Tuesday 24 September 2019

Stielgranate 41

"Supercaliber ammunition allowed the enemy to fire at our fortifications and strongholds at close range. Firing the subcaliber projectile is almost silent, but the sound of the explosion is equal to our 122 or 152 mm rounds. This confused our artillery reconnaissance, who expected the enemy to fire heavy artillery from long range."

Anti-tank gun with a supercaliber projectile inserted into the barrel. Discovered in the Hlebenin-Lesny region.

Supercaliber projectile for an AA gun: casing with the propellant charge, wooden container for the projectile.

Via Andrei Ulanov.


  1. "Your gun has evolved into a muzzleloader"

    Being the guy tasked with going out and inserting that overgrown rifle grenade must've been real popular in combat. Can't really imagine the whole procedure doing any favours to continued concealement of the gun position either.

    1. I don't think concealment was the objective. The German Army started the war with 10,000 Pak-36 37mm anti tank guns. But by 1943 the Pak-43s had lost it's effectiveness. So the Stielgranate 41 was introduced which worked much like the later RPG rocket launchers. No doubt their range and accuracy was low. But against fixed fortifications, this was better than a satchel charge.

    2. Pretty sure it was primarily designed as a defensive antitank weapon though, as the military had a strong interest in somehow keeping the thousands of 3.7 cm's they still had at hand relevant. Teh Wiki gives practical maximum range against tanks as 300 m which is certainly short enough for needing someone to move in front of the gun to be problematic in terms of Not Being Seen and continued survivability; wholly static targets like fortifications could no doubt be hit from rather further (one page I could quickly find gave 800 m as the hard maximum range for this 'roided out rifle grenade) but that would have been an at best secondary use, and maneuvering towed guns into position against those tended to have its own problems to begin with (mainly in terms of attracting fire).

      You couldn't exactly do a "88" and just blow the bunker away from a kilometer or two off with this thing after all.

    3. Sure a 88 from a mile away is a safer way to take out a gun emplacement. But when your Battalion commander passes down the order to advance in a area with a gun emplacement, you grab whatever is on hand. So in the middle of thee night you drag up the Pak-36 and hide it well. And the second the assault starts, you fire the "stick grenade". I've noticed today American infantry use anti tank Javelin missiles to do similar jobs in Afghanistan.

    4. A guided missile has somewhat superior point accuracy to a light gun operating as half mortar, I suspect. Certain doubts might be entertained about the first-shot accuracy of this contraption and boing the chap who has to be exposed in front of the gun shield (which provides at least concealement and reassurance) to reload it under the attentions of the now probably rather alarmed intended victims doesn't strike me as the kind of position people queued up for.

      Similar issues probably occurred while fighting tanks - not only were the practical engagement ranges even shorter and concealement an even higher priority (that shield might bounce a bullet but definitely not a shell), making the requirement of additional movement out in the relative open an even bigger hazard.

      'Course still beat having to rely on plain old AP against serious tanks; the 37 mm performance or rather limitations thereof was causing concern already in Poland and real problems (as well as sardonic nicknames) in France after all.

  2. I wonder what that "supercaliber projectile for an AA gun" was. The only candidate I could think of was the Hungarian 42M Kerngranate, which was a modified Stielgranate 41 that could be fired from a 40mm Bofors.

    Also, no mention here of the (very silly) supercaliber projectile for the sIG 33? You know, in case a 15cm projectile wasn't enough in the direct-fire role?