If the 66 Came Back, can Charlie G?

Back in 2009, Ace Rimmer wrote a piece on the return of the 66mm LAWS in the guise of the M27A9 Light Anti Structure Munition.


It’s traditional stablemate was the M2 Carl Gustav, firing an 84mm rocket available with a number of payloads.

The original 66mm M72, 84mm M2 Carl Gustav and Milan were replaced by combinations of the 94mm LAW80 from Hunting Engineering and the Javelin Light Forces Anti Tank Guided Weapon (LFATGW) with the Light Anti Structure Munition, Interim Light Anti Tank Weapon (ILAW), Anti Structure Munition and Next General Light Anti Tank Weapon (NLAW) coming into service recently.

British LAW 80 Demonstrated to Kazakh Airborne Soldiers Kazakhstan September 2003

Royal Marines 40 (Afghanistan)

NLAW Training Aid RAF Regiment Soldiers Firing Javelin Anti Tank Guided Missile Royal Marine from 42 commando fires an ILAW missile at Taliban positions in Helmand Province

The combination of LASM, ASM, NLAW and Javelin provide British forces with an effective combination.

One of the main disadvantages of the M2 Carl Gustav, apart from the weight, was the fact it could not be fired from confined spaces.

Saab reduced the weight with the introduction of the M3

Carl Gustav M3
Carl Gustav M3

And now it seems they have sorted out the confined space issue

Defence and security company Saab has made the first delivery of its new HEAT 655 CS 84-mm ammunition giving, for the first time, Carl-Gustaf system users the ability to fire from inside confined spaces. The HEAT 655 CS (CS, Confined Space) is the first Carl-Gustaf ammunition that is fully optimised for launch from confined spaces, i.e. from inside a building. This is an important requirement in modern, urban conflicts.

HEAT 655 CS Firing
HEAT 655 CS Firing

An interesting development of a very mature weapon system

There are four main benefits of the M3, it is cheap, has a wide range of rounds, can be reloaded and is cheap!

US and Canadian forces have used them to reportedly great effect in Afghanistan

Does the M3 have a place in a future British Army or was it good riddance many years ago?






Image Credits: Flickr, traicam4m, Coldwarwarrior and MoD Media

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 31, 2013 12:44 pm

Good post.

The Carl Gustav is currently in use with a number of countries in Afghanistan for the reasons outlined here. In short, it is cheap, increasingly light weight and delivers a big punch.

One of the major lessons of recent conflicts has been the desire for infantry to be able to deploy heavy explosive weapons (not unsurprising- Milans were being used against argie machine gun posts in the Falklands), unfortunately things like Javelin and NLAW are expensive so Carl Gustav and M27 it should be- not instead of Javelin and NLAW but with them. Much the same as the small arms lessons- variety is the spice of life.

December 31, 2013 1:24 pm

Definately bring it back, like you said its cheap and resuable, and the ammo types cover most bases including smoke and illum. Your not going to take on a tank with anything other than javellin really so for structures and light armour and fire support this is a pretty good system.

(from Wiki)
Note that the following are Canadian designations (other countries use similar terminology, replacing the “FFV”)

FFV441 is an HE round, useful in a “lobbed” trajectory to 1,000m, which can be fused to either detonate on impact or as an airburst.

FFV441B is an HE round with an effective range against personnel in the open of 1,100 m. The round arms after 20 to 70 m of flight, weighs 3.1 kg, and is fired at a muzzle velocity of 255 m/s

FFV469 is a smoke round fired like the FFV441, with a range of about 1,300 m. The 3.1 kg round is also fired at 255 m/s

FFV502 is an HEDP round with the ability to be set to detonate either on impact or one-tenth of a second afterwards. Effective range is 1,000 m against dispersed soft targets such as infantry in the open, 500 m against stationary targets and 300 m against moving targets. Minimum range is 15 to 40 m to arm the warhead. Penetration exceeds 150 mm of rolled homogeneous armour (RHA). Ammunition weight is 3.3 kg and muzzle velocity is 230 m/s

FFV545 is an illuminating star shell, fired up to 2,300 m maximum range, but with an effective envelope of 300 to 2,100 m. Suspended by parachute, the star shell burns for 30 seconds while producing 650,000 candela, providing a 400 to 500 m diameter area of illumination.

FFV551 is the primary HEAT round and is a rocket-assisted projectile (RAP). Effective range is up to 700 m (400 m against moving targets) and penetration up to 400 mm of RHA. Ammunition weight is 3.2 kg and muzzle velocity is 255 m/s.[5]

FFV552 is a practice round with the same ballistics as the 551.

FFV651 is a newer HEAT round using mid-flight rocket assistance for ranges up to 1,000m. In theory, it has less penetration than the FFV551, but it includes a stand-off probe for the fuse to improve performance against reactive armour.

FFV751 is a tandem-warhead HEAT round with an effective range of 500 m and ability to penetrate more than 500 mm of armour. Weight is 4 kg

Throw one of these on a jackal with a GMG and GPMG and you’ve got a pretty good fire support and recce wagon that can lay smoke and illum with better accuracy without having to train and practice on a mortar, for a reasonable price.

Mike W
December 31, 2013 2:18 pm


“Much the same as the small arms lessons- variety is the spice of life.”

I agree with you but don’t be too forward in applying the same argument (that of variety) to vehicles. Our highly respected leader (TD) used to have this phrase “ruthless commonality” was it ,TD?), which he applied to vehicle procurement quite often and many others (not me) agreed with him. I suppose it made a good deal of sense in some ways, especially regarding vehicles, which are a lot more expensive than small arms, rockets, etc.

Perhaps the phrase will rear its head again in the forthcoming post on Army vehicles. Notice I did not say “ugly head”, TD!

Brian Black
Brian Black
December 31, 2013 4:10 pm

The British Army should bring in the new CG. Cheap and simple; also how I like my women.

And much better for our troops to win a firefight at 500 to 1000 metres, donking the other guy on the head with high explosive, than trying to win the fight at 200m with their 5.56mm pop guns.

Maybe bring back the SLR too, and let the light battalions fight using stand-off tactics. Mechanized troops will have the firefight winning support of 40mm cannons; the CG seems the least we can do for the rest of them.

December 31, 2013 4:23 pm

Supposedly there’s a new version coming out in 2015 called, suprisingly enough, the M4. There’s very little info around about it though, googling just gets one hit only, so it may well just be rumour. Sounds good from this very brief description though. The ‘Janes’ link doesn’t work any more as it’s 3 years old.


December 31, 2013 5:05 pm

Ah yes, the 84mm, fond memories, unfortunately including ones of 48km route marches lugging one of them.

Personally, I love the 84mm, but in terms of equipment, there are shortcomings compared to the Javelin/Matador ASM/NLAW. The other systems are rocket systems, which is basically a rocket in a light tube. The Charlie-G is a gun type system, which means that all its propellent is detonated inside the gun itself, which means that the entire system has to be very robust. Aka made of steel and with bloody thick steel walls. Aka “Somebody help me with this f–king heavy thing!!!” (real life account).

The other systems are fairly light weight, the Carl-Gustav is not. Still love it, but with the current infantryman weight creep, I’m not sure if we can justify overloading the poor bloody infantry even more.

Still remember the round (FFV 441) described by David. The head of the round had markings like an egg timer at the midway mark where you twist the top half to the time marked before loading it for an airburst. That was almost 20 years back.

December 31, 2013 5:58 pm

It always comes back to “what are the armed forces for”

If their job is to slap uppity goat herders, then CG is fine.

But if it is to fight a war against well equipped, well trained, highly motivated soldiers who intend to slaughter “our brave boys” TM and colonise our shores it most certainly is not.

And that is the problem we so often stomp all over.
Is CG Good?
Good for what?
Is Mastiff Good?
Good for what?

Should the UK have bought a few hundred Gutavs for Ghanners?
Probably. But the MoD went in boldly proclaiming that we werent there to fight, we there to build school ‘n ‘ospitals.

And we are back to “what are the armed forces for”
Reconstruction, Peacekeeping, Counter Insurgency, Occupation, Invasion, these all need pretty different teeth.

December 31, 2013 8:44 pm

The Charlie G now is comparable in weight to most LAW systems we use, I remember the original myself before it was withdrawn from service about 1993 ( I think ). What makes the Charlie G a multipurpose weapon are the variety of rounds from the same tube, with the Charlie you could dispense with the 60mm mortar and law systems within a unit and just use one weapon with a standard method of loading and firing for all rounds.

To fire the same rounds described above now, I would need 2 separate rounds for the 60mm mortar and then 2 separate law systems plus the Javelin.

You would not normally engage heavy armour with anything but Javelin unless its in a short range FIBUA environment or short range ambush so the Charlie G would cover them as well.

Plus your fletchette round for point defence claymore/shotgun style! whats not to love.

Happy new year to everyone, drinks are waiting!

January 1, 2014 6:55 am

I remember when the Swedes refused to supply a CG customer because they didn’t like the war it was being used in. Didn’t really matter because it was way too heavy for routine use. But, the 90mm RCL was available, a mother of a beast, carried in two parts (like the old 3.5 RCL of fond memory because it was extremely light being made of aluminium). What 90mm had (apart from a 2 part steel tube) was a splintex shell, the famous mobile claymore. A real conversation stopper in an ambush at night in padi. M72 could also be used in an ambush, field expedient mounting of two sets of crossed sticks (of appropriate diameter) and aimed a tree, splinters weren’t brilliant but it was better than nothing and thickened up the claymores.

It’s an interesting discussion, completely disposable round vs reusable launcher. I would tend towards the latter if the weight was like the old 3.5 but a lot shorter. Obviously effective range becomes the key consideration. Of course once killing clanks becomes the need then it gets more complicated.

Ace Rimmer
January 1, 2014 8:02 am

Not being the world’s strongest human being I always disliked the 84’s weight issue, often wondered why we didn’t just reverse engineer the RPG-7 like the Israelis.

Also, rather than going for high cost javelin rounds, how about transferring APKWS technology onto the CG, if they can fit a ‘Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS)’ onto a 120 mm mortar round, surely squeezing one onto an 84 mm round shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, should it?

dave haine
dave haine
January 1, 2014 3:19 pm

Seems to me that charlie G makes sense- on a firing post of the top of a vehicle or dismounted. Handy bit of kit to have…however, i’m not a squaddie, so it’s surely them that need to decide.

Ace Rimmer
January 2, 2014 11:36 am

Dave, re: ‘I’m not a squaddie, so it’s surely them that need to decide.’

Your comment gave me a burst of hope and inspiration.

I would truly love the idea of a military version of Walmart for the enlisted, rather than going to the QM’s and being given your kit, you could trawl the aisle’s with a trolley and listening to piped deadpan music. Armed with a tick list of all you need, whether it was weapons, helmets or boots etc, you could choose anything from a very long, approved NATO standard list, and truly decide what’s best for you!

I can picture a scene of a platoon going in en-mass and taking a vote on what weapons to get, ‘all those for SA80 hands up, all those for HK416?’

Ok, it’ll never happen, I’ll go back to my corner and keep dreaming…

dave haine
dave haine
January 2, 2014 12:43 pm

@ Ace Rimmer
Can you imagine it?….god you’d have to limit each squaddie to one knife, two pairs of boots and three weapons each, otherwise the buggers would come out festooned, looking like mexican bandits.

Isn’t that why they do this black kit bag thing now?

January 2, 2014 3:58 pm

Is there anyone who knows if cased telescopic is feasible for a recoilless weapon?

January 2, 2014 6:40 pm

Probably. It would likely be heavier though. Why would you want to?

January 2, 2014 7:43 pm


Thanks, I was just wondering as it would make the rounds slightly shorter and completely cylindrical making carrying them easier as I could put them in a side pocket of a Bergen or day sack or the top without the length of the round protruding out to the ends of my shoulders as is the case with LAW’s.

I was thinking then of protecting the rounds with lightweight polystyrene rather than the cases they come in now due to having to protect the warheads.

January 2, 2014 9:08 pm

If you want the round in a tube then put it in a tube. The SMAW is a good example as the transportation case for the round also forms the pressure chamber for the launch. Since you only use it once, it can be much, much lighter and the rest of the weapon can also be lighter as it is stressed to a much lesser degree.
Trying to hide the projectile in the propellant gives you all manner of problems obturating the system. Historically (in the US) this has led to a short length of barrel being incorporated into the case and a disproportionate quantity of propellant.

Also, since a cased telescopic round is usually significantly sub calibre compared to the case, you are limiting the effectiveness of any shaped charge you care to use for a given round diameter.

The length of the thing is going to be dictated by the size of warhead needed and the minimum velocity needed to reach out to the desired range. Here, guided weapons need less propellant because they can control their flight and glide and also counter-act the effects of wind.

January 2, 2014 9:51 pm

Completely forgot about the HEAT round, was just thinking about smoke,HE, Airburst and Illum.

Thanks for clarifying sounds like its more hassle than its worth.

January 2, 2014 9:58 pm

Might be worth going for a sabot round though. Shorten the case by increasing the diameter (volume is proportional to the square of the diameter but directly proportional to the length) and bulk the projectile out to the right diameter with a lightweight sabot that entirely encases it.

Of course there is a limit on the diameter too. Go too fat and it won’t fit into pouches and pockets

January 2, 2014 10:13 pm

Yeah it was looking at the sabot round that got me thinking towards CS, but like you say your using your energy to drive a point into the target to get the penetration but you would probably struggle to get a decent sized HEAT round. I thought you may be able to compromise with the the explosive content of the airburst and HE and still have levels comparable to a 60mm mortar.

Just goes to show the RPG type outsize warhead is a nice simple way of getting getting a decent HEAT warhead from manageable tube diameter.

January 2, 2014 11:46 pm

Why was that? is it because other products had gained the market share before it was offered or that when people were binning the recoilless weapons in favour of law and ATGM their primary concern was the anti armour role?

January 2, 2014 11:54 pm

Interesting, a natural dislike of the outsize warhead model due to the historical users of the system, Natzi’s and commies : )

Ace Rimmer
January 3, 2014 1:10 am

I always thought the Armbrust was under-rated as a weapon of choice…