A 20mm Rocket Gun
A typical infantry company has little more firepower than those of 30 years ago. It has nothing to engage attack helicopters and only bulky short-range rockets to engage light armored vehicles and bunkers. Larger guns are great, but they require heavy designs to offset the large explosive propellant and resulting recoil, which makes them impractical for mobile infantrymen.
The simple solution is a rocket rifle. The U.S. military employs 70mm rockets (left) fired from pods on attack helicopters. These are too large for infantrymen, but 20-40mm rockets could be fired from rocket rifles. Since rockets are caseless, there is no need for a moving bolt to eject cartridges. The rockets could be fed into the chamber by a spring-loaded magazine while a sear holds them in place so they cannot slide down the barrel. The trigger may be manually cocked like a revolver, or maybe a small battery to fire the rocket electrically is better. As the trigger is pulled, the rocket is ignited and the sear is released allowing the rocket to shoot forward, and the next rocket is pushed into the chamber by the magazine spring. In the event of a misfire, the gunner holds down the trigger to keep the sear raised, and flicks the rifle to throw the dud rocket out the muzzle.
A magazine feed design may prove impractical as the hot blast from rockets could ignite the next missile in the magazine. As a result, a revolver type may be needed, or a lever to manually feed each rocket. However, the rocket propellant from rapidly firing rockets may heat the rifle and cause a rocket in the chamber to explode. If this problem cannot be overcome, each rocket would need a "soft-launch" primer to pop the rocket out of the barrel before the rocket ignites. This is common feature on rockets like the Russian RPGs.
Another problem is the effect of the rocket blast on the gunner. Therefore, a small plastic shield could be fitted above the chamber to protect the gunner's face, which would also serve as a gunsight. A 12-gague shotgun has nearly a 20mm barrel, so just use that simple design and modify it to accept huge rocket magazines. This powerful rocket rifle will weigh less than a traditional rifle, excluding the huge magazine which may carry up to 8 rockets. However, it will still weigh no more than a light machine gun when fully loaded, especially since caseless rockets are much lighter. Range should exceed 2000 meters, and the full magazine could be expended in seconds. This is important since the rockets generate a great deal of noise and attention, ensuring the wrath of enemy gunners.
Rocket rifles should prove easy to construct, but the rockets may be a challenge. However, there are several types of 20mm, 25mm, 30mm and 40mm warheads in production in numerous countries which could be fitted to simple rockets. Rocket rifles can provide each lowly infantry squad with the firepower to destroy light armored vehicles and attack helicopters at long ranges. Finally, rocket rifles will prove extremely valuable in urban fighting and against anyone with modern body armor.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com