SPG-9 73mm Kopye “Spear” Recoilless Rifle
Weight: 47.5 kg (105 lbs.), 59.5 kg (131) with tripod
Crew: 2 (gunner and loader)
Caliber: 73mm (2.87 in) smoothbore
Breech: Interrupted screw
Rate of Fire: 5-6 rpm
Muzzle Velocity: 250 to 435 m/s
Effective Firing Range: 800 m
Maximum Firing Range: 1,200 to 6,500 m
Feed System: Manually breech loaded
The emergence of the tank during World War I as a viable weapon for warfare caused engineers to work tirelessly to come up with methods of stopping them. As the weapons evolved, the tanks did also, leading to the powerhouse offerings of World War II and the Cold War. In 1962, the Soviet Union adopted a new weapon that offered a hard-hitting, man-portable anti-tank solution: the SPG-9 73mm Kopye “Spear” recoilless rifle. This weapon preceded the wide-scale use of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles that is seen today. The SPG-9 replaced the 1950’s B-10 series on the battlefield.
The SPG-9 weighed in at an overall weight of 105 pounds and 130 pounds when mounted to a standard tripod. The smoothbore barrel had a caliber of 73mm and overall length measured 6-feet 11-inches. A crew of two manually loaded the weapon and accessed the breech via an interrupted screw design. Its mounted optics system included either a base of 4xPGO-9 scope or a more specialized PGN-9 IR/passive sighting device. The optional tripod provided an elevation range of -3 to +7-degrees and a traversal reach of 30-degrees. Up to six rounds could be fired per minute by a trained crew with projectiles measuring a muzzle velocity of 1,425 feet per second. A typical crew consisted of two personnel and, despite its “man-portable” classification, this system was transported via a mover vehicle due to the system’s considerable weight and length.
Referred to as a “recoilless rifle,” the SPG-9 dissipated some of the propellant gasses seen during the firing action. This allowed the weapon system to reduce the effects of the violent recoil by allowing the resulting gasses to escape out through ports found at the rear of the weapon. The SPG-9 system was cleared to fire five different projectile types, including HEAT-FS (High-Explosive, Anti-Tank, Fin-Stabilized) rounds for penetrating up to 300mm of armor thickness, FRAG-HE projectiles with TNT filling, HEAT-FS, and FRAG-HE.
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