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US Marines SMAW Bunker Buster

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Joined: 24 Apr 2006
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Location: Indiana, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:49 am    Post subject: US Marines SMAW Bunker Buster Reply with quote

By 1970 the US Marines had retired all their 3.5 inch Super Bazookas believing that the one-man disposable M72 LAW could fill both roles. By 1979 they realized they had made a mistake. While the M72 LAW was an excellent antiarmor weapon it lacked the punch that the 3.5 inch rocket launcher had for taking out field fortifications and other non-antiarmor roles. So they began a two pare program: One part was to develop a special warhead that could defeat both harden field fortifications like those of concrete and softer ones like those of sandbags, earth and timber. The second part was to find suitable weapon already developed and in production to employ this new warhead. The program was called "Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapon" or SMAW. Many believed that the Swedish Carl Gustaf was the odds on favor. But the Marines had decided based on experience with the 3.5 inch rocket launcher that they did not want a weapon where the projectile had to be unloaded from its container be for launch. The weapn they picked for development was the Israeli Military Industries B-300

By 1982 McDonald Douglas had the first test models read for testing by the Marines. Unlike the Israeli B-300 which relied on iron sights and optical sights the SMAW uses optional sights combined with a 9mm spotting gun adopted from the British Army LAW 80 that fires flash rounds to achieve a high first round hit rate. In addition because of the powerful but short burn rocket motor the SMAW/B-300 weapon has one of the highest noise levels of any infantry weapon and all gunners are warned to wear ear protection unless an emergency. The large photo above is of the first production model being trained on by the Marines (ie note the older style helmet). The photos below show the first test models of the SMAW developed from the B-300. Note ALL the small photos below are thumbnail photos and have to be clicked to see full size.



The thumbnails below are from the first brochure made public by the US Marines and McDonald Douglas (ie that firm no longer manufactures or controls the production of the SMAW being sold to another firm). The third photo shows a disposable version of the SMAW under development. That version in its form was rejected by both the US Marines and US Army as unpractical because of the clip on handles.



The following photo shows the special bunker buster anti-field fortification warhead developed by the US Navy labs. The warhead has a special base mounted fuse that can sense between harden or softer material. With harden material like concrete the warhead acts like a HEP round. With softer material the warhead is allowed to penetrate before exploding. The fuse is so classified that even today the US does not allow it to be exported. Please note the stabalizing fins at the rear. This type of system was first developed by the US Army for an air to ground 4.5 inch rocket. It had a serious accuracy problem because when launched not all the fins would be forced out and extended by the air pressure. With the SMAW rounds their are springs to each fin to make sure all fins are extended and snapped into place after the round clears the launcher.

Because of the Russian tank scare a antiarmor round was developed which had an astonishing 600mm of armor penetration which for an 83mm shape charge warhead is astonishing. The photo below shows that antiarmor warhead. Its only draw back is its limited production which in the 1980s resulted in a price tag of over $25,000.00 for each projectile.

The following two photos show the dramatic effect of the special anti-field fortification round against both harden material and soft material


The photo below are of a more recent brochure on the SMAW for reference

After the US Marines and US Army rejected the first design for a lighter weight disposable SMAW they came up with a more conventional design similar to the adopted AT-4 called SMAW-D. While SMAW-D was not adopted by the US Marines the US Army purchased a limited batch under the designation of XM141 for emergency use. This is the weapon seen on news reports showng US soldier firing what looked like the AT-4. Unlike the AT-4 which is a recoiless weapon based on the Carl Gustaf the XM141 SMAW-D is a rocket projectile. While of shorter range it uses the same special anti-field fortification of the larger SMAW weapon used by the US Marines, but has only iron sights and no optic sights or 9mm spotting gun. It was designed to be as similar to the AT-4 so soldiers that are familiar with the AT-4 can easily fire the SMAW-D.

Video of SMAW firing NE Bunker Buster Round


Last edited by jackehammond on Thu Aug 02, 2007 7:49 am; edited 2 times in total
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