AB Bazooka is a United States Anti-tank unit. It is the American equivalent of the British PIAT and the German Panzershreck, the latter of which was based on captured bazooka designs and used a similar mechanism. The unit consists of a two-man squad armed with a bazooka and a few small arms. Tank hunter teams were used to sneak up on enemy tanks and take them down at very close range, instantly destroying the tank if a hit is scored (penetration is nearly always guaranteed).
Operated by veteran tank hunter teams of the 101st Airborne, the AB Bazooka is a respectable AT unit at point-blank ranges. It is better than bazooka teams employed by other American divisions as it has improved accuracy. Compared with the man-portable anti-tank weapons used by the other nations, the AB bazooka is cheaper than the Panzerschreck (20 points vs 30 points) and only slightly less accurate (9 acc vs 10 acc). Its main drawback is its limited range, firing only at 200m range compared to the 250m of the Panzerschreck.
To develop the bazooka, two pieces of technology had to be acquired: the shaped-charge warhead and the rocket-powered weapon. The Rocket Launcher M1A1 was introduced in late 1942 and greatly improved upon over time. German troops managed to capture examples of this weapon fighting the inexperienced US troops in Tunisia and the red army on the Eastern front (who were supplied bazookas through lend-lease). The Germans quickly realised that to fire a shaped-charge warhead, the mechanism used in the bazooka was much more simple and easy than the one they used in the complex Puppchen, which was a in effect mini-artillery piece with a carriage and a breech. Germany soon came up with a powerful recoilless anti-tank weapon of their own, the infamous Panzerschreck. The US would eventually develop a much-improved weapon, the super bazooka, but the war was already over when this new weapon was introduced.
The bazooka's effectiveness decreased in the later stages of the war when confronted with the big cats and armour skirts on the sides of German tanks. The main drawbacks of the American man-portable were the large backblast, sure to expose the firer's position, and the fact that the bazooka team had to expose their bodies to obtain a clear field of fire. A variant of the US anti-tank weapon saw use as an aerial weapon, made famous thanks to the exploits of Rosie the Rocketeer, who managed to disable several German tanks in his observation aircraft armed with six bazookas in Northwest Europe.
The term 'bazooka' itself gained lasting popularity and is still informally used to designate any ground-to-ground shoulder-fired missile weapon.
This page was last edited on 24 March 2019, at 19:34.
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