PIAT

British flagProjector Infantry Anti-Tank (PIAT) of the British Army in World War II.
History, development, service, specifications, statistics, pictures and 3d model.

PIAT

Projector Infantry Anti-Tank (PIAT) with bombs.

Projector Infantry Anti-Tank (PIAT)
Type: light anti-tank weapon.

History

The ‘Projector Infantry Anti-Tank’ became known under the short name PIAT. This light anti-tank weapon of the British infantry during the Second World War was the result of several years of trials and experiments by Lieutenant-Colonel Blacker.
This officer had long been fascinated by the idea of a spigot discharger. Such a device works without the usual barrel and replaces it with a hollow rear part with the projectile. A percussion cartridge inside this rear part is hit by a firing pin. This firing pin is a heavy steel rod which is pressed into the end of the projectile while it is on a simple rack. The blast of the cartridge blows up the projectile from the spigot. The distance covered on the spigot gives the projectile sufficient accuracy on its way to the target.

Blacker’s first patent for this type of weapon appeared in the early 1930s and by 1937 he had built a specimen called ‘Arbalest’. Several of these were produced in 1939 by the Parnell aircraft company for trials with the British army.
However, these were rejected in May 1939 as the 2-inch mortar seemed a better proposal for a grenade launcher.

In 1940, however, General Blacker was transferred to MD1 (Ministry of Defence 1), a military facility for the investigation and development of unorthodox weapons, especially for secret operations. Therefore, the establishment was also called ‘Winston Churchill’s Toy Shop’.
After reworking the Arbalest, Blacker introduced it there as a combined weapon for fighting tanks and bombing. He claimed that the weapon had the same power as the 2-pounder anti-tank gun and almost the same range as the 3-inch grenade launcher.
MD1 passed the draft on to superiors at the end of 1940 and although it was considered somewhat skewed by most of those responsible, the weapon went into production as the ’29 mm Spigot Mortar’ or ‘Blacker Bombard’ in 1941 and was widely used by the Home Guard and airfield security units.

Blacker now developed a smaller, man-wearable version, which he called the ‘Baby Bombard’. But before he could do much more with the design, he left MD1 to another post, where he no longer had enough time for his experiments.

However, the prototype of the ‘Baby Bombard’ remained with the MD1, where Major (later Major-General) M R Jefferis continued to work on it. In June 1941 the weapon was presented as ‘Bombard Baby 0.625 inch No.1’ (the unit of measurement indicates the diameter of the pin) for first tests at the Ordnance Board. However, it was not impressed and reported that ‘the baby bombard would be ineffective as an anti-tank weapon under all conceivable circumstances and in all conceivable missions’.
Such important persons as the director of artillery and the assistant to the general staff agreed and on August 11, 1941 the weapon was officially dropped.

Among other things, it was above all the ineffective light bombs of the weapon that led to this decision. Therefore Jefferis developed an effective hollow charge bomb in the following months, which he explained to various interested parties in February 1942.
This seems to have changed the situation and in mid-March prototypes of the PIAT were produced and the possibilities for the use of high explosive, fog, flare and signal projectiles were investigated.
The tests with the new bomb were successful and the weapon went into production. On August 31, 1942, PIAT was officially adopted.

 PIAT cut open

A PIAT cut open to reveal its workings with the large spring.

The mechanism of the PIAT was very simple: an enormous spring was compressed by unlocking the shoulder pad. By standing on it and lifting the weapon, the spring and spigot are pressed into the body and held in place by a simple sear mechanism. The body was then put back to the shoulder pad and the weapon was ready to fire.
A bomb was now placed in the front guide rail and when the trigger was pulled back, the spigot was released, which penetrated into the rear part of the bomb and caused the propellant charge there to explode.
This explosion threw the bomb forward and at the same time pushed the spigot back into the body of the weapon, so that it was already cocked for the next shot.

The maximum combat range was about 100 yards, although bombs could be fired up to a distance of almost 750 yards. The planned anti-personnel and signal bombs were never introduced.

British soldier, armed with Sten sub-machine gun and PIAT

British soldier, armed with Sten sub-machine gun and PIAT for tank destruction.

Within the restrictions of PIAT it was an astonishingly efficient weapon, but it would be inappropriate to call it popular among British and Allied soldiers.
The weapon was heavy and unwieldy to carry, complicated and only to cock with great effort and generated enormous forces when firing. Nevertheless, the PIAT was grudgingly respected for the purpose for which it was designed: in the hands of a resolute man, it could effectively stop any tank.

Undoubtedly the best-known incident of this kind took place in Italy, when fusilier Jefferson jumped outside his ditch and knocked-out two Tiger tanks from close range firing from the hip with a PIAT. For this outstanding effort he was awarded the Victoria Cross, but the general opinion among the soldiers was that he received the award mainly for shooting this thing from the hip and not for taking out two tanks.

In any case, the hollow charge grenade of the PIAT could disable any standard battle tank and was thus comparable in performance to the American Bazooka and German Panzerfaust, although no chemical energy but mechanical springs were used for firing.

With explosive or smoke grenades, the PIAT could also be used in house-to-house combat, making it a versatile weapon, in contrast to the other light anti-tank weapons. The PIAT replaced the Boys anti-tank rifle as the light standard anti-tank weapon and was widely used by the British and Commonwealth forces.

Only the powerful spring made it unpopular, since mostly two men were necessary for the transport and use of the weapon. And if the bomb missed the target or did not put it out of action, the weapon was almost unusable because it was far too risky to reload it in combat.
But if the bomb hit, it could take out any tank. In addition, the PIAT was often the only main armament of light vehicles, such as the Universal Carrier and some armoured cars.

PIAT was used by the British armed forces for some time after the Second World War, but was replaced by other weapons as soon as possible. Although the PIAT was an effective for anti-tank combat, its principle of operation was exceptional and was not used in any other weapon.
Its main advantage was that the weapon could be built easily and relatively cheaply in large quantities when the British army urgently needed a light anti-tank weapon.

Users: British and Commonwealth forces.


Animated 3D model PIAT


Specifications PIAT

Specifications
Projector Infantry Anti-Tank (PIAT) Specification
Type Anti-tank launcher with spring spiral
Caliber -
Length 3ft 0in (99.0cm)
Weight 32lb (14.51kg)
Projectile and weight hollow charge bomb, 3lb (1,36kg)
Barrel non
Feed system single shot
System of operation Spigot discharger
Muzzle velocity 250-450 ft/sec (76-137 m/sec)
Maximum range 750 yards (700m)
Effective range 105 yards (100m)
Penetration c.70-102mm / 0°
Service statistics
PIAT Figures
Production delivery August 31, 1942
Final delivery 1945
Production figure ?
Price per unit ? (relative cheap)

Today’s War Diary and Report Feeds

Today 75 and 100 years ago and daily World War Report:

Diary July 21, 1943

Tito Rankowitsch Djilas

Josip Broz-Tito (center), born Croatian, came with the beginning of Operation Barbarossa from Moscow back to Yugoslavia. On the left his Minister of the Interior Rankowitsch and on the right Milovan Djilas.

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, July 21, 1943:

Occupied Territories

Yugoslavia: Nazi authorities in Belgrade offer 2 rewards of 100,000 Reichsmarks for capture ‘dead or alive’ of Partisan leaders Tito and Mihailovich.

Diary July 21, 1918

French and British soldiers operate together

French and British soldiers operate together, with a Hotchkiss mle 1900 machine-gun ready to provide fire support.

World War One Diary for Sundday, July 21, 1918:

Western Front

Champagne and Marne: ­CHATEAU-THIERRY RECAPTURED BY FRENCH after Germans retreat 5 miles (night July 20-21). French reach Lassery-Chateau-Thierry road on broad front. Between Marne and Reims, Anglo-French recapture Bois de Courton, advance down Ardre valley, capture (then lose) Marfaux and Coutrim. US 1st Division relieved (7,200 casualties) by British 15th (Scottish) Division.

Eastern Front

Kuban: White guerilla Colonel Shkuto captures Stavropol by threatening artillery bombard­ment (no guns but Reds evacuate). Denikin has to help to keep town and barely repels Sorokin’s Red counter-stroke.

Middle East

Hejaz Railway: 1,800 Arabs (over 80 killed), guns, armoured car and RAF planes repulsed by Jerdun Station’s 400 Turks and Maan garrison resupplied.
Palestine: Yeomanry Division renamed 4th Dav Division, 5th Cavalry Division joins DMC.

Deployment German Forces 1942

Deployment of German armed forces by theaters of war in the summer of 1942.

Panzer IV of DAK

Panzer IV of DAK (German Afrika Korps) in the Western Desert.

Deployment German ground forces

The German distribution of ground forces by theaters of war in the summer (June-July) 1942 after TOE (tables of organisation and equipment).
The actual average strength in the army, however, was only 88%. The units of the Army Group South in Southern Russia were largely completely refreshed at the cost of the others.

Army: divisions
Theaters of War Infantry, Mountain and Airborne motorized Infantry Armoured
Russian Front, Army Gr South 49 1/3 8 12
Russian Front, Army Gr Center 49 4 8
Russian Front, Army Gr North 35 1/3 4 3 1/3
20th Army, Finland 6 1/3 -
Army Norway 10 1/3 - 1
Denmark 1 -
15th Army (Calais), Holland 11 - 1
7th Army (Normandy) 8 1/3 - 1 1/2
1st Army (Southwest France) 4 - 1
12th Army (Serbia, Greece) 4 1/3 -
Fortress Crete 1 -
DAK, Western Desert - 1 2
Reserve Army, Germany 1 -
TOTAL 181 17 29.83
Infantry (TOE)
Theaters of War infantrymen automatic rifles sub-machine guns machine guns mortars light anti-tank weapons
Russian Front, Army Gr South 564,000 ? ? 30,747 7,207 ?
Russian Front, Army Gr Center 525,000 ? ? 28,260 7,820 ?
Russian Front, Army Gr North 366,000 ? ? 19,467 5,674 ?
20th Army, Finland 46,000 ? ? 2,139 703 ?
Army Norway 96,000 ? ? 5,107 1,446 ?
Denmark 9,000 ? ? 500 140 ?
15th Army (Calais), Holland 105,000 ? ? 5,720 1,590 ?
7th Army (Normandy) 81,000 ? ? 4,827 1,190 ?
1st Army (Southwest France) 42,000 ? ? 2,220 610 ?
12th Army (Serbia, Greece) 39,000 ? ? 2,167 607 ?
Fortress Crete 9,000 ? ? 500 140 ?
DAK, Western Desert 18,000 ? ? 773 193 ?
Reserve Army, Germany 6,000 ? ? 220 90 ?
TOTAL 1,906,000 ? ? 102,647 27,410 ?
Vehicles and artillery
Theaters of War Tanks Assault guns, AFVs APCs Trucks Field guns AT guns AA guns
Russian Front, Army Gr South 2,130 568 ? 63,867 4,683 4,646 832
Russian Front, Army Gr Center 1,420 284 ? 46,900 4,157 4,311 732
Russian Front, Army Gr North 592 284 ? 31,866 2,970 3,036 512
20th Army, Finland - - ? 1,333 364 376 76
Army Norway 177 - ? 6,067 773 790 136
Denmark - - ? 500 73 75 12
15th Army (Calais), Holland 177 - ? 6,900 849 867 144
7th Army (Normandy) 266 - ? 4,900 641 652 118
1st Army (Southwest France) 177 - ? 3,400 338 342 60
12th Army (Serbia, Greece) - - ? 2,167 316 325 52
Fortress Crete - - ? 500 73 75 12
DAK, Western Desert 355 - ? 4,667 141 134 36
Reserve Army, Germany - - ? - 46 48 12
TOTAL 5,294 1,136 ? 173,067 15,424 15,677 2,734

Deployment German air force

For the German Luftwaffe, only figures for September 1942 are available, but these are accurate by aircraft.

Strength Luftwaffe
Theaters of War Fighter, night fighter Fighter bombers light bombers and Stukas" medium and heavy bombers
Russian Front, Army Gr South 322 - 162 277
Russian Front, Army Gr Center and North 612 - 202 926
Finland and Norway 100 - 59 49
Denmark -
In the West (France, Low countries) 521 - - 222
Balkans, Crete, Western Desert 111 - - 41
Germany 327 - -
TOTAL 1,933 - 423 1,515

Deployment German Navy

The figures for the German Kriegsmarine refer to the summer of 1942, but are partial estimates.

Strength German Navy
Theaters of War Battleships (BB,BC) heavy cruisers (CA) light cruiser (LCA) Destroyers (DD) Torpedo boats MTBs Subs Transport
Norway 2 3 - 6+ ? ? ? ?
France - - - 6 (?) ? ? ? ?
Baltic, North sea 1 (damaged) 2+ 1+ ? ? ? ? ?
TOTAL 3 (2 BC) 6 (including 2 Pocket-battleships, 2 old BB) 4 c.12 c.12 c.35 315 c.615 (c.1.12m t available at start of war)