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Miniman

Single-use anti-tank recoilless rifle

Miniman anti-tank weapon

The Miniman is a very compact direct-fire weapon for use against tanks, in the form of a recoilless gun rather than a more typical RPG

 
 
Country of origin Sweden
Entered service 1968
Weapon caliber 74 mm
Weight 2.9 kg
Projectile weight 0.88 kg
Warhead type HEAT
Length 900 mm
Muzzle velocity 160 m/s
Sighting range 250 m
Range of effective fire (against tanks) 150 m
Range of effective fire (against building and static targets) 250 m
Armor penetration 340 mm

 

   The FFV Miniman is a man-portable anti-tank weapon developed and fielded during the 1960s, and like many such weapons developed in this timeframe, the Miniman is small, light, and disposable. While most weapons in this class and era were rocket launchers, the Miniman is a recoilless gun. In Swedish service, it replaced the Pansarskott m/45 and Pansarskott m/46, which were basically copies of Germany's better-known Panzershreck.

   Little information has been published on the Miniman's developmental history, though the Swedish Army's decision to develop and procure it was no doubt influenced by the advent of the US-made M72 LAW rocket launcher. It was first fielded in 1968, and thus received the Swedish Army designation Pansarskott m/68, but tank development trends overtook the Miniman's capabilities during its infancy; by 1972, the Soviet Army had fielded the T-72, whose side armor would be difficult for the Miniman to penetrate, and whose frontal armor was essentially invulnerable to it. This prompted the Swedish Army to call for the development of a replacement weapon in 1974, which eventually resulted in the AT4, but that is another story.

   The Miniman's layout takes the disposable launcher mentality to extremes, with a very sparse design. The tube has a shallowly-flared conical breech section, but is otherwise a straight, narrow, and nondescript cylinder, with several tin and almost tape-like composite brackets wrapped around it. Two sling swivels are located on the underside (one near the muzzle, and the other just in front of the flared breech), along with a simple 2-piece shoulder rest folded flat against the tube, which swings down on a hinge into a 90-degree position. A simple cheekpad is located on the left side of the tube, with the rear sight above and in front of it (the front sight is sited near the muzzle); the sights are located on the upper-left side of the tube. The trigger bar and safety are located on the opposite side from the rear sight, and the firing cable that ignites the propellant charge's primer runs along the top of the weapon from the trigger group to the breech, underneath a sheet metal housing. The weapon usually has a dark olive color, and is typically plastered with warning and instruction labels.

   The barrel is made predominately of fiberglass and plastic with a thin metallic liner, but it is durable enough to withstand long periods of rough handling in the field, and chamber pressures of up to 1 000 bars. The bore liner and the projectile both have a metallic gold colored finish, though it is unclear if actual gold plating is used on them. The complete weapon weighs only 2.9 kg, and the weight of the Miniman was considered low enough by the Swedish Army for a single rifleman to carry up to three of them.

   The Miniman's "iron" sights were made of plastic, but were regarded as excessively complex for their task, especially in light of the weapon being a disposable, single-use munition. They are flip-up window style sights, like those used on pre-production versions of the M72 LAW. The stadia lines have range settings for 50 m, 100 m, 200 m, and 250 m.

   The ARMAT-74 projectile fired by the Miniman is 325 mm long, weighs 880 g, and has an aluminum casing. The warhead consists of 330 g of Octol (equal in power to 508 g of TNT) with a copper charge liner, which is capable of penetrating 340 mm RHAe, and arms 15 m from the muzzle when fired. The projectile is drag-stabilized in flight by its fins, and is stabilized as it travels the tube by a smooth, bolt-like key on top of the round that conforms to a straight groove in the bore. Due to a unique variation of the high-low pressure system, the Miniman has no recoil when fired.

   To fire the Miniman, the user must first ensure that the backblast area is open and free of any personnel. The shoulder rest is then lowered, the plastic protective cover is removed from the muzzle, and the sights are raised. The weapon must then be shouldered, the safety switched-off, and once the target is in the sights, the trigger bar is depressed. Due to its aforementioned layout, the Miniman can only be fired from the right shoulder.

   A tremendous backblast is produced when the Miniman is fired, making it too dangerous to fire from confined areas, or even from inside of large structures. It is unclear from published literature how large the backblast area is, but it is almost certainly larger than that of similarly-sized rocket launchers, such as the M72 LAW and RPG-18.

   The Miniman was only a minor commercial success, and was employed by the armed forces of Austria, Finland, and Sweden. It was officially retired from the Swedish Army in the late 1980s, but stocks still remain. The Miniman is also no longer in front line service with Finland or Sweden, and the remaining weapons are likely to be gradually expended in training.

 

Designations

 

   Austria: PAR 70 (short for "Panzerabwehrrohr 70").

   Finland: 74 KES 68 MINIMAN.

   Sweden: Pskott m/68 (short for "Pansarskott m/68").

 

Similar weapons

 

   Panzerfaust: German disposable anti-tank weapon, produced during World War 2. It was the first weapon in this class, and gradually inspired many others. The Panzerfaust is often mistaken for a rocket launcher, though like the Miniman, it was a recoilless gun.

   M72 LAW: US disposable anti-tank weapon. The M72 LAW was the first such weapon of the Postwar Era, and effectively revived the Panzerfaust concept; though unlike the Panzerfaust and Miniman, the M72 is an anti-tank rocket launcher.

   SARPAC: French anti-tank weapon. It is very similar to the M72 LAW, and is also an anti-tank rocket launcher.

   RPG-18 Mukha: Soviet disposable anti-tank weapon, with a very similar design to the M72 LAW --- so much so, that the Soviet Union was accused of having reverse-engineered the M72 to develop the RPG-18.

   Armbrust: West German disposable anti-tank weapon. The Armbrust had a highly innovative design, with an RPG projectile and a launcher that almost totally eliminates the muzzle report, smoke, flash, blast, and backblast from the launch.

   M80 Zolja: Yugoslav disposable anti-tank weapon, similar to the M72 LAW and RPG-18. Despite its obsolescence, it is still in production.

   RPG-76 Komar: Polish disposable anti-tank weapon. It has a unique design, with a gun-like launcher, a launching charge that produces a negligible backblast, and a rocket-propelled projectile.

   AT4: This later and much larger 84mm disposable recoilless gun is an evolution of the Miniman. Unlike its forbearer, the AT4 was exported to many nations, some of which produced it under license.

 

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Miniman anti-tank weapon

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Miniman anti-tank weapon

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Miniman anti-tank weapon

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Miniman anti-tank weapon

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Miniman anti-tank weapon

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Miniman anti-tank weapon

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Miniman anti-tank weapon

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Miniman anti-tank weapon

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