Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Evolution of Legendary RPG-7

by Simon Fedoseev

This year marks 50 years since adopting a grenade reusable RPG-7. For this area of ​​weapons such "longevity" can be regarded as unique - too rapidly changing requirements for an RPG with the development of military technology and methods of warfare. This makes it even more interesting history and current status of the "longevity", continues to be active military service.


The emergence of "Seven"

In the late 50's was conceived second-generation anti-tank grenade launchers.Tactical and technical requirements for the new hand-grenade, intended to replace the RPG-2 (adopted by the Soviet army in 1949), suggested a significant improvement in accuracy and an increase in sighting range while increasing the armor penetration. At the same time wanted to keep weight and size characteristics that are acceptable for the weapons department, served and transported along with the two fighters and ammunition similar shoulder-fired from a prone position, kneeling, standing.

Since the RPG is a complex that includes the actual grenade, fired him and sights, to its establishment have attracted a number of organizations. The lead developer was Krasnoarmeyskoye division of the Moscow State Union Design Bureau № 47 (GSKB-47, since 1981 the NGO "Basalt", now FSUE SSPE "Basalt"), here set up shots. Immediate supervisor was the theme VK Firulin. He belongs to the development of basic circuits grenade that will determine its unique characteristics. It is based on the combination in one shot of the two basic principles of "throwing" grenades - the active and reactive. Throwing (seed) powder charge, burning down the barrel grenade launcher, provides outreach grenades from the barrel with the necessary initial velocity, while the powder gases, flowing from the treasury muzzle compensate for returns, it has a shot based on the principle recoilless guns. At a safe distance for the rocket launcher is included marching jet grenade, which increases the speed of its flight, so for shooting range in 1964 for this development Firulin awarded the Lenin Prize.In the creation of a complex involved in Tula TsKIB COO, Kovrov Mechanical Plant (directly work on the grenade in Kovrov OKB-575 led VV Degtyarev) Vysokogorsky Mechanical Plant, Nizhny Tagil plant "Planta", and other enterprises. Adopted a grenade launcher RPG-7 adopted by the Council of Ministers of the USSR on June 15, 1961.


How it works

Briefly let us recall about the equipment and the work RPG-7. Grenade launcher itself consists of stem with the mechanical sight mechanisms, fast and well- trigger and firing mechanisms, optical sight. Stem - from the smooth pipe with the diameter of 40 millimeters and branch pipes with the nozzle. To the stem is attached the hammer fast and well- trigger mechanism with the fastener safety device, practically borrowed from RPG-2 and assembled in the pistol handle. The cover plates of stem serve for the protection of grenade thrower from the burns, for an ease of control RPG - rear handle.

PG-7V round consists of cumulative reactive grenades and PG-7 propellant charge.The grenade is equipped with bursting charge from the A-IX-1 with a copper cladding of the cumulative crater, piezoelectric fuze EP-7 (CP-7M), powder-jet (rocket) engine with six nozzles, the stabilizer with four folding feathers and impeller. Nitroglycerin propellant powder enclosed in a paper sleeve, the friction primer is placed between it and jet engine of grenade.

Shot is packed into the stem from the front.. After pressing the trigger the hammer strikes the brisk and that pricks the friction primer, igniting the powder charge shot. Powder gases push the grenade from the barrel, acting on impeller at the end of the tube of stabilizer, they impart to grenade rotation.. Behind the barrel is formed jet gas, dangerous at a distance of 30 meters.The stabilizer is revealed after the departure of grenade from the bore, the pyro-delay element of engine is set on fire. Jet engine is included at the safe removal from the grenade thrower. The arming occurs at the removal of 2.5-18 meters from the muzzle end face of stem.

The action of the solid-reactant gases of engine on the impeller, and the incident flow of gases on the blade of stabilizer ensures the slow rotation of grenade, which partially compensates the thrust deviations of engine, improving an accuracy of shooting. In the impeller is placed tracer, allowing to observe the flight grenades.

With the encounter of grenade with target the piezoelectric cell is compressed and manufactures the electro-pulse, which explodes the electric detonator, which initiates explosive charge.. If the grenade missed the target in 4-6 seconds after the shot, self-killer will work.

The main sight is the optical PGO-7 with a magnification of 2.7, created by the Novosibirsk Instrument-Making Plant. It is attached to the dovetail at the side of the trunk. Scale of sight is calculated at a distance of 500 meters, and a distance measuring scale for determining the distance to the target height of 2.7 meters. The barrel is mounted and an auxiliary iron sights.

In 1963 he adopted the Airborne Troops adopted folding modification of the RPG-7D (amphibious), developed under the leadership of TsKIB COO VF Fundaeva. The barrel and tube have the RPG-7D are connected by quick-rusk mix, in its stowed tube attached to a pipe in a single pack.

In the 60 years with night sights for small arms have been taken and night sights for anti-tank grenade launchers. Accordingly, the arms came the night modifying the RPG-7 - 7H-RPG and RPG-7DN. At their bar was mounted sight NSPU (index 1PN-34), also developed by OKB Novosibirsk Instrument Making Plant. Firing rocket-propelled grenades, the gun is provided at a distance of 300 meters. The set of modifications night grenade came in and removable bipod.


Service and upgrade

Active-reactive scheme has provided an RPG-7 three times the range, than the RPG-2, optical sight made it possible to increase accuracy, piezoelectric fuse - the reliability of wear and tear, improved striking mechanism and self-destruction device - safety, smokeless powder of propellant charge decreased the tell-tale signs of shot.

RPG-7 is not only quickly become a major in the Soviet army. It was the most popular in the world, is in service with armies around fifty countries, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and some other countries established their production. RPG-7 and its copies have proven in many wars and military conflicts. Protection from grenades "Seven" has become a basic requirement for heavy armored vehicles by weight category.

Wide application and operating experience required modernization grenade launcher. In general, successful design has to do this primarily by introducing new shots.

PG-7VM (modernized, the development of "Basalt", a leading designer and VI Medvedev) adopted in 1969. Although the caliber grenade was reduced from 85 to 70 millimeters, and weight - from 2.2 to 2.0 kilos, armor piercing increased from 260 to 300 millimeters through the use of more sophisticated shaped-charge warhead, which is taken from a shot PG-9 mounted grenade launchers SPG-9 . Improvement of propellant and propulsion engine increased the initial rate from 120 to 140m/s and generally improved the ballistic characteristics, in particular accuracy. Upgraded grenade was designated the RPG-7V, and telescopic sight - PGO-7B (index 1OP19-1). PGO-7B, together with an RPG-7V and was "longevity." At RPG-7V, besides the main, was put additional folding front sight iron sights: the main used in the negative, and More - at zero temperature air.


Tactical and technical characteristics of the RPG-7V (RPG-7D) with a shot of the PG-7V

40mm caliber grenade launcher

85mm caliber (maximum diameter) garnets

950mm length of the RPG-7V

960mm in a combat situation,
630mm in the landing position length of the RPG-7D

120m/s initial velocity grenades

300m/s maximum velocity grenades

6,3kg (RPG-7V), 6.7kg (RPG-7D)Weight grenade launcher with optical sight

2,2kg  weight shot

0,5kg Weight sight PGO-7

500m effective range

4.6rds/min Combat rate

320mm homogeneous steel armor Penetration

2 people Calculation

5 shots Bodypack Ammo

In 1972 came the shot PG-7VS (leading designers and VP Zaitsev and O. Dzyaduh) with a grenade caliber 72 millimeter, with a more powerful warhead of PHLEGMATIZED OCTOGEN, HMX [okfola].Furthermore, by the decrease of the angle of rake of the blades of stabilizer they reduced the speed of rotation of grenade and respectively the dispersion of cumulative jet because of the action of centrifugal force. This increased the armor-piercing ability of grenade to 400 millimeters. Version PG-7VS1 was equipped with cheaper explosive, respectively armor-piercing ability was 360 millimeters.

In the second half of the 70's in anticipation of entering the armed NATO main battle tanks, a new generation of qualitatively improved armor protection (M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, Challenger and spaced with a combined book) were given the task to Shot with a hand grenade increased armor penetration. And in 1977 adopted a shot taken PG-7VL (code development "Ray", a leading designer of V. Lenin) with a caliber 93 millimeter grenades, and large mass of the warhead okfola, as well as the copper cladding of the shaped funnel of progressive thickness (thinned at the apex, thickened in base). This increased to 500 millimeters of armor, but the decrease in initial velocity of 2.6-pound grenades reduced the maximum effective range of 300 meters. Respectively, was adopted and streamlined sight PGO-7V1, and for the old sights PGO-7B introduced concordance scales sight and firing range of PG-7L.


The third youth

Defeat modern main tanks with a combined armored armor penetration requires the equivalent of somewhere 1000 mm homogeneous armor. A broad application of the dynamic defense has raised interest in tandem warhead with the installation of precharge (leading), detonate explosive reactive armor and clear the way "of the main charge”.

In 1988 it was put into service created by the NGO "Basalt" PG-7VR 64/105 mm caliber with a tandem warhead (code "Summary", a leading designer, AB Kulakovskii). Two shaped charges are set coaxially and separated. Front (precharge) contains 0.12 kilograms of explosive type okfola and aluminum siding cumulative funnel. The main charge of the caliber of 105 millimeters contains 1.2 kilograms okfola and copper liner cone with variable thickness, pierces armor barrier thickness up to 600 millimeters (with no dynamic or reactive protection armor armor-piercing reaches 750-800 mm), a brick - up to 2000 meters, concrete - up to 1500 millimeters. The undermining of basic warhead occurs with the retarding approximately 200 ms relative to precharge. Increased weight grenades reduced firing range up to 200 meters. As a whole this is tolerant, taking into account that small units under the contemporary conditions conduct predominantly close battle.

For firing a shot are the new streamlined RPG-7V1 (RPG-7V2) and RPG-7D2 (RPG-7D3) with a new barrel with undercuts, using current optical sight PGO-7V3 (1OP19-3). Changes have been made and the mechanical sight. Folding bipod has become a standard. The upgraded launcher can fire all the previously created shots. In 1989 this work group of experts SSPE "Basalt", Vysokogorsky mechanical plant, the landfill Rzhevka, threads, plant "Planta" was awarded the State Prize.


Tactical and technical characteristics of the RPG-7V1 with a shot PG-7VR

40mm caliber grenade launcher

105mm Size (largest diameter) garnets

950mm length grenade

7,0kg weight launcher with optical sight

4,5kg weight PG-7VR

200m effective range

2 people Calculation

5 shots Bodypack Ammo

Already in the 80th years it became obvious that the nature of modern wars does not make it possible to remain it at the level “purely anti-tank” of the systems of infantry armaments. Not alone tanks and armored vehicles were among the "most important and dangerous" ground targets. To convert an RPG in the multipurpose weapon SSPE "Basalt" is designed 105-mm rocket shot multifactor lesions TBG-7V with a mass of 1.8 kilogram charge and sighting range of 150 meters (code development "Tanya", a leading designer, VA Kulakovskii). TBG abbreviation means "thermobaric grenade. Assembly of the jet engine and the propellant charge is taken from the PG-7VR. At a meeting with the barrier at virtually any angle bottom inertial fuze initiates the igniter-bursting charge, and then the main charge thermobaric mixture, creating the effect of surround the explosion in conjunction with the creation of zones of high temperature.  To its special features can be attributed the possibility “to breach” due to the cumulative effect a comparatively light armor and light obstacles, so that the part of its constituents already in the fine dispersed state falls into the space behind the armor. Additionally the field of small splinters with a radius of the guaranteed defeat of personnel of up to 10 meters is formed. The grenade struck manpower in the trenches, bunkers field type, bunkers and other facilities, as well as lightly armored and unarmored materiel. The mass of TBG-7V – 4.5 kg.

Also designed are OG-7V gauge fragmentation grenade (lead designer MM Konovaev).Created also are the new options for night sights grenade launcher.

Characteristic evidence of the continuing popularity of "Seven" began appearing in 2009, reported creation of a copy of the RPG-7 by "Airtronic USA” Incorporated in the United States. Appearance grenade presented as RPG-7 (USA), demonstrates a set of nodes of various samples of weapons, such as pistol grip and the butt of the rifle M4A1, plus a range of bars, "Picatinny" for installing the various sights.

Whatever it was, "Seven" - at the venerable age of the system - remains in the range of effective modern samples infantry weapons.


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