MANUFACTURER(S): State Arsenals - UK
OPERATORS: Australia; United Kingdom
ACTION: Reoilless Action; Resuable Tube
LENGTH (OVERALL): 3,860 millimeters (151.97 inches)
LENGTH (BARREL): 3,860 millimeters (151.97 inches)
WEIGHT (UNLOADED): 683.43 pounds (310.00 kilograms)
MUZZLE VELOCITY: 1,520 feet-per-second (463 meters-per-second)
RATE-OF-FIRE: 4 rounds-per-minute
RANGE (EFFECTIVE): 3,280 feet (1,000 meters; 1,093 yards)
Detailing the development and operational history of the L6 WOMBAT (Weapon Of Magnesium, Battalion, Anti-Tank) Recoilless Rifle.
Entry last updated on 9/26/2016.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Armored combat actions of World War 2 influenced much of the doctrine and weapons design of the ensuing Cold War years. The tank was still the primary threat and all leading world powers moved to adopt various counters for them including the recoilless rifle. The recoilless rifle provided a tank-killing/fortification-defeating (sometimes) portable solution in which the recoil effects of the existing projectile were countered to an extent by the proper dispelling of gasses at the rear of the launch tube. The British adopted the Ordnance 3.45" RCL too late to have it see action in World War 2 (1993-1945) but its design influenced the ultimate selection of the L6 WOMBAT in the 1950s. Indeed the L2 BAT ("Battalion Anti-Tank") and L4 MOBAT ("MObile BAT") were, themselves, preceding designs related to the RCL itself.
The L6 WOMBAT (Weapon of Magnesium, Battalion, Anti-Tank) represented a more portable solution to the existing vehicle-mounted L4 MOBAT weapon already in use. However, it was hardly a man-portable system as the RCL before it was, weighing a hefty 680lbs and requiring use of a wheeled carriage and crew of three. The new weapon fired a 28lb, 120mm projectile at a rate of four rounds-per-minute with a muzzle velocity of 1,520 feet-per-second. Effective range was 1,000 meters with an extreme range out to 1,600 meters. Sighting was through an integrated optical arrangement. The wheeled carriage allowed for a full-360-degree traverse as well as an elevation span of -8 to +17 degrees. It was a line-of-sight weapon requiring the crew to have an unobstructed view of the intended target.
Despite its weight, the WOMBAT still proved a mobile solution over the heavier vehicle-mounted version. In this fashion, it could be used by dedicated anti-tank teams in-the-field and lightly-armed paratroopers who relied on any useful artillery piece after being dropped from an airplane. Magnesium alloys were used throughout the construction of the WOMBAT to help reduce its overall weight and a lighter breech mechanism also helped to keep weight in check. The removable, wheeled carriage was also purposely designed as a compact, lightweight mount.
In practice, the L6 saw widespread use as a field weapon and as a vehicle-mounted system. In the latter, the WOMBAT was outfitted to lightweight Land Rovers of the British Army. Others found their way atop the hull roofs of armored vehicles to be used as a point defense system against enemy armor. British Marine forces stationed in the Arctic regions of Norway mounted their L6 weapons to their "Snow Trac" tracked vehicles.
L6 WOMBATs were in use until the wider adoption of improved wire-guided anti-tank missiles. From that period onwards, the recoilless rifle found a reduced frontline role in all modern armies, remaining a weapon for just a few select units such as Special Forces groups.
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