MGM-51 Shillelagh

MGM-51 Shillelagh

The Ford MGM-51 Shillelagh was an American anti-tank guided missile designed to be launched from a conventional gun (cannon). It was originally intended to be the medium-range portion of a short, medium, long-range system for armored fighting vehicles in the 1960s and '70s to defeat future armor without an excessively large gun. Developing a system that could fire both shells and missiles reliably proved complex and largely unworkable. It served most notably as a primary weapon of the M551 Sheridan light tank, but the missile system was not issued to units serving in Vietnam. Ultimately very few of the 88,000 rounds produced were ever fired in combat.

The Shillelagh was a disappointment compared to the later BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missile first produced in 1970 by the U.S. The TOW system, which could not fire gun rounds, and was guided by a wire which directly sent commands to the missile, proved simpler and more versatile. TOW became the most widely used anti-tank guided missile in the world, and was mounted on numerous light, armoured and flying vehicles. Main battle tanks of the late 20th century such as the successful M1 Abrams tank fielded improved conventional 105mm and 120mm guns which proved effective against enemy armor threats. While Soviets designers have developed gun launched missiles, the US and NATO are developing guided tank shells.

The name of the system is that of a traditional wooden club from Ireland.

Read more about MGM-51 ShillelaghBackground, Development, The Sheridan, M60 "Starship", MBT-70

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