Those pesky tanks!
Soldiers on the ground had to have a weapon that could disable and/or destroy enemy tanks. And while there are many types of antitank weapons, today we are going to do an overview of the Army AT4 portable antitank weapon.
What Is The Army AT4?
As I said, it is a portable weapon that soldiers carry to stop tanks. The AT4 is a smooth bore, 84 millimeter weapon. It is a one-shot, unguided weapon. After firing, it is not used again and is disposed of. It comes prepacked with the launcher and ammo.
The History Of The Army AT4
The United States has always been proactive about the development of antitank weapons. But the first ones were large and cumbersome.
Essentially, it started with rifle grenades. The M31 HEAT was a large grenade developed in the 1950’s. Used in Korea and slightly in Vietnam, they helped, but were not effective against main battle tanks and the operator had to be quite close to do damage.
Next in line was the Bazooka. Actually developed earlier than the M31, Bazookas would stop a tank, but these weapons were quite difficult to carry through jungle conditions. Plus, it required 2 men to operate.
When I entered the Army, I was trained on the M72 LAW. Portable and lightweight, the M72 fired a 66 millimeter round that would do superior damage to the enemy tanks.
Enemy forces began developing tanks that could withstand the LAW.
The U.S. noticed that the Swedish Army was using a larger 74 millimeter and the Army opened up an antitank weapon competition and pointed out what the Swedes were using.
The United States had just dropped the possibility of the FGR-17 Viper that General Dynamics had developed. Costs were too high and safety was a concern.
The competition consisted of the Viper as a comparison model with:
- The British LAW 80
- German Armbrust
- French APILAS
- Norway’s upgraded M72 LAW, the M72E4
- and the Swedish AT4
The AT4 won hands down but the Army asked for a few revisions… Bumpers were added and changes were made to the sights and the slings.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- The Top 10 Tanks in Military History
- Army 11C MOS: The Indirect Fire Infantryman
- 7th Cavalry Regiment: Top 12 Facts
- The History of Army Field Artillery
- Army ASI 2A: Non-Lethal Weapons Trainer
Army AT4 Cool Facts
I want to fill you with as many facts as possible about the Army AT4. I have decided to bullet point these.
- Each unit costs just under $1,500
- The main AT4 in use now is the confined space version
- It weighs approximately 15 pounds
- The AT4 has a large back blast. The confined space AT4 uses a saltwater device to capture the back blast.
- The AT4 has pop up iron sights.
- An optional night sight can be attached
- It is simple to use
- Maximum range is approximately 300 yards
- Can penetrate up to 15 inches of iron
- Travels at 950 feet per second
The Army AT4 has various forms of ammo pre-loaded ammo. It depends on the circumstances in battle as to which type of projectile is fired. The types of ammo are:
- High Explosive Antitank (HEAT) – Penetrates up to 16 ½ inches.
- High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP 502) – This is used to penetrate bunkers and buildings. The detonation time can be set.
- High Penetration (HP) – Will penetrate up to 23 inches.
- Anti Structure Tandem-warheads (AST) – Great for making a mouse hole in a structure.
- Extended Range (ER)
- and High Explosive (HE)
The Army AT4 is a great weapon and I believe it will be in service for many years to come. It was utilized in the Invasion of Panama and all wars and skirmishes since.
What are your thoughts on the Army AT4? Do you have any questions?
Post any and all below and thank you for visiting Part Time Commander.
About The Author
Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.