PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – In July 1941, in parallel with V.A. Degtyarev started developing an anti-tank rifle S.G. Simonov. Less than a month passed, and the designer presented to the members of the State Commission at once two versions of anti-tank rifles – a self-loading magazine and a manual reloading single-shot. Experienced shooting showed that Simon’s “single charge” is in many ways inferior to the PTR of the Degtyarev system.
The history behind the legend
The wedge breech system used in it made it difficult to eject the shot cartridge, which significantly reduced the reloading speed and, as a result, the rate of fire. Therefore, the military and industrialists preferred Degtyarev’s “semi-automatic”, which was simpler, more technological and cheaper.
However, the second version of the anti-tank rifle presented by Simonov was so good that by the decision of the State Defense Committee of August 29, 1941, a decision was made, quite rare for a belligerent country, to launch two versions of anti-tank rifles at once – the Simonov and Degtyarev systems.
Unlike the PTRD, the anti-tank rifle S.G. Simonov, who later received the designation PTRS-41, when firing used the principle of removing a part of the powder gases from the barrel and acting on the shutter through a gas piston with a rod and had a magazine for 5 rounds. When creating his own gun, S.G. Simonov made a simple and at the same time rather original solution – taking as a basis the design of his automatic 7.62 mm rifle ABC-36, developed in 1933 and improved in 1935-1936, “enlarge” it to 14.5 mm caliber.
Automatic reloading of the gun allowed the shooter to fire at fast-moving armored targets of the enemy, without taking his eyes off the sight. This made it possible to increase the aiming rate of fire of the Simonov rifle to 15 rds / min. In addition, the aiming range of the PTRS 41 reached 1500 m (at least, this was evidenced by the divisions from 1 to 15, indicating the distance in hundreds of meters, marked on the aiming bar). However, all these advantages had to “pay off” the combat crew of the PTRS-41 when carrying it – the gun was more than 3 kg heavier and almost 10% longer than the PTRD-41.
The introduction into the production of anti-tank rifles of the Simonov system was slow. This was due to its more complex design compared to the PTRD-41 and the significant costs of its production. As a result, by the end of 1941, only about 80 PTRS-41 were manufactured. However, the following year this figure has grown significantly – more than 63,000 units were produced.
The increase in the production of anti-tank rifles allowed the Soviet command to include them in the staffing tables of rifle units. So, for example, already in December 1941, the PTR company was included in the staff of the rifle regiment. It consisted of a management (7 people) and three platoons of anti-tank guards with three squads in each.
In total, the platoon consisted of 24 people, a wagon and 9 anti-tank rifles (i.e. 3 guns per squad). And already in March 1942, according to the new staff of the rifle regiment, the PTR company still remained in it, and in addition, the PTR company was introduced into each rifle battalion. The battalion companies of the PTR had two platoons of four squads, two guns in each squad – a total of 16 PTRs.
As a result, the regiment now had 27 guns, plus 16 guns in each battalion, i.e. only 75 PTR. In addition, the PTR company was introduced into the division’s machine-gun battalion (12 rifles). Anti-tank guns also appeared in howitzer batteries: 4 guns, two in each firing platoon.
During the largest tank battle of the Great Patriotic War, which took place in the Kursk region in July 1943, among the infantry it was often possible to find combat crews armed with 14.5 # mm anti-tank guns of domestic design. And this is despite the fact that the bullets fired by these guns were capable of penetrating only 35 mm armor from a distance of 300 m and, according to this parameter, were dangerous only for German and Czechoslovak tanks of outdated designs.
Shots from Soviet anti-tank rifles at the new tanks used by the Germans in Operation Citadel: Pz V Panther and Pz VI Tiger, with frontal armor of 100 and 110 mm, were absolutely safe. As for the new German self-propelled gun “Ferdinand”, which had another designation – “Elefant”, the frontal armor of which was equal to 200 mm, then firing at it “in the forehead” from the PTR had no effect.
At least, the command of the Wehrmacht counted on this, not taking seriously the numerous calculations of the Soviet infantry armed with anti-tank guns. Probably, later they had to be surprised more than once when they received the news that another tank was out of order after a bullet fired from an anti-tank rifle damaged its chassis, and the Ferdinands became helpless after Soviet armor-piercing the barrels of their guns.
The following tactics of using anti-tank rifles were used in the battle. In the offensive, the PTR crews operated in the battle formations of subunits in tank-hazardous directions, took up positions in front in the intervals between rifle platoons and on the flanks of the companies.
Also practiced was the staggered arrangement of the anti-tank missile system along the front and inland at a distance of 50-100 m from each other with mutual shooting of the approaches and with the widespread use of dagger fire.
According to the memoirs of the German general R. Mellentin, “… the impression was created that every infantryman had an anti-tank gun or an anti-tank gun. The Russians were very clever at disposing of these funds, and it seems that there was no place where they would not be.”
At the final stage of the Great Patriotic War, when the percentage of medium and heavy vehicles in the armored forces of the Wehrmacht increased significantly, the effectiveness of the use of anti-tank weapons to combat tanks dropped to almost zero. However, the high tactical and technical characteristics of anti-tank rifles made it possible to use them until the last days of the war.
The estimated production of PTRS for this period exceeded 100,000 units. The crews of the armor-piercers easily dealt with vehicles, low-flying aircraft, self-propelled guns and enemy armored personnel carriers. According to some recollections, even at the final stage of the war, “larger fish” came across.
The design of the PTRS-41 rifle
Automation PTRS-41 works by using the energy of powder gases discharged from the bore and acting on the gas piston associated with the shutter. The barrel is motionless, the bolt is unconnected. The barrel bore is locked by tilting the bolt frame downward.
The trigger is designed for single shots only. The five-shot magazine (as in the PTRD-41, 14.5 mm cartridges are used in the Simonov’s gun) is equipped with a lever feeder.
When loading, a clip with five rounds is inserted into the magazine from below. After the cartridges are used up, the bolt stops in the extreme rear position, which is a signal for the armor-piercer to reload the gun.
The PTRS-41 has an open-type, sector-type sight, with divisions from 1 to 15, with a graduation of 100 m. Thus, the maximum aiming range of fire is 1500 m. In this case, the best results of firing at armored targets are achieved at a range of up to 300 m. convenience of aiming the front sight can be slightly shifted to the right or left.
A pistol grip is located behind the trigger, which gives additional convenience during shooting.
A rotary handle is put on the barrel to carry the gun, and a folding bipod attached to the barrel serves to stop the gun when firing. Like the anti-tank rifle of the Degtyarev system, the design of the PTRS-41 contains the main “service” devices – a shoulder pad with a leather cushion to weaken the recoil effect, a pistol grip, a folding bipod, an additional handle for carrying and a muzzle brake.
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