M40 recoilless rifle

The M40 recoilless rifle[14][15][16][17] is a lightweight,[18] portable, crew-served 105 mm recoilless rifle made in the United States. Intended primarily as an anti-tank weapon, it could also be employed in an antipersonnel role with the use of an antipersonnel-tracer flechette round. The bore was commonly described as being 106 mm caliber but is in fact 105 mm; the 106 mm designation was intended to prevent confusion with incompatible 105 mm ammunition from the failed M27.[19] The air-cooled, breech-loaded, single-shot rifle fired fixed ammunition and was used primarily from a wheeled ground mount. It was designed for direct firing only, and sighting equipment for this purpose was furnished with each weapon, including an affixed spotting rifle.

Replacing the M27 recoilless rifle, the M40 primarily saw action during the Vietnam War and was widely used during various conflicts thereafter in Africa or in the Middle East. It was replaced by the BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile system in the US armed forces.

M40 Recoilless Rifle
Greek infantrymen with an M40
TypeRecoilless rifle
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In serviceMid-1950s – present
Used bySee Users
Production history
ManufacturerWatervliet Arsenal
Mass209.5 kg (462 lb)
Length3.404 m (11 ft 2 in)
Height1.12 m (3 ft 8 in)

Shell105×607mmR (HEAT, HEP, HEAP, Canister)
Caliber105 mm (4.1 in)
Elevation−17° to +65° (between mount legs)
−17° to +27° (over mount leg)[12]
Muzzle velocity503 m/s (1,650 ft/s)[12] (M344 HEAT)
Effective firing range1,350 m (1,480 yd)
Maximum firing range6,870 m (M346A1 HEP-T)[13]

Design history

The earlier M27 recoilless rifle was a 105-mm weapon developed in the early 1950s and fielded in the Korean War. Although a recoilless rifle of this caliber had been a concept since the Second World War, the weapon was hurriedly produced with the onset of the Korean War. The speed with which it was developed and fielded resulted in problems with reliability caused by trunnions that were mounted too far to the rear. The M27 was also considered too heavy by the U.S. Army and had a disappointing effective range due to the lack of a spotting rifle. Taking the M27 as the basis for a new design, the Army developed an improved version of the M27 that was type-designated the M40 106-mm recoilless rifle in 1955.[20] Although unsuitable for military purposes, M27 recoilless rifles were used to trigger controlled avalanches at ski resorts and mountain passes in the United States.[21]


The M40 is shaped like a long tube with an M8C .50 cal spotting rifle above. The spotting rifle fires a round whose trajectory closely matches that of the 105 mm round and gives off a puff of smoke on impact with the target. On the left side, there is an elevating wheel, in the center of which is the trigger wheel used to fine adjust the elevation and at the same time firing the spotting rifle when pulled, and the gun when pushed. The mounting is a tripod, but the front leg has a castering wheel. On top of the mount is a traverse wheel. On the center of the traverse wheel is a locking wheel, when the wheel is down, the rifle is locked in traverse, and can only be moved right and left with the traverse wheel. When the wheel is raised, the rifle can be traversed by hand. Austria produced a two-wheeled mount for the M40.

The whole mounting can be placed on an M151 Jeep for mobile use. It has also been mounted on M38A1 Willys Jeep, Land Rover Defenders, M113s, Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, HMMWVs, Hotchkiss M201 jeeps, Toyota Land Cruisers, AIL Storms and M274 Mechanical Mules. They were also used on US Navy minesweepers (MSO) during Operation Market Time in Vietnam.

A special vehicle called the Ontos carried six M40s. A version specific to the T195E5 mount, the M40A1C, was used. It was used only by the U.S. Marine Corps. Japan produced a self-propelled gun called the Type 60, which carried two side by side. Some Pakistani M113s have a dual mounting. Three Panagopoulos coastal patrol boats class of the Hellenic Coast Guard and the Hellenic Navy in service of 1976-2003 was armed with two sextuples M40.[22]

The M40 was a very successful export item and continues to be used by South Korea, Ecuador, Estonia, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Taiwan, Turkey, Colombia, Venezuela and many others, as well as anti-government forces in the Libyan Civil War and Syrian civil war.[8]

It is manufactured in Iran by Defense Industries Organization.[23] The M40A1 was also copied in China as Type 75.[24]


Ammunition for the 105 mm rifle was issued as one-piece fixed cartridges. The term "fixed" means that the projectile and the cartridge case are crimped together. This ensures correct alignment of the projectile and the cartridge case. It also permits faster loading because the projectile and the cartridge case are loaded as one unit. The rear end of the cartridge case is perforated, to allow the propellant gas to escape through the vented breech, thus neutralizing recoil. Most projectiles (except HEAT) used are pre-engraved, that is, the rotating bands are cut to engage the rifled bore.[25] If the round was not rotated slightly when loading the M40 it could result in jamming in the breech.

Types of ammunition included HEAT, High Explosive Plastic-Tracer (HEP-T), canister, High Explosive Anti Personnel, and the M368 dummy round which could not be fired and was used for crew drill. The original U.S. HEAT round penetrated more than 400 mm of armor. Near the end of the M40's service life, both Austria and Sweden produced HEAT rounds for the weapon capable of penetrating more than 700 mm of armor.[26]

Producer Round
Type Proj
 United States M581 APERS 9.89 kg flechettes 4.94 kg N/A 300 m
 Spain M-DN11 HEAP 3.6 kg Hexogen 0.77 kg N/A 1500 m
 France NR 160 HEAT-T N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
 France NR 483 APERS N/A flechettes N/A N/A N/A
 France NR 601 HESH-T 7.8 kg Comp. A3 N/A N/A N/A
 Italy PFF HE 9.89 kg Comp. B N/A N/A N/A
 United States M346A1 HEP-T 7.96 kg Comp. A3 3.5 kg N/A[27] N/A
 United States M344A1 HEAT 7.96 kg Comp. B 1.27 kg over 400 mm[28] 1350 m
 Sweden 106 3A HEAT-T 5.5 kg Octol 1.0 kg over 700 mm[29] 2000 m
 Austria RAT 700 HEAT 5.0 kg N/A 1.1 kg over 700 mm N/A

Spotting Rifle

The ammunition for the M8C spotting rifle is not .50 BMG, but a round often refereed to as .50 BAT (Battalion Anti Tank), which is 12.7x77mm. .50 BAT was developed to replicate the trajectory of the 106 mm ammunition, and features a tracer element and a point-detonating incendiary filler to create a puff of smoke at the impact point.

Although the spotting rifle could conceivably be used in an antipersonnel role, historic U.S. military doctrine strongly discouraged this use, for a purely tactical reason—to conceal the vulnerable M40 and its crew from the enemy until the main rifle was ready to fire. However, this restriction is believed to be the source of a long-standing misconception that the laws of war restrict the use of .50-caliber projectiles against enemy personnel more generally.[30]




Greek Mercedes 240G M40 carrier. Note the metal guard to protect the engine from the gun blast.


Firing the gun from a Mercedes 240G

106mm land rover

An ex-Australian Army M40 recoilless rifle mounted on a Land Rover on display in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial


A rather uncommon use of the M40 on a Greek fast patrol boat, circa 1982


The same Greek fast patrol boat

Marines firing a 106mm recoilless rifle from classroom in Hue University

U.S. Marines manning an M40 during the Battle of Huế in the Vietnam War.

See also



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  4. ^ a b Neville 2018, p. 15.
  5. ^ a b Neville 2018, p. 16.
  6. ^ Neville 2018, p. 21.
  7. ^ Neville 2018, pp. 40, 42.
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  11. ^ a b Neville 2018, p. 38.
  12. ^ a b c "Anti Tank weapons". official web site of the South African army. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
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External links

95 S 58-61

The 95 S 58-61 is a heavy recoilless anti-tank weapon used by the Finnish Army. It is also referred to as raskas sinko (heavy recoilless rifle), or colloquially as Musti ("Blackie"). The weapon was developed in 1958 and it was given a new wheel-equipped carriage in 1961. The name of the weapon means "95 mm, Sinko, model 1958/1961", where sinko is the Finnish word for recoilless weapon.

The weight of the weapon system is 140 kg and its caliber is 95 mm (3.75 inches). Its effective range is 700 m against moving targets and 1,000 m against positioned targets. It can penetrate about 550 mm steel. Its HEAT ammunition is equipped with a strengthened nose section to better its effectiveness against explosive reactive armour (ERA).

The weapon team consists of 8 men: leader, shooter, loader/reserve shooter and two ammunitions handlers plus the reserve leader and two extra men armed with M72 LAWs and APILAS (currently being replaced by the MBT LAW) anti-tank weapons for close defense. The group moves in the terrain to their firing position by running and pulling the weapon behind them, and this is popularly called "walking the Musti". ("Musti" is a stereotypical name for a black dog in Finnish language.)


The ASU-57 was a small, lightly constructed Soviet assault gun specifically designed for use by Soviet airborne divisions. From 1960 onwards, it was gradually phased out in favour of the ASU-85.

Battle of Longewala

The Battle of Longewala (4–7 December 1971) was one of the first major engagements in the western sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, fought between assaulting Pakistani forces and Indian defenders at the Indian border post of Longewala, in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan state in India.

A Company (reinforced) of the Indian Army's 23rd battalion, Punjab Regiment, commanded by Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, was left with the choice of either attempting to hold out until reinforced, or fleeing on foot from a mechanised infantry Pakistani force. Choosing the former, Chandpuri ensured that all his assets were correctly deployed, and made the most use of his strong defensive position, and weaknesses created by errors in enemy tactics. He was also fortunate in that an Indian Air Force forward air controller was able to secure and direct aircraft in support of the post's defence until reinforcements arrived six hours later.

The Pakistani commanders made several questionable decisions, including a failure of their strategic intelligence to foresee availability of Indian strike aircraft in the Longewala area, exercising operational mobility with little or no route reconnaissance, and conducting a tactical frontal assault with no engineer reconnaissance. This led to the Pakistani brigade group being left extremely vulnerable to air attack, vehicles becoming bogged in terrain not suitable for the movement of armoured vehicles as they tried to deploy off a single track, these being more susceptible to enemy fire by using external fuel storage in tactical combat, attempting to execute a night attack over unfamiliar terrain, and infantry being surprised by obstacles to troop movement causing confusion and stalling the attack during the crucial hours of darkness, when the assaulting infantry still had a measure of concealment from Indian small arms and infantry support weapon fire.

Cadillac Gage Commando Scout

The Cadillac Gage Scout was an American scout car designed for the export market that was first announced in October 1977 at the Association of the United States Army meeting in Washington D.C.

In 1983, Indonesia placed an order for 28 Scout vehicles, as well as 22 Ranger armoured personnel carriers. Details of this vehicle, which is no longer manufactured or marketed are given in the armoured personnel carriers (wheeled) section.

In August 1986, Egypt placed a US$22.8 million contract with Cadillac Gage for 112 Scout reconnaissance vehicles, with half the vehicles delivered in 1986 and the remainder in 1987.

By early 1999, a total of 140 Scout (4 x 4) vehicles had been built by Cadillac Gage.

Cadillac Gage is now part of Textron Marine & Land Systems. There has been no recent production of the Scout, although marketing continues.

Chadian ground forces

The Chadian ground forces is the largest division of the Chadian National Army.


A flechette fleh-SHET is a pointed steel projectile with a vaned tail for stable flight. The name comes from French fléchette, "little arrow" or "dart", and sometimes retains the acute accent in English: fléchette. They have been used as ballistic weapons since World War I. Delivery systems and methods of launching flechettes vary, from a single shot, to thousands in a single explosive round. The use of flechettes as antipersonnel weapons has been controversial, and is considered by some to be a human rights violation.


The Jakkals is a small, agile weapon carrier and utility vehicle for airborne units of the former South African Defence Force and current South African National Defence Force. The Jakkals can be deployed by land, lifted by helicopter, air dropped and delivered via aircraft.

Weapons mounted on the Jakkals include the 106mm M40 recoilless rifle, M2 Browning heavy machine gun, various general purpose machine guns as well as acting as a tractor for the Valkiri-5 multiple rocket launcher or anti-aircraft guns such as the ZU-23-2.

It can also be deployed with a small trailer and used as a logistical support vehicle, especially for the 120mm mortars as with airborne artillery. The Jakkals has only been used in defense operations by the South African Airborne Units during the South African Border Wars.

Land Rover

Land Rover is a luxury car brand that specialises in four-wheel-drive vehicles, owned by British multinational car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, which has been owned by India's Tata Motors since 2008. The Land Rover is regarded as a British icon, and was granted a Royal Warrant by King George VI in 1951.The Land Rover name was originally used by the Rover Company for the Land Rover Series, launched in 1948. It developed into a brand encompassing a range of four-wheel-drive models, including the Defender, Discovery, Freelander, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover Evoque.

Land Rovers are currently assembled in England, India, China, and other markets.

Landsverk L-60

Landsverk L-60, was a Swedish tank developed in 1934. It was developed by AB Landsverk as a light tank which included several advanced design features such as torsion bar suspension, periscopes rather than view slits and all-welded construction.The L-60 was progressively improved with several turrets, engines and guns offered by Landsverk. The L-60 entered the international market in 1935 and was eventually adopted by the Swedish army in 4 main variants: Stridsvagn m/38, Stridsvagn m/39, Stridsvagn m/40L and Stridsvagn m/40K.

M114 armored fighting vehicle

The M114 Command and Reconnaissance Carrier is a Vietnam War-era tracked armored fighting vehicle, used by the United States Army. It was manufactured by the Cadillac Division of General Motors in the early 1960s. The M114 was designed to be fast and stealthy for use in the reconnaissance role.

Like the larger M113, it was amphibious and could be deployed by parachute. However, unlike the M113 which became one of the most successful armoured vehicles, it quickly proved unsuited to use in the Vietnam War, and was replaced in the reconnaissance role by the M551 Sheridan light tank.

By 1973, it had been branded a failure and retired from the US Army, but some were released as surplus and continue to be used by police departments.

M20 recoilless rifle

The M20 recoilless rifle is a U.S. 75 mm caliber recoilless rifle T21E12 that was used during the last months of the Second World War and the M20 extensively during the Korean War. It could be fired from an M1917A1 .30 caliber machine gun tripod, or from a vehicle mount, typically a Jeep. Its shaped charge warhead, also known as HEAT, was capable of penetrating 100 mm of armor. Although the weapon proved ineffective against the T-34 tank during the Korean War and most other tanks, it was used primarily as a close infantry support weapon to engage all types of targets including infantry and lightly armored vehicles. The M20 proved useful against pillboxes and other types of field fortifications. Its poor armor penetration by the HEAT round was because of it being a spin-stabilized projectile rather than the later fin-stabilized rounds used in the 106mm M40 recoilless rifle.

M274 ½-ton 4×4 utility platform truck

The U.S. Military M274 Truck, Platform, Utility, 1/2 Ton, 4X4 or "Carrier, Light Weapons, Infantry, 1/2 ton, 4x4", also known as the "Mule", "Military Mule", or "Mechanical Mule", is a 4-wheel drive, gasoline-powered truck/tractor type vehicle that can carry up to 1/2 tons off-road. It was introduced in 1956 and used until the 1980s.

Marine Multi-purpose Vehicle

The Marine Multi-purpose Vehicle or MMPV is a 4x4 utility vehicle built by the Philippine Marine Corps. Similar in concept and appearance to the HMMWV, it was created to replace the M151 jeeps in service, which were becoming difficult to maintain due to a lack of available spare parts.

People's Liberation Army Museum

The Museum of the Sahrawi people's Liberation Army (Arabic: متحف جیش التحریر الشعبی‎; Spanish: Museo del Ejército de Liberación Popular) is located in the Sahrawi refugee camps, in the southwest of Algeria. This museum is dedicated to the struggle for the independence of the Western Sahara people. It presents weapons, vehicles and uniforms used as well as abundant documentation history.Currently it is also the seat of the Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Recoilless rifle

A recoilless rifle, recoilless launcher or recoilless gun, sometimes abbreviated "RR" or "RCL" (for ReCoilLess) is a type of lightweight artillery system or man-portable launcher that is designed to eject some form of countermass such as propellant gas from the rear of the weapon at the moment of firing, creating forward thrust that counteracts most of the weapon's recoil. This allows for the elimination of much of the heavy and bulky recoil-counteracting equipment of a conventional cannon as well as a thinner-walled barrel, and thus the launch of a relatively large projectile from a platform that would not be capable of handling the weight or recoil of a conventional gun of the same size. Technically, only devices that use spin-stabilized projectiles fired from a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles, while smoothbore variants (which can be fin-stabilized or unstabilized) are recoilless guns. This distinction is often lost, and both are often called recoilless rifles.Though similar in appearance to a tube-based rocket launcher (since these also operate on a recoilless launch principle), a recoilless weapon fires shells that use conventional gun propellant. The key difference from rocket launchers (whether man-portable or not) is that the projectile of the recoilless rifle or gun is initially launched using conventional explosive propellant rather than a rocket motor. While there are rocket-assisted rounds for recoilless launchers, they are still ejected from the barrel by the detonation of an initial explosive propelling charge.

Because some projectile velocity is inevitably lost to the recoil compensation, recoilless rifles tend to have inferior range to traditional cannons, although with a far greater ease of transport, making them popular with paratroop, mountain warfare and special forces units, where portability is of particular concern, as well as with some light infantry and infantry fire support units. The greatly diminished recoil allows for devices that can be carried by individual infantrymen: heavier recoilless rifles are mounted on light tripods, wheeled light carriages, or small vehicles, and intended to be carried by crew of two to five. The largest versions retain enough bulk and recoil to be restricted to a towed mount or relatively heavy vehicle, but are still much lighter and more portable than cannons of the same scale. Such large systems have mostly been replaced by guided anti-tank missiles in first-world armies.

Spotting rifle

A spotting rifle or ranging gun is a small-calibre rifle used as a sighting device for artillery. The ballistics of the spotting rifle are matched to those of the artillery piece, so that if a shot from the spotting rifle lands on the target, it may be assumed that the main weapon will also do so.

Type 60 Self-propelled 106 mm Recoilless Gun

The Type 60 Self-propelled 106 mm Recoilless Gun (60式自走無反動砲, roku-maru-shiki-jisou-muhandou-hou) is a light anti-tank vehicle developed by Japan in the late 1950s. It mounts two M40 106 mm recoilless rifles as its main armament.

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