Questions on RPGs


March 26, 2003, 12:41 PM
What is the area of damage from a RPG?

What would be considered to be a "typical" target or application for the use of one?

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March 26, 2003, 01:06 PM
Generally it is an anti-armor weapon, so it would kill that one piece of armor. There is always blast damage on the outside as well. It can also be used in an anti-bunker role, there are anti-personele rounds and incendiary rounds. I have yet to see anything but the AT rounds in photos from Iraq, but I have seen plenty of pics of the AP rounds from Afghanistan.

March 26, 2003, 01:52 PM
a "Rocket Propelled Grenade"?

However, as Pvt Pyle says, they are anti-armor weapons. Sort of a third or fourth generation bazooka. They are used against armored vehicles or hardened bunkers.

What they do is to blast a hole through the armor or wall of the target; that in turn, blasts shrapnel throughout the interior of the target. The actual damage done to the target is surprizingly slight. A hole of 5 - 7 mm at most. There may be some some heat discoloration and scarring from the secondary shrapnel. The targeted tank or bunker does not "blow up" unless the fuel is ignited or some stored explosive is detonated.

This type of weapon is not efficient against troops. If fired into the midst of an infantry squad or company, the warhead would blast into the ground, not explode like a bomb. (I personally would find it disruptive to my serenity, but not as dangerous as a hand grenade.) It is not suited for sniper purposes, either, but I suppose it could be done.
The only animals to be suitable targets would be Blue Whales or several species of carniverous dinosaur. No real point in shooting a whale, of course.

March 26, 2003, 04:02 PM
Thanks for the education about them.

I was curious as I assume (which I shouldn't do) that RPGs were what was portrayed in the movie "Blackhawk Down" and in that situation Hollywood was using them in street fighting scenes and against helicopters.

March 26, 2003, 05:35 PM
Some RPG information sources:

Marko Kloos
March 26, 2003, 05:50 PM
I was curious as I assume (which I shouldn't do) that RPGs were what was portrayed in the movie "Blackhawk Down" and in that situation Hollywood was using them in street fighting scenes and against helicopters.

The Somalis were using the RPGs as universal "big guns", shooting them at vehicles and buildings. They also used them as makeshift surface-to-air ordnance against the low-flying Blackhawks. Some people think that so many Blackhawks got hit in the tail rotors because the Somali gunners didn't know anything about leading the target, rather than deliberate targeting of the weak spot.

March 26, 2003, 06:23 PM
Sort of a third or fourth generation bazooka

Nope, they had their origins before the invention of the bazooka. Original version was the Panzerfaust, a throwaway version invented by the Germans prior to WWII. Russians adapted the RPG from captured German weapons.

RPGs and similiar armor defeating weapons do not create shrapnel, what they do is deliver a shaped charge (thus the cone shape) against a specific point against a target. This creates a pencil-wide burst of liquified metal/plasma that burns it's way thru armor which sprays the interior, igniting crew and combustible materials.

Damage to armor, when viewed from the exterior is a little pencil-wide hole, almost not noticeable.

The ones used in Somalia were supposedly fitted with a proximity fuse in order to generate air bursts.

March 26, 2003, 07:18 PM
According to Izhevek, they dont make a prokimity fuse for the RPG. Contact only in the nose.

March 26, 2003, 07:28 PM
True, no factory issue.

But there was some commotion way back then that Moslem extremists had created field-expedient proximity fuses. These were first whipped-up in Afghanistan by rebels (incl. Al Quaeda) to fight Russian helicopters. This 'technology' had spread it's way to Somalia by the time of US intervention there.

March 26, 2003, 07:33 PM
Do you have any links or info on those? I have never read anything showing their existance, and dont remember them talking about it in BHD, or have I talked/worked with anyone that was in Somalia that ever saw one.

Not to call you a liar or anything, but if they are out there that is a significant developement and any info would be appreciated.

March 26, 2003, 07:52 PM
Here's the text of Black Hawk Down. (

You'll find RPGs somewhere in there. From what I remember, they were used almost exclusively against aircraft in Somalia.

George Hill
March 26, 2003, 07:54 PM
In Mog, the Blackhawks were hit in the tails because the tactic was to shoot the bird in butt because it was easier to make a hit and less likely that that helicopter would see you.

It was tactics not technology that brought down those birds with RPGs. Many more RPG's were fired with close misses. If they had proxifuses then those would have burst.... but that didn't happen.

March 26, 2003, 07:56 PM
CWL: the Germans copied the bazooka as their panzerschreck rocket launcher after they were on the receiving end in North Africa.

March 26, 2003, 08:07 PM
Yo, I didn't say that it was high-technology in action.

I don't claim to be an expert but I have fired them in the field in SE Asia.

RPG-7s have a built-in self-destruct timer which explodes them automatically after ~4 seconds or ~900meter flight time, if they don't contact a target.

This timer can be modified to blow earlier than 4 seconds. -Who knows how many Afghans/Somalis blew themselves up modifying these?

It WAS an Afghan tactic to launch PRGs into the air in an attempt to catch Russian helos in an air burst. A HE round has an air burst of approx. 4 meters.

AND the Soviets DO have a proximity-fused RPG round which can be set to burst at various heights. I believe that it was/is called the "bumblebee".

March 26, 2003, 08:09 PM
Ron in PA,

Yup, they copied the design of the Panzerschreck from the Americans.

BUT the Panzerfaust is a completely separate weapon, AND the RPG is a descendant of this weapon.

March 26, 2003, 10:18 PM
When I referred to the bazooka, it was over-simplified. All the weapons mentioned here (panzerfaust, panzerschreck, bazooka, 3.5 rocket launcher, SA-7 and on and on and on) are recoiless, in that the propellant gasses blast out the back; the projectile is a "rocket" rather than a "bullet"; and the "rocket" or "war-head" is in reality some form of exploding device, shaped or otherwise.
Or are there RPGs that are not recoil-less? Sheesh!

But I have a question: Is there an RPG variant that is a high explosive shrapnel thrower? Otherwise, an air burst (from a shaped charge) isn't going to mean much.

George Hill
March 26, 2003, 10:21 PM
CWL, I am sure you were right. But those types of fuses were not used in Mog.

March 26, 2003, 11:18 PM
The RPGs antedated our Air Mobile operations in Vietnam. The NVA used them very effectively against our helicopters. What made them so effective is that they had a blast kill radius of 25 meters. They had no guidance system, so they were effectively shoulder launched rocket artillery. Even though they were developed for use against armor, we didn't use much armor in Vietnam. The NVA had many RPG gunners who were quite proficient with them against our aircraft.

We knew the early ones as B-40 rockets and later ones as B-41 rockets. I saw one pass me up at my altitude about two wingspans away. It had to be fired from at least 3,000 feet behind and below me. Pucker factor up, but no Blackhawk down.

Another time, I happened to be looking at a river bank about 3,000 feet line of sight ahead and below setting up a run when I saw a smoke cloud appear right where I was looking. Snapped left and down to the trees at military power. I didn't see it go by, but my crew mate said it missed the wing by about 10 feet. Pucker factor WAY up, but no Blackhawk down despite many seriously ruffled feathers. Got to spot 18 rounds of 175mm on them though! :neener:

March 26, 2003, 11:49 PM
The RPG-2 dates to the early 60's

The RPG-7(v) was the latest issue generally mass produced and sold to 3rd world countries in the latter years of the USSR and I believe they are still being marketted by Russia and China (though I'm not certain if the Chicoms haven't gone over to selling their own stuff now). The -2 and the -7 were both point detonated (on the nose) which is why you hear all these stories of folks in SE Asia putting chainlink fence around their APC's at night - when the nose of the RPG hit the fence it detonated basicly messing up the APC's paint job, but not it's contents.

There were versions of the 7(v) which had both point and base detonators. There were also antipersonnel grenades that the old USSR issued to fire out of 7(v) launchers. I forget the nomenclature, but instead of the usual cone shaped nose the entire thing looked like cast iron cylinder with same sort of serrations that appeared on the outside of the US WWII pineapple grenade. I was under the impression that some of those were used in Afghanistan, but haven't seen any pictures of them since.

Modern Russian shoulder-launched have come a long way, but the simplicity of the RPG still makes it popular with third world armies.

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