of a shaped-charge warhead filled with Amatol/Syndril and a shaft including the propulsion unit.
The Panzerfaust 3 can be fired from enclosed spaces since it does not have a significant backblast; the rear of the tube, filled with plastic granulate, minimises the blast effect by the so-called recoilless countermass principle. The booster propellant for the projectile in its tube is ignited by a bolt via a spring mechanism. Once ejected from the launcher, the projectile coasts a safe distance and then the rocket motor is ignited, boosting it to its maximum speed, after which it coasts until impact.
As safety precautions, the built-in fuse for the warhead is released by a safety mechanism. This arms the warhead after a flight distance of approximately five meters. Once armed, the warhead will detonate on impact, and as a safety when the rocket’s propellant runs out. This safeguards against live ammunition staying around and causing hazards to all in the future. The Panzerfaust 3’s name dates back to the Panzerfaust used by the German army in World War II, which consisted of a small, disposable preloaded launch tube firing a high explosive anti-tank warhead, operated by a single soldier.
Credit: Military Archive