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RPG-2 - the Soviet Faustpatrone

Throughout military history, some weapons stand out as emblems of creativity and potency. One of the most recognisable anti-tank rocket launchers that has had a lasting impact on modern warfare is the RPG-2. The RPG-2, which evolved from the mid-1900s conflict, was a revolutionary weapon that changed the way infantry tactics were used and how anti-tank weapons were made. Let's examine the background, construction, and significance of this fabled weapon.

This article is part of a bigger list of Soviet Weapons of the early Cold War era. We are also finishing a big book on the Same topic - Soviet Weapons of the Atomic Age.

Photo of RPG-2 from our book Soviet small arms of the Atomic Age

Origins and Development of the RPG-2

RPG-2, short for "Ruchnoy Protivotankovyy Granatomyot" (Hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher), has its origins in the Soviet Union's turbulent post-World War II search for a transportable and effective anti-tank weapon. The necessity to oppose the spread of armored vehicles—especially tanks, which had grown to be the mainstay of contemporary mechanized warfare—led to its development.

RPG-1 in the testing environment

The RPG-2, which debuted in 1949, replaced the RPG-1, which had restrictions on its armor penetration and range. The RPG-2 rectified these deficiencies by incorporating enhanced design elements and more potent ammunition. Because of its reliable and uncomplicated recoilless launch mechanism, infantry soldiers were able to use it with effectiveness in combat.

Design and Specifications

The RPG-2 was essentially a smoothbore launcher tube with a firing mechanism and sighting device attached. The launcher tube was usually made of steel or an aluminum alloy. Its lightweight design and small size made it portable for foot soldiers, increasing its usefulness in a range of combat situations.


The 40mm shaped-charge warhead of the RPG-2 could pierce several inches of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA), which was the typical armor plating on the majority of tanks at the time. Its powerful ability to penetrate armor made it an extremely dangerous foe for armored vehicles, even those with thick armor.

Operational Deployment and Impact

The RPG-2 was quickly adopted by many armed groups worldwide as well as within the Soviet Bloc. Its dependability, efficiency, and ease of use won it over to both irregular guerrilla forces and regular infantry units.

During the Cold War, the RPG-2 demonstrated its combat capabilities in various conflicts, including the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and several other regional conflicts. Because of its affordability, ease of use, and capacity to neutralize armored threats, it has become a mainstay weapon in the arsenals of national armies and insurgent groups facing mechanized adversaries.

Legacy and Significance of RPG-2

The RPG-2 is no longer useful in contemporary warfare due to advances in anti-tank technology, but its legacy lives on as a tribute to the inventiveness and versatility of weapon design from the mid-20th century. Its impact is evident in the worldwide spread of comparable rocket-propelled grenade launchers, many of which have the venerable RPG-2 as their ancestor.


Few weapons in the annals of military history inspire the same level of respect and reverence as the RPG-2. The RPG-2 is a legendary representation of anti-tank warfare, having come a long way from its modest beginnings as the Soviet Union's answer to the armored juggernauts of the day to its widespread adoption and lasting legacy. The narrative serves as a reminder of how constantly changing warfare is and how important new weapons have been in influencing the path of human history.

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