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M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle In Action

At 45 lbs, the M18 could nonetheless be shoulder-fired, with an attached tripod for more protected action in place. With an M26 sight its 5.3 lb HE or 5.64 lb HEAT round had a range of 4300 yards. 5 ft long, it took a man to operate it, but in a man's hands it was a fire-fight winner.

M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle

Meeting the Chinese Spring Offensive. Hill 860, near Kaoch/Eang-ni, 24 April 1951.

M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle

M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle

M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle

A 57-mm recoilless rifle team opens fire at a Chinese position three miles south of the 38th Parallel. 31 March 1951.

M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle
M18 57mm Recoilless Rifles in action elsewhere in Korea

M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle

Weight: 45 lbs
Length: 5 ft
Operation: Shoulder fired; attached monopod/bipod ; or M1917A1 MG tripod.
Sight: M26
Projectiles: HE, 5.3 lbs; High explosive anti tank (HEAT), 5.64 lbs; Smoke, 5.66 lbs
Range: 4300 yards.

Recoilless rifles are capable of firing artillery-type shells at velocities and with an accuracy comparable to those of standard guns, but almost entirely without recoil.

The 57mm, shown above top being used by Marines in Korea, was used about like a bazooka. Although much heavier than the M9 2.36 in. bazooka, it could nonetheless be fired from the shoulder. Much more powerful than the M9, and with significantly greater range, it was particularly effective early in the Korean War when the 3.5 inch bazooka was unavailable.

Unfortunately, our troops first in the field against the T34, Task Force Smith at Osan, had neither 3.5 in. bazookas, nor adequate supplies of HEAT projectiles for the 57mm recoilless rifles. !


During the Korean War there was also a White Phosphorous (WP) round available, in addition to the HE, AT, and Smoke rounds, for the 57mm "reckless". I toasted many MG bunkers with them in 1950-52; as part of G/2d/8th/1st Cav Div.
Regards, JT White,CWO,USA(Ret.)

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