Shortly after the German invasion of Russia in 1941, the Germans introduced the Panzerwurfmine(L), an extremely lethal close-quarter HEAT anti-tank grenade that could destroy the heaviest armored tanks of the war. The grenade was tossed overhand to land atop the tank. After release by the thrower, three spring-out canvas fins stabilized it during its short flight. The Panzerwurfmine(L) was lethal, and inexpensive to manufacture, but required considerable skill to throw accurately and was issued only to specially trained infantry tank-killer teams.
It did not take long after the Russians captured the German Panzerwurfmine(L) to come out with their own hand-thrown anti-tank grenade with a HEAT warhead. In 1940, they developed a crude antitank grenade that used the simple blast effect of a large high explosive charge, designated RPG-40, which was stabilized in flight by a ribbon released after it was thrown. The RPG-43 (developed in late 1943) was a modified RPG-40 with a cone liner and a large number of fabric ribbons for flight stabilization after release. In the last year of the war, they introduced the RPG-6, a total redesign of the RPG-43 with an improved kite-tail drogue in the handle and a standoff for the HEAT warhead, drastically increasing both accuracy and penetration was reported to be over 100 mm, more than adequate to cause catastrophic damage to any tank if it impacted the top. The Russian RPG-43 and RPG-6 were far simpler to use in combat than the German Panzerwurfmine(L)and did not require extensive training.
The RPG-43 (for ruchnaya protivotankovaya granata meaning hand-held anti-tank grenade) was a high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) hand grenade used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War. It entered service in 1943, replacing the earlier model RPG-40. The RPG-43 used a shaped charge HEAT warhead, whereas the RPG-40 used the simpler HE (High Explosive) warhead. The RPG-43 had a penetration of around 75 mm of RHA at a 90 degree angle. Later in the war, it was improved to become the RPG-6.
During the early days of Operation Barbarossa the USSR's only infantry anti-armour weapons were anti-tank rifles, anti-tank guns, and the RPG-40. These were adequate against early German tanks such as the Panzer I and Panzer II but, as the war progressed, they were found to be nearly useless against the heavier Panthers and Tigers. The RPG-43 was developed as a result, and it was used in large numbers until the end of the war. After the war it was passed on in large numbers to Soviet client states, and was used in the numerous Arab–Israeli conflicts. Despite being thoroughly outdated it can still be encountered in many third world nations mainly due to its reliability and low cost.
The RPG-43 externally was shaped like an oversized stick grenade with a 95 mm HEAT warhead on the end. It weighed 1.247 kg of which 612 g was high explosive. When thrown, a cylindrical metal cone was released from the rear of the grenade and held by fabric strips to stabilise flight and increase the likelihood of a 90 degree hit. Its range was limited by how far the user could throw it, and was obviously shorter than the contemporary rocket-propelled US Bazooka and recoilless German Panzerfaust, so that the user had to get closer and was in more danger of being seen. However, it was much smaller than rocket weapons and produced no sound, smoke, or light when launched, therefore not betraying the thrower's position. Despite its limitations it was cheap and quick to manufacture, allowing it to become the main Soviet infantry anti-tank weapon of World War II.
Overall the RPG-43 was an awkward and difficult weapon to use effectively. To use it, the user had to get within throwing range of an enemy tank, which was often dangerous. Despite having a powerful warhead, it took a skilled user to make the most of it as, like all shaped-charge weapons, it was only effective if the striking angle was close to 90 degrees. It also had to hit hard enough to detonate the impact fuse, or it would bounce harmlessly off the tank.
The RPG-6 was a Soviet anti-tank hand-grenade (RPG was the Russian designation, not the more usual acronym for "rocket-propelled grenade") operating on the shaped charge principle, developed during World War II. It underwent testing in September 1943, and was accepted into service in October of the same year.
It was a conical casing enclosing a shaped charge and containing 562 grams of TNT, fitted with a percussion fuse and four cloth ribbons to provide stability in flight after throwing. It could penetrate approximately 100 millimeters of armour. The RPG-6 had a fragmentation radius of 20 metres from the point of detonation, and proved useful against infantry as well as tanks.
The RPG-6 was designed as a replacement for the RPG-43. The RPG-43 had a large warhead, but was designed to detonate in contact with a tank's armour; it was later found that optimal performance was gained from a HEAT warhead if it exploded a short distance from the armour, roughly the same distance as the weapon's diameter. In the RPG-6 this was achieved by adding a hollow pointed nose section with the impact fuse in it, so that when the weapon detonated the warhead was at the optimum distance from the armour. The weapon was a success and went into mass production, being used alongside the RPG-43 in many countries long after the war.
RKG-3 is the designation of Russian series of anti-tank hand grenades. It superseded the RPG-43, RPG-40 and RPG-6 series of grenades.
RKG stands for Ruchnaya Kumulyativnaya Granata (Handheld Shaped Charge Grenade). When the pin is pulled and the grenade is thrown a four-panelled drogue parachute is deployed by a spring. This parachute stabilizes the grenade in flight and ensures that the grenade strikes the target at a 90 degree angle, maximising the effect of the shaped charge. Armour penetration is 125 mm and 165 mm for steel and copper (RKG-3M) conical liner versions respectively.
RKG-3 grenades have also been used by Iraqi insurgents against coalition forces. On 1 June 2006, RKG-3 grenades were used in an attack on an American Humvee, and RKG-3 grenades have been captured by US Marines from insurgents in Al Anbar.
RKG-3 grenades have been used throughout Iraq with the majority of attacks occurring in the Baghdad region. Several other attacks have been reported North of Baghdad to include Tikrit, Bayji, and Mosul. The attacks have mainly been on the U.S. Army Stryker vehicle and the MRAP (armored vehicle) but not limited to attacks against ASV (Armor Security Vehicles) and M1151 UP Armored HMMWV.
RKG-3s have also been used in Samarra, Iraq against 101st Airborne and 25th Infantry an also 3rd Infantry soldiers in MRAPS, and Humvees. The RKG-3 was a somewhat common weapon in Samarra, Iraq, during mid-2008 to early 2009. Large caches have been discovered along with training material for insurgent use Models
RKG-3M Shaped charge liner changed to copper. Penetration: 165 mm RHA.
RKG-3T Improved liner.
UPG-8 Training grenade
M79 copy produced by Yugoimport-SDPR in Serbia and Montenegro