Anti-Tank Missiles

Modern anti-tank weapons are guided missiles, able to change their course during flight. A few are still ballistic, following a path determined only by the aim point and the thrust of the projectile, similar to the older bazookas or recoilless rifles, with no guidance system.

M-220 Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile (TOW) mounted on HMMWV
M-220 Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile (TOW) mounted on HMMWV.

Today in WW II: 22 Oct 1941 Delayed bomb set by the Soviets detonates in Romanian headquarters, killing 67 people including the Romanian commander and other Romanian and German officers. More 
22 Oct 1943 German industrial and population center of Kassel targeted by 569 RAF bombers that dropped more than 1,800 tons of bombs, causing heavy damage in a firestorm.
Visit the World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Anti-Tank Missiles

An anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) can be guided into the target by several methods, such as laser guiding, laser marking, TV camera, wire-guiding etc. Early guided anti-armor missiles such as M-220 TOW relied on wire that spooled out behind the missile in flight allowing the fire team to continue to guide it to target. The most advanced ATGMs have options for "fire-and-forget" and even "fire-and-fix", for example the Javelin Anti-Tank Missile that uses a small thermal imaging TV camera and sophisticated computer guidance.

With the onset of guided anti-tank missiles in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which enabled most tactical vehciles to mount some sort of anti-tank weapon, the World War II concept of the tank destroyer as a separate class of armored vehicle gradually disappeared.

Click on the link to go to individual pages for each type of anti-tank missile:

Characteristics of Anti-Tank Missiles

Shoulder Launched Munitions are recoilless weapons that are effective in attacking enemy personnel, light armored vehicles, bunkers and other field fortifications. Although they do not generate as much destruction as heavier weapons, they can be fired from hidden areas with proper ventilation, such as the tops of buildings. With the introduction of the AT4 CS Antiarmor Munition, they can even be used in confined spaces, a tremendous advantage when fighting in an urban environment. The lightweight design of Shoulder Launched Munitions allows for the necessary mobility of soldiers in battle situations.

Heavier missile munitions require a supporting mount on a vehicle, helicopter or other platform. Their more powerful warheads are effective not only against heavy armored vehicles but can also destroy bunkers and other fortifications.

The rough ordering of capabilities of the infantry missiles and munitions of today is as follows:

Weapon Range Optimized For
M72 LAW 200 m light armor
M136 AT4 300 m armor
SMAW/M141 BDM 300 m armor/fortifications
Javelin 2000 m armor
TOW/TOW BB 3750 m armor/fortifications

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: missile antitank or anti-tank. Then click the Search button.