Combat Capability of Handheld Anti-Tank Grenades
Fig. 1: Overall view of a handheld anti-tank grenade RPG-6.
Fig. 2: Overall view of a handheld anti-tank grenade mod. 1943 (RPG-43).
Handheld anti-tank grenades RPG-6 and RPG-43 (figs. 1 and 2) are designed to combat enemy armoured targets (tanks, armoured cars, armoured pillboxes). RPG-6 can penetrate up to 100 mm of armour, RPG-43 can penetrate up to 75 mm of armour.
The mass of an armed RPG-6 grenade is about 1100 grams, the mass of an RPG-43 is about 1200 grams.
RPG-6 and RPG-43 are HE type impact grenades: they explode when they hit a solid object.
When an RPG-6 or RPG-43 grenade hits armour, it destroys the armour, kills the crew, destroys equipment, or can ignite fuel or detonate ammunition.
Throwing the grenades should only be done from cover or from a trench in order to keep the grenadier from harm.
It is necessary to throw the grenade with great force so that it hits the tank or armoured car with its flat end. If there is strong wind, throw the grenade with even more force to give it the proper trajectory.
It is not sensible to throw an RPG-6 or RPG-43 grenade at the tracks or the suspension of a tank, instead of an RPG-40 grenade that is much more effective in this case.
Design of Handheld Anti-Tank Grenades
Design of the RPG-6 grenade
Components and mechanisms
The grenade consists of a hull, handle, and fuse (fig. 3).
Fig. 3: Main parts of the RPG-6 handheld anti-tank grenade, cutaway. 1: hull 2: handle 3: fuse
Fig. 4: Hull of the grenade (assembled). 1: fuse opening 2: secondary detonator 3: explosive 4: hull 5: bottom of the hull 6: screw thread.
The hull of the grenade (fig. 4) is a truncated cone that contains an explosive charge. It has an opening for the fuse. The bottom of the hull is covered with a hemispherical cap. The upper part has a screw thread for attaching to the handle. Inside of the hull is the explosive that is used to destroy armour and a fuse opening, which at the same time is the hull cap. The explosive explodes from the fuse, and it is safe when handling the grenade.
Fig. 5: Handle (assembled)
The handle (fig. 5) makes throwing the grenade more convenient and holds the impact mechanism, stabilizer, and safety mechanism. It consists of the hull, an eye, and a nut. The nut welded to the end of the handle attaches the handle to the hull. The side of the handle has: a round opening for the striker safety pin, an eye for a locking pin that keeps the safety lever on the handle, and an indentation for the lever. The upper part of the handle has two openings for the stabilizer ribbons.
The striker mechanism is inside the handle and consists of the casing, a cup, a nut, a striker with a striker pin, a safety pin, a ball bearing, and a safety cap with a cord.
The casing holds the striker mechanism. The middle part has two round openings, one for the pin, the other for the ball bearing.
The cup welded to the casing connects the casing and the handle and is a stopper for the safety spring. The cup has an opening in the center so the striker pin can hit the detonator capsule on impact.
The nut holds the case and the cup to the handle hull.
The striker and pin ignite the detonator capsule.
The safety spring prevents the striker from hitting the detonator prematurely.
The ball bearing holds the striker in the upper position when the grenade is thrown after the pin fell out but before the stabilizer is fully deployed.
The safety cap locks the ball bearing in the hull. It has two openings, one for the pin and one for the cord which is used to pull the safety cap away in flight.
The stabilizer consists of two large and two small fabric ribbons. One end of the large fabric ribbons is attached with a nut and rivets to the handle, the other end is attached to the bottom of the safety lever. The cord of the safety cap is tied to the middle of one of the large stabilizer ribbons.
The safety mechanism of the handle consists of the safety stopper, spring, safety lever, and pin.
The safety stopper consists of a pin and a cap that keeps the striker in the upper position until the grenade is thrown.
The spring shoots off the stopper and lever when the grenade is thrown.
The lever covers the handle of the grenade and extracts the stabilizer from the handle when the grenade is thrown, and also to hold the safety stopper in the grenade handle.
The pin holds the lever in place until the grenade is thrown.
Fig. 6: Fuse: I: cutaway II: external
The fuse (fig. 6) is the instant type. It is meant to detonate the explosives. The fuse consists of a cap that holds the plug, detonator capsule, and a secondary detonator.
The cap holds all the elements of the fuse, the detonator capsule triggers the secondary detonator, which, in turn explodes the grenade.
The plug holds the detonator capsule in the cap.
Work of the parts and mechanisms of the RPG-6 grenade
The striker, with the help of the pin, safety spring, and ball bearing, is held in the upper position. The stabilizer ribbons are in the handle and are held by the bottom of the safety lever. The striker pin is in the striker opening, held in by the safety lever, which is held in place by the plug. The sides of the plug are expanded, firmly preventing it from falling out. The safety spring is compressed.
To load the grenade:
- Screw off the handle of the grenade (fig. 7).
- Insert the fuse into the grenade (fig. 8)
- Screw the handle into the grenade (fig. 9)
The grenade components are in the same place after arming it.
Fig. 7: Removing the grenade handle.
Fig. 8: Inserting the fuse into the grenade hull.
Fig 9: Screwing in the grenade handle.
To throw the grenade:
- Hold the grenade in your right hand so that the lever is pressed firmly against the handle.
- Holding the grenade in your right hand, use your left to take out the plug (fig. 10)
- Swing energetically and throw the grenade towards your target.
- Having thrown the grenade, take cover immediately.
Fig. 10: How to pull out the safety plug before throwing the grenade.
It is forbidden to drop a grenade with a pulled out plug
When throwing the grenade, the safety level will separate under the pressure of the spring and pull out the stabilizer ribbons. At the same time, the safety pin separates is ejected by the spring from the side of the handle, freeing the safety cap and the striker.
The striker and the cap are freed, but the striker is held in the upper position by the ball bearing and safety spring. With the grenade in the air, the stabilizer ribbons fully deploy, which stabilizes the grenade with its hull forward. The cord attached to the stabilizer ribbons pulls the safety cap off, the ball bearing falls out of its place, and the striker is freed. Only the safety spring holds the striker in place with the grenade in the air.
When the grenade hits an obstacle, the striker defeats the force of the safety spring and its pin pierces the detonator capsule. This causes the grenade to explode.
If the armed grenade was not thrown, without letting go of the safety lever, re-insert the plug, separate its ends, and disarm the grenade.
Design of the RPG-43 grenade
Components and Mechanisms
The grenade consists of the hull, handle, and fuse (fig. 11).
Fig. 11: Main parts of the handheld anti-tank grenade mod. 1943 (cutaway). 1: hull 2: handle 3: fuse
The hull of the grenade (fig. 12) holds the explosive charge, the case with the detonator pin, and the safety spring. The bottom is covered by a flat cap, and the top is covered with a connector to screw in the handle. Inside the hull is the explosive and its container, attached to the hull cap.
The safety spring and the detonator pin are inside the cap and are attached to the bottom.
Fig. 12: Grenade hull.
The explosive charge is designed to destroy armour. It is placed inside the hull. The explosive charge is while storing and handling the grenade. It can only be detonated by the fuse.
The handle (fig. 13) makes it easier to throw the grenade and holds the detonator, stabilizer, and safety mechanism. It consists of a wooden handle, a plug, a cap, a spring plate, a lever, a connector, a stabilizer, a plate, and a pin.
Fig. 13: Handle.
A plate is attached to the end of the wooden handle, used as a base for the cap spring. There is a connector to screw onto the grenade hull. A plate is inserted into the lengthwise opening in the handle to prevent the connector from turning. The plug and plate are connected to the handle with the pin.
On the other end, there is a cap that protects the stabilizer ribbon when the handle is being screwed in.
The metallic plug has an opening for the in, which holds the connector in the ready position.
The side of the handle has an opening for the lever, an opening for the safety pin, and an opening for a rope that makes it easier to carry the grenade on your belt. Before throwing the grenade, remove the rope.
The ignition mechanism is located partially in the hull of the grenade, and partially in the handle. It consists of the detonator pin, the safety spring, the safety pin, the lever, and the fuse.
The detonator pin ignites the detonator capsule. Its sharp end is aimed towards the handle.
The safety spring prevents the grenade from exploding prematurely in flight.
The pin holds the fuse in ready position when the grenade is thrown, and when it impacts, acts as an additional weight to aid the fuse in resisting the safety spring. It has a thread for screwing on the fuse when arming the grenade.
The stabilizer lets the grenade fly straight to guarantee that the hull hits cap first.
The stabilizer consists of two fabric ribbons, a cap, and a spring. The fabric ribbons attach to the connector of the handle on one end, and the stabilizer cap on the other.
The cap holds in the stabilizer ribbons and aids in the stabilization of the grenade. It consists of a welded cone, a cup, and a nut.
The cup is welded to the cone and is used as a base of the spring. The cup has an opening for the lever that prevents it from rotating around the handle.
The nut attach the stabilizer ribbons to the cap.
The spring deploys the cap along the wooden handle when the grenade is thrown.
The lever keeps the cap on the handle until the grenade is thrown. A pin on the lever prevents the cap from rotating.
The lever fits into an indentation on the grenade handle. It makes it easier to prevent the stabilizer cap from sliding along the handle when the safety pin is removed.
The safety pin holds the safety lever on the grenade's handle.
The fuse is of the instant type. It detonates the grenade's explosive charge. The fuse consists of a case with a detonator capsule, a secondary detonator, a liner, and a nut.
The case contains all elements of the fuse. The detonator capsule ignites the secondary detonator, which in turn detonates the charge.
The liner hold the detonator capsule and the secondary detonator in the case.
The nut is kerned onto the case and has a thread for screwing onto the pin when arming the grenade.
Work of the parts and mechanisms of the RPG-43 grenade
The striking mechanism pin is held with the safety pin in the upper position. The safety pin is held in place by the stabilizer cap. The stabilizer ribbons are wrapped into the cap and the cap is in the upper position. The stabilizer spring is compressed between the handle plate and the stabilizer cup. The safety lever that holds the stabilizer cap in place is tightly held against the grenade handle by the safety pin. The ends of the pin are pulled apart and firmly prevent it from falling out. The safety spring is not compressed.
To arm the grenade:
- Unscrew the grenade handle (fig. 15)
- Ensure that the hull contains the safety spring and the detonator pin, visually inspect them or carefully push on the spring with your finger.
- Screw the fuse onto the pin as far as it will go (fig. 16).
- Screw the handle onto the hull as far as it will go (fig. 17).
The position of the grenade components after arming will be the same as before arming, with the exception that the safety pin will have additional pressure on it due to the fuse.
Fig. 15: Screwing off the grenade handle.
Fig. 16: Screwing in the fuse on the pin.
Fig. 17: Screwing the handle into the grenade.
To throw the grenade:
- Take the handle in your right hand, pressing the safety lever tightly against the handle.
- Holding the grenade in your right hand, pull out the safety pin (fig. 18).
- Swing and energetically throw the grenade at your target.
- Having thrown the grenade, immediately take cover.
It is forbidden to drop a grenade with the pin pulled out. If an armed grenade was not thrown, re-insert the pin without letting go of the lever and pull its ends apart, then disarm the grenade.
Fig. 18: How to pull out the safety pin before throwing the grenade.
When the grenade is thrown, the safety lever is freed, and it frees the stabilizer cap, which, under the pressure from the spring, is pushed back off the handle, freeing the stabilizer ribbons and turning the grenade hull forward in flight.
When the cap slides off the handle and pulls out the ribbons, the safety pin will fall out under its own weight, freeing the detonator pin and the fuse.
While in flight, the pin is held in place by the safety spring.
When the grenade strikes a target, the fuse will overcome the pressure from the spring and hit the pin with the detonator capsule. This causes the grenade to explode.
Handling the RPG-6 and RPG-43 grenades
RPG-6 grenades are shipped in parts, and RPG-43 grenades are shipped assembled (handle is screwed into the hull). Fuses are shipped separately from the grenades.
The soldier carries RPG-6 and RPG-43 grenades in assembled state, but without a fuse. When receiving RPG-6 grenades, he must screw in the handle.
In order to avoid accidents in handling grenades, hand out real grenades only to trained soldiers, while ensuring the following safety precautions:
- Carry grenades in the grenade bag, with fuses kept separately from the grenades, each fuse wrapped individually in paper or a rag.
- Do not take apart the grenades or fuses and do not attempt to resolve defects. Report all defects to your commander.
- Keep the grenades and fuses away from fire, heat, moisture, and dirt. If the grenades or fuses are wet or dirty, wipe them down with a rag as soon as possible and dry them in sunlight or in a warm room. Keep them away from fire.
- Keep the grenades, and especially the fuses, away from shocks and impacts which can damage the grenade or activate the fuse.
- Store the grenades and fuses separately, arm them only before throwing or on special orders from your commander.
- Preparation of grenades for arming, arming, and throwing should only be done according to these instructions.
- Familiarization with the fuse, grenades, and learning how to throw them should only be done with training (dummy) grenades.
- Arm and disarm grenades in a situation that does not endanger others.
- In battle, keep all grenades and fuses (aside from grenades and fuses issued to soldiers) in factory packaging.
Inspection of grenades
When inspecting grenades, pay attention to the following:
- If the hull of the grenade has some rust, but it can be wiped away, use the grenade. If the rust penetrated the hull of the grenade, do not issue it and destroy it with explosives. The fuse opening should be clean. In an RPG-43 grenade, the fuse opening should have a safety spring and a detonator pin. If those are absent, do not issue the grenade.
- The handle should be functional and not have deep dents. The alignment pin should enter the opening in the hull (in case of the RPG-43, it should enter an opening in the cup and not let it rotate, the connector should be held in place by a pin). The striker and the detonator pin should sit tightly in the RPG-6 handle and not move if the grenade is shaken. If there is a defect, do not issue the grenade.
- The safety pin ends must be moved apart and must not have a crack around the bend..
- It is forbidden to take apart the handle of the grenade or the fuse.
Destroying unexploded grenades or fuses
Do not touch unexploded RPG-6 or RPG-43 grenades.
To explode the grenade, lay a TNT charge close to the grenade, but no closer than 0.5 cm.
Use a slowly burning (1.25 cm/sec) fuse to detonate the charge. Use a fuse of sufficient length that whoever ignites it has time to retreat to cover.