Although today the name bazooka is synonymous with any shoulder-held rocket launching device, the first bazooka was the U.S. Army's M1 Rocket Launcher. Introduced in World War II, soldiers using the M1 likened its sound to the bazoo, a type of brass instrument.
The concept of a bazooka can be applied to any type of projectile, and it can be built in an infinite number of ways. Here are the main things that need to be taken into account with any bazooka assembly.
Things You'll Need
- Ignition trigger switch
- Propellant (either gas or a chemical propellant)
A bazooka operates on Newton's third law of physics: a projectile is placed within a tube, and pushed out of the tube by an explosive force seeking to escape. The area at the back end of the tube behind the projectile gathers pressure from a trigger of some sort and the pressure builds up to the point where it expels the projectile.
Before all else, you need a bazooka tube. With rocket-propelled ordnance, the tube is generally made out of metal or ceramic since flammable material would ignite upon discharge of the projectile, but almost any pipe will do as long as it can withstand pressure. PVC pipe is common for non-combustible projectile bazookas.
However, without the chemical combustion of a rocket-propelled projectile, the back end of the pipe will need to be closed in some fashion to help the bazooka build up enough pressure to expel the projectile.
When choosing a pipe that will be used for the bazooka tube, the inner radius should be equal to the projectile you wish to propel from the bazooka if at all possible. Projectiles that are too big or too small for the tube create inefficiency that limits its distance when expelled.
Reducing the space between the back of the pipe and the projectile will increase the amount of pressure, and ultimately increase the distance that the projectile is propelled.
You can use two methods to create the pressure needed to expel a projectile from a bazooka pipe: combustion and pneumatics.
Just as in a car, combustion occurs when heat is applied to a chemical source, causing the chemical to undergo a reaction and release energy, which propels the projectile.
With a pneumatic explosion, the expulsive reaction occurs when a gas builds up behind the projectile to the point where it becomes pressurized and wants to escape, such as when a carbon dioxide expels soda after a shaken can is opened.
The reaction begins upon the ignition of a trigger switch of some kind.
The process of making a rudimentary bazooka is fairly simple under the aforementioned principles, but you can follow them in any number of ways while building a bazooka. Often the pipe used for the explosive pressure has a larger volume than the portion of the pipe used to expel, since a greater reaction and less resistance upon expulsion can help increase the force with which the projectile is propelled.
Lubrication along the expulsion chamber portion of the tube can also help expel the projectile more efficiently.
Tips & Warnings
- Before building a bazooka, make sure it is legal to do so in your area.
- Never put any body parts in front of a bazooka tube opening upon the release of a projectile.
- Photo Credit 1943 Library of Congress
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