The Carl Gustav is the common name for the 84mm recoilless rifle anti-tank weapon from Bofors Anti Armour AB in Sweden. The Carl Gustav was first introduced in 1946, and while similar weapons of the era have generally disappeared, the Carl Gustav remains in widespread use today, and is even being introduced into new roles. British troops refer to it as the Charlie G. Canadian troops often refer to it as the 84 or Carl G. US troops often refer to it as the RAAWS or Ranger Anti-Armor Weapon System or MAAWS (Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System), the Gustav or simply the goose. In Australia it is irreverently known as Charlie Gutsache (guts ache, slang for stomach pain). In its country of origin it is officially named Grg m/48 (Granatgevär, meaning grenade rifle, model 48) and sometimes nicknamed Stuprör (drainpipe) due to the fact that the weapon mainly consists of a long tube.
Famously, a Royal Marine damaged an Argentinian corvette in the Falklands War using a Carl Gustav
The Carl Gustav was developed by Hugo Abramson and Harald Jentzen at the Royal Swedish Arms Administration (KAFT). It was first introduced into Swedish service in 1948 as the 8,4 cm Granatgevär m/48 (Grg m/48), filling the same role as the US Army Bazooka, British PIAT and German Panzerschreck. Unlike these weapons, however, the Carl Gustav used a rifled barrel for spin-stabilising its rounds, as opposed to fins as used by the other systems.
The use of the recoilless firing system allowed the Carl Gustav to contain considerably more propellant, firing its rounds at 290 m/s, as opposed to about 105 m/s for the Panzerschreck or Bazooka and about 135 m/s for the PIAT. The result was superior accuracy at longer ranges. The Carl Gustav could attack larger stationary targets at up to 700 metres, but the relatively slow speed of the projectile confined attacks on moving targets to a range of 400 metres or less.
The Carl Gustav was soon being sold around the world, and became one of the primary squad-level anti-tank weapons for most of the Western European armies.
In 1964 an improved version, known as the M2, was introduced and quickly replaced the original version. A newer M3 version was introduced in 1991, which used a thin steel liner containing the rifling, strengthened by a carbon fibre outer sleeve. External parts were replaced with aluminium alloys or plastics. This reduced the empty weapon weight considerably, from the 14.2kg M2 to the 8.5kg M3.
In recent years the weapon has found new life in a variety of roles. The British Special Air Service, US special forces and United States Army Rangers use the M3s in the bunker-busting and anti-vehicle roles, while the German army maintains small numbers of M2s for battlefield illumination. Many armies continue to use it as an anti-armour weapon. Against the majority of threats faced on the modern battlefield, namely 1950s and 60s era Soviet tank designs and lighter vehicles, the weapon delivers adequate performance.
The Carl Gustav was used in the bunker-busting role by soldiers of Canada's Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment in operations in Afghanistan. They developed a new system for firing at night, which involved a night-scope equipped spotter firing tracers at the target, and the Carl Gustav gunner then aiming at the spot where the tracer rounds hit.
The basic weapon consists of the main tube with the breech-mounted recoil damper, with two grips near the front and a shoulder plate. The weapon is fitted with iron sights, but is normally aimed with the attached 2x optical sight with a 17 degree field of view. Luminous front and rear adaptors are available for night work with the iron sights. The Carl Gustav can be fired from the standing, kneeling, sitting or prone positions. When fired on flat surfaces the weapon is normally supported by a bipod attached in front of the shoulder piece. A small operating handle ("Venturi Lock") "cracks" the "Venturi" to one side for reloading. The weapon is normally operated by a two-man crew, one carrying and firing the weapon, the other carrying and reloading ammunition.
The M3 MAAWS is the US designation for the Carl Gustav M3 recoilless rifle. It is primarily used by USSOCOM forces such as the United States Army Special Forces, 75th Ranger Regiment, United States Navy SEALS, Delta Force, and DEVGRU.
Improvements to the ammunition have been continual, and while the HEAT rounds have less effect against modern armor, the weapon has found new life as a bunker-buster with a High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) round with less armour piercing capability but much more explosive. Straight high explosive (HE), smoke and illumination (starshell or flare) ammunition is also available. For full effectiveness, illumination rounds have to be fired at a very steep angle, creating a danger for the gunner as the backblast from the propellant charge might burn him. For that reason several armies have retired the illumination rounds. The US Army requires firing them from a standing position.
(Canadian designations are used, others are similar, replacing the "FFV")
+ FFV441 is a HE Shrapnel round, useful in a "lobbed" trajectory to 1,000m, which can be fused to fire on impact or airburst.
+ FFV441B is a HE round with an effective range against personnel in the open of 1,100 m. The round arms after 20 to 70 m of flight, weighs 3.1 kg, and is fired at a muzzle velocity of 255 m/s.
+ FFV469 is a smoke round fired like the FFV441, with a range of about 1,300 m. The 3.1 kg round is also fired at 255 m/s.
+ FFV502 is a HEDP round with the ability to be set to detonate on impact or one tenth of a second afterwards. Effective range is 1,000 m against broad soft targets such as infantry in the open, 500 m against stationary targets, and 300 m against moving targets. Minimum flight is 15 to 40 m to arm the warhead. Penetration exceeds 150 mm of armour. Ammunition weight is 3.3 kg and muzzle velocity is 230 m/s.
+ FFV545 is an illuminating starshell, fired up to 2,300 m maximum range, but with an effective envelope of 300 to 2,100 m. Suspended by parachute, the 650,000 candle power illumination burns for 30 seconds, providing a 400 to 500 m diameter area of illumination.
+ FFV551 is the primary HEAT round, it is rocket-assisted, with an effective range of about 700 m (400 m against moving targets) and penetration up to 400 mm of rolled steel armour. Ammunition weight is 3.2 kg and muzzle velocity is 255 m/s.
+ FFV552 is a practice round with the same ballistics as the 551.
+ FFV651 is a newer HEAT round using mid-flight rocket assistance for ranges up to 1,000m. In theory, it has less penetration than the FFV441, but it includes a stand-off probe for the fuse to improve performance against reactive armour.
+ FFV751 is a tandem-warhead HEAT round with an effective range of 500 m and ability to penetrate more than 500 mm of armour. Weight is 4 kg.
Versions: M48, M/48B, m/48C, m/86T, m/86MT. The m/48 versions differ mainly in their riffling while the m/86 versions consists off composite materials (a steel liner is covered in a laminate consisting of carbonfibre and expoxy). The later version has also a carrying handle ontop of the weapon and has a limitation of about 100 rounds berfore it have to be discarted.
Operators Austria, Australia, Austria, Belize, Botswana, Brazil (Can AC SR 84 mm M3 - Carl Gustaf), Canada ("the 84" or "Carl G"), Denmark, Estonia (Granaadiheitja Carl-Gustav), France, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Malaysia, Mayanmar, New Zeeland, Nigeria, Norway (Rekylfri kanon Carl-Gustav), Poland (GROM), Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sweden (Granatgevär m/48, Granatgevär m/86), Switzerland, Uganda, United Kingdom (L14A1), USA (known as: M3 MAAWS [Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System], or RAAWS [Ranger Anti-Armor Weapon System], or "the Gustav", or "the goose")
Weapontype: Recoilless rifle - Anti-Tank
Manufacturer: Bofors Anti Armour AB
Cartridge: 84 mm
Weight: M1/M2/m/48: 14kg, M3/m/86: 9.5kg
Rifling: progressive twist
Magazine Capacity: Nil; single-shot weapon
Feed system: Hinged Breech
In service dates: 1948 - Present
In Production: 1946? (M1) 1964 (M2) 1991 (M3)
Sights: Telescoped optical 3x; Laser range finder; image intensification system
Rate of fire: up to 6 Rpm (depending on Crew capability)
Effective range: 150 meters against tanks, 700 meters against stationary targets, M3 also: 1000 meters against stationary targets with rocket-boosted ammunition