I received an email at the end of last year asking if I would be interested in building an M72A7. This is one of the latest incarnations of a real classic in the world of rocket propelled weapons with its origins prior to the Vietnam War where it first saw service.
The concept of the M72 series (also known as the LAW66 in some parts of the world) of rocket launches was to produce a lightweight, single-use anti armour weapon. Anti-armour technology had come a long way since the beginning of the Second World War: At the beginning of this war tanks could only be dispatched using small direct-fire artillery pieces, though developments were made in the direction of anti-tank rifles (the Boys anti-tank rifle is a classic of the genre) these proved to be ineffective against the armour of newer tanks and were incredibly heavy and cumbersome to carry.
The US introduced the Bazooka to Europe, the first really practical man-portable anti-tank weapon. It was actually so effective that the Germans pretty well copied it when developing their Panzerschrecks. The Germans also developed the Panzerfaust, a single-use recoilless rifle that also proved effective against tanks and popular with users.
Being a single use weapon, the LAW’s rocket is an integral part of the system a soldier has to carry. Many of the improvements and upgrades to the LAW66 are of the warhead or the motor component of the rocket itself, though there are a number of visual differences from the outside including different sights, end caps and sight housings.
The LAW M72A7 features an improved rocket motor to engage targets past 200m and a picatinny rail for night-sights and laser pointers (though who would stick an expensive night sight on a disposable launcher I don’t now, nor what use a laser would be in all honesty, answers on a post-card please!)*.
The Airsoft version of this will not, of course have a range of over 200m and this is a very experimental build for me: I have never done anything like this before! Designs sketched out, my first step was to test the trigger mechanism. Once my theory has been tested, I can build it into the end product. More to follow on that later this week!
*ANSWER: My client for this build gave me a bit of insight into the use of a picatinny rail and what it was for:
“Bit of trivia RE the night sight rail, if I’m not mistaken it is for a PEQ (Infrared light and laser) box so that soldiers using night vision goggles can aim it because the goggles would prevent getting a proper cheek weld to the weapon, and also the dark would render Iron sights unusable. They’re not so much the throwaway weapons they were in the Nam era as the Americans started to learn the enemy would use them as parts of IED’s by filling them with hand grenades. As a result it is standing operating procedure to retain the spent case and take it back to base with you for disposal or to crush/render useless the tube in which case they would take the PEQ off and probably put it onto the rails of their rifle.”