Wednesday Weapons – The Recoilless Scooter Rifle

Only the French would make this weapon platform, it is certainly the oddest weapon I have ever seen, a scooter armed with a M20 75mm recoilless rifle.

Scooter based 75mm recoil-less rifleAfter World War II, there was little money for defense spending while the nations of Europe rebuilt their industry and society. When there was some cash to spend, one had to be creative to stretch it as far as possible. The French probably accomplished the most astounding example of that with the ACMA Troupes Aeról Portées Mle. 56. Deployed with their airborne forces, this was essentially a militarized Vespa scooter outfitted with a 75mm recoilless rifle. Five parachutes would carry the two-man gun crew, weapon, ammunition, and two scooters safely to earth, and the men would load the weapon on one scooter and the ammo on the other, then ride away. More impressively, the recoilless rifle could be fired effectively on the move by the best of the gun crews. Total cost? About $500 for the scooter and the recoilless rifle was war surplus. Were they successful military machines? Well, the French Army deployed about 800 armed scooters in wars conducted in both Algeria and Indochina.

The Vespa carried the M20, a U.S.-made light anti-armour cannon, it was very light when compared to a standard 75mm cannon but was still able to penetrate 100 mm of armour by so-called HEAT warheads. The recoil is counteracted by venting propellant gases out the rear of the weapon, thru a venturi, which eliminated the need for a mechanical recoil system or heavy mounts, enabling the weapon to be fired from the Vespa frame.

Additional photos:

Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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