HIGHLIGHT ON

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Subscription Centre
Receive our free e-newsletter.
Click here for more information

Fact file: M40A1 recoilless rifle

The M40 was developed in the 1950s as a lightweight, portable, crew-served 105mm antitank weapon. It has served the South African infantry for many years as a direct-fire weapon and is issued in units of six to the motorised and airborne infantry anti-tank platoon.











Type:

Recoilless Rifle (cannon)

Numbers:

100 in service/store.

Cost:

 

Associated project names:

Khanyisa

Manufacturer:

Various, US

Calibre:

105mm

Mass:

130kg (barrel), 103kg (tripod)

Length:

3.4m

Barrel length:

3.4m

Muzzle velocity:

500m/s

Rate of fire:

5rpm

Effective range:

1200m

Maximum ranges:

1097m anti-tank, 7040m indirect fire

Traverse:

360 degrees

Elevation:

-17 to +65 degrees.

Ammunition:

High explosive, HEAT (penetrates 450mm rolled homogenous armour at 90 degrees), High explosive plastic (HEP in the US, “squash head” to the Commonwealth), anti-personnel (APERS) & drill. Shell weighs 7.7kg.

Spotting Rifle:

12.7mm M8, ballistically matched to the main gun.

Comment:

Despite its designation as a 106mm weapon, its correct calibre is 105mm. The miscalibration was to avoid confusion with an earlier 105mm weapon.

 

“The 106mm RCL was designed as a light weight anti-tank weapon that could kill main battle tanks. The .50 calibre (12.7mm) spotting rifle M-8C was designed to be the primary ranging device for the weapon. The .50 calibre spotter round was much shorter than the .50 calibre Browning machinegun cartridge. The spotter round was a ballistic match to the HEAT and HEP rounds fired by the M-40A1. On impart with the armoured target, the gunner saw a puff of white smoke in his sight. If the puff of smoke was on target, he fired the main gun. If not, he made his traverse and elevation corrections and fired the .50 spotter again. A one-shot hit with the 106mm was imperative, because the back blast from the breech extended in a cone-shaped fan 75 yards deep and 150 yards wide. A tank crew would have to be both stupid and blind to allow the 106mm gunner a second shot under such conditions.”1

 

In 2006 the system was without ammunition as this had been declared unsafe for use. An upgrade, dubbed “Khanyisa” was by then also underway.

 

 

 

1 Bob Stoner, Ordnance Notes, M-40A1 106MM Recoilless Rifle With M-8C Spotting Rifle, www.mst2-vietnam.info/Stoner_ordnance_notes/stonerhtml/RECOILLESS_RIFLE.htm, accessed November 13, 2005.



....

Company News