infantry anti-tank rockets


July 31, 2010, 12:04 PM
not quite sure if this is even covered under NFA weapons but......

To all THRers who have served in the infantry either in the army or marines.....

Why do they say that the one-shot disposable LAW (light anti-tank weapon) should NOT be used against Main Battle Tanks and if they are employed against heavy armor, then the soldier should aim for the sides, back and even top if possible? Now don't get me wrong....I understand the rationale for going after the weakest parts of a tank but with the ability of the later models of LAW type weapons to penetrate anything from 14 inches of steel armor - M72E9 to 15.7 inches of armor -, should mean that if an infantrymen armed with a suitable LAW went up against earlier MBTs like the T-62 (, 9.53 inches of turret armor) and the Chinese Type 69 tank (, 8 inches of armor), he should be able to easily score a frontal turret kill right?

This of course assumes that the enemy tank does not have explosive reactive armor plates bolted on.

Therefore, if it is taken to be true that the enemy is mainly equipped with 1960s and 1970s era tanks (as the potential adversaries of my country are), what rationale could my national guard instructors have for advising us to refrain from trying to take on MBTs with our latest version LAWS? (we are instead advised to call for air or artillery support)

Lastly, if using the latest and best LAW, could the modern infantry man expect to easily take out the heaviest WWII German tanks with a frontal turret hit?

If you enjoyed reading about "infantry anti-tank rockets" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
July 31, 2010, 12:16 PM
I think that in real life the LAW was never expected to be capable of penetrating anywhere near that much RHA steel.

If i recall correctly, a HEAT penetrates 1.5x it's diameter. A LAW warhead is only 66mm i think.

At any rate, i was in the US Army infantry (we had M-72A6 w/coupler models), and we were most assuredly instructed that the LAW was only for use vs soft or light armored vehicles, bunkers/fortifications (it's best use IMO), and MBT's from the rear quadrant- specifically the engine compartment.

If you got really lucky you could probably use it as a very short range point defense anti-helo weapon, such as RPG's were used in Somalia, as portrayed in the film Blackhawk down.

You have to remember a LAW is a last ditch point defense weapon. Exposing yourself to fire it when you're up against a tank that's LOOKING AT YOU is a very, very bad idea. It is probably extremely good advice to state that you should not ever attempt to take a frontal shot at a tank, or expose yourself to it's turret facing direction at all, for that matter.

If you want to kill tanks, make sure that thing is not looking your way when you pop up, or you're going to get a co-ax enema.

July 31, 2010, 01:15 PM
I was an anti-tank platoon Sargent back when the LAW rocket was first deployed.

The chance of complete penetration on front sloping armor is almost nil.

And if you shoot at the front of a tank, be advised it's hull mounted machingun is already pointed right back at you.

The other thing is, nothing of critical importance is located in the front of a tank except the driver.

All of the ammo, fuel, engine, and drive-train is located much further back, well out of reach of a LAW rocket hit on the frontal armor even if it did somehow manage to punch through.


July 31, 2010, 01:18 PM
Slope has a lot to do with it. Front glacis and turret fronts are sloped and heavily armoered, being the spot expected to draw the most fire. Fire a LAW at a T-80 front, and if you are REALLY lucky, you might not annoy him enough for him to kill you.
One exception to that, rcmodel, the Israeli Merkava has a front mounted engine.
I have been out of uniform for many years, different service, but I thought we quit issuing the LAW rocket as a bad idea.

July 31, 2010, 01:35 PM
This is true.
Hopefully we don't have to go to war against the Israelis though.

They'd probably kick our butt, at least at first.


July 31, 2010, 01:50 PM
LAW's wont get a K-kill on a main battle tank, at best, you'll get a mobility kill, which you still have to deal with... even though LAWS are no longer used.

The AT-4 is the LAWS replacement, and it wont kill a tank either.

Most of the "anti tank" weapons are actually just light anti armor, giving an infantryman the ability to engage a BMP or BTR or some other sort of light armor, maybe some of the pre 60's era tanks like a T-55... so possibly some of the german tanks you mentioned, but the sloped armor would be a challenge, thats why you go for the side or rear anyway

American Infantry tasked specifically in dealing with anti-armor roles will be issued real anti tank weapons, TOWS, Dragons, Javelins, and anti-tank mines.

You mentioned 70's era tanks... Does this include any T-72's? thats a game changer, most portable systems will not kill this tank, something of this caliber will either take a dedicated antitank missile, or another main battle tank to kill it.

July 31, 2010, 02:49 PM
There are still quite a few LAWS in the system, and AFAIK, they are still being procured.

July 31, 2010, 03:27 PM
If you want to take out enemy armor, call in an air strike. To come in before the friendly armor force. Preceded by artillery.

They told us it would take ten LAWS to kill a tank. That might not be quite true, but remember a couple of things. Even if you hit somewhere that it can penetrate the armor, tanks (yes, even cheap Soviet-era tanks,) are compartmentalized. They are designed so that even if you hit one thing, it won't expose everything else.

It's not unlike hitting a person with a bullet. Just because you get a hit doesn't mean it will stop them. You need anticipate failure to stop, and be prepared to go to plan b. If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck. You should set yourself up for unfair, overwhelming surprise force, from behind if possible. Even AT-4s aren't what I would consider effective tank stoppers. I don't know if they still use the man-portable TOW systems, but that would be closer to a level playing field. But if you have time to get in position, line up a shot, and be successful without getting killed, why not just call for fire or an air strike?

I wasn't infantry, I was armor. If I wanted to disable any tank, I would aim for the treads. If I wanted to kill it, I would try to cover it with molotov coktails, wait for the crew to come out, and snipe them. There's a reason we aren't using them in anything but a wide-open battlefield.

July 31, 2010, 03:28 PM
Or Javelins, I was trying to remember what they are called. They are very effective, and very expensive.

July 31, 2010, 03:55 PM
The important thing to remember with any shoulder-fired rocket, or recoilless-rifle is this.

They put out a serious back blast that will mark your firing position exactly for everyone to see.

And tanks don't run around all alone by themselves.
Once you fire a rocket or R/R, regardless of whether you knock the tank out or not, you will have serious fire-power brought on your azz almost instantly by covering infantry and other tanks.

With that in mind, taking on any tank from the front, or any other angle, with a LAW is a roll of the dice you will most likely lose, for several reasons.


July 31, 2010, 04:10 PM
light anti-tank weapon
There's your answer, light armor.

July 31, 2010, 04:58 PM
Admittedly the bazooka was a suicide weapon, but there were always brave men--mostly platoon and squad leaders--to risk its use against an enemy tank.

Rcmodel is correct. Unless the enemy is doing something terribly wrong, he will not lead with tanks into close quarters where you can get a shot off. A shot at the front armor is unlikely to succeed, and will bring a lot of fire down on you. A shot at the side armor will also bring a lot of fire down on you, but at least you're likely to bag the tank.

I've seen it convincingly argued that the role of unguided infantry AT rockets is not to kill tanks--rather it is to pose just enough threat that tanks cannot act with impunity. If you can strip enemy infantry away with artillery or long range machine-gun fire, the attack will need to be halted, even if the tanks are unscathed. If the enemy tries to press the attack regardless then yes, your LAW might kill a tank, but otherwise they'll most likely be outside the 200m effective range.

In any case, you have far more effective AT assets than the LAW, and you should pray that you never need to do without them.

July 31, 2010, 05:06 PM
Other thing to remember is that with ceramic inserts in the armor, that actual 250mm frontal armor thickness may present as more than 1,000mm of RHA to a shaped charge warhead, because the ceramic is so effective at deflecting shaped charges.

July 31, 2010, 05:31 PM
glad the western world will never fight tank battles again.

-- hypothetical, only rebels .(.the propaganda i.word), fight vs tanks from now on ...

July 31, 2010, 05:36 PM
-v- is correct. There is a lot more to armor than just the thickness.

And the era of heavy armor may well be over FOR NOW. It's not what we need in the current war, but we certainly aren't throwing them away anytime soon either.

July 31, 2010, 06:02 PM
I've seen it convincingly argued that the role of unguided infantry AT rockets is not to kill tanks--rather it is to pose just enough threat that tanks cannot act with impunity.

Former Marine tank commander (now politician) Nick Popaditch learned that the hard way when he rampantly chased fighters down some narrow Fallujah alley in his tank with out any infantry support.. then he took an RPG to the turret from above which was, granted, slightly open. But it still shows that there is no impunity in an urban setting even for the mighty M1 Abrams which was put out of the fight that day by a cheapo RPG. replacement though

There is footage of the immediate aftermath with him crawling out of his hatch some where on the net but I couldn't find it.

July 31, 2010, 07:37 PM
Lastly, if using the latest and best LAW, could the modern infantry man expect to easily take out the heaviest WWII German tanks with a frontal turret hit?

A PzKpfw VI B (King Tiger) had 180mm (7.1in) front turret armor at 10 degrees, so yes. The turret front was, however, quite a small target--they would be much more likely to hit the Glacis plate (150mm[5.9in] @ 50 degrees). I believe HEAT rounds are much less effective against sloped armor, though I don't know by how much.

The Jagdtiger (a tank-destroyer) had 250mm (9.8 in) front superstructure armor at 15 degrees, so again, probably.

August 5, 2010, 03:11 PM
When I was at Infantry School being taught the use of the M136, we were taught to volley fire the rockets at armor.

In actual use, the M136 is comparable in destructive power to a standard RPG-7 loaded with a simple AT round. Not very destructive. Our guntrucks in 2005 could take an RPG safely unless they hit the glass. In 2003 our trucks could not take an rpg.

For anti-building or anti-wall, the MK153 SMAW is fantastic. Loaded with a thermobaric novel round, it will destroy structures like nobodies business. I even saw a javelin used against a concrete building and it pretty much leveled it. Expensive demo, but fun.

As I was getting out, we were starting to see M72E8 and E10s which had supposedly solved the shoot from inside a building problem.

This is the latest and is replacing the SMAW.

August 6, 2010, 09:26 PM
Soviet RPG29 is rated to penetrate 750mm(30 inches) of RHA armor!! This weapon has easily penetrated the frontal armor of the Soviets own T-80 and T-90 tanks. An Israeli tank had its FRONTAL armor pierced by one of these.

August 6, 2010, 09:30 PM
RPG 28 rated for 1000mm of RHA (rolled homogeneous armor) almost 40 inches!! Short range 200 meters or less but very dangerous anyones tanks.

August 7, 2010, 09:39 PM
If all I had was a LAW or AT-4 against a modern MBT...I'd (get someone else to) aim at the track.:uhoh:

August 8, 2010, 02:11 AM
Or run :P

August 8, 2010, 05:00 AM
i think the only thing i would be willing to aim at would be the tracks. disable the tank and move around it till someone thats better equipped to take it out

If you enjoyed reading about "infantry anti-tank rockets" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!