Prior to the fielding of the AT-4 the M-72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) was the Army's primary shoulder-fired, man-portable, light anti-tank rocket. The M72 66mm LAW (Light Anti-armor Weapon) was developed in the 1960s. It was a revolutionary idea: a pre-packaged rocket which could be fired and the launcher then thrown away. Like the RPG-7, the M72 is capable of penetrating a foot of armor, but its effective range is only 170 to 220 meters. Manufactured by Talley Industries in the U.S. and under license in Norway, it not only became a NATO standard but was copied and produced in Czechoslovakia and Russia (as the RPG-18 and RPG-26). Early versions were frequently inaccurate, corrected by an improved sight and a more powerful rocket motor.The M72-series LAW is a lightweight, self-contained, antiarmor weapon consisting of a rocket packed in a launcher. It is man-portable, may be fired from either shoulder, and is issued as a round of ammunition. It requires little from the user--only a visual inspection and some operator maintenance. The launcher, which consists of two tubes, one inside the other, serves as a watertight packing container for the rocket and houses a percussion-type firing mechanism that activates the rocket.
The M72-series LAW is issued as a round of ammunition. It contains a nonadjustable propelling charge and a rocket. Every M72-series LAW has an integral high-explosive antitank (HEAT) warhead. The warhead is in the rocket's head (or body) section. The fuze and booster are in the rocket's closure section. The propellant, its igniter, and the fin assembly are in the rocket's motor. No inert versions are available. Appendix B provides information about appropriate gunnery training devices and ammunition. Although the M72-series LAW is mainly used as an antiarmor weapon, it may be used with limited success against secondary targets such as gun emplacements, pillboxes, buildings, or light vehicles.
- Outer Tube. The trigger housing assembly (which contains the trigger assembly) is on the upper surface of the outer tube. So are the trigger arming handle, front and rear sight assemblies, and the launcher's rear cover.
- Inner Tube. The inner tube telescopes outward toward the rear, guided by a channel assembly that rides in an alignment slot in the outer tube's trigger housing assembly. The channel assembly also houses the firing pin rod assembly, which includes a detent lever assembly. The detent lever assembly moves under the trigger assembly in the outer tube, locking the inner tube in the extended position and cocking the weapon. All this must occur before the weapon can be fired.
- Rocket. The rocket is a percussion-ignited, fin-stabilized, fixed munition. It is attached by the igniter to the inside of the launcher. The rocket consists of a 66-mm HEAT warhead, a point-initiating, base-detonating fuze, and a rocket motor. Six spring-loaded fins are attached to the rear of the rocket motor. These fins are folded forward along the motor when the rocket is in the launcher. When ignited, the propellant in the rocket motor burns completely, producing gasses about 1,400F(760C). The gas pressure pushes the rocket toward the target and exits to the rear of the launcher as the backblast.
The following data apply to the M72A2 and M72A3 LAWs:
2-2. TECHNICAL DATA
-Length (Extended) ........ Less than 1 meter (34.67 inches)
-Length (Closed) .......... 0.67 meters (24.8 inches)
-Weight (Complete M72A2) .. 2.3 kg (5.1 pounds)
-Weight (Complete M72A3) .. 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds)
-Firing Mechanism ......... Percussion
-Front Sight .............. Reticle graduated in 25-meter range increments
-Rear Sight..... Peep sight adjusts automatically to temperature change
-Caliber .................. 66 mm
-Length ................... 50.8 cm (20 inches)
-Weight.................... 1.8 kg (2.2 pounds)
-Muzzle Velocity........... 144.8 mps (475 fps)
-Minimum Range (Combat).... 10 meters (33 feet)
-Minimum Arming Range...... 10 meters (33 feet)
-Maximum Range............. 1,000 meters (3,300 feet)
Maximum Effective Ranges
-Stationary Target ...... 200 meters (660 feet)
-Moving Target........... 165 meters (541 feet)(Beyond these ranges, there is less than a fifty percent chance of hitting the target.)