Most soldiers really don't like to have "Carl" around. There is one exception, though. Now, it looks as if this "Carl," which the Army grunts want to have around, may also be helping a few good men as well.
U.S. Paratroopers assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade fires the M3 Carl Gustav rocket launcher at the 7th Army Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Aug. 18, 2016. (U.S. Army Photo by Visual Information Specialist Gerhard Seuffert)
We're talking about the M3E1 version of the Carl Gustav, which the Army has been working on for a while now. This version is smaller, lighter, and makes it easier to carry out some of the basic tasks to keep this recoilless rifle in good shape for a long career of blasting the bad guys into oblivion.
Now the Marines are looking at acquiring this system, too, as a replacement for the Shoulder-launched, Multipurpose, Assault Weapon (SMAW), also known as the Mk 153. This system entered service in 1984 – and it was an import from Israel. It consists of a launcher, the Mk 153 Mod 0, and two types of rockets – the Mk 3 High-Explosive Dual-Purpose and the Mk 6 High-Explosive Anti-Armor.
US Marine Corps (USMC) members with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, wait silently in the snow with a Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) during a staged ambush for Japanese spectators on Camp Engaru, in support of Exercise FOREST LIGHT II 2003. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)
The SMAW came with a 9mm spotting rifle to determine range – with the Mk 217 cartridge that duplicates the characteristics of the Mk 3 and Mk 6 rockets. The system was effective against targets almost 550 yards away. An updated version, which replaces the spotting rifle with a laser-range finder and adds a thermal sight, entered service this month.
During Desert Storm, the Marines even loaned the Army some, prompting the Army to develop a version called the M141 that was a disposable version for bunker-busting.
A soldier tests the recoilless rifle known as the M3E1 Multi-role Anti-armor Anti-personnel Weapon System. (U.S. Army photo)
So, why will the Marines eventually shift to this Carl? The biggest reason is that the M3E1 is a lot more versatile in the ammo that it can fire. Plus, the logistics will be simpler with just one bunker-busting system for ground troops across the services.
You can see a video about the M3E1 and its acquisition by the Marine Corps below.