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"New 75-mm Antitank Gun" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A preliminary report on the new German 75-mm antitank gun, from the Intelligence Bulletin, July 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]



As the effectiveness of the tank increases, especially as a result of more powerful armament and greater armor thickness, the development of antitank weapons is necessarily speeded up. Until recently the largest caliber German antitank gun (not to be confused with the dual-purpose AA/AT gun or with the tank gun) was the 50-mm (see fig. 1). However, the Germans now have a 75-mm antitank gun (see fig. 2), which they designate as the 7.5-cm Pak 40 [1].

[German 50-mm Antitank Gun]
Figure 1.—German 50-mm Antitank Gun.

Although this new long-barreled gun is very similar in appearance to the standard German 50-mm antitank gun, known as the 5-cm Pak 38, the new 75-mm has certain structural differences which may readily be detected: its shield is angular, and has a flat frontal section with two flat side pieces set at an angle of about 45° to the plane of the frontal section; its muzzle brake is broader and longer; and its sighting aperture is square.

[German 75-mm Antitank Gun]
Figure 2.—German 75-mm Antitank Gun.

The new 75-mm, exclusive of its carriage, is essentially the same weapon as the German 75-mm long-barreled tank gun, which the German Army designates as the 7.5-cm Kw. K. 40 [2] (the latter is now the principal armament of the Pz. Kw. 4, and also appears in two self-propelled versions.) The chief differences between the 75-mm antitank gun and tank gun are probably the substitution, in the antitank gun, of mechanical firing and percussion primer for electric firing and primer; the chamber of the antitank gun is also probably much longer. The breechblock is of the semiautomatic, horizontally sliding type.

The 75-mm antitank gun is mounted on a split-trail carriage, with torsion springing; this springing is automatically cut out when the trails are open. The light-alloy wheels are fitted with solid rubber tires. An unusual feature is a detachable third wheel, which can be fitted on near the trail spades, to permit easier manhandling. The gun has a double baffle muzzle brake.

Additional details about the weapon are as follows:

Over-all length in traveling position   _ _ _ _ _  19 ft. 2 in.
Over-all height  _ _ _ _ _  54 in.
Weight in action  _ _ _ _ _  3,350 lbs.
Length of barrel   _ _ _ _ _  10 ft. 6 in.
Length of recoil  _ _ _ _ _  35.43 in.
Elevation  _ _ _ _ _  +22 degrees.
Depression  _ _ _ _ _  5 degrees.
Traverse  _ _ _ _ _  65 degrees.

Four types of ammunition are used: high explosive, hollow charge, armor-piercing shot, and an armor-piercing tracer shell with a small explosive charge and an armor-piercing cap covered with a ballistic nose. The armor-piercing shot is the usual German steel casing enclosing a tungsten carbide core; it is fitted with tracer.

Detailed confirmed information regarding the effectiveness of this weapon is not yet available. It has a low silhouette, certainly, and this is always a definite advantage for an antitank gun. While the muzzle velocity is high, the tube is of monobloc construction and the propellant charge is very large; in view of this, the safety factor may be regarded as somewhat doubtful. Nevertheless, the Germans apparently have confidence in the gun, inasmuch as they are now manufacturing it as a standard weapon.

[1] Panzerabwehrkanone—antitank gun.
[2] Kampfwagen Kanone—tank gun.


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