Infantry weapons / Recoilless rifles / BAT


General Facts

  • TYPE
    Recoilless rifle

    United Kingdom

    L1 (UK designation for original BAT)
    L4 (UK designation for MOBAT)
    L2 (UK designation for WOMBAT)
    L7 (UK designation for CONBAT)

    Early 1950's


    1953 - ? (BAT)
    1964 - ? (Wombat)

    United Kingdom



    Very powerful
    Good range
    Very heavy weapon
    Limited mobility
    Large backblast
    Single type of ammunition


The BAT is a recoilless rifle of UK origin. The BAT was developed in the early 1950's as one of the primary anti-tank weapons for the UK armed forces. The name BAT stands for Battalion Anti Tank. The BAT was the largest caliber recoilless rifle ever put in production. It proved to be a powerful weapon with various drawbacks, including a very limited mobility and enormous back blast. Eventually the BAT was replaced by guided anti-tank missiles that proved to be more mobile, powerful and had a longer range.


The design of the BAT is based on the 3.45 inch RCL which was developed during World War 2 but never put in production. The BAT is a 120mm smoothbore recoilless rifle with a breech that slides downwards for reloading. A fixed towing ring is fitted at the muzzle. The ammunition is of the separate loading type and only HESH rounds are available. The original BAT has a large two wheel chassis and features a full metal gun shield to protect the crew. The MOBAT is similar but lacks the gun shield and adds a ranging machine gun. The WOMBAT is the latest version with a much reduced weight and a breech that swings to the side.


The BAT fires 120mm rounds unique to this weapon. The only available type of ammunition that was developed was the HESH round, which is useful against both armored vehicles and infantry positions. The effective range of the BAT is 800 meters with the maximum range being 1.600 meters. Due to the addition of spotting rifles on the later models the first round hit probability was improved significantly. The penetration is around 400mm RHA and the maximum rate of fire is only 4 rounds per minute. All versions of the BAT share the same barrel design and ammunition and therefore have a similar firepower. The original BAT is only able to traverse over the forward arc instead of over 360 degrees due to its gun shield.


The original BAT was very heavy and could only be towed by truck. The MOBAT is much lighter and can be towed by the Austin Champ, Land Rover or any other light utility vehicle. The MOBAT can also be moved by infantry over very short distances. The WOMBAT is much lighter but still needs to be moved by vehicle. As the WOMBAT cannot be towed by a vehicle it must be carried on the vehicle. Often the WOMBAT was fired from the vehicle, allowing it to relocate quickly.


The first and foremost user of the BAT series of recoilless rifles was the United Kingdom. They were used from the 1950's until they were replaced in the 1970's by the Vigilant and Milan anti-tank missiles. The BAT was also exported to various nations, mostly belonging to the Commonwealth. Nowadays the BAT in no longer in use.



The L1 BAT is the original version of the BAT recoilless rifle. The name BAT stands for Battalion Anti Tank. The BAT is very unusual as it features a large two wheel carriage with a gun shield as if it were an anti-tank gun. Due to the weight the BAT must be towed by truck. Many original L1's have been converted to the L4 MOBAT by removing the shield and adding a ranging machine gun.


The L4 MOBAT is a version of the original L1 BAT without shield. The name MOBAT stands for Mobile BAT. Since the shield is removed it is much lighter, has a smaller silhouette and is able to traverse over 360 degrees. The two wheel chassis is retained and due to the reduced weight it can be towed by a Land Rover. To increase first round accuracy a 7.62mm Bren ranging machine gun is added to the left of the weapon. A L4 MOBAT retrofitted with a 12.7mm ranging machine gun is known as the L7 CONBAT, with CONBAT meaning converted BAT.

TypeRecoilless rifle
Caliber120 mm
Length4.04 m
Tube length2.34 m
Width1.53 m
Height1.17 m
Weight766 kg
Firing arc-6 to +30° elevation, 360° traverse
SightsOptical, 7.62mm Bren spotting rifle
AmmunitionHESH only
Velocity463 m/s at muzzle
Penetration400mm RHA
Range825 m effective, 1.6 km max
Rate of fire4 rpm
RemarksTowed by vehicle


The L6 WOMBAT is a lightweight model of the BAT for use by mobile units such as paratroopers or marines. WOMBAT stands for Weapon Of Magnesium BAT, referring to the use of magnisium alloys to reduce weight. Instead of a 7.62mm Bren a 12.7mm M8C (L40A1) ranging machine gun is fitted. The WOMBAT is fitted on a lightweight carriage with two small wheels. It is usually mounted on a Land Rover and some have been mounted on a FV 432 tracked APC. The Royal Marines used a Snowcat during operations in Norway. The WOMBAT is the latest version of the BAT and was the last version to remain in UK service.

TypeRecoilless rifle
Caliber120 mm
Length3.86 m
Tube length2.34 m
Width0.86 m
Height1.09 m
Weight295 kg
Firing arc-8 to +17° elevation, 360° traverse
SightsOptical, 12.7mm M8C spotting rifle
AmmunitionHESH only
Velocity463 m/s at muzzle
Penetration400mm RHA
Range1 km effective, 1.6 km max
Rate of fire4 rpm
RemarksNot towed, only carried on vehicle

L2 HESH round

The BAT fires only a single type of ammunition, the 120mm L2 HESH round. The HESH round is effective against both armored vehicles, enemy positions and infantry. The ammunition is of the seperate loading type with the first part being the shell and the second part the metal casing with propellant. It is reported that smoke, illum and training rounds were developed but only used in very limited quantities.

CategoryRecoilless rifle round
Diameter120 mm
Weight12.8 kg projectile, 27.2 kg complete round
Charge4.5 kg propellant
Effects400mm RHA
Velocity462 m/s at muzzle
Range800 m effective, 1.6 km max

Copyright © 2002 - 2014