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The P.I.A.T.

#1
The P.I.A.T. was an object which post war seems to be held in high contemp.
I am watching a prog on on the History Channel on D Day and the Pegasus Bridge.
A PIAT is used to destroy the first attacking Panzer.
In George McDonald Frazers autobiography he uses a PIAT in Burma quite successfully.
I know Fuisiler Jefferson Lancashire Fusilers won a VC for knocking out two tanks, said to be Tigers in Italy.
Was this weapon as bad as history protrays or has it been done great diservice ?
john
 
#2
From what I know of the thing, it had a pretty poor range and accuracy, but the warhead itself was larger than the pathetic little thing on the contemporary bazooka (2 3/4" IIRC?), which would have made lethality better if you could achieve a hit.

I believe it could also be fired from confined spaces.
 
#3
http://www.arnhemarchive.org/equip_piat.htm

Early problems with misfiring and premature detonation of fuses 8O caused a lack of confidence in the system, which was fairly primitive but effective.

It had no back-blast making it safe to fire from an enclosed space, and could be used as a mortar.

It was short-range (less than 100 yards) and couldn't penetrate the armour of later German tank designs, however that was a failing it shared with Alled tanks!

The cumbersome arming procedure may have added to perceptions of its unpopularity - it could be loaded and armed whilst standing easily but with a 90kg draw required, the difficulty of undertaking this procedure lying down can be imagined.

Carrying a man-portable anti tank weapon is always going to be unpopular!
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#4
According to those few I have spoken to who actually used it, it was a fine piece of kit if a pain in the butt to drag around.
No backblast (sig/enclosed spaces) and in theory self-cocking.

It's action can be considered slightly unreliable as the charge quite often failed to recock the spring, and the warhead couldn't reliably poke holes through the front armour of the later Bosche tanks.
There again will the 94 defeat the frontal armour of modern tanks ?

Also a usable pocket mortar when push came to shove, (which is what the original design was developed from.)




Edited to add:

Some nutter of a Canuck, Pte Ernest A. Smith of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada did nail a Panther with one - although he did crawl to within TEN metres to ensure a good hit !
He received a VC for this and other actions in Oct '44.
The only Canadian Pte to receive this award he must have been a model sldr as he was promoted to Cpl nine times, and was busted to each time !
The last living Canadian recipient of the VC sadly passed away three weeks ago.

Check through these links for further gen & some photographs of the gentleman.
http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=history/secondwar/citations/smith
http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm?source=feature/smokysmith
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Alvia_Smith
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=11475462&pt=Ernest%20'Smokey'%20Smith
 
#5
Cutaway said:
According to those few I have spoken to who actually used it, it was a fine piece of kit if a pain in the butt to drag around.
No backblast (sig/enclosed spaces) and in theory self-cocking.

It's action can be considered slightly unreliable as the charge quite often failed to recock the spring, and the warhead couldn't reliably poke holes through the front armour of the later Bosche tanks.
There again will the 94 defeat the frontal armour of modern tanks ?

Also a usable pocket mortar when push came to shove, (which is what the original design was developed from.)




Edited to add

Some nutter of a Canuck, Pte Ernest A. Smith of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada did nail a Panther with one - although he did crawl to within TEN metres to ensure a good hit !
He received a VC for this and other actions in Oct '44.
The only Canadian Pte to receive this award he must have been a model sldr as he was promoted to Cpl nine times, and was busted to each time !
The last living Canadian recipient of the VC sadly passed away three weeks ago.

Check through these links for further gen & some photographs of the gentleman.
http//www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=history/secondwar/citations/smith
http//www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm?source=feature/smokysmith
http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Alvia_Smith
http//www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=11475462&pt=Ernest%20'Smokey'%20Smith
Ever tried dragging a Carl Gustav around!
 
#6
LARD said:
Cutaway said:
According to those few I have spoken to who actually used it, it was a fine piece of kit if a pain in the butt to drag around.
Ever tried dragging a Carl Gustav around!
PIAT loaded had a total weight of 15.63Kg
Carl Gustav M3. Total weight = 8.5Kg

(OK the M2 weighed 14.2 kg but they were replaced in 1991)
 
#7
The PIAT was the first effective hand-held AT weapon and like all 'firsts' it was improved upon by other nations copying the idea. Before the PIAT all we had was the Boyes AT rifle......Basically. an elephant gun(the cartridge case was a .500 Express). Apparently. Rolls Royce experimented with a machine-gun firing this round - now that would have been some gun....








.
 
#8
Ah, the Boy(e)s AT rifle! For some reason it springs to mind whenever I come across a reference to 0.5" 'materiel destruction' rifles - perhaps it wasn't such a useless piece of kit after all?

I seem to remember reading that it was used with some success in various WW2 theatres for all sorts of things other than shooting at tanks. I should think it would do the business on a lot of reasonably soft-skinned targets.
 
#11
If you've ever read through accounts of the actions in and around Arnhem, it's amazing how often they report that they couldn't engqage armour because the PIATs were left back on the Jeeps or at Coy HQ. That would point at their unpopularity in moving them around, only to find it would have been beter to have them forward with the troops.

Reminded me of a time in about 1982 when I was heard by my Sgt Major saying something like "Why don't we just leave that piece of sh1t in the 'SQs' wagon.", refering the the Charlie G. I was gripped in a way that I'm sure would be illegal today and told...."THAT heap of 'sh1t' ain't going to do nobody any damage in the 'Qs' wagon.... You're carrying it!"

He was right you know..... it did do someone damage, me as I remember rightly :?
 
#13
PartTimePongo said:
I have spoken to someone that killed an AFV with one. He describes the POE as being no thicker than a crayon , but it was a butchers shop inside :(
That's normal for a HEAT round, nice little slug of molten metal causing mayhem in the crew compartment. It's HESH that slaps against the armour and doesn't penetrate.... but then, it doesn't need to does it. :?
 
#14
Vasco said:
Ah, the Boy(e)s AT rifle! For some reason it springs to mind whenever I come across a reference to 0.5" 'materiel destruction' rifles - perhaps it wasn't such a useless piece of kit after all?

I seem to remember reading that it was used with some success in various WW2 theatres for all sorts of things other than shooting at tanks. I should think it would do the business on a lot of reasonably soft-skinned targets.
It was used in the far-eastern theatre to knock off Jap snipers hiding up and behind trees, the round would penetrate through the tree trunk.....
 
#15
I understand the the round for the Boyes AT rifle was the basis for the Russian 14.? mm heavy machine gun ammunition.
john
During the retreat to Dunkirk my Father who was a Gunner R.A. was sent, alone, with a Boyes AT rifle, to a cross roads to stop two "Tiger' tanks said to be approaching. Yes I know they where not Tigers and no they never did arrive or young john would not be here.
 
#16
The Boys Rifle had a hell of a kick on it, and I belive it was .55 cal.

The PIAT, I belive it's been treated a little unfairly by history (think about what history is going to have to say about the L85 series. Do you think they will seperate the A2's?).
Yes the PIAT was a mare to load, sometimes it didn't cock itself, mainly becuase the gunner didn't hold the PIAT tightly enougth. It's bomb Coulcn't go through the front armour on the heavy german tanks, but no Infantry AT in service could. It could go through the side though. Unfortanly poor manfacturing led to varrying power of bombs. That could cause some problems.

On the plus side it was almsot imposible to spot, something which probaly led to the huge number of VC's involving PIATs, becuase you could sit there banging away at the German tanks, and he wouldn't be able to spot you to send something big and explosive back at you.
 
#18
Allegedly the unpleasant recoil of the Boys' rifle led to it being used as a form of punishment. The guilty party would be required to fire five rounds from the rifle and present the spent cases to the supervising NCO whilst they were still hot.

Towards the end of the war a version of the Boys was developed that made use of the Gerlich or 'squeeze-bore' principle. The round was constructed such that there was a gap between the jacket and the core so that it could be reduced in diameter as it travelled down the barrel. The calibre at the breech end was .55 as per the original and the calibre at the muzzle was .303.

Still not enough of an improvement to return the Boys to it's prewar position of defeating the armour of all the tanks it faced. Although in truth it didn't take many improvements in German armour to outstrip the Boys capabilities. When that happened Boys gunners were trained to target the turret rings of tanks, in the hope of burring them such that the turret could no longer traverse!

Rolls Royce did try to develop an MG for the round, but war time pressures meant they couldn't expend the effort required to overcome the main problem, making the gun strong enough so survive firing the cartridge.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#19
strut_jack said:
Allegedly the unpleasant recoil of the Boys' rifle led to it being used as a form of punishment. The guilty party would be required to fire five rounds from the rifle and present the spent cases to the supervising NCO whilst they were still hot.

Towards the end of the war a version of the Boys was developed that made use of the Gerlich or 'squeeze-bore' principle. The round was constructed such that there was a gap between the jacket and the core so that it could be reduced in diameter as it travelled down the barrel. The calibre at the breech end was .55 as per the original and the calibre at the muzzle was .303.

...
I think the use of the Boys as a punishment is as you say only alleged.
I've fired the Boys and didn't think the recoil was that impressive, certainly nothing punishing.

The tapered bore models worked well in trials but it was decided that the recoil on those was too much.
I think some were given to the French, perhaps because then they'd never be fired ?
 
#20
Cutaway, I've seen accounts that describe the muzzle brake and recoil arrangements of the Boys as more than adequate for taming the round. I used allegedly because it strikes me as the sort of tale told by the 'old and bold' back on the home front.

I think the Portuguese got them as well, the original .55 that is. Certainly all the available ammunition in the last few years seems to have been of Portuguese origin, and it's not like it's a calibre you're going to produce commercially.

The Finns seem to have been big fans too, using weapons directly supplied by the UK to great effect on Soviet armour in the '39 Winter war. Subsequently they made use of weapons indirectly supplied by the UK, via the Germans who captured them in France, in the Continuation war, although ultimately they ended up having the same problem of improved armour.
 

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