It is no secret that the West has supplied Ukraine with various anti-tank and anti-armor weapon systems that have helped them fend off Russian tanks. The more well-known are the Javelins the US donated and the NLAWs that the British Government also gave the Ukrainian Armed Forces. However, there’s another anti-tank weapon that has not been getting the recognition it deserves, and that is the German-made tank killer, the Panzerfaust 3.
Last February 3, the Netherlands, with Germany’s approval, donated some 400 Panzerfaust 3 rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Ukraine in an attempt to aid the Ukrainian defensive efforts.
The Panzerfaust 3, literally meaning “armor fist” or “tank fist,” has its origins in World War II when its older brother (or father at this point) the Panzerfaust was used in the Second World War. There were highly effective against allied tanks from the US, UK, and ironically enough, the Soviet Union.
A pretty useful weapon at that time, it was a single shot, recoilless German anti-tank weapon that was inexpensive and pretty straightforward to use. The Panzerfaust had 6 variations, the original version being the Panzerfaust 30 Klein, Panzerfaust 60, Panzerfaust 100, Panzerfaust 150, and the Panzerfaust 250. The numbers were indicative of the nominal maximum range of the weapons, i.e., 30m for the Germans and so on.
Going back to the Panzerfaust 3, it was developed during the Cold War because the Panzerfaust 2 Lanze had been aging, as all weapons do. From 1978 to 1979, the Germans developed the Panzerfaust 3 until Dynamit Nobel AG received a development order. It was then officially introduced and used in 1987 through 1992 in various capacities, showcasing its dual hollow charge tandem warhead to go head to head with explosive reactive armor. The ones used in Ukraine, the Panzerfaust 3 (PxF) 3-IT-600, has a range of up to 600 meters (staying true to its naming format) and has now been upgraded to be computer-assisted in terms of its sighting and targeting.
It’s pretty famous for being lightweight and operated by just one person, making it convenient to use in Ukraine along with other anti-tank systems. It comprises a disposable canister with a 110mm warhead, a reusable firing and sighting device, and is able to fire DM12, DM12A1, and DM22 rockets.
The DM12 and DM12A1 rockets use Octol 7030, while the DM22 warheads are filled with PBX octogene. The DM12A also has a multi-purpose High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead that can penetrate over 800mm of armor. The Panzerfaust 3-IT600, however, is equipped with a 3-IT grenade that can penetrate up to 900mm of armor. It reportedly has an effective range from 15 to 300 meters if the targets are moving. If the targets are static, it is said to have an effective range of 400 to 600 meters.
How has it been faring with Russian tanks, specifically the more common T-72s and T-80s? It’s back destroying these Russian tanks again, at the very low price of $11,000. Against T-72s, which cost some $500,000 to make, and T-90s which cost a whopping $4.5 million each, we’d say that the Panzerfaust 3 is a pretty cost-efficient anti-tank weapon to wield in Ukraine.
The Panzerfaust 3 is unguided, so it does take a bit of skill to launch these bad boys, but Ukrainian forces seem to have gotten the hang of it as another photograph of a Russian T-72B3 was seen with its turret blown completely off. The Russians have not learned their lesson about where to store ammunition in a tank, in their designs they employ an auto-loading main gun that eliminates the Loader positi0n on the crew but requires that the ammunition be stored in a rotating carrousel type magazine inside the tank that tends to detonate with catastrophic loss of the vehicle and crew in an explosion so violent the turret is frequently blown off the tank as well.
The Ukrainians will not run out of these anti-tank weapon systems as they have been supplied by their western allies with stockpiles of them. The US alone has donated thousands of Javelin systems during the three-month-old war
“We’ve sent thousands of anti-armor and anti-[air] missile[s], helicopters, drones, grenade launchers, machine guns, rifles, radar systems. More than 50 million rounds of ammunition had already been sent,” Biden stated.
“The United States alone has provided 10 anti-armor systems for every one Russian tank that’s in Ukraine — a 10 to 1 ratio,” Biden explained.
For more information on Ukraine’s anti-tank weapons (and some of their more memorable mods), check out our article on the famed Ukrainian Stug-buggy (Stugna-Ps on ATVs), the modded e-bike that can carry an NLAW, and many more!