L1A1 M72 LAW Rocket Launcher

The Second World War ended with a number of different weapons in service to defeat tanks. The British were using the unique PIAT spigot mortar, the Americans the very effective by cumbersome and expensive bazooka and the Germans the cheap and lightweight panzerfaust. Following the war extensive design and development work was done by many different nations in an attempt to find a lightweight, yet effective, anti-tank system. The British initially used the ENERGA anti-tank rifle grenade, but in the 1967 adopted the US designed M72 LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon). This was a one shot disposable rocket launcher system that came in a simple fibreglass tube, with controls on the top: Capture 2

Capture1This was extended outwards when ready to fire:Capture 4Capture 3As the two tubes are pulled apart spring loaded sights pop up, a metal frame with a plastic graticule on the front: imageAnd a simple metal peep sight on the rear: imageThe rear of the LAW has a metal cover over it, missing on this example, that is secured with a safety pin: imageThis pin is removed and the safety pulled forward from ‘safe’ to ‘arm’: imageThe large rubber button on the top is then depressed to fire. The launcher fires a 66mm HEAT rocket, and a warning reminds troops to keep clear of the rear as there is substantial back blast: imageThe rocket has a range of about 300m. Simple pictogram style instructions are attached to the body of the launcher:Capture 7This example is a British used LAW, and has markings indicating it was produced in June 1976:Capture 5The LAW system was used by the British infantry until the mid-1980s:image

imageRecently an urgent operational requirement in Afghanistan has seen the launchers pulled back out of stores and issued to troops for use against compounds and light buildings:3-para-lasmThe LAW was packaged in packs of five fibreboard boxes, and three boxes were carried in one wooden crate. As a one shot weapon they were used and the launcher then thrown away- normally after rendering it destroyed. The Vietcong were able to repurpose discarded M72 tubes during the Vietnam War so now troops are more careful in leaving behind what they see as rubbish for fear of it being used against them in a crude and improvised way. This launcher is deactivated to enable it to be legally owned in the UK.Capture 6

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