A rocket-propelled grenade, also known as an RPG, is a weapon system that fires a rocket equipped with an explosive warhead. When fired, these rockets are usually stabilized in-flight with fins and have a rocket booster. While their HEAT missiles are ineffective at taking down tanks due to their armor being too thick to be penetrated by a rocket, they are very effective against armored personnel carriers.
The main problem with fighting tanks was the large amount of armor protecting them. Early attempts to pierce through it was through the use extremely high caliber bullets fired from large rifles; this however proved ineffective and the recoil produced was enough to break a man's shoulder and in some cases, even kill the soldier firing it. Later, the Germans resorted to old, well-known laws of physics; to cancel out the large recoil of firing, a stream of fire or gas should be released out of the rear of the tube to level out the projectile momentum. This design was quite old at the time, dating back to WWI. The first successful break through was with the Faustpatrone, which was very light and cheap, and easy to make and manufacture in large numbers; however, it was highly dangerous, and in some cases soldiers behind it could become engulfed in flames. Later breakthroughs came with the highly successful Panzerfaust. The RPG-7 is now the preferred weapon of choice by combatants throughout the world; while incapable of penetrating modern tank armor, it is still a large threat to armored personal carriers.
- The term "rocket-propelled grenade" is strictly a backronym; it stems from the Russian term "ruchnoy protivotankovy granatomyot" (Russian for hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher) though "rocket-propelled grenade" has been accepted as such.
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