Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Bazooka: A (short) History

In 1944, one enterprising pilot of an L-4 observation plane even strapped three bazookas onto his aircraft during the Battle of Arracourt in France. Lt. Col. Charles Carpenter knocked out six German tanks with his improvised ground-attack plane and earned the nickname “Bazooka Charlie.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a long time creeper on your blog and never comment. I am currently a Marine EOD Tech and still deal with these rockets as they are still found all over the place in old training areas. The Bazooka had some pretty big problems that made it a poor weapon for its stated purpose. Shaped Charge weapons were still in their infancy when the rocket came off the production line and it was extremely under powered for busting the thick armor of Nazi Tanks.....though it had no problem busting through the thin skinned Shermans....which is what they tested it against. The early models even had an issue of bouncing off slanted armor because of the pointed nose....while that problem was solved by putting a rounded nose on it, penetration was still a problem. The Nazis knew this when they created the Tank Terror and increased the diameter to 3.5 inches. When we saw how well it worked we did the same in the form of the 3.5 inch M20 Super Bazooka. We used the Super for a while before the Marines dropped it in favor of the newly developed SMAW in the 80s. The M72 LAW was not fathered by the bazooka. They law was created to replace the ability of an infantry man to bust a tank when we moved away from the 7.62mm rifle. Until then, we had used the M31 66mm rifle grenade as a useful HEAT weapon. Penetration was excellent and it gave anyone with a 7.62 the ability to launch one from a rifle barrel. When we down graded to the 5.56, a rifle grenade that size couldn't be launched. The Army liked the M31 so much that they literally just took the HEAT warhead and put a rocket motor on it and the LAW was born. We still use the 66mm warhead and while the filler has changed in it, the warhead shape and diameter is still a mirror image of the M31. It didn't take 2 people to fire the single cartridge LAW. The Bazooka and the M31 Rifle Grenade were two weapon systems that fathered the current SMAW and LAW series weapons but they were developed independently of each other of for different reasons.