The Panzerschreck was an anti-tank rocket launcher
employed by the German
military during World War II
. It was a precursor to the American bazooka
, and looked very similar, if slightly larger than that weapon.
It consisted of a launch tube a little over five feet in length, that was loaded with a seven pound rocket from the rear. There was no special sighting equipment, the target was simply eyeballed, and you pulled the trigger to electrically ignite the rocket motor. It had a range of about 180 meters. As a HEAT charge, effectiveness did not decline as a function of range, not counting poor aim. At a flat angle this charge could penetrate 230mm of steel armor plate.
Unlike the Panzerfaust, this weapon could be reloaded, and ammunition was distributed throughout a squad in five round boxes.
Early models did a lot of damage to the body and morale of the firer, because there was no guard against the burning
propellant of the rocket as it left the tube. Troops were issued fireproof ponchos and gasmasks as makeshift protection. A remedy was attempted in 1943, when a small shield was placed in front of the trigger mechanism, with a tiny viewport added. This was an improvement, however it created a blowback effect as the blast of the rocket pushed against this surface.
Over the course of the war over 250,000 of these weapons were produced. The chief selling point being reduced production costs per weapon. Compared to an anti-tank gun that may have cost several thousand Reichsmarks to produce, a Panzerschreck cost under 100RM. As the war ground on, there was even a push to produce the weapon as a corrugated cardboard tube to save metal.
At a range of 100 meters, against a static target, in peaceful conditions, a little under 75% of shots fired would miss. If you were carrying one of these in 1944, you probably died before 1945.