the M72 LAW (light anti-tank weapon) and one of its types of projectiles

The M72 LAW (Light Anti tank Weapon) is a disposable missile launcher used by the US Military


During World War II, the sudden prominence of tanks and other armored vehicles on the battlefield led to the creation of man-portable weapons that would enable the humble infantryman to successfully deal with the new threat. The first such weapons to be used with limited success were flamethrowers, jury-rigged land mines and specially designed magnetic hollow charges, but all these weapons needed to get within a couple of meters from the target to be effective, which severely limited said effectiveness and greatly endangered the user.

The U.S. Army then introduced the bazooka on the battlefield, the first true rocket-propelled grenade launcher, which proved devastatingly effective against enemy armor. It was such a success that all involved nations soon bought or copied the bazooka for extensive use on all fronts.

But the bazooka had its drawbacks: large, cumbersome and rather fragile; it needed a dedicated (and trained) two-man team to be used efficiently. Hard-pressed on all fronts, Germany then developed an alternative to the bazooka: the Panzerfaust family of weapons. These one-shot rocket launchers were relatively cheap, needed no particular training (they were so simple of use that they were regularly issued to volkssturm regiments) and proved remarkably efficient against Russian armor on the eastern front.

The M72 LAW is the descendant of the Panzerfaust: a sturdy, lightweight, easy-of-use one-shot anti-tank rocket launcher.


The M72A2 LAW was issued as a prepackaged round of ammunition. Improvements to the launcher and differences in the ammunition were differentiated by a single designation. The most common M72A2 LAWs came prepacked with a rocket containing a 66 mm HEAT warhead which is attached to the inside of the launcher by the igniter. The standard M72A2 antiarmor HEAT warhead has an official stated penetrate in 1977 of up to 20 cm/8 inches of steel plate, 600mm of reinforced concrete, or 1.8 meters of soil.

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