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RPG-7

Anti-tank rocket launcher

RPG-7

The RPG-7 is the most famous anti-tank rocket launcher ever devised

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1961
Weapon caliber 40 mm
Warhead caliber 40-105 mm
Warhead weight 2 - 4.5 kg
Weight (unloaded) 7.9 kg
Weight (loaded) 9.9 - 13 kg
Length 950 mm
Muzzle velocity 115 - 300 m/s
Rate of fire up to 4 rpm
Sighting range 500 m
Range of effective fire (against tanks) 200 m
Range of effective fire (against buildings and stationary targets) up to 500 m
Armor penetration 260 - 750 mm

 

   Powerful. Cheap. Simple. Robust. The RPG-7 is undoubtedly the most famous anti-tank rocket launcher ever devised since its introduction in 1961. It remains in production with more than 9 million units produced to date. The RPG-7 continues to serve with over 40 countries, plus a large number of irregular military groups.

   The RPG-7, which stands for the Russian Ruchnoy Protivotankovvy Granatomyot or hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher (although it is more frequently called a “Rocket Propelled Grenade” or "RPG"), is a further development of the 1949 RPG-2, itself based on the World War II German Panzerfaust and US Bazooka. Its chief improvements over the RPG-2 are much-improved range and increased armor penetration.

   The RPG-7 is reusable single-shot smoothbore steel tube with a diameter of 40 millimeters. This recoilless, shoulder-fired, muzzle-loaded launcher can shoot a wide variety of rockets. Optical and iron sights generally come standard, although night vision sights can be used.

   The middle of the barrel is covered in wood to protect the operator from heat and the two handles are located close together in the center of the weapon.

   Another advantage of this versatile weapon is that it can fire inside buildings due to its relatively small backblast. Nonetheless, this weapon gives off a highly noticeable flash, noise, and smoke.

   After 10 meters, the rocket’s internal rocket motor ignites and four stabilization fins fold out, giving the weapon a maximum muzzle velocity of 300 meters per second.

   Normally, the RPG-7 is operated by a gunner and an assistant who holds extra rounds and defends the gunner from attack.

   The RPG-7 has a maximum range of 920 meters at which point the rocket detonates. Nevertheless, it is only considered effective out to about 200 meters, at which range it is estimated to have about a 50% chance of hitting a slowly moving 5 by 2.5 meter target.

   During its 55-year service life, the RPG-7 has been used to knock out tanks, destroy armored personnel carriers, buildings, fortifications, attack infantry, and shoot down low-flying helicopters. Furthermore the simple RPG-7 brought down more helicopters to date than most man-portable air-defense missile systems. Also, insurgents have made extensive use of “small boats” armed primarily with RPG-7s and machine guns.

   Oversized rockets are mounted on the very end of the launcher. Weapons of this style are sometimes called "spigot mortars".

   Rockets used include:

   PG-7V baseline 85-mm High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rocket. It penetrates around 260 mm of rolled homogenous armor;

   PG-7VM improved 70-mm HEAT rocket. It penetrates around 300 mm or armor. This rocket flies faster than the baseline PG-7V and is more resistant to crosswinds, hence more accurate;

   PG-7VS is a 73-mm HEAT rocket. It is a further improved version of the PG-7VM with increased armor penetration. Yet it preserves weight and dimensions. It penetrates up to 400 mm of armor. This rocket was adopted in 1973;

   PG-7VS1 is a cheaper version of the PG-7VS. It penetrates up to 360 mm or armor. It was adopted in the mid 1970s;

   PG-7VL is a larger 93-mm HEAT rocket. It has effective range of up to 150 m against tanks and 300 m against stationary targets. It penetrates up to 500 mm of armor;

   PG-7VR is a 64/105-mm tandeam HEAT rocket. It has effective range of 100 m against tanks and 200 m against stationary targets. It penetrates up to 600 mm of armor behind ERA and 750 mm without ERA;

   OG-7V, a 40-mm HE-FRAG rocket with a large lethal radius;

   TBG-7V, a 105-mm thermobaric rocket, which has a devastating explosive effect.

   The RPG-7 has seen such wide and varied service that it is nearly impossible to list all of the conflicts it has fought in. From the Vietnam War to the Gulf War, the RPG-7 is most certainly combat proven.

   The RPG-7 continues to be produced in countries such as Iraq, Romania, China, and Bulgaria. Even though it will continue to serve in low-budget forces for years in a fire-support role, it is being phased out by most militaries from the anti-armor role due to its limited effectiveness against modern main battle tanks.

   Perhaps the primary reason RPG-7s are so popular is the low cost—anywhere from $500-2 000 for a launcher and $100-500 per rocket.

 

Variants

 

   RPG-7: initial model designation.

   RPG-7V2: improved version. It was adopted in 2001 and is a current production model, used by the Russian armed forces, and some other countries.

   RPG-7D: lightweight paratrooper model that can be broken into two pieces for transportation.

   RPG-7D3: improved paratrooper model. It is equivalent to the RPG-7V2. It was adopted in 2001 and is a current production model, used the the Russian armed forces and possibly some other countries.

   Type 69: improved Chinese variant. The Type 69 is about 2 kilograms lighter and 50 millimeters shorter. Similar to the RPG-7D3 it can fold into two pieces. In addition, the forward grip was left out to make the weapon cheaper.

   AirTronic USA RPG-7: the US-built clone of the RPG-7. This model features numerous Picatinny-type accessory rails and uses common M16 assault rifle components. This weapon has been reportedly adopted by Peru, Philippines and possibly some other countries. The same company also developed similar PSRL-1, Mk.777 and GS-777 anti-tank rocket launchers that are redesigned versions of the RPG-7.

   B-41: Cambodian and Vietnamese designation.

 

The Tiger

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