More on the M1 mystery projectile

Strategy Page (Nov 5 post) has this on the case of a mysterious penetration of an M1 tank:

[It] was probably a Russian RPG-7V or similar type light anti-tank rocket with a HEAT warhead. What caused the damage appeared to be an improved version with wave shaper in the HEAT warhead.

And according to an Army Times story on the incident

Whatever penetrated the tank created enough heat inside the hull to activate the vehicle’s Halon firefighting gear, which probably prevented more serious injuries to the crew.


In the end, a civilian weapons expert said, “I hope it was a lucky shot and we are not part of someone’s test program. Being a live target is no fun.”

Although it’s too early to tell, this almost certainly isn’t some sort of enemy “super weapon” that will render our tank force obsolete overnight. If it was indeed a lucky shot with an upgraded RPG, it might be the only time it happens.

And why is it that the RPG-7 is so damn good? Why aren’t WE buying them from the Russians? They’re selling to everyone else.


  1. What do you guys know about a ‘SABLE’ round? Is it experimental? Is it authorized for use in Iraq? Has the ‘mystery’ projectile story ever been fully resolved? I work with a Detroit TV station near TACOM and am just curious.

  2. I don’t know what a ‘sable’ round is. If you’re talking tank ammunition, you probably mean ‘sabot,’ which is usually pronounced SAY-BOW. The sabot is the casing that holds the long, heavy penetrator that actually hits the target. The sabot is fired out of the barrel, then splits in two and falls away. See for more info and some good pics. The sabot rounds are regular issue and definitely in use in Iraq, although we don’t have much in the way of armored targets to use them on. They are used almost exclusively against enemy tanks. The ‘mystery projectile’ was apparently an RPG warhead (maybe an RPG-22 instead of the typical RPG-7, or an updated RPG-7 called the RPG-7VR.) It hit just right in a weak spot between armor plates and at the exact right angle to penetrate, according to everything I’ve heard. Just a lucky shot, I guess.