PIAT

HE117

LE
Nobel's 808 did go squiffy after a while, but those went out of production at the end of 44 I think, so they likely got shot off. I've no idea on RDX shelf life, or even the shelf life of 808. You'd need the professional explosive chaps for that.
808 is basically gelignite with added plasticiser to keep it soft. Its main explosive ingredients were nitroglycerine(NG) and nitrocellulose(NC) with a bit of ammonium nitrate to balance up the oxygen. Nobel discovered that you could dissolve NG in NC which had the effect of desensitising the NG. 808 had a shelf life of about 10 years, but would harden up as the plasticiser broke down, however this depended very much on the storage conditions. Eventually the NC would break down and allow the NG to separate out, which is a bit of a worry...!

RDX (Trimethylenetrinitramine ) is much more stable with a shelf life of several decades.. again dependent on storage conditions. It is basically nitrated hexamine (...why do you think we were given it to cook on!) and is much more difficult and expensive to make than NG/NC & TNT which we had been making for ages..

At the beginning of WW2, most UK military explosive fillings were either based on TNT or PETN. TNT, either on its own, or more commonly mixed with Ammonium Nitrate as Amatol was easy to fill as TNT has a relatively low melting point and can be poured or pressed into shell etc. PETN was used for smaller shell and cannon shell as it performs better in small volumes. RDX was a bit of a PITA to fill as you could not melt it, and it had to be mixed with TNT or something meltable to fill into ammunition..

RDX was developed at Waltham Abbey in the 30s as a higher energy explosive with a higher velocity of detonation than TNT, but serial production did not start until 1940. Most of the early production was used for high value warheads such as torpedos and the Upkeep mine. It was not available for general filling until the end of the war.

The effectiveness of shaped charges depends on the diameter of the cone and the velocity of detonation of the explosive. 808 has actually a higher VofD(7,700 m/s) than TNT(6900m/s) although RDX (8650m/s) is higher than both, so it makes sense they filled PIAT bombs with 808 in preference to TNT..
 
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Plus infantry ATk Pls. IIRC 6 Pdr had moved entirely from RA to Inf ATk Pls in NW Europe by late '44.

ETA


and

View attachment 459157
I wonder how long they stayed there, after 1945 and war's end - operational effectiveness has never been a barrier to cap-badge wars in our little old army :-D

Plus, I can see there being fairly significant difficulties maintaining the specialist skillset in a peacetime infantry battalion.
 

offog

LE
I wonder how long they stayed there, after 1945 and war's end - operational effectiveness has never been a barrier to cap-badge wars in our little old army :-D

Plus, I can see there being fairly significant difficulties maintaining the specialist skillset in a peacetime infantry battalion.
1950s it would seem till the BATs took over.

The PIAT was 2nd or 3rd on the list of Canadian infantries most effective weapon in Normandy.

Bearing in mind that tank would not be closely grouped and visibility from inside a tank would be poor your chances against one at close range in close country would be good. I think the motor companies of armoured Divs had one per section in the M5s. Along with the AT Pl of the Queen's the sect AT teams gave a very good account of themselves in Villers Bocage.

Much is spoken about the wonderful bazooka but shortly after its introduction it was feared by its users until someone realised that it needed a barrel gauge to be used before it could be fired (obviously not when you're in a trench but as part of prep for battle). The barrel was not thick enough and would easily dent which would cause the rocket to go bang before leaving the barrel.

There are some very nice photos some pages back of the French using them in Indochina.
 
1950s it would seem till the BATs took over.

The PIAT was 2nd or 3rd on the list of Canadian infantries most effective weapon in Normandy.
That would be bocage, where ranges were very short for all forms of engagement.

In built-up areas (Oosterbeek, anyone?) same-same.

Anywhere else, post 1945, any ATk weapon whose range was no greater than 100m was last-chance-saloon technology.

And still is.
 

offog

LE
From 43 onward we were mostly on the attack and when the the panzers did come forward they were in small numbers and given a hammering by AT guns. But aren't all Platoon A/T weapons the last chance saloon.

The PIAT also made a very effective mortar.
 
808 is basically gelignite with added plasticiser to keep it soft. Its main explosive ingredients were nitroglycerine(NG) and nitrocellulose(NC) with a bit of ammonium nitrate to balance up the oxygen. Nobel discovered that you could dissolve NG in NC which had the effect of desensitising the NG. 808 had a shelf life of about 10 years, but would harden up as the plasticiser broke down, however this depended very much on the storage conditions. Eventually the NC would break down and allow the NG to separate out, which is a bit of a worry...!

RDX (Trimethylenetrinitramine ) is much more stable with a shelf life of several decades.. again dependent on storage conditions. It is basically nitrated hexamine (...why do you think we were given it to cook on!) and is much more difficult and expensive to make than NG/NC & TNT which we had been making for ages..

At the beginning of WW2, most UK military explosive fillings were either based on TNT or PETN. TNT, either on its own, or more commonly mixed with Ammonium Nitrate as Amatol was easy to fill as TNT has a relatively low melting point and can be poured or pressed into shell etc. PETN was used for smaller shell and cannon shell as it performs better in small volumes. RDX was a bit of a PITA to fill as you could not melt it, and it had to be mixed with TNT or something meltable to fill into ammunition..

RDX was developed at Waltham Abbey in the 30s as a higher energy explosive with a higher velocity of detonation than TNT, but serial production did not start until 1940. Most of the early production was used for high value warheads such as torpedos and the Upkeep mine. It was not available for general filling until the end of the war.

The effectiveness of shaped charges depends on the diameter of the cone and the velocity of detonation of the explosive. 808 has actually a higher VofD(7,700 m/s) than TNT(6900m/s) although RDX (8650m/s) is higher than both, so it makes sense they filled PIAT bombs with 808 in preference to TNT..
Can I steal some of that, to give a better description in the book? I can also stick your name down on the titles if you want? If so PM me.

That would be bocage, where ranges were very short for all forms of engagement.

In built-up areas (Oosterbeek, anyone?) same-same.

Anywhere else, post 1945, any ATk weapon whose range was no greater than 100m was last-chance-saloon technology.

And still is.
Average range of an engagement in NWE was only 600 yards. Equally, if you go to the IWM sound archive and search PIAT, you'll find a load of entries. Weridly most of the operational entries (IE: not being sent for training, but shooting it in the field) are for blatting objects other than tanks.

Much is spoken about the wonderful bazooka but shortly after its introduction it was feared by its users until someone realised that it needed a barrel gauge to be used before it could be fired (obviously not when you're in a trench but as part of prep for battle). The barrel was not thick enough and would easily dent which would cause the rocket to go bang before leaving the barrel.
I've got the British first look at a Bazooka report somewhere... its not pleasant reading. highlights are:
Unsafe with a high chance of premature's.
Unable to fire while prone
Flimsy and not robust enough for field use.
Despite shooting with it all day they were unable to hit the target plate (Even if they had the penetration would have been less than the PIAT's. Not that the PIAT was about then, although the MD1 prototype bomb was).
 

Chef

LE
To put the range debate into some perspective.

From what I've read of armoured warfare the allies were worried about 88s and certainly in France Panzerfausts, the majority of which were Panzerfaust 60s with a 60 metre range. Plus the disadvantage of a backblast
 
Weridly most of the operational entries (IE: not being sent for training, but shooting it in the field) are for blatting objects other than tanks.
These days we've grown accustomed to seeing much more expensive shoulder-launched projectiles being used in much the same way.
 
To put the range debate into some perspective.

From what I've read of armoured warfare the allies were worried about 88s and certainly in France Panzerfausts, the majority of which were Panzerfaust 60s with a 60 metre range. Plus the disadvantage of a backblast
I posted this some pages back:


Since I posted it some people have advised to include some extra fields which I have done, and the modified version will be appearing in the book.

These days we've grown accustomed to seeing much more expensive shoulder-launched projectiles being used in much the same way.
That was part of the beauty of the PIAT. One type of bomb allowed you to kill a tank, punch a hole through a wall, or spray shrapnel around a 15ft radius area. It's also likely why the WP, and HE rounds never went anywhere. Because they would have taken up a valuable slot in the ammo load out.

There's a rather interesting American document on house to house fighting. the point out that if the Germans defend their house there's several outcomes. One Fire it into the brick wall and it'll punch right through. Or fire it into a window. If the bomb enters the room it'll shred anyone inside, if the Germans have put up thin chicken wire to keep out grenades the bomb will go right through it, before detonating inside the room. If it is thick wire, the bomb will detonate on the chicken wire, which will promptly fragment and shred anyone in the room.
 
I posted this some pages back:


Since I posted it some people have advised to include some extra fields which I have done, and the modified version will be appearing in the book.



That was part of the beauty of the PIAT. One type of bomb allowed you to kill a tank, punch a hole through a wall, or spray shrapnel around a 15ft radius area. It's also likely why the WP, and HE rounds never went anywhere. Because they would have taken up a valuable slot in the ammo load out.

There's a rather interesting American document on house to house fighting. the point out that if the Germans defend their house there's several outcomes. One Fire it into the brick wall and it'll punch right through. Or fire it into a window. If the bomb enters the room it'll shred anyone inside, if the Germans have put up thin chicken wire to keep out grenades the bomb will go right through it, before detonating inside the room. If it is thick wire, the bomb will detonate on the chicken wire, which will promptly fragment and shred anyone in the room.
Or a round of 76mm HE, as per Brad Pitt.
 

HE117

LE
Can I steal some of that, to give a better description in the book? I can also stick your name down on the titles if you want? If so PM me.



Average range of an engagement in NWE was only 600 yards. Equally, if you go to the IWM sound archive and search PIAT, you'll find a load of entries. Weridly most of the operational entries (IE: not being sent for training, but shooting it in the field) are for blatting objects other than tanks.



I've got the British first look at a Bazooka report somewhere... its not pleasant reading. highlights are:
Unsafe with a high chance of premature's.
Unable to fire while prone
Flimsy and not robust enough for field use.
Despite shooting with it all day they were unable to hit the target plate (Even if they had the penetration would have been less than the PIAT's. Not that the PIAT was about then, although the MD1 prototype bomb was).
Shoulder launched rockets were always notoriously difficult to make reliable. Unlike launching a rocket off a truck or an aeroplane, you cannot have the rocket motor burning whilst the projectile leaves a hand held launcher, otherwise you fry the firer. You need to ensure that the motor burn is very fast and that everything is finished before the exhaust has got around 2/3 of the length of the launcher. The main problem is charge temperature. The burn rate of propellant, particularly at low pressures, is very dependent on the initial charge temperature. Small variations in the intitial charge temperature will cause the "all burned" point to move up and down the launch tube. This is why there are always very strict temperature limits on these types of ammunition, as firing them below the temperature limit will get you a face full of burning propellant (and a short ranging projectile!). Firing above the limit could result in a too fast burn and bursting the rocket motor. (You can also do this by bouncing the rocket off the deck, breaking the propellant grain and increasing the burning rate!)

The 66 is really the only example of where they have managed to get it to work reliably. This is down to a very light projectile and a clever, very fast burning (and remarkably robust), rocket motor. It does not however scale up well...!

This is why most shoulder launched systems have gone for a recoilless launch design, where a fixed charge is used to launch the projectile, either using a counter mass or just flinging the projectile far enough out of the launcher to safely light a rocket motor. (Yes, DosG, whoever marked up the Bofors AT4 as a "rocket" got it wrong, it is a recoilless gun!). These systems are far less temperature dependent and are less affected by being bounced on the deck...!
 

Chef

LE
@Listy Ta for that. I'd forgotten your list. It was more to reinforce the fear tank crews would have had for things that could kill them and the naming of them. Hence the number of 'Tigers' swanning around the US areas, the notion that round every corner was a German fanatic with a panzerfaust and the devastating effect of fighter bombers on German armour (rather ignoring the destruction of the B echelon vehicles).
 
The PIAT could also launch a tin of Irish stew up to 150 yards with devastated effects on the enemy, putting them right off their dinner.
Not forgetting the krauts could always Panzerschreck their bratwurst back in a dastardly counter battery fire. Probably.
 
Hence the number of 'Tigers' swanning around the US areas
Not just US areas: Monty felt the need to issue a very sternly worded missive to all Brit subordinate commanders about the matter.

I wish I could recall where I picked it up recently (pretty sure it was a history documentary presented by a proper historian, and not in a book), that for most of the time the Brits were battling in the bocage, there were fewer than 10 actual Tiger tanks operating in the area around the allied beachhead.
 
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Chef

LE
I wish I could recall where I picked it up recently (pretty sure it was a history documentary presented by a proper historian, and not in a book), that for most of the time the Brits were battling in the bocage, there were fewer than 10 actual Tiger tanks operating in the area. around the allied beachhead.
I've seen the same video on Youtube can't remember the title. It did point out that the Pz IV could be mistaken for something bigger but further away (thanks Dougal) in the heat of battle.

Similar to the Spitfire syndrome exhibited by the Germans during the Battle of Britain.
 
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