Copyright International Ammunition Association, 2006. All rights reserved.
Cartridge of the Month August 2006

PIAT (Projector, Infantry Anti-Tank) Cartridge
Specimen and photos courtesy of Paul Smith

  The PIAT (Projector, Infantry Anti-Tank) was a 32 pound shoulder fired (from the prone position) anti-tank bomb launcher. The shaped charge bomb weighed 7 lbs and was capable of penetrating about 4" of armor. It had an effective range of about 100 yards. It is also described as a spigot mortar because the projectile (bomb) has the propelling cartridge located in the hollow tube at the rear of the bomb, and the projectile is actually fired off of a heavy shaft or spigot that fits into the hollow tube, pointing it in the desired direction.

  The bomb was propelled by the combined action of mechanical thrust from a massive spring (which took 225 lbs of pressure to cock!) and the propellent action of the cartridge which pushed the projectile off the end of the spigot while recocking the spring in the launcher.

(The larger "hedgehog" projectors used as anti-submarine weapons are also members of the spigot mortar family, although they use a stationary (non-recoiling) spigot and are electrically primed.)   

PIAT Cartridge.
Beneath the wads, a ‘D’ was stamped on the inside surface. Presumably this stands for Dominion as this weapon was used by Canadian forces during WWII. Note the design where the lower base section will be blown down, out of the outer casing at the top when fired. The upper section remains in the projectile tail, while the base section recocks the PIAT's massive firing spring and spigot.

Schematic of PIAT projectile (bomb) in shipping configuration. Fuze would be removed from the carrier attached to the tail and inserted in the nose prior to firing.

The PIAT. The recoil spring and spigot are contained in the long tubular housing. After being cocked (which retracts the spigot) the projectile or bomb is loaded in the tray at the front and retained in postion by the loading clip on the base snapping under a flange. When the trigger is pulled, the spigot is driven forward into the tail of the projectile, striking the percussion primer.

Members of the Royal family inspecting Paras during WWII- note PIAT in foreground

 References: The 3rd Parachute Brigade WWII British and Canadian Reenactors' website is the source for all photos above except the sectioned cartridge.  Their website has an extensive section on the PIAT, including section from the manual.

Copyright 2006 by the International Ammunition Association, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  Revised 31 July 2006