Charlie Gutsache still in service

“Defence has contracted SAAB Bofors Dynamics for the supply of the M3 84mm Carl Gustaf anti-armour support weapon,” Mr Combet said.
“These new weapons provide an increased direct fire support capability and will be employed by the Infantry, Special Forces and RAAF Airfield Defence Guards. Soldiers will appreciate the weight savings afforded by the M3 Carl Gustaf anti-armour weapon”.
Many years ago, last century, in the mid 60s, I was attending an Anti Tank course at the old Infantry Centre at Ingleburn, NSW and being instructed in the handling, maintenance and firing of the 106mm Recoilless Rifle. Near the end of the course, the Senior Instructor, Major Name Forgotten called us together and told us we were the chosen few. The Army were looking at the Carl Gustaf anti tank weapon (M1, I presume) and had literally borrowed one from the Swedish Ambassador. Along with the weapon came two rounds; a High Explosive Ant-Tank (HEAT) round and a flare (from memory of 200,000 candlepower) We were to fire these rounds with high ranking officers witnessing the event as a pre-cursor to actually conducting a user trial. I was elated, I drew one of the straws but elation turned to dismay when I then drew the flare! “I’m an infantryman, not a light technician”, I muttered to my mates, who couldn’t care less. I toyed with the idea of using it aggressively as in a 200,000 candlepower missile aimed directly at a target would light up my life and ruin the enemy’s day. At least he wouldn’t be able too see clearly for a while! The Sergeant was onto me though and I did what any smart soldier would do in the circumstances and fired the star shell into the heavens. Better blind obedience than stoppage of leave, particularly when I was in love with one of the Railway Hotel ladies and Friday night was leave night! From day one we called it the Charlie Gutsache and noted with cynicism, some years later, that even after a successful user-trial we couldn’t use the weapon in South Vietnam because the Swedes were against the war. Now, I note, that major Western armies are all buying it – yanks included. I wonder if the flare round ever got to be used aggressively – hope so!


  • I loved firing them, but always looked around for the guy from Anti-armour platoon to give it back to when a move was afoot.

    Illum rounds fired on a high trajectory also had a tendency to singe ones legs and blast debris quite significant distances.

    A rather wearing experience when required to fire a couple of dozen illum rounds a night.

    It seemed incongruous to call “BBDA CLEAR” when the back of the beast was pointing towards the planet.

    That said they made the ‘66’ look like a piece of junk and were wonderfully accurate out to 500 metres plus.

    • You are dead right about the BBDA. I recall when we were at Singleton Lt Col Oxley (5RAR’s 1st CO) came up to see us and arrived in a LR. We were firing and loaded for the next round. We ceased fire and the NCO saluted and Oxley said “go on”. We would have loved to do it as he was about 25 m behind the 106 and a very weird CO but the NCO thought of his career and explained.


      • Didn’t the diminiutive M72 have a BBDA of about 48 feet as well? You have to wonder if some officers received the same or even similar training to the working end of the Battallion.

  • I recall someone saying that the 84mm Carl Gustaf has a unique signature.

    We were firing the weapon in concrete bays – concrete floor, concrete walls. When the guys in the next bay fired the weapon there was this stunning silence, you know, like someone had tried to rip your head off. One of the guys said, “I think we’ve been blown up!”

    A unique signature indeed!

    Gimme the M79 any day

  • Whilst we trade stories of ‘recoilless’ weapons, I recall a diminutive and brand new Anti-Armour platoon 2IC who demanded our 106s be ‘dug in’ into a hill side prior to a live fire ‘defensive’ exercise which included mortars and sustained fire machine guns (they were fun).

    We in mortar platoon dutifully dug our big round holes as was usual, but were astonished to see the AA guys dismounting their great big ‘guns’ from their crappy little short wheel base Land Rovers and start digging odd shaped pits on the forward slope of ‘our hill’ to place them in.

    Mr XXX refused the advice of several SNCOs regarding the 106s’ BBDA and the fact the rear of the guns were a mere metre or two from the hill side.

    Much squeaky barking from Mr XXX as he admonished the by now quite insistent sergeants before he puffed out his chest to show off his tactical expertise to the Support Company Commander who’d popped round for a quick check before the big bang started.

    The OC’s roar was similar to a 106 being fired (and they were a NOISY beast) and the new ‘OC petrol pump’ departed the hill side faster than a speeding bullet on his way to Admin Company and DSU shortly there after.

    Much mirth in the ranks.

    Almost as much mirth as was occasioned when the 106 crews were introduced to ENTAC and had a go at ‘Pucka’ one afternoon.

    Rockets blasted off regularly and brows were furrowed as ‘gunners’ tried and tried again to steer white dots onto the ever more slowly moving tank shaped target (which was dispatched with one round from a 106 at the end of the practice… ping, BANG)…

    Milan was a refreshing, though unwieldy upgrade and Javelin, which was well after my time, seems like a significant upgrade though expensive to use as a mud-brick-wall smasher.

    Hence I guess the purchase of the new ‘guts ache’…

  • “I recall someone saying that the 84mm Carl Gustaf has a unique signature.”

    Ha ha ha…

    My ears are still ringing 35 years after firing my first round, it’s that or the first 106 round which gave me a ‘cowboy walk’ and glazed look for a day or so.

    Corporal: “Hey you, move those empty ammunition boxes.”

    Reply “WHAT, DO WHAT?”

    Corporal: “Don’t yell at me soldier…”


  • I did a support weapons course in ’69 and consider myself lucky to have had a go with the Carl Gustaf… regards to officers receiving the same training I would have to say no….the OC of my company asked me on E range if I could show him the correct way to hold an M79 because he had never fired one himself…????

  • “we couldn’t use the weapon in South Vietnam because the Swedes were against the war”.

    I remember this, and also some controversy about the Swiss Pilatus Porter being used operationally in SVN – something to do with fitting rockets on the wing hard points as I recall. Someone out there may know more. The Swiss, despite their well-known neutrality, weren’t keen on their kit being used in SVN by 1970. Recon was OK – rockets were not.

    I can remember Porters flying over us with a Vietnamese voice being broadcast on loudspeakers. This led to the assumption that God was female and Vietnamese.

    Both the Porter the Carl Gustav (that’s what I remember it being called) were streets ahead in their particular function of what any anyone else (including the Yanks) had at the time.

    The Swedes had/have a talent for producing effective armaments (SAAB fighters for instance) with unique operational capabilities. This country could also support such an industry, but it will never happen in the current political environment, irrespective of whether the Coalition or Labor is in power.

  • The “Woot Woot” Bird only comes out at night to watch 84 Illum.

    • It also has an affinity for 81mm mortar illum, but only at Cultana (blessed be its name).

      Was that a rare bush fly I spied, what a shock… sob.

  • Never had the pleasure of the Energa except as a water damaged training poster hanging on the wall in a decaying hut at Woodside.

    Did however have the dubious pleasure of firing fragmentation grenades from an SLR using ‘ballistite’ cartridges.

    Not much fun in that either.

    Then along came the M79 with its satisfying ‘thump’ as the ovoids sailed toward their targets to land in a cloud of yellow smoke or sharp crack and puff of grey smoke in the case of HE rounds.

  • In the late 80’s there was pinned to a wall of the Madden Club
    a series of ‘please explain’ letters from the Australian Electoral Commission addressed to two blokes who supposedly resided at
    Kapyong Lines, Holsworthy.

    One was addressed to Mr. Carl Gustav, the other chap I think was none other than Mr. Howard Green. I remember answering many a
    late night call to the guardroom telephone from lasses from Liverpool wishing to speak to those two. Obviously very popular young men.

    84mm HEAT and HE rounds were fun, particulely acheiving an air
    burst with the time fused HE. The sport of kings. Never did get to
    fire an illumination round though.