Bazooka vs Panzer. Battle of the Bulge 1944 by Steven Zaloga

By Steven Zaloga

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Sample text

The defense of the villages themselves would be undertaken by Col Francis Boos’ 38th Infantry Regiment, plus supporting armor from the 741st Tank Battalion and 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion and towed antitank guns of the 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion. Among the casualties, the battalion had lost four company commanders in its three rifle companies, and numerous platoon leaders and platoon sergeants. Fortunately, McKinley had conducted a special bazooka training program for his battalion prior to the December 13 mission, primarily because of the value of the bazooka in attacking the Westwall pillboxes in the Wehlerscheid area.

What was not appreciated at the time was that shields actually enhanced the penetration of shaped-charge rockets such as the bazooka. Detonation of the bazooka warhead against a skirt provided more time for the fuze to trigger the warhead, allowing the jet to form more coherently, thus enhancing its penetrative effects. This did not become evident until after the war, when advances in flash radiography better documented this phenomenon. A periscopic sight was fitted to the center of the mounting for observation and targeting, with the lens visible slightly below the machine-gun barrel.

Even though the bazooka was largely ineffective to penetrate a German tank frontally, he recognized that in the hands of a brave infantryman, the weapon could be maneuvered for a side or rear shot. THE GERMAN ATTACKERS The US defenders of the Lausdell crossroads and the Twin Villages would face battle groups formed from units of 12. Although Waffen-SS units had been elite formations in the summer of 1944, by the winter of 1944–45 they had deteriorated badly. Most of the experienced combat troops of the Hitlerjugend had been killed in Normandy, and the unit had been reconstructed in the autumn of 1944 with a mixture of conscripts and volunteers who were not especially well trained.

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