The Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank (PIAT) Mk I was a British man-portable anti-tank weapon developed during the Second World War. The PIAT was designed in 1942 in response to the British Army’s need for a more effective infantry anti-tank weapon, and entered service in 1943.
The PIAT was based on the spigot mortar system, that launched a 2.5 pound (1.1 kg) bomb using a cartridge in the tail of the projectile. It possessed an effective range of approximately 115 yards (110 m) in a direct fire anti-tank role, and 350 yards (320 m) in an indirect fire ‘house-breaking’ role.
The PIAT had several advantages over other infantry anti-tank weapons of the period, which included relative lack of muzzle smoke to reveal the position of the user, and an inexpensive barrel; however, the type also had some disadvantages, a difficulty in cocking the weapon, the fragility of the barrel, powerful recoil, and problems with ammunition reliability.
The PIAT was first used during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, and remained in use with British and Commonwealth forces until the early 1950s. PIATs were supplied to or obtained by other nations and forces, including the Soviet Union (through Lend Lease), the French resistance, the Polish Underground, and the Israeli Haganah (which used PIATs during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War). Six members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces received Victoria Crosses for their use of the PIAT in combat.