M72 LAW
Overview
 
The M72 LAW is a portable one-shot 66 mm unguided anti-tank weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

, designed in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by Paul V. Choate, Charles B. Weeks, and Frank A. Spinale et al. while with the Hesse-Eastern Division of Norris Thermadore, currently produced by Nammo Raufoss AS
Nammo
Nammo short for Nordic Ammunition Group is a Norwegian/Finnish military industry manufacturer of ammunition. The company has subsidiaries in Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Canada. The company is owned 50/50 by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry and...

 in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

.

In early 1963 the LAW was adopted by the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and the United States Marines as their primary individual infantry anti-tank
Anti-tank warfare
Anti-tank warfare was created by the need to seek technology and tactics to destroy tanks and their supporting infantry during the First World War...

 weapon, replacing the M31 HEAT
M31 HEAT rifle grenade
The M31 HEAT is a fin-stabilized anti-tank rifle grenade designed in the late 1950s to replace the Belgian ENERGA rifle grenade which was adopted by the US Army and US Marines as an emergency stop-gap measure during the Korean War...

 rifle grenade and the
M20A1 "Super Bazooka" in the US Army.

It had been intended that in the early 1980s that the M72 would be replaced by the FGR-17 Viper
FGR-17 Viper
The FGR-17 Viper was an USA one man disposable antitank rocket which had slated in the 1980s to be the replacement for the M72 LAW, but was canceled shortly after production began due a major public scandal resulting from massive cost overruns and safety concerns, as well as a mistaken belief by...

, but this program was canceled by Congress and the M136 AT4 was introduced in its place.
Encyclopedia
The M72 LAW is a portable one-shot 66 mm unguided anti-tank weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

, designed in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by Paul V. Choate, Charles B. Weeks, and Frank A. Spinale et al. while with the Hesse-Eastern Division of Norris Thermadore, currently produced by Nammo Raufoss AS
Nammo
Nammo short for Nordic Ammunition Group is a Norwegian/Finnish military industry manufacturer of ammunition. The company has subsidiaries in Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Canada. The company is owned 50/50 by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry and...

 in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

.

In early 1963 the LAW was adopted by the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and the United States Marines as their primary individual infantry anti-tank
Anti-tank warfare
Anti-tank warfare was created by the need to seek technology and tactics to destroy tanks and their supporting infantry during the First World War...

 weapon, replacing the M31 HEAT
M31 HEAT rifle grenade
The M31 HEAT is a fin-stabilized anti-tank rifle grenade designed in the late 1950s to replace the Belgian ENERGA rifle grenade which was adopted by the US Army and US Marines as an emergency stop-gap measure during the Korean War...

 rifle grenade and the
M20A1 "Super Bazooka" in the US Army.

It had been intended that in the early 1980s that the M72 would be replaced by the FGR-17 Viper
FGR-17 Viper
The FGR-17 Viper was an USA one man disposable antitank rocket which had slated in the 1980s to be the replacement for the M72 LAW, but was canceled shortly after production began due a major public scandal resulting from massive cost overruns and safety concerns, as well as a mistaken belief by...

, but this program was canceled by Congress and the M136 AT4 was introduced in its place. In that time period its nearest comparison was the Swedish Pskott m/68
Miniman antitank weapon
The Miniman is a disposable single-shot 74-mm unguided anti-tank smooth bore recoilless weapon, designed in Sweden by Försvarets Fabriksverk and became operational in 1968. The Miniman is delivered with the HEAT projectile pre-loaded launch tube...

 (Miniman) and the French SARPAC
Sarpac
Sarpac is a French manufactured recoilless individual anti-antitank/assault rocket weapon.The Sarpac was developed by the company Hotchkiss-Brandt, and it was primarily designed as an anti-tank weapon, but it is also useful against fortified positions constructed of concrete...

.

History

During World War II, the sudden prominence of tanks and other armored vehicles on the battlefield led to the creation of man-portable weapons that would enable the humble infantryman to successfully deal with the new threat. The first such weapons to be used with limited success were flamethrower
Flamethrower
A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire.Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid; some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and...

s, satchel charges, jury-rigged landmines and specially designed magnetic hollow charges, but all these weapons needed to get within a couple of meters from the target to be effective, which severely limited said effectiveness and greatly endangered the user.

The U.S. Army then introduced the bazooka
Bazooka
Bazooka is the common name for a man-portable recoilless rocket antitank weapon, widely fielded by the U.S. Army. Also referred to as the "Stovepipe", the innovative bazooka was amongst the first-generation of rocket propelled anti-tank weapons used in infantry combat...

 on the battlefield, the first true rocket-propelled grenade launcher, which proved an effective novel weapon against enemy armor. Despite early problems, it was such a success that many involved nations during World War II soon copied or developed weapon systems in concept like the bazooka for extensive use on all fronts.

However, the bazooka had its drawbacks. Being large, cumbersome and rather fragile, it needed a dedicated and trained two-man team to be used efficiently. Hard-pressed on all fronts, Germany developed one man alternative to the bazooka type weapons: the Panzerfaust
Panzerfaust
The Panzerfaust was an inexpensive, recoilless German anti-tank weapon of World War II. It consisted of a small, disposable preloaded launch tube firing a high explosive anti-tank warhead, operated by a single soldier...

 family of weapons. These one-shot launchers were relatively cheap to manufacture and needed no specialized training; they were so simple to use that they were regularly issued to Volkssturm
Volkssturm
The Volkssturm was a German national militia of the last months of World War II. It was founded on Adolf Hitler's orders on October 18, 1944 and conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard.-Origins and...

 regiments. They proved remarkably efficient against any tanks they were used against during World War II. Noticeably, they were not rocket launchers but recoilless rifles
Recoilless rifle
A recoilless rifle or recoilless gun is a lightweight weapon that fires a heavier projectile than would be practical to fire from a recoiling weapon of comparable size. Technically, only devices that use a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles. Smoothbore variants are recoilless guns...

.

The M72 LAW is a descendant and combination of the two World War weapons; the basic principle is that of a miniaturized bazooka, while its low weight and cheap build allows for general issue and disposability akin to the Panzerfaust.

Description

The weapon consists of a rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 packed inside of a launcher made up of two tubes, one inside the other. While closed, the outer assembly acts as a watertight container for the rocket and the percussion cap-type firing mechanism that activates the rocket. The outer tube contains the trigger, the arming handle, front and rear sights, and the rear cover. The inner tube contains the channel assembly which houses the firing pin assembly, including the detent lever. When extended, the inner tube telescopes outward toward the rear, guided by the channel assembly which rides in an alignment slot in the outer tube's trigger housing assembly. This causes the detent lever to move under the trigger assembly in the outer tube, both locking the inner tube in the extended position and cocking the weapon. Once armed, the weapon is no longer watertight even if the launcher is collapsed into its original configuration.

When fired, the striker in the rear tube impacts a primer which ignites a small amount of powder that "flashes" down a tube to the rear of the rocket igniting the propellant in the rocket motor, The rocket motor burns complete before leaving the mouth of the launcher, producing gases around 1,400 °F (760 °C). The rocket propels the 66 mm warhead forward without significant recoil. As the warhead emerges from the launcher, six fins spring out from the base of the rocket tube, stabilizing the warhead's flight. The early LAW warhead, developed from the M31 HEAT rifle grenade
M31 HEAT rifle grenade
The M31 HEAT is a fin-stabilized anti-tank rifle grenade designed in the late 1950s to replace the Belgian ENERGA rifle grenade which was adopted by the US Army and US Marines as an emergency stop-gap measure during the Korean War...

 warhead, uses a simple, but extremely safe and reliable piezoelectric fuze system, which on impact with the target a certain type of crystal in the front nose section is crushed causing a micro-second electric current to be generated which detonates the warhead. The fuse then detonates a booster charge located in the base of the warhead which sets off the main warhead charge. The force of the main charge forces the copper liner into a directional particle jet that in relation to the size of the warhead is capable of massive amount of penetration. A unique mechanical set-back safety on the base of the detonator grounds the circuit till the missile is accelerated from the tube. The accelerations causes each of the three disks in the set back to rotate 90 degrees in succession, ungrounding the circuit and completing a circuit from the nose to the base of the detonator when the piezo-electric crystal is crushed on impact.

Ammunition

The M72A2 LAW was issued as a prepackaged round of ammunition. Improvements to the launcher and differences in the ammunition were differentiated by a single designation. The most common M72A2 LAWs came prepacked with a rocket containing a 66 mm HEAT
Heat
In physics and thermodynamics, heat is energy transferred from one body, region, or thermodynamic system to another due to thermal contact or thermal radiation when the systems are at different temperatures. It is often described as one of the fundamental processes of energy transfer between...

 warhead which is attached to the inside of the launcher by the igniter. The standard M72A2 anti-armor HEAT warhead has an official stated penetration in 1977 of up to 20 cm/8 inches of steel plate, 600mm (2 feet) of reinforced concrete
Reinforced concrete
Reinforced concrete is concrete in which reinforcement bars , reinforcement grids, plates or fibers have been incorporated to strengthen the concrete in tension. It was invented by French gardener Joseph Monier in 1849 and patented in 1867. The term Ferro Concrete refers only to concrete that is...

, or 1.8 meters (6 feet) of soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

.

A training variant of the M72 LAW, designated the M190, also exists. This weapon is reloadable and uses the 35 mm M73 training rocket. A subcaliber training device that uses a special tracer cartridge also exists for the M72. A training variant used by the Finnish armed forces
Finnish Defence Forces
The Finnish Defence Forces are responsible for the defence of Finland. It is a cadre army of 15,000, of which 8,900 are professional soldiers , extended with conscripts and reservists such that the standard readiness strength is 34,700 people in uniform...

 fires 7.62 mm tracer rounds.

The US Army tested other 66 mm rockets based on the M54 rocket motor used for the M72. The M74 TPA (Thickened Pyrophoric Agent) had an Incendiary warhead filled with TEA (triethylaluminium
Triethylaluminium
Triethylaluminium is an organoaluminium compound. This volatile, colorless liquid is highly pyrophoric, igniting immediately upon exposure to air. It is normally stored in stainless steel containers either as a pure liquid or as a solution in hydrocarbon solvents such as hexane, heptane, or ...

); this was used in the M202A1 FLASH
M202A1 FLASH
The M202 FLASH is an American rocket launcher, designed to replace the World War II-vintage flamethrowers that remained the military's standard incendiary devices well into the 1960s...

 (FLame Assault SHoulder weapon) 4-tube launcher. The XM96 RCR (Riot Control Rocket) had a CS gas
CS gas
2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile is the defining component of a "tear gas" commonly referred to as CS gas, which is used as a riot control agent...

-filled warhead for crowd control and was used with the XM191 quadruple-tube launcher.

Once fired in combat the launcher is required to be destroyed to prevent its use by the enemy. Due to the single use nature of the weapon, it was issued as what is called a "wooden-round" of ammunition
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

 by the Canadian Army and the United States Army, requiring no checks or maintenance, just as small arms ammunition can be stored in the same manner for years without any problems.

Australia

The M72 rocket has been in Australian service since the Vietnam War. Currently, the Australian Defence Force uses the M72A6 variant as an anti-structure and secondary anti-armor weapon. The weapon is used by ordinary troops and complements the heavier 84 mm Carl Gustaf
Carl Gustav recoilless rifle
The Carl Gustav is the common name for the 84 mm man-portable reusable multi-role recoilless rifle produced by Saab Bofors Dynamics in Sweden...

 recoilless rifle and Javelin
FGM-148 Javelin
The FGM-148 Javelin is a United States-made man-portable third generation anti-tank missile fielded to replace the Dragon antitank missile.-Overview:Javelin is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance...

 missile; which are generally utilized by specialized fire support and anti-armor troops.

Republic of China

The Republic of China Army (Taiwan) uses the M72 as a secondary anti-armor weapon. It is used primarily as a backup to the Javelin and the M136 (AT4) anti-tank weapons.

Finland

The M72 LAW is used in the Finnish Army
Finnish Army
The Finnish Army is the land forces branch of the Finnish Defence Forces.Today's Army is divided into six branches: the infantry , field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers, signals, and materiel troops.-History of the Finnish Army:Between 1809 and 1917 Finland was an autonomous part of...

 (some 70,000 pieces), where it is known under the designations 66 KES 75 (M72A2, no longer in service) and 66 KES 88 (M72A5). In accordance with the weapon's known limitations, a pair of "tank buster" troops crawl to a firing position some 50 to 150 yards away from the target, bringing with them four to six LAWs which are then used in rapid succession until the target is destroyed or incapacitated. Due to its low penetration capability, it's mostly used against light armored targets. The M72 is the most common AT weapon in the Finnish Army.

Turkey

The Turkish Army
Turkish Army
The Turkish Army or Turkish Land Forces is the main branch of the Turkish Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The modern history of the army began with its formation after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire...

 uses a Turkish
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

-built version by Makina ve Kimya Endustrisi Kurumu, called HAR-66 (Hafif Antitank Roketi, Light Antitank Rocket), which has the performance and characteristics of a mix of M72A2 and A3. Turkey also indigenously developed an anti-personnel warhead version of HAR-66 AP and called it "Eşek Arısı"(Wasp)

United Kingdom

The British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 used the Norwegian-built version of the M72 under the designation "Rocket 66mm HEAT L1A1" which was replaced by LAW 80
LAW 80
The LAW 80 , sometimes erroneously referred to as LAW 94, is a man-portable, disposable anti-tank weapon currently in use by the British Army and a few other militaries.-Description:...

. The M72 rocket has been reintroduced into British service under the Urgent Operational Requirement program, with the M72A9 variant being designated the Light Anti-Structures Missile (LASM).

United States

During the Vietnam and post-Vietnam periods, all issued LAWs were recalled due to instances of the warhead exploding in flight, sometimes injuring the operator. After safety improvements, part of the training and firing drills included the requirement to ensure the words "w/coupler" were included in the text description stenciled on the launcher, which indicated the launcher had the required safety modification(s).

With the failure of the M72 replacement the Viper
FGR-17 Viper
The FGR-17 Viper was an USA one man disposable antitank rocket which had slated in the 1980s to be the replacement for the M72 LAW, but was canceled shortly after production began due a major public scandal resulting from massive cost overruns and safety concerns, as well as a mistaken belief by...

, Congress in late 1982 ordered the US Army to test off-the-shelf light antitank weapons and report back by the end of 1983. In partnership with Raufoss AS, Talley Defense offered the M72E5, which offered increased range, penetration and better sights, which was tested along with five other light anti-armor weapons in 1983. For all the improvements the M72E5 offered the AT4
AT4
The AT4 is an 84-mm unguided, portable, single-shot recoilless smoothbore weapon built in Sweden by Saab Bofors Dynamics...

 was chosen to replace the M72.

Although generally thought of as a Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 era weapon which has been superseded by more powerful AT4
AT4
The AT4 is an 84-mm unguided, portable, single-shot recoilless smoothbore weapon built in Sweden by Saab Bofors Dynamics...

, the M72 LAW has found a new lease of life in the ongoing (2006) operations in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 by the US Army and Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 by the US Marine Corps and Canadian Army. The lower cost and lighter weight of the LAW, combined with a lack of modern heavy armored targets and the need for an individual assault vs an individual antiarmor weapon, make it ideal for the type of urban combat
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

 seen in Iraq and mountain warfare seen in Afghanistan today. In addition a soldier can only carry one AT4 a mission, but with the LAW he can carry two.

Recently the US Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, Virginia placed a 15.5 million dollar fixed contract order with Talley Defense for 7,750 M72A7s, with delivery to be completed April 2011

US variants

Designation Description
M72 66 mm Talley single shot disposable rocket launcher; pre-loaded w/ HEAT rocket
M72A1 M72 variant; improved rocket motor
M72A2 M72 variant; improved rocket motor
M72A3 M72A1/A2 variant; safety upgrades
M72A4 M72 variant; rocket optimised for high-penetration; uses improved launcher assembly
M72A5 M72A3; uses improved launcher assembly
M72A6 M72 variant; rocket w/ low penetration, improved blast effect; uses improved launcher assembly
M72A7 M72A6 variant; US Army M72A6 variant for US Navy
M72E8 M72A7 variant; Fire-From-Enclosure (FFE) capable rocket motor; uses improved launcher assembly
M72E9 M72 variant; rocket w/ improved anti-armor capability; uses improved launcher assembly
M72E10 M72 variant; HE-Frag rocket; uses improved launcher assembly


International variants and designations

Designation Nation Description
66 KES 75 Finland Designation for the M72A2
66 KES 88 Finland Designation for the M72A5
HAR-66 Turkey Turkish variant incorporating M72A2 rocket improvements and M72A3 safety improvements
Rocket 66mm HEAT L1A1 United Kingdom Designation for the M72
Light Anti-Structures Missile (LASM) United Kingdom Designation for the M72A9

Launcher

  • Length:
    • Extended: less than 1 m (35 in).
    • Closed: 0.67 m (24.8 in).
  • Weight:
    • Complete M72A2: 2.3 kg (5.1 lb).
    • Complete M72A3: 2.5 kg (5.5 lb).
  • Firing mechanism: Percussion.
  • Front sight: reticle graduated in 25 m range increments.
  • Rear sight: peep sight adjusts automatically to temperature change.

Rocket

  • Caliber: 66 mm (2.6 in)
  • Length: 508 mm (20 in)
  • Weight: 1.8 kg (4 lb)
  • Muzzle velocity: 145 m/s (475 ft/s)
  • Minimum range (combat): 10 m (33 ft)
  • Minimum arming range: 10 m (33 ft)
  • Maximum range: 1,000 m (3,300 ft)
  • Penetration: 200 mm (8 inches)

Maximum effective ranges

  • Stationary target: 200 m (220 yd)
  • Moving target:165 m (180 yd)
  • Beyond these ranges there is less than a 50 % chance of hitting the target.

Users

M72A6 variant.: M72A3 variant.: M72A3 variant.: Used by the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The M72A9 variant was reintroduced into service for the Afghanistan War
Operation Herrick
Operation Herrick is the codename under which all British operations in the war in Afghanistan have been conducted since 2002. It consists of the British contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and support to the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom...

.

See also


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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