The "West German RPG-7"

The RPG-7 gets much attention because it's been proliferated all over the world, and therefore its role in modern conflicts. There are even admirers who miss such a weapon in NATO's arsenals; a simple, cheap launcher of acceptable weight with a wide range of warheads.

Well, the Bundeswehr actually had a very, very close equivalent till the 90's when it was replaced by the Panzerfaust 3.

I'm writing about the Panzerfaust 44 "Lanze" (lance). Panzerfaust 44-2 and Panzerfaust 44-2A1 actually; the difference is the sight mount.

Here's a comparison with a standard contemporary RPG-7:

Panzerfaust 44 Lanze RPG-7 with PG-7V
Calibre: Barrel 44 mm 40 mm
Calibre: Warhead 67 mm 85 mm
Length unloaded 880 mm 950 mm
Length loaded 1180 mm ?
Weight unloaded 7.82 kg 7.9 kg
Weight loaded 10.12 kg 9.15 kg
Muzzle velocity 170 m/s 120 m/s
Maximum velocity 212 m/s 300 m/s
Armour penetration RHAeq CE 375 mm 330 mm
The performance difference in weight : velocity can be explained with a useful characteristic of the PzF 44: It has a (slightly) reduced backblast thanks to an iron powder counter-mass behind the propellant. The penalty is a higher weight. The weapon was still not cleared for use in confined spaces, though.

The lower velocities also limited the official effective ranges to 200m (moving taget) or 300 m (stationary target) instead of 300 and 500 m respectively. The Lanze's telescopic sight had 100-200-300-400 markings, though.

Western Germany did not develop larger and different warheads for the Lanze, unlike the Soviet Union and Russia with the RPG-7. There were no thermobaric, tandem shaped charge or larger calibre warheads for Lanze. That's why the RPG-7 of today is much more powerful - given the right ammunition - than Lanze ever was. There's a rumour about the existence of a multi-purpose grenade for Lanze, but it wasn't mentioned in the Bundeswehr's field manual (ZDV 3-16).

A larger calibre would have lead to unacceptable weight increases unless the principle of the munition had been changed. In the end, the Bundeswehr introduced the Panzerfaust 3 instead, which had a 110 mm warhead and its 60 mm barrel is part of the ammunition (only the sights are reusable). The Panzerfaust 3 had an unacceptably long development and testing time, being introduced in 1992 after a tactical requirement dated 1973. It had been obsolete against ERA-equipped Warsaw Pact tanks for ten years at the time of its introduction.

Different versions of the Panzerfaust 3 weapon have been procured; especially an anti-ERA version (1998) and the Bunkerfaust, meant to defeat opponents behind walls.

The problematic lack of an intermediate infantry grenade munition between 40mm x 46 low velocity grenades and an about 11 kg heavy Panzerfaust 3 round led to the late introduction of the RGW 60 and in the future possibly RGW 90 as well.


P.S.: If in doubt, trust my figures about the Lanze. They're from an official document. Some web pages assert a higher range against moving targets and different sight range markings.

edit 2015: Scribd has the field manual (in German):



  1. "There are even admirers who miss such a weapon in NATO's arsenals; a simple, cheap launcher of acceptable weight with a wide range of warheads"

    You mean like this?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Gustav_recoilless_rifle

  2. The quote includes "acceptable weight".

    The old CG as used in parallel with Lanze. It is heavy. The new M3 isn't much less heavy.

    The French LRAC F.1 comes more close, but most discussions about the topic seem to be in English, and few English-speaking people know the LRAC F.1 or even SARPAC.

  3. I just dont see the need I'm afraid, the launcher weighs as much as 3 one shot weapons, and the warheads arent appreciably lighter than one shot weapons either.

  4. This is not a "we should have this" blog post.