M72 Light Antitank Weapon
Definition/Scope: (FM 3-23.25) The M72A2/A3 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 rocket is a percussion-ignited, fin-stabilized, fixed munition. The rocket is attached by the igniter to the inside of the launcher. The rocket consists of a 66-mm high-explosive antiarmor (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 gases about 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit (760 degrees Centigrade). The gas pressure pushes the rocket toward the target and exits to the rear of the launcher as the backblast. Although the M72A2/A3 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.
Broader Terms:antitank rocket