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.