5 cm Pak 38

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The 5 cm Pak 38 (L/60) (5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 38 (L/60)) was a German anti-tank gun of 50 mm calibre. It was developed in 1938 by Rheinmetall-Borsig AG as a successor to the 3.7 cm Pak 36, and was in turn followed by the 7.5 cm Pak 40. Note the unique curved gun-shield design which differs from most WWII anti-tank guns which have either one flat or two angled and one flat gun-shield plates for ease of manufacturing.

5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 38 (L/60)
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-549-0743-13A, Tunesien, Soldaten mit Pak 38.jpg
German soldiers with 5cm Pak 38 during the Tunisian Campaign
Place of originNazi Germany
Service history
In service1940–1945
Used byNazi Germany
First Slovak republic
WarsWorld War II
Continuation War
Production history
Unit cost10600 Reichmark
No. built9,566[1]
  • 1,000 kg (2,200 lb)
  • 1,062 kg (2,341 lb) w/carriage
Length4.75 m (15.6 ft)
Barrel length300 cm (120 in) bore (60 calibres)
Width1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Height1.05 m (3 ft 5 in)

ShellFixed QF 50×419mm R

5 cm Pzgr.
5 cm Pzgr. 39
5 cm Pzgr. 40
5 cm Pzgr. 40/1

5 cm Sprgr. 38[2]
Shell weight2.25 kg (4 lb 15 oz)[3]
Caliber50 mm (2.0 in)
BreechHorizontal sliding-wedge
Elevation-8° to +27°[2]
Rate of fire13 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity550-1,130 m/s (1,804-3,707 ft/s)
Maximum firing range2,700 m (3,000 yd)
Feed systemManual
SightsZ.F. 3x8°

Successor to the Pak 36Edit

5 cm Pak 38 Nijmegen Hunnerpark

After the Spanish Civil War, the German authorities started to think that a new anti-tank gun would be needed, even though the 3.7 cm Pak 36 had proven to be very successful. They asked Rheinmetall-Borsig to produce a new and more capable AT-gun. They first designed the Pak 37 in 1935, but the German authorities did not approve it because of its low capabilities. Rheinmetall-Borsig were forced to create a new gun under the designation Pak 38, which fitted a new and longer L/60 barrel and was approved for mass production in 1939.


The original tank gun for the Panzer III was the 5 cm KwK 38, which despite being the same 5 cm caliber and showing the same model year (1938) should not be confused with this gun, as it was lower velocity with a shorter barrel length (L/42 calibers) and smaller cartridge. When a more powerful gun with greater penetration was needed for the Panzer III the longer barrel 5 cm KwK 39 gun (L/60 calibers) was developed as a variant of the 5 cm Pak 38 towed anti-tank gun.[4]


Pak 38

The Pak 38 was first used by the German forces during the Second World War in April 1941. When the Germans faced Soviet tanks in 1941 during Operation Barbarossa, the Pak 38 was one of the few early guns capable of penetrating the 45 mm (1.8 in) sloped armor of the T-34's hull at close range. The gun was also equipped with Panzergranate 40 APCR shots with a hard tungsten carbide core, in an attempt to penetrate the armor of the heavier KV-1 tank.

Although it was replaced by more powerful weapons, it remained a useful weapon and remained in service with the Wehrmacht until the end of the war.

The Pak 38 carriage was also used for the 7.5 cm Pak 97/38 and the 7.5 cm Pak 50 guns.

Romania imported 110 Pak 38s in March 1943. The guns remained in service with the Romanian Armed Forces until 1954, when the 57 mm anti-tank gun M1943 (ZiS-2) replaced them.[5]


Calculated armor penetration[6]
Range Penentration at contact angle 0°
100 m (110 yd) 100 mm (3.9 in)
500 m (550 yd) 79 mm (3.1 in)
1,000 m (1,100 yd) 60 mm (2.4 in)
1,500 m (1,600 yd) 45 mm (1.8 in)
100 m (110 yd) 96 mm (3.8 in)
500 m (550 yd) 79 mm (3.1 in)
1,000 m (1,100 yd) 62 mm (2.4 in)
1,500 m (1,600 yd) 49 mm (1.9 in)
100 m (110 yd) 149 mm (5.9 in)
500 m (550 yd) 108 mm (4.3 in)
1,000 m (1,100 yd) 72 mm (2.8 in)
1,500 m (1,600 yd) 48 mm (1.9 in)


  1. ^ Battistelli, Pier Paolo (2008) Panzer Divisions: The Eastern Front 1941-43
  2. ^ a b c Foss, Christopher (1977). Jane's pocket book of towed artillery. New York: Collier. p. 15. ISBN 0020806000. OCLC 911907988.
  3. ^ Chamberlain, Peter (1974). Anti-tank weapons. Gander, Terry. New York: Arco Pub. Co. p. 13. ISBN 0668036079. OCLC 1299755.
  4. ^ Rottman, Gordon L. (2008). M3 Medium Tank Vs Panzer III: Kasserine Pass 1943. Osprey Publishing. p. 4-5 20. ISBN 978-1-84603-261-5.
  5. ^ Stroea, Adrian; Băjenaru, Gheorghe (2010). Artileria româna în date si imagini [Romanian artillery in data and images] (PDF) (in Romanian). Editura Centrului Tehnic-Editorial al Armatei. p. 84. ISBN 978-606-524-080-3.
  6. ^ Bird, Lorrin; Livingston, Robert (2001). World War II Ballistics: Armor and Gunnery. Albany, NY USA: Overmatch Press. p. 61. OCLC 71143143.
  • Gander, Terry; Chamberlain, Peter (1979). Weapons of the Third Reich: An Encyclopedic Survey of All Small Arms, Artillery and Special Weapons of the German Land Forces 1939–1945. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-15090-3.
  • Hogg, Ian V. (1997). German Artillery of World War Two (2nd corrected ed.). Mechanicsville: Stackpole Books. ISBN 1-85367-480-X.

External linksEdit