The Panzerfaust klein (literally Small Tank Fist) was the first in a series of small, hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers. Not a true rocket, the propellant charge was contained in the launcher tube, which was discarded. The steel-spring fins popped out when the grenade left the tube. German Army Ordnance initiated development in mid-1942 as part of search for light infantry weapons on the hollow-charge principle that could be used against Soviet tanks. The maximum range was 30 m (about 100 ft) and the first 5000 were delivered in August 1943. But the penetrating power and warhead shape often led the projectile to bounce off the T34 tank's sloped armor, leading to the design of larger models with easier handling characteristics.
The Smithsonian's artifact was acquired from the U.S. Army's Ordnance Museum in 1989; it has a wooden simulated projectile and an empty tube that has been split open lengthwise.
Transferred from the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum