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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Bunch of "BOOM!"

Note:  All explosives are inert.

When walking through our warehouse, sometimes an item is so uncommon it jumps out at you and makes you say out loud, "Was that a _____?"  You have to quickly backtrack two steps, investigate it, and fully satisfy your curiosity.  This week's article incorporates several of those items and each one will be up for sale at our June 2013 Regional Auction.  These are fascinating weapons that instantly attract attention where ever they go.

The first weapon that grabbed my attention was this M72 LAW.  Of course this item jumped out at me!  Unless involved in the military between 1963-1983, one never gets the chance to see this weapon up close and personal.  The M72 LAW replaced the HEAT rifle grenade and the "Super Bazooka," and preceded the AT4 as America's premier anti-tank/anti-armor weapon.  It saw use for twenty years and was designed to be a lightweight, inexpensive, disposable, single-shot weapon.  It came prepackaged with a rocket and collapsed like a telescope.  When collapsed it was waterproof and not armed.  Once extended, it was armed and ready to knock out some enemy armor.  It could be disarmed, but would no longer maintain its waterproof seal once re-collapsed.

U.S. Springfield M1 Garand Rifle (top) with Inert M72 LAW Launch Tube and U.S. Inland M1 Carbine (bottom)

We also have a second listing with an inert M72 LAW!  It is pictured below with a German camera, German binoculars, and a pair of gravity knives (what a great name for a knife).  The camera with the brass frame is particularly appropriate for items involving tank battles due to the "Nazi-themed engraving including a "75" Tank Warfare Badge on top over the word 'Panzerkampf.'"

Lot #3658

One might not think that a weapon so small is capable of a lot of power, but please keep in mind that it was used to destroy tanks, utilized a well-designed projectile, and can do this to a pile of boxes.

And that's the BACKblast!

In addition to the two lots containing M72 LAWs, we have yet another item for the U.S. military buffs out there.  This is an M1 Carbine set up in its grenade launcher configuration.  For those who are more detail oriented, that means it also has the M8 grenade launcher, the M15 sight, the M6 launching cartridges (2 packs), a green canvas belt pouch, and an inert grenade set into the M1A2 launch adapter.  The M8 converted the carbine to fire rifle grenades, while the M1A2 adapter slid over the top of the M8 allowed standard Mk. II frag grenades to also be launched.  The M6 launching cartridge necessarily packed a much larger punch than the standard .30 Carbine cartridge in order to launch explosives downrange up to 250 yards.  This powerful recoil has even cracked the stock and caused injury to a individual operating the weapon with an improper technique.

U.S. Underwood M1 Semi-Automatic Rifle in Grenade Launcher Configuration

If European military arms are more your area of interest, then you should have a large interest in the following lot.  It includes a Panzerfaust, a shield for a Panzerschreck launcher, a hardwood case   containing two Panzerschreck rockets, parts for an MP-44, and an MG-42 barrel case.

1) Inert Panzerfaust anti-armor weapon, 41" long, with tan paint finish. 2) Clamp-on shield for a Panzerschreck launcher, tan paint finish with spare eyeshield.
3) Assortment of parts for an MP-44, including trigger assembly and stock. 4) Sheet metal MG42 barrel case, green paint finish. 5) Hardwood case, containing two inert Panzerschreck rockets. Lot is good or better overall.

For those wondering about the difference between a Panzerfaust and a Panzerschreck, a Panzerfaust (translated as "tank fist") was a single use, preloaded, light weapon used to take out enemy armor or tanks.  It was designed to be used by a single soldier and saw wide spread, successful use by Nazi Germany from 1942 until the war's end.  Technically the Panzerfaust is not a true rocket, but a recoilless gun, the round having no propellant of its own once it leaves the gun.  A Panzerfaust also lacked a trigger, but instead used a small pedal that would be squeezed by the hand to fire the weapon.  A Panzerschreck ("tank terror"), on the other hand, was a larger version of the then-effective U.S. Bazooka.  It fired an 88mm rocket and was a scourge on Allied armor throughout the war.  However, its size required a minimum of a two man team to fire it and the large amount of smoke produced when fired would give away the Panzerschreck team's position, requiring quick relocation after use.

Can you understand why a history or firearms enthusiast might do double take or two in the RIAC warehouse?  Even working here, one can still encounter the unexpected, the historical, and the just plain cool.  To see more great items in our June Regional Auction, click here to be taken to our Online Catalog.  You can search for any genre you like and see some great pictures in the process.  You'll probably find something that makes you do a double-take of your own.

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