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M-72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW)

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.


The following data apply to the M72A2 and M72A3 LAWs:

(Beyond these ranges, there is less than a fifty percent chance of hitting the target.)

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Saturday, September 12, 1998 6:35:55 AM