History of the Bazooka

Marine Corps enlistees train with M20 bazookas at Camp Matthews Marine Rifle Range, La Jolla, CA in the early 1950s.

The rocket pioneer scientist Robert H. Goddard developed the basic idea of the bazooka at the end of World War I. On 6 November 1918, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD he demonstrated a tube-launched, solid-propellant rocket.

In 1942, early in World War II, an Army first lieutenant with an engineering degree named Edward Uhl helped develop the shoulder-fired rocket launcher.  The Bazooka went from the drawing board into combat within 30 days, setting a record for effective procurement. The 2.36 inch M1 rocket launcher was introduced in June 1942, and the improved M1A1 in August 1943.  It was named the “Bazooka” after a custom-made musical instrument used by then-popular radio comedian Bob Burns.  The M9 bazooka, introduced in June 1943, was a major redesign and improvement of the original weapon. It was replaced in turn by the M9A1 in September 1944.

In the Korean War, the 3.5 inch M20 rocket launcher was used. This weapon had been developed at the end of WW II but then ignored.  It was rushed into production and flown to Korea when it was found the 2.36 inch bazooka was ineffective against the Soviet T-35 tanks. The U.S. Army explosives experts at Picatinny Arsenal developed a highly effective 3.5-inch bazooka High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) round.

Since the Korean War, bazookas have been replaced by recoilless rifles and antitank missiles.  In Vietnam the U.S. Army used the M20 in limited numbers, while phasing in the M72 LAW, a five pound disposable weapon accurate to 350 yards (meters).

Bazookas at ordnance demonstration, Pinecastle Jeep Range, FL, during WWII.

Photos & Information found here.

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  • Zaya

    This helped me in my studies.
    Thanks a lot for the useful information and nice editing of the website!