Wednesday 7 October 2020

PIAT Review

A limited number of PIAT anti-tank grenade launchers were shipped to the USSR in 1944, but it was unclear if any of the weapons ever made it to the front line. Turns out they have, although they name they were given by Soviet troops makes tracing their path difficult. However, these weapons were found in one unit: the 252nd Independent Special Purpose Motorized Battalion. On December 2nd, 1944, the battalion reports 18 "rocket powered guns" in its possession. The battalion fought from August of 1944 to to May 9th 1945 and had little good to say about its weapons.

"In the period of aforementioned battles the battalion was generally used as a mobile group, which paid off. In combat since August of 1944 American anti-tank "PIAT" guns operating on the HEAT principle fared poorly and were used rarely due to a number of drawbacks, such as:

  1. The PIAT gun can only be used to fire from cover, which resulted in an injury to the gunner from a projectile fragment.
  2. The PIAT's maximum range is 100 meters, the minimum range is 60 meters.
  3. The projectile fired by the PIAT has to impact the target at a straight angle, as it has a capsule detonator. If the projectile hits not at a straight angle, it does not detonate.
  4. The PIAT gun is heavy (16 kg).
  5. The gun is largely designed for defense, which is not the battalion's purpose.
Based on the above, we consider it reasonable to take the PIAT gun out of service, as experience showed that it is impossible to use. In addition, 5 cars are used to transport PIAT ammunition. 

Instead of having PIAT guns, it is reasonable to increase the firepower of submachine gun companies by giving each company 6 heavy machine guns, 12 in total, and including a tank destroyer artillery battery on Studebaker trucks for anti-tank firepower."


  1. "American anti-tank "PIAT" guns"

    The PIAT was, of course, British

    "The PIAT gun can only be used to fire from cover,"

    This makes no sense ...

    1. Soldiers in war time may sometimes receive incorrect information or are simply confused on the fact. They may only received briefing that the weapon is supplied by the Western allies and assumed it's Americian. In 0ractice they may find the weapon only usable in cover and reported it as such.

  2. If it's rocket-powered, it's not a PIAT.

    Are we sure they weren't American bazookas ?

    1. hard to tell. As Brother Pedro infers, soldiers are not always technicians and may easily get details wrong. Seeing the spigot charge (cordite I think) ignite may easily give them the idea they are firing off a rocket.

      Also, they get the weight largely right, the manual says a PIAT weights 15 kilograms and they say 16, whereas a M1 Bazooka weights 8-11 kg.