M1A1 and M9A1 Bazooka

Private Ryan with a bazooka

Named after a homemade musical instrument used by radio comedian Bob Burns, the bazooka was a shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket launcher. The weapon was designed by Army Captain Leslie Skinner and Navy Lieutenant Edward Uhl in 1940. The Army had been attempting to develop an effective anti-tank rifle, but Skinner and Uhl's simple design proved to be just what the Army was looking for.

Although originally named the M1 Rocket Launcher, the weapon's nickname, given to it by soldiers because of its physical resemblance to Burns' musical instrument, was quickly adopted as its official designation.

The bazooka worked by firing a shaped charge rocket warhead out of a simple open-ended tube. Electric ignition for the rocket was originally provided by a pair of small batteries, but this was later replaced by a trigger-operated magneto in the M9A1 model. The other major improvement in the M9A1 was a redesigned barrel that could be broken down into two sections for transport.

Deployed to troops in 1942, the bazooka was most effectively employed by a two-man team, with one man serving as a gunner, and the other working to reload and rearm rockets. Bazookas supplied to the Russians were eventually captured by German forces and served as the basis for German anti-tank rocket launchers such as the Panzerschreck.

The M9A1 Bazooka was withdrawn from service after World War II and replaced by the more powerful M20 Bazooka. Another item named after Burn's musical instrument (and not the weapon) was Topps' Bazooka bubble gum, which was first introduced after the end of World War II.

Two types of bazookas can be readily seen in Saving Private Ryan. The one used by Private Ryan to take out the German halftrack near Ramelle appears to be the later M9A1 model, while the one used by Sergeant Horvath in Ramelle is a M1A1 model (as noted by its lack of a forward hand grip). All bazookas used in the film were newly-created replicas.


Tube Length: 61"
Caliber: 60 mm
Weight: 15 lbs.
Explosive Type: M7A1 shaped charge (3.5 lbs.)
Maximum Range: 400-500 yards
Effective Range: 120 yards
Crew: 2