82nd Airborne Division Blog

Bazookas in World War II

In 1942 the American’s first used the bazooka during battle. The fairly inaccurate M1 was ineffectively used against axis armor in North Africa by troops that had no training with the weapon.

However, the United States felt it had potential and brought an upgraded version, the M1A1 with them during the Sicily invasion. There it had some success against small tanks (Italian and early German models), but had to hit larger Tiger I tanks in vulnerable spots – treads, sides, underbelly, etc to do any damage at all. Major drawbacks were that the person firing the bazooka was quite exposed and the rocket left a smoke trail showing the enemy where the shot had come from.

Lt. Col. Art Gorham, the 1st Battalion Commander of the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed when the tank he successfully targeted suffered little or no damage and returned fire.

Meanwhile, German soldiers captured bazookas on the Eastern Front after the American’s gave some to the Russians. They quickly reverse engineered it and built a far superior version, the Panzerschreck, which proved highly successful against allied tanks.

The allies continued to improve the weapon (M9, M9A1), but in combat it was less and less successful due to the ever increasing size and armor of German Panzers. They were more useful against infantry and some enemy defensive positions.

Strangely, in the Pacific Theater, the exact opposite was true. Bazooka rockets had no trouble penetrating the thin metal of Japanese tanks, but were often unable to damage defensive positions protected by sand or wood as they were too soft to cause the rocket to detonate.

Share this post:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Blogplay
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • Technorati
  • Twitter

Leave a Reply