SPG-9 anti-tank grenade launcher / recoilless gun (USSR)

SPG-9 anti-tank grenade launcher / recoilless gun on its tripod mount
SPG-9 anti-tank grenade launcher / recoilless gun on its tripod mount

 

PG-9V HEAT round for SPG-9 grenade launcher
PG-9V HEAT round for SPG-9 grenade launcher

 

SPG-9 grenade launcher in action, present day, somewhere in Middle East
SPG-9 grenade launcher in action, present day, somewhere in Middle East

 

The SPG-9 anti-tank grenade launcher (Stankovyj Protivotankovyj Granatomet 9 – Mounted Anti-tank Grenade launcher model 9), also known as “Kopyo” (Lance), was developed to replace B-10 recoilless guns by GSKB-47 design organization (known today as “Basalt”) between 1959 qnd 1961, and adopted by Soviet army in 1962. During mid- to late 1970s it was gradually phased out of front-line service with Soviet army, being replaced by noticeably more effective anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). However, large numbers of SPG-9 were exported to various client states of USSR, and a close copy of this weapon is still produced in Bulgaria by Arsenal JSC as 73 mm ARSENAL Heavy Anti-Tank Grenade Launcher (ATGL-H). SPG-9, while relatively ineffective against modern battle tanks, is still quite useful against lighter armor (various APC, BTR and MRAP vehicles) in military use, as well as against light buildings, unarmored vehicles and infantry, thanks to availability of both HEAT and HE-FRAG ammunition. Arsenal in Bulgaria also offers “thermobaric” ammunition which is compatible with all versions of SPG-9 and is very effective against light bunkers and buildings. Despite its old age, SPG-9 is still widely used in various local conflicts, such as fighting in Iraq or Syria, where its relatively light weight combined with long range and good accuracy makes it an useful light support weapon.

SPG-9 anti-tank grenade launcher is a smooth-bore recoilless weapon with nominal caliber of 73mm. It is breech-loaded, with side-opening breech that has a Venturi nozzle. It is normally mounted on a lightweight adjustable tripod, with optional removable wheels. Aiming is achieved through a specially designed optical sight that can provide both direct and indirect fire (latter used only with HE-FRAG ammunition). When fired, weapon creates a dangerous back-blast with safety zone behind the gun being 10 to 30 meters long. Typical crew for SPG-9 grenade launcher is 3 or 4 men.

Two main types of ammunition for SPG-9 are PG-9V round with HEAT warhead (armor penetration about 300mm RHA) and OG-9V with HE-FRAG (fragmentation, anti-personnel) warhead. PG-9V features “switch-blade” tail fins for in-flight stabilization, and has a rocket booster motor that ignites about 10-20 meters from the muzzle and accelerates grenade from 430 to 700 meters per second, resulting in quite long effective range of up to 1300 meters. OG-9V has no rocket booster and features fixed tail fins. When fired in indirect mode, it can reach ranges of up to 4500 meters.

Basic specifications:
Caliber: 73 mm
Length: 2110 mm
Weight: 50,5 kg (with tripod)
Effective range: 1300 meters (direct fire), 4500 meters (indirect fire)
Armor penetration: up to 300 mm RHA