M9A1 2.36 AT Rocket Launcher Bazooka
by Tim Davis

In the early days of WWII, US military planners realized the need for an effective antitank weapon against superior German armor. The Department of the Army designed a rocket launcher based on a simple principle developed by the Chinese centuries before. The launcher was nothing more than two tubes, open at both ends, that connected together. When US soldiers first saw the array of pipes, they dubbed it "bazooka" in honor of the bizarre gas pipe horn made famous by comedian Bob Burns. The moniker stuck.

The launcher is fitted with hand grips, shoulder stock, breech guard, and a dry cell battery for igniting the rockets. The sight is made up of four studs, designating ranges from 100 - 400 yards, welded on the tube near the muzzle. The bazooka fires a breech loaded HE shaped charge that is driven by powder ignited by the electrical system. The rocket explodes on contact and can penetrate up to five inches of steel.

The Bazooka made its combat debut in Tunisia in Northern Africa in the fall of 1943. US soldiers soon discovered it was a powerful, hard-hitting defensive weapon against tanks. The drawbacks were its range, and penetration. It could just barely defeat German armor, and then only if it hit just right. It also proved to be extremely effective against bunkers and fortifications. The bazooka was so loud and intimidating that captured German soldiers thought at first it was an artillery piece. US Rangers used the M9A1 through the end of WWII and into the Korean War. It was replaced by the M20 and M20A1 "super bazooka" that fired a 3.5 inch rocket.

M9A1 Bazooka Army Ranger Weapon

Primary Function Antitank weapon
Manufacturer Dept. of the Army
Caliber 2.36 in
Length 61 in assembled
21.5 disassembled
Weight 12 lbs
Effective Range 120 yards
Sight Studs
Ignition Electrical impulse
Muzzle velocity 265 - 275 fps
Ammunition M7A1 shaped charge
Rounds per Minute 10