Friday, January 6, 2012

Various anti-tank rocket launcher systems

Panzerfaust 3

The Panzerfaust 3 has been modernized to defeat the latest in tank armor.

The Panzerfaust 3 is a single-shot disposable anti-tank rocket launcher (only the sight and firing systems are reusable). It is designed to be a close range system to defeat heavy armor and to be used primarily in an urban warfare setting (where close range fighting is expected). No doubt the system itself stemmed from experience in fighting Soviet armored forces in the streets of Berlin during World War Two, with German and civilian forces being armed with the original Panzerfaust series of tank-busters.

Early design drawbacks included excessive weight for a single-man portable battlefield system (leading to the weapon being uncomfortably cumbersome) and jamming issues within the launcher's firing mechanism. In fact, one of the greatest design flaws was that the rocket itself was found not to penetrate the heaviest of armors as advertised, leading to a redesign of the entire system. The redesign also minimized the 'back blast' that occurred when the system was fired, making the system somewhat safer to be fired out from within close quarters.

A later model designated as the PzF 3-T was put into service with a few notable improvements on the original system including a dual hollow-charge warhead. This specialized warhead was developed exclusively to compete with the newer explosive reactive armor that made its appearance as optional add-ons to many tank systems.

The latest Panzerfaust 3 variant in service is designated the PzF 3-IT-600.

Specifications for the Dynamit-Nobel Panzerfaust 3
Action: Spring Coil Mechanism Ignition
Cartridge: 90mm launcher
Feed System: 1 x 110mm rocket
Maximum / Effective Range: 1,640ft (500m; 547yds)

Overall Length: 1200mm (47.24in)


The AT4 is the primary anti-armor weapon of the United States Army.

The M136 AT4 is billed as the United States Army's primary light anti-tank weapon system available to infantry squads and is based on the original AT4 anti-tank shoulder-launched munition system. The system can be used by a single operator against armored targets posing a threat to the lively hood of the infantry squads. Essentially, the M136 AT4 operates as a recoilless rifle (as opposed to a guided missile launcher), allowing for high penetration of armored targets and fires a cartridge round measuring over half the length of the launching tube. When fired, the projectile sports spring loaded fins during flight.

The M136's cartridge round is an 84mm High-Explosive Anti-Tank munition with a rocket-type cartridge, fin stabilization and can achieve free flight once it leaves the launcher (not a wire-guided munition). The launcher itself is a single-piece tube system wrapped in fiberglass and is disposable after one shot.

The United States Army has since stopped purchases of the base AT4 anti-tank system in favor of the newer AT4-CS (Confined Space) implement. The AT4-CS is designated as the M136E1 and holds the advantage of being able to fire from confined areas such as inside of buildings, improving its reach in urban settings. The weapon has a listed effective range of 300 meters and weighs in at only 7.5 kilograms. The recoilless qualities of the M136 family allow for just about any trained operator to fire one and its rugged capabilities mean that the system can receive a great deal of in-the-field abuse and not reflect that in its performance.

Specifications for the FFV / Alliant TechSystems M136 AT4 Light Anti-Armor Weapon
Action: Single-Shot, Self-Contained Recoilless Rifle
Cartridge: 84mm
Feed System: 1
Muzzle Velocity: 950ft/sec (290m/sec)
Maximum / Effective Range: 985ft (300m; 328yds)
Sights: Range Indicator Rear Sight

Overall Length: 1020mm (40.16in)
Barrel Length: 1,020.00 (40.16in)
Empty Weight: 1.80kg (3.97lbs)


The B-300 maintains an advantage of needing only a single user to operate the weapon.

The B-300 is an Israeli Military Industries product and is a man-portable anti-tank weapon system. It is designed to engage enemy tanks or fortified structures depending on the chosen warhead type (HEAT - High Explosive Anti-Tank round or HEFT - High Explosive Follow-Through). The Follow-Through round deals with fortifications in two stages, the first being the penetration phase. The second (i.e. the follow-through) phase, launches a secondary anti-personnel shaped charge into the structure. Design of the B-300 began in the 1970's with production running from 1980 through today.

The B-300 itself had origins in the French-produced STRIM anti-tank rocket launching system. This weapon replaced the American-made 3.5" Super Bazookas in service with the IDF. Review of Israeli Army experience in their 1973 conflict gave notice to the effectiveness of Soviet-produced RPG-7 systems in enemy hands. As such, a competing design by Israel was eventually ushered in, this becoming the B-300.

Physically, the B-300 follows conventional wisdom in design. A pistol grip is positioned slightly forward with the firing mechanism on a pistol grip and trigger assembly positioned near center of the firing tube. A folding bipod is positioned just aft of the pistol grip as is a retractable shoulder rest. Sights include integrated standard front and rear battle sights and a variable scope mounting. Scope types include the Starlight scope (via adapter) for night operations and Stadia Sighting Telescope with integrated Beta light for improved dawn/dusk efficiency.

The B-300 weighs in at 3.65 kilograms empty and at 8 kilograms loaded. The system is 1,440 millimeters in length and can fire 3 rounds per minute. Sights include the standard iron sights but this can be augmented with the use of telescopic sights and night vision scopes. Its ease of use allows various military components to utilize the weapon as needed - this includes airborne and mechanized infantrymen alike.

The B-300 won the US Marines competition trials to become the SMAW bunker buster weapon.

The B-300 has seen active combat use in the 1st and 2nd Intifadas as well as the 2006 Lebanon War.

Specifications for the IMI B-300
Action: Not Applicable
Cartridge: 82mm
Feed System: 1
Cyclic Rate-of-Fire: 3rds/min
Maximum / Effective Range: 1,312ft (400m; 437yds)
Sights: Iron; Night Vision; Telescopic; Starlight; Sighting

Overall Length: 1440mm (56.69in)
Barrel Length: 0.00 (0.00in)
Empty Weight: 3.65kg (8.05lbs)


The M141 is commonly known as the SMAW-D and fills the role of bunker buster for the United States Army.

The M141 (SMAW-D) was developed for the United States Army to fill the role of "bunker buster", though the system itself has proven to be most multi-purpose in nature, particularly in urban the urban warfare setting. The system is used for the destruction of masonry, wood and earthen structures as well as a general light-armored vehicle-stopper. The system has proven useful in the demolition of network caves throughout the mountainous terrains of Afghanistan.

The launcher is of an extending tube type with built-in optics. The rocket features folding spring-loaded fins for in-flight stabilization. Target ranges are within a 15-to-500 meter range. The projectile warhead is high-explosive.

The US Army designates the system as M141 or SMAW-D while the US Marine Corps use the SMAW (Shoulder-launched Multi-purpose Assault Weapon). Warheads featured in the projectiles of the two weapon systems are the same.

Specifications for the IMI M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (BDM) / SMAW-D
Action: Disposable Shoulder-Launched Assault Weapon
Cartridge: 83mm
Feed System: 1
Cyclic Rate-of-Fire: 1rds/min
Maximum / Effective Range: 1,640ft (500m; 547yds)
Sights: Iron; Telescopic; Night Vision

Overall Length: 826mm (32.52in)
Barrel Length: 826.00 (32.52in)
Empty Weight: 7.12kg (15.70lbs)

LRAC 89-F1

The LRAC system was a reusable shoulder-fired rocket launcher developed for the French Army.

The LRAC 89-F1 was developed for the French Army to replace the aging M20A1 Super Bazooka rocket launcher. The M20A1 was an improved form of the World War 2-era American M1 Bazooka launcher and entered production in 1952. The LRAC 89-F1 was constructed out of plastic and fiberglass to promote a lighter carrying weight for those soldiers assigned to operate the system. A typical crew included two personnel, one to handle the launcher itself and the other to facilitate initial loading and subsequent reloading of the launch tube. The LRAC derived its designation from the name of "Lance-Roquettes AntiChar de 89mm modele F1" and was also known as the STRIM 89mm (based on the abbreviation of the name Societe Techique de Recherches Industrielles et Mechanique).

In the mid-1960s, the Societe Techique de Recherches Industrielles et Mechanique was contracted to find a suitable replacement for the outgoing M20A1 series and, in the early 1970s, delivered two viable candidates. The first was a recoilless rifle design known under the designation of ACL-APX with an 80mm projectile assisted in flight by rocket propulsion. The second became the LRAC 89-F1 of 89mm. After evaluation by the French Army, the more promising and cheaper-to-produce LRAC system came out ahead and was selected for procurement and serial production.

As its designation implies, the LRAC 89-F1 fired a rocket of 89mm caliber. Muzzle velocity was rated at 967 feet per second with an effective range within 500 meters and a maximum range out to 2,300 meters. Sighting was accomplished through use of an APX M290 scope and a passive night telescope sight were also available. The base penetration rocket was fin-stabilized (spring-loaded) while in flight and can pierce up to 400mm at a 0-degree angle and up to 110mm at 65-degrees. Broken down, the projectile featured an electric generator at its head followed by the cap and head with the fuse at the midway point. The projectile was then largely made up of the propulsion charge and finally ended with the exhaust nozzle. The launch tube contained the integrated sighting device, trigger mechanism and bipod. The rocket was not made active until the rear tube container was affixed to the launcher. Only then the rocket's propellant was not activated until after the rocket was fired. The rocket was then armed some 32 feet from the launch point.

Design of the base LRAC launcher was essentially a detailed tube. The tube was larger at the rear and tapered off to a consistent forward end. The main control components were held at the center of the tube and included a pistol grip type handle, a retractable forward hand grip and an adjustable ergonomically curved shoulder rest with twin feet (bipod). The sighting system was mounted near the pistol grip unit (or firing generator handle). A carrying handle was set to the right side of the tube body. The rear of the tube was capped by a removable plug and the front by a removable muzzle cover. A back sight notch was mounted atop the business end of the muzzle.

Beyond the base issue rocket, LRAC ammunition included an anti-personnel/anti-vehicle projectile (spraying out up to 1,600 high-speed, molded steel pellets), a pair of smoke projectile (35 second disbursement time in either liquid smoke/phosphorous head forms) and an illumination projectile that burned in air for up to 30 seconds at 300,000 candela power, settling to the ground by a small parachute.

The LRAC 89-F1 in French Army service has since been replaced by the AT4-CS (of Sweden) single-shot and the ERYX portable wire-guided anti-tank weapons. The LRAC does, however, continue service with other militaries around the world, thee being primarily former French colonies residing in Africa.

Specifications for the LRAC 89-F1 (Lance-Roquettes AntiChar de 89mm modele F1)
Action: Propellant-Based, Shoulder-Fired
Cartridge: 89mm
Feed System: 1
Cyclic Rate-of-Fire: 3rds/min
Maximum / Effective Range: 1,969ft (600m; 656yds)
Sights: APX M290 / Passive Night Optics

Overall Length: 1170mm (46.06in)
Barrel Length: 0.00 (0.00in)
Empty Weight: 5.50kg (12.13lbs)


The American Bazooka was a successful - albeit simplistic - anti-armor developed as early as 1933, though not fielded until 1942. The system consisted of a basic tube, wiring and a pistol grip, fore grip and shoulder rest (all three usually of wood) with the rocket loaded from the open rear. While the primary weapons handler aimed and fired the system, a secondary member was charged with connecting the ignition wiring at rear.

The Bazooka series was first used in the desert campaign of North Africa against Axis tanks. The initial Bazooka system, the M1 and the equally similar M1A1, were designed to fire the penetrating M6A3 rocket round or the practice M7A3 rocket round for training. The M1A1 took over the M1's role shortly after the M1 entered service. Later improved Bazooka models would also fire incendiary and smoke rounds (the Bazooka M9). In some cases, a wire mesh was fitted to the firing end of the launch tube as often times not all of the propellant would be consumed during ignition, spraying the remaining propellant into the face of the firer.

Though often thought of for its anti-tank capabilities, the Bazooka was equally adept at taking out dug in enemy and their surrounding installations not to mention obstacles. Though the effective range of the system was listed at about 300 yards, usage of the Bazooka was usually kept around or under 100 yards to increase accuracy.

The lethality and effectiveness of such a cheap system to produce enlightened the Germans to use the M1 as the basis for their own Bazooka-type system, becoming the large caliber Raketenpanzerbusche. Despite this, the American Bazooka enjoyed more acclaim than any other shoulder-fired rocket system of the war, accounting for over 15 million rockets produced with some 475,000 Bazooka launcher systems in circulation.

The success of the M1 and the improved M1A1 led to the M9, basically a Bazooka launcher that could break down into a more portable two-piece system for easier carrying. The ultimate Bazooka evolution became the M18, seeing introduction at war's end. These later Bazooka systems saw almost exclusive use in the Pacific Theater.

Specifications for the M1 (Bazooka)
Action: Electrically-Fired Single-Shot Launcher
Cartridge: 60mm
Feed System: 1
Muzzle Velocity: 270ft/sec (82m/sec)
Overall Length: 1390mm (54.72in)
Barrel Length: 0.00 (0.00in)
Empty Weight: 6.01kg (13.25lbs)


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