Tow Missiles and EFPs

We’ll get around to doing a fuller history of the TOW missile, but here’s a taste for now.

What you see is a TOW2B missile attacking a Soviet built tank on the test range. You will notice the missile never hits the tank, but rather flies over the tank. When it is directly overhead, two warheads detonate, both flinging an EFP towards the top of the tank, where historically the armor is thinnest.  You see the missile warheads go off, followed almost instantaneously by the ammo and fuel inside the tank detonating. That’s why the turret goes flying off.


Here’s what a regular HEAT warhead on a earlier TOW does to a Bunker.


9 thoughts on “Tow Missiles and EFPs”

  1. Outlaw, many thanks. One of my few peeves with wordpress is that I can’t embed liveleak. If they ever fix that, I’ll have some better vids to put up.

  2. Aaron, most of what you see going boom in a big way is main gun ammo. T-72 series tanks have an autoloader and the ammo is stored in the floor of the turret compartment. It is exposed. And it has cardboard propellant cases. It doesn’t take much to set off a pretty big explosion. Once a tank gets going, it is going to burn for a long time. Say, 12 hours or so. There’s ammo, fuel, rubber, hydraulic fluid, cabling, and people to fuel the fire.

    The M-1 isn’t invulnerable, but it is much less vulnerable to this type of catastrophic explosion. The ammo is in a compartment at the rear of the turret, and the compartment has panels on the roof designed to blow off before the doors into the turret fail. Most of the explosion is directed out the top, instead of popping the top.

  3. I recall a story involving some sort of U.S. Army AAR studying armor in one of the Arab-Israeli dustups (Yom Kippur War, maybe) that stated the autoloader on one of the Soviet bloc tanks they were studying was how they believed the Red Army Choir got its soprano section.

    Not sure if it’s true or not, but it made me chuckle.

  4. Well, the army put a lot of work into autoloaders before they saw the results of the 73 war. Not so much after that. Oddly enough, they had a perfectly good one, but didn’t want to spend the money. I can’t recall which, but either the XM8 or the Stryker MGS autoloader was a direct descendant.

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