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Man-portability of heavy weapons

From: "Colfox" <monty88@f...>
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 12:59:52 -0600
Subject: Man-portability of heavy weapons

Michael wrote: 
> There's the question of the hour, gentlebeings. Can you hump a TOW any
> distance, and how many people does it take to ensure it's pointed in
> right direction?
> Yes, 3-4 to carry, 2 to operate

ummm...I can't remember what GZG thread this was on, but I think it was
discussion on what kind of heavy weapons could be man-packed.

*Engage ex-TOW platoon leader mode: (let's see how much I

Now, for the above numbers on the TOW, both numbers above are off, but
opposite directions.

A crew of one is needed to assemble and operate a TOW.	The usual crew
is 3
or 4 (gunner, section leader, driver, loader--last two roles are
in 3-man crews).  It is possible for a single person to operate it--just
takes a little longer between shots, and there isn't anyone for local
security or talking on the radio.

By the way, since I mentioned assembly, I think the standard is 2
for complete assembly, circuit check, missile loaded, and ready to
fire--for 1 person.

Now, the tricky question--man-portability of the TOW:
If you ask an 11H (Anti-tank specialist) how far a TOW should be
the answer will be the distance from the armory to the vehicle, and no
farther.  How far CAN they be carried?	Well, any distance, but be ready
for some serious bitching.

I don't remember the exact weights anymore, and I don't have the TM's in
front of me, but the weight of the TOW system, with 1 missile is a
over 300 pounds.  And none of the pieces are designed for easy carrying
over long distances.  So,  while it is possible for a 3 man crew to hump
the TOW, you're only going to have 1 shot when you get there.  Each
is about 70 pounds, so adding more to their load quickly gets

When I made my platoon (6 teams, about 20 soldiers) hump their TOW's, we
took only 2 of the 6 launchers, and everyone not carrying a piece of the
TOW, was carrying a missile (myself included).	This got us to our
position with about 12 missiles, and everyone dog-tired.  I think the
farthest we humped like this was 10 miles, up and over the hills of S.

We never actually did this during maneuvers; we would just drive the
Hummers into place and prepare multiple firing postions.  The
of dismounting are so numerous that the only time that I would think
doing so in a combat situation would be in a prepared defense (with the
vehicles nearby), or in some surprise insertion where the enemy would
expect AT weapons, and the TOW's appearance there would reap great

*Disengage ex-TOW platoon leader mode.*

Well, if that gives you some general ideas about why things are classed
_Heavy_ weapons, then good.  Obviously, if you assume some things like
advances in materials composition (lighter equipment), better optics
(lighter sights), etc....then things will be different.  I won't even
mention anti-grav sleds....

Hope this helped,


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