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M9A1 2.36in Rocket Launcher and Manual

Deadly against dug-in infantry and light armor, the 2.36in M9A1 was only marginally effective against armor, particularly the sloped frontal surface of the T34 the communists deployed in Korea. Still, in the hands of a few remarkable men, it did the job even then.

TM 9-297: 3.5-In Rocket Launcher, M20 and M20B1 8/50

Tech Manuals: FM7-10: Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment

TM9-2200: Technical Manual for WWII Small Arms

2.36in rocket launcher

M9A1 2.36in Rocket Launcher (Bazooka), with sling and practice rocket

At Osan, Task Force Smith faced North Korea's T34 tanks with six of these.

2.36 in bazooka
2.36 inch Bazooka team (photo source unknown)

With the 3.5 inch Super Bazooka ... and enough ammunition ... Osan might have been far different.

M20 3.5-inch team awaiting the Chinese north of Tanyang

Specifications for the M9A1:
Weight: 15 pounds, 14 oz.
Overall Length: 61 in assembled, 21.5 in disassembled.
Muzzle velocity: 265-275 f.p.s.
Sight: T90
Rate of Fire: 10 rounds/min
Rocket: M7A1 shaped charge,rocket motor ignited electrically
3.5-pound (1.6-kilogram), length 19 inches.
Range: Range up to 400 yards, effective to about 120 yards
Charge: 8 ounces of pentolite, could penetrate up to 5 inches of armour
Note: The heavy armor plating on the T-34 ranged from 0.79in to 3.54 in

The M20 Super Bazooka:
Similar tube, aluminum, launching 3.5-in, 8.5lb rocket
Carried a 2 pound charge of combined RDX/TNT
Penetrated up to 11 inches of plate armour.

As against the heavier German tanks, the 2.36 in bazooka was not sufficiently effective against the rugged T34, arguably the best tank developed in WWII. The 2.36 could penetrate the T-34 armor, but only marginally, and could be defeated by the sloping, heavy armor surfaces. Unless firing from a flanking ambush, or catching the T-34 rounding a corner, the infantryman was faced with the 3.5in sloping frontal armor, and an 85mm gun. Actually, the 2.36 should never have been deployed in Korea, as the M9A1 and other 2.36 inch models had been withdrawn from service shortly after WWII, and nominally replaced with the M20, of similar design but with a larger rocket. The M20 was deadly against the T34.

To escape backblast, the operator held the bazooka on his shoulder with about half the tube protruding behind him. The chief defects of both bazookas were their unwieldy weight and length, their short effective range, and their cumbersome two-man operating team. Beginning with Vietnam the Army switched to light antitank weapons, or LAWs, such as the M72, a one-shot, disposable weapon that weighed 5 pounds fully loaded yet could launch its rocket with reasonable accuracy out to 350 yards.

Both the 2.36 inch and the 3.5 inch bazookas were deadly effective against dug-in troops, as a short-range anti-pillbox and anti-personnel weapon. They were also effective against mobile machine gun and mortar crews who moved forward with the second assault, or submachine gun, platoons, to support them at close range.

Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation

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