In the world of fiction, rocket-propelled weaponry create negligible, if any, backblast. The characters shown using such weapons are thus able to use rocket launchers with their backs to a wall or within an enclosed space, as if the rocket just levitates away instead of being accelerated by the thrust of a strong jet.
In Real Life, if you fire a recoilless rifle or rocket launcher in an enclosed space it will create so much pressure that you have a high chance of being killed by it. Additionally, firing them with your back to a wall will result in the hot rocket exhaust being deflected back at you and severely burning or possibly killing you. Not to mention that standing immediately behind them will result in grievous injury or death. And then there's the fact that the huge flash of flame and cloud of smoke coming out of the back of the weapon (and maybe even a big black triangular scorch mark on the ground behind you, pointing directly at you, depending on the weapon and the terrain) will probably be highly visible to anyone looking in your direction, no matter how well camouflaged you were a moment ago, so you will gain the immediate, sincere, and complete attention of everyone on the battlefield.
Note however, that this does not apply to all recoilless weapons: there are some rocket launchers which utilize some kind of "soft launch" to eject the rocket from tube before the rocket motor ignites. Others may utilize counterweight or frangible material that counterbalances the effect of recoil and/or reduces the effect of backblast. Nevertheless, many contemporary and most past rocket launchers or recoilless rifles lack these sort of features, and among their number are those that are most often portrayed in media.
See the Law of Inverse Recoil for a related weapons trope and Toasted Buns for another trope involving missing rocket exhaust. Real Life aversions may be related to Too Dumb to Live.
This trope is so common that only aversions and subversions should be listed.
Aversions and Subversions:
- Averted in Mobile Suit Gundam when, Miharu, a civilian helping to fire malfunctioning missiles from an aircraft, doesn't realize she needs to get out of the way after setting them off. The impact either kills her immediately or knocks her out, causing her to fall out of the plane.
- Averted in Reborn! (2004) when Tsuna finds that firing his X-Burner without firing a blast of equal force backwards at the right angle produces a very violent recoil. He even gets computerized contact lenses to help him do the math for balancing the forces.
- Averted in Pokémon: The Series of all places. An early Johto episode had Jessie and James steal the Mon of the Week (Donphan) with what appeared to be a shoulder-fired net. It had a backblast.
- Averted in Gate, where a soldier attacking a dragon with a Panzerfaust actually checks to make sure nobody is behind him before firing. One of the peasants witnessing the fight mistakes his attack for a magic spell: "Bakblast Clir". Later, Itami loans several Panzerfausts to a group of Dark Elves and specifically warns them about the backblast. Unfortunately, they completely forget his warning and as a result, several of their number get killed or maimed by the backblasts.
- Ironically, it's actually one of the few cases when the trope would've been Truth in Television. The German-designed Panzerfaust 3, just like its smaller cousin Armbrust, mentioned in the Real Life section below, instead of a venturi nozzle uses a load of plastic chips to throw back to compensate the recoil. The chips actually come out as a plastic dust, which loses speed very fast, but you still wouldn't want to stand within 1-2 meters behind it. One of the elves gets barely dazzled after being hit by the dust cloud, after which he promptly gets eaten by the dragon they were fighting.
- Averted in The Familiar of Zero when Saito warns Louise not to stand behind him before firing the "Staff of Destruction" (really a bazooka).
- Averted in the first issue of Transmetropolitan, Spider destroys his local bar with an RPG, then complains bitterly about how cold the inside of his car is since crude rocketry took out the passenger side window.
- Subversion: Back when long-running furry anthology Furrlough was still military-themed, there was a one-page comic called Recoilless. A pair of soldiers are retracing their steps to find a missing rocket launcher and find it in the hands of an enemy squad, who are attempting to figure out how to use it. They load the gun and fire it, only to have the backblast kill the three soldiers standing behind the firing enemy soldier. The soldier's commander yells at him for apparently firing the gun wrong, and then has the soldier turn the rocket launcher around. Certain that they've now figured out how to fire their new toy, the enemy soldier's two commanding officers proudly step back to watch it fire... and are promptly blown up by the firing missile. The last remaining enemy soldier, seeing the carnage behind him, quietly sets the launcher down and sneaks away.
- Averted in the Mass Effect fanfiction Mass Effect: Interregnum. One of the stories Garrus tells Sidonis is about the time C-Sec investigated the murder of an elcor, blown out of a tower by a rocket launcher. As Garrus points out, however, "an elcor weighs an awful lot, and that means you need a big, big gun to launch one out of a window"... leaving only a handful of smoking remains of the killer behind.
- In Tiberium Wars, the notes on the GDI Hammerhead mention that it had to be engineered to channel the backblast from missile launchers in order to have missile teams fire out of it - which also means that a Hammerhead gunship carrying a missile team that fires out of the compartments on board cannot have anyone else in the passenger compartment of the gunship. At several points in the story characters also have to make sure their backs are clear so they can fire missile launchers.
- Averted in The Enforcer. There is a military demonstration of a LAW rocket, and rookie Inspector Moore is trying to see what it does by standing behind the shooter. Dirty Harry grabs her by the collar and pulls her back in time; afterwards there is a huge scorch mark on the berm where she would have been in the way, behind the shooter who did not experience any recoil effect.
- A variant in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen has Optimus brace himself then, using the donated parts of Jetfire as flying Powered Armor, uses the backblast of his thrusters to blast Megatron through a wall in some Egyptian ruins. Megatron is effectively out of the fight after this in combination with getting his face shot off and arm torn off.
- Played with in the German anti-war movie The Bridge. When one of the boys charged with defending a (tactically actually meaningless) bridge during the last days of WWII fires his Panzerfaust at an American tank from inside a house, he isn't adversely affected and is even momentarily jubilant about his success. Then he turns back towards the elderly owner of the building who was protesting from behind him only moments ago...
- In the remake, the old civilian isn't there, but he does set the house on fire.
- True Lies had a brief moment of realism when one of the terrorists fires a Stinger shoulder-fired anti-air missile from a moving panel truck, causing the terrorist behind him to fly out of the front windshield thanks to the backblast. The terrorist that was launched out the windshield is then accidentally run over by the truck.
- The moment of reality can be doubted: Stingers are launched out of their tubes by a relatively small ejector motor before the rocket engine ignites. That's not to say they have no backblast, however — it's still generating enough force to eject a twenty-pound missile to a safe ignition distance.
- Averted in Red Dawn (1984). One scene featured a Wolverine's hat being knocked off when he fired an RPG-7. In the final battle two of the American guerillas fire their RPG-7's at the command trailer used by a Soviet general. An enemy soldier who comes round the corner behind them at that precise moment falls to the ground screaming as he's been scorched by the backblast.
- Averted in Men of War in which a mercenary attempting to sneak up behind Dolph Lundgren is killed by the backblast of Lundgren's recoilless rifle.
- Averted In Tali-Ihantala 44, when a Swedish-Finnish conscript gets killed firing a Panzerfaust, its exhaust pipe pressed at his chest. While the troops had been warned about this earlier, the instruction was in Finnish, which the conscript didn't understand, being from prominently Swedish-speaking part of the country.
- Mostly averted in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. An M9 Bazooka used in the film has a very large, bright backblast, though no injuries or property damages seem to result from it, despite being indoors.
- Averted in The Dark Knight. When the Joker fires an RPG from the trailer of a semi, you can see that his henchmen are out of the way and the door on the other side of it is open. In fact, if you watch closely, it seems to have been opened first.
- Partially averted in Commando. Cindy attempts to rescue Matrix by firing an M202 Flash rocket launcher. No recoil at all on the first shot when she fires it backwards, then the Rule of Funny comes to the rescue of physics with the second shot, properly aimed, throwing her backwards into the car.
- In Men in Black, when Agent J first uses the Noisy Cricket, it fires a colossal beam of energy, but he gets flung back at least several feet. When firing it backed up against a wall doesn't work, he attaches a silencer to it. The silencer severely reduces the firepower of the Noisy Cricket, but J no longer injures himself whenever he uses it.
- We Were Soldiers has a North Vietnamese soldier firing a rocket propelled grenade at a group of American troops. Not only does he pop up to fire down over the top of his cover (directing the blast away from the terrain behind him), but he also wears a mask and goggles to protect his face.
- An alternate ending to Die Hard with a Vengeance includes John McClane playing a variant of Russian Roulette with Simon Gruber using a Chinese rocket launcher with the sights removed, so they can't tell which end is the muzzle. He asks Simon a series of questions, and eventually asks a question that Simon gets wrong. Turns out that the answer to the question is that he forgot to bring a flak jacket, which is what McClane is wearing and this would have protected Simon from the blast of the rocket, and the rocket fires on Simon, killing him instantly.
- In The Incredibles, Dash and Violet are sent scampering from their hiding spot due to a very large-scale aversion of this trope. The Big Bad is firing an intercontinental ballistic missile and its exhaust has to go somewhere since the silo is inside a volcano...mainly through the "cave" that was actually intended to channel the missile's backblast (presumably one of many).
- Missionaries by Lukins averted this: sniper girl glances behind her before aiming. It's clearly needed, considering that her rocketrifle could stop a shark and she was on the ship's deck.
- Able Team ("Cairo Countdown"). Terrorists try firing an RPG from the back of a van, and end up parboiling the driver. The same novel has Able Team issued with Armbrusts to avert this (see Real Life section).
- Averted in Gaunt's Ghosts. Anytime anyone fires a missile launcher, they yell 'Ease!' to tell everyone to open their mouths to prevent the pressure from damaging their eardrums. Also, one soldier did fire a launcher while inside a small room- he got messed up and set part of the wall on fire, though he survived.
- Also from the Ghosts: in Necropolis, a Vervunhive Wall gun battery fires point-blank at a Chaos war machine, and the backblast fries them. (The gun crew, that is; the regular blast fries the Chaos.)
- In the same novel, during the generals' observation of the battlefield from a guard tower, its missile launchers are disabled because bulletproof shields hastily installed mess with the backblast. The generals decide to have the shields removed, exposing themselves rather than paralyze the guard tower, as they feel safer with working heavy weapons than cowering behind a shield.
- Averted by Matthew Reilly. When Renshaw fires a rocket in a hovercraft, the backblast destroys the windows behind him.
- Starfist has simulator training on rocket launchers at one point; when the Mariness move into the field to do live training, one of them fires prone and straight; he sets his legs and butt on fire, and it would have been worse if he hadn't flinched from the recoil. Later on in the same novel, when firing from a building interior, the same Marine has to be reassured by his comrades that they've considered backblast by opening the door to the apartment they were in and making sure the rear end of the launcher was pointed at the open door. It still sets the doorframe on fire.
- In a 1946 short story from Jan Drda's Silent Barricade, a civillian attempts to shoot an oncoming tank with a panzerfaust, leaning with his back against a wall. After the blast, they find only pieces of him.
- In Woken Furies a cyborg mercenary fires his hidden Arm Cannon, and there's a mention of vents opening in his back to emit the backblast.
- Averted in an episode of CSI: Miami, where a guy gets cooked after firing an RPG from inside a cement mixer.
- In another, a paramilitary shoots an RPG (a weapon he didn't realise isn't point-and-shoot) from a car, and the exhaust shatters the opposite window. The CSI team, however, knows what to do with broken glass.
- In the another episode, one of the bad guys gets a black eye from the rocket launcher shoving the sight into his face.
- Also, depending on the design of the weapon, if you don't properly clean the tube, soot and muck from previous firings can clog the tube up a bit, relieving it of the "Recoilless" adjective.
- In another, a paramilitary shoots an RPG (a weapon he didn't realise isn't point-and-shoot) from a car, and the exhaust shatters the opposite window. The CSI team, however, knows what to do with broken glass.
- According to the History Channel's Shootout! a U.S. combat advisor was knocked off his feet and thrown through the air by the backblast of a heavy RPG.
- In an episode of Bugs, a bad guy is killed by standing on the "right" end of a timed missile launching ramp.
- In the Doctor Who story "Remembrance of the Daleks", keep an eye on the wall behind Ace when she fires an RPG at a Dalek. The scorch mark is clear proof that these were the days before CGI. Or, you know, decent budget.
- In an episode of Miami Vice, a criminal is seen visibly reacting to recoil from a stinger missile. However, the backblast can be seen from it, and the others present have already moved a safe distance away in preparation for it.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the second season episode "Innocence", Buffy uses a shoulder-fired rocket launcher to great effect, and hilarity. She experiences no recoil, which is not surprising, physics be damned, given her super-strength. But notably, she fires from a position where there is nobody or nothing behind her to be fried by the rocket's ignition. Note that Xander had military knowledge, due to a spell, and was one the one who instructed her on how to use it, and presumably included that no one should be behind her when she fires it.
- In the French-German mini-series Carlos, terrorists roar up in a car, take out an RPG-7 and fire two rockets at a taxiing El Al aircraft, missing both times. When they jump back into their car to drive off, it has a conspicuous hole punched in the windscreen.
- Star Trek: Voyager: In "Future's End", Captain Janeway has to crawl into a launch tube and fire a photon torpedo manually. She's knocked down and scorched by the exhaust gasses. Knowing this, her Number One made sure the Doctor would be on hand to treat her.
- There is a rather infamous photo of Dan Quayle holding an unloaded RPG-7 launcher for a photo op. Given that he is holding it backward — note the trigger guard, which is neatly tucked in against the base of his thumb — and also in such fashion that the exhaust end is pointing right past the fellow on his left, while the business end appears to be aimed squarely through his elbow at the fellow on his right, it's really just as well that the launcher doesn't have a rocket mounted.
- Rifts has a single aversion to this. A particular heavy missile launcher is specifically stated to inflict damage to not only anyone standing close behind the firer, but the firer themself if they're not wearing armor. In fact, the backblast will destroy the launcher, which is in of itself a disposable weapon.
- Rocket launchers in GURPS create a fairly dangerous backblast when fired. If you use a reactionless missile however, there is no backblast, thanks to superscience.
- BattleTech averts this trope in the A Time Of War RPG book. The combat equipment chapter includes several paragraphs talking about how dangerous it is to fire a recoilless rifle in an enclosed space.
- Averted in the Axis & Allies Miniatures game, which had the M20 75mm Recoilless Rifle as a type of American infantry in one set. It had the special ability "Backblast: This unit automatically fails cover rolls any round it attacks." This had the end result of making it inferior to other American anti-tank infantry units of similar power, as cover rolls were very important for infantry units in the game.
- Averted in Traveller, a rocket launcher produces a dangerous backblast that damages anyone within 1.5 meters behind the person firing one.
- Averted in Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. The backblast of the RPG-7 can and will kill anyone behind the soldier firing it, friendly or enemy.
- Averted in the Battlefield 2 mod, Project Reality. The backblast from rocket launchers WILL kill other players.
- Similarly averted in Squad, not clearing the blackbast is a good way to get your teammates hurt.
- Averted in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon wherein the backblast can kill friendlies directly behind the soldier who fires an anti-tank weapon. However, the backblast physics in the game don't seem to take into account walls, since said weapon is still safe enough to fire from enclosed areas.
- Similarly averted in Jagged Alliance 2. Don't stand behind the dude with the LAW if you value your face.
- Also averted in the Combat Mission series. While the backblast-to-friendly-face never happens (firstly because each little soldier is an abstraction for a full squad spread over a large area, and secondly because they are representing trained soldiers, not morons), firing a bazooka or panzerschreck from inside a building is a good way to pin down your own troops (the British PIAT is immune to this, as per Real Life). Note that the game's tactical AI knows better than to do it - it'll only happen through direct player prompt
- Amusingly, these weapons also have a substantial chance of setting the building on fire. An urban panzerschreck nest is, by necessity, temporary.
- America's Army, known for trying to portray military weapons accurately, makes a point of averting this trope. As seen in this machinima.
- The rocket launcher in Half-Life uses compressed air to to launch the rocket a safe distance away before the propellant ignites, averting this trope. It's still dangerous in confined spaces, though, since the initial launch will make the rocket jump up a foot or so. If you don't have enough height clearance - boom. Which, in turn, leads to a bit of Fridge Logic: such a weapon typically won't arm itself until after the rocket motor ignites, meaning that it should be "klunk" rather than "boom".
- Halo is a bit funny about this. The rocket launcher has a small puff of flame that emits out the back, but it doesn't actually harm anything. Nonetheless, Halo 3: ODST has any (non-Rookie) player that swaps to a rocket launcher shout a warning about backblast. Halo 3 features an explicit justification with its missile pod, which launches its missiles with compressed air, with their fuel only igniting after they've already left the pod.
- Far Cry 2 has the Carl Gustav rocket launcher, which simulates backblast quite well - it will kill people, start fires, and even destroy vehicles (and promptly kill you) caught within its backblast. Played straight with the RPG-7, however.
- Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy feature a handheld missile launcher which is designed to be held like a traditional firearm and expels its backblast in front of the user - though it's at right angles to the rocket launcher, so it can't harm the operator. The barrel also moves away from the rocket, absorbing some of the recoil, which is actually similar to how most tanks dissipate recoil. This is also in noted contrast to an earlier model in the same series from Star Wars: Battlefront, which is designed more like a traditional RPG launcher, sitting over the shoulder and with an opening at the rear to expel the backblast.
- Inverted to a ridiculous degree in Act of War, where the player can have infantry occupy buildings for added protection. Attempting this with rocket-armed troops will result in the death of the rocket guy, some or all of any other infantry in the building, and considerable damage to the building itself the instant something hostile comes within range of the garrisoned building and those rocket guys open fire on it.
- While not in the normal game, the modding community for Operation Flashpoint and ArmA has created a realism modification that adds backblast to all recoilless RPG weapons (along with a whole host of other realistic features). The later parts of the series include backblast, both in the "make sure your back is not to a wall" and the "your squaddies will be yelling at you if you don't warn them to get out of the blast zone" sense.
- Darkest Hour, a Red Orchestra mod set in western Europe, has the very good possibility of teamkilling - friendly fire is always on, and backblast from Bazookas, Panzerfausts, and Panzershrecks is deadly. The PIAT, as historically accurate, has no backblast, but is much slower to reload since there's no way for an Assistant Gunner to help.
- Col. Volgin in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater averts this by firing a recoilless nuclear warhead from a helicopter gunship but makes sure to open the doors of the helicopter on both sides before firing.
- Though absent from the actual Call of Duty games, backblast is brought up once in the bonus "Soap's Journal" from the Hardened edition of Modern Warfare 3 - in the entry from the fourth game's Azerbaijan missions, Soap writes that if not for how the FGM-148 Javelin works, he could have accidentally burnt off Price's famed mustache.
- Also parodied in this depiction of the same game's final level, where Soap tries to fire an RPG-7 at an enemy helicopter, as in the game itself, and promptly pastes everyone else in the truck with the backblast.
- In the Ballistic Weapons mod for Unreal Tournament 2004, one of the heavy weapons, the J2329 HAMR, is a massive artillery piece that does not have any backblast. As a result, the recoil is so severe that if you attempt to fire it without deploying it as a turret first, you actually injure yourself.
- In Command & Conquer: Generals, not only do rockets not have backblast, you can fill a tiny Humvee up with rocket-carrying infantry, all of whom can fire out of the windows, while the vehicle itself has a mounted TOW missile launcher.
- Touched on hilariously in Company of Heroes, when ordering Panzergrenadiers with Panzerschrecks into a building.
I know it's technically impossible to shoot a Panzerschreck from an enclosed position. Don't read the fucking manual next time, and you won't care so much!
- Averted in The Walking Dead: Season Two. This season takes place when Clementine is only eleven and still pretty small, and in the first episode she's discouraged from picking up a rifle because the kickback would knock her over. Cue her trying to use one in another episode and promptly falling back onto the ground from the recoil.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, the "Great Wolf's Rocket Launcher" gives you a special "Fire Rocket" combat ability. This does quite a lot of damage, but also hits you for about 1/3rd of your HP, because "the rocket part of the rocket burned your face pretty badly on its way out."
- Saints Row IV has an interesting variation on this trope with the Alien Rocket Launcher. Weapons of its type in the series normally lack backblast of any kind, but the ultimate upgrade of the weapon adds backblast that damages any enemies that happen to be behind you when you fire it.
- The RPG-7 in Killing Floor 2 has backblast. It can stumble or knock down enemies who are close behind the user when they fire, and it's just strong enough to kill Clots outright. The effects of backblast in an enclosed space aren't simulated, however, nor is it particularly relevant since you can't harm teammates anyway.
- The Barnstormer RPG in Bioshock Infinite takes this to its logical extreme; not only is there no backblast, there is no opening in the back of the launcher for the backblast. This would be fine if the rockets were spring-launched like the PIAT,note but the rockets ignite the second they leave the barrel. In any reasonable situation, Booker would be flung backwards the second he fired it. Nevermind the fact the thing somehow stores two rockets in a single tube.
- Dead Winter: Note the window behind the shooter before and after he fires. As for why he's firing so close to a window in the first place, he's not very smart.
- In Archer the title character attempts to use an RPG-7 to blow his way out of a sealed armory. It fails to destroy the door, he's deafened, and his clothes are shredded, but there is a hole in the bulletproof glass directly behind his firing position, continuing the show's record of being rather accurate with its depiction of weapons, aside from lethality.
- In the non-fiction book See You In November, a Rhodesian agent mentions an incident where he and a colleague fired an RPG-7 from the inside of their vehicle (they were trying to incite violence between terrorist groups in Zambia by making it look like they were attacking each other), not realising one of the windows (where the venturi was pointing) had been inadvertently wound up instead of down. The blast blew out all the windows, singed off their eyebrows and almost totaled the car.
- There's a story circulating in the British Army of the PIRA doing something very similar with an RPG-7 from the back of a Belfast taxi. The troops who reported the incident were manning an observation post in the middle of a roundabout on the outskirts of Belfast when they noticed a taxi about to start a second trip around their position. They guessed at once that something was about to happen and were just preparing for action when the taxi's back window opened and, after a short delay, the vehicle filled with flames and exploded. Forensic examination revealed that they had been attacked by someone that didn't understand recoilless backblast.
- The WWII British anti-tank weapon called the PIAT may resemble a rocket launcher, but is actually a spigot mortar that uses a small confined explosive charge in the base of the projectile to propel it from the weapon. This system produced no backblast, but resulted in, you guessed it, severe recoil, even with the presence of a large cocking spring to absorb it. And, according to Ian Hogg (in his book Grenades and Mortars from the old Ballantine Illustrated History of WWII/The Violent Century series), if you didn't hold onto the PIAT really tight when it fired, the recoil that was supposed to re-cock the spigot against its powerful spring would instead (a) knock you flat on your backside and (b) fail to shove the spigot back fast and hard enough to re-cock it - which meant you had to re-arm the PIAT by hand, which was emphatically not fun (the spring needed over 100 pounds/50 kilograms of force to cock - many soldiers found it impossible to do solo, and very few could do it while staying behind cover, something important when trying to fight a tank).
- Other weapons had different ways of dealing with the backblast problem. The World War I Davis Recoilless Gun, used by British Naval Air Service flying boats to shoot at surfaced U-Boats, had two barrels pointing in opposite directions with a central breech system. One barrel fired a high-explosive shell at the intended target; the opposite barrel fired a "counter-shot" composed of bird shot and axle grease of the same mass as the shell to provide the recoilless effect. The Davis Gun's manual stated that care had to be taken to avoid pointing the counter-shot barrel at any part of the aircraft; fabric and wood biplanes don't react well to a blast of bird shot at point-blank range (to say nothing of what it would do to a crew-member).
- Much later, in the 1980s, the West German Bundeswehr's Panzerfaust 3 shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket launcher, as well as its slightly smaller export version, the Armbrust ("Crossbow"), solved the backblast problem by a method similar to the Davis Gun, except that its "counter-shot" was a mass of plastic chips ejected at much higher velocity than the rocket, which worked otherwise like the Russian RPG-7 (launched by a recoilless charge, then igniting its own solid rocket motor a safe distance from the launcher). The plastic chips mainly came out as plastic dust, very much like the exhaust from a sandblaster, which lost speed and damaging capability after about 1-2 meters of travel. You still didn't want to stand right behind the Armbrust when it fired, but it was specifically designed to be fired from inside a building or other cover without injuring or killing the crew with backblast in the confined space.
- One of the more extreme examples of "backblast" is the NATO Milan infantry anti-tank guided weapon. Similar in many ways to the American TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) anti-tank missile, Milan is delivered as a certified round sealed in its own launching tube. When it is fired, as can be seen here, not only does the missile leave the launcher going toward the target, the launch tube is ejected at high speed in the opposite direction. This makes reloading very rapid, but also demands a certain amount of care in positioning the launcher in, say, a dugout.
- The AT4CS, a variant of the disposable AT4 rocket launcher, uses saltwater as a counter-mass, making it safe to fire indoors, though the backblast is still significant enough to hurt your eardrums a little.
- There are a number of projects underway to do the same thing to SMAW (Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon) launchers, particularly with specialty ammunition.
- Speaking of the SMAW, its field manual does say you can use the weapon in the prone position. A platoon training with live ammo was curious enough to try it... but knowing that the thing had a massive backblast, they piled all their flak jackets on the volunteer. The end result was the SMAW blew out at least half the flak jackets and then some.note
- Concerned about terrorism, American federal agents tried launching a G-class rocket (for those unaware, G-class rockets have so much backblast that you're required to stay thirty feet away) from the inside of a van. Though the van was torched, the agents miraculously survived.
- Let us see what the military has to say. From Field Manual 90-10-1 "An Infantryman's Guide to Combat in Built-Up Areas":
In 1975, the US Army Human Engineering Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, conducted extensive firing of LAW, Dragon, 90-mm RCLR, and TOW from masonry and frame buildings, and from sandbag bunkers. These tests showed that firing these weapons from enclosures presented no serious hazards, even when the overpressure was enough to produce structural damage to the building. The following were other findings of this test.
(a) Little hazard exists to the gunnery or crew from any type of flying debris. Loose items were not hurled around the room.
(b) No substantial degradation occurs to the operator's tracking performance as a result of obscuration or blast pressure.
(c) The most serious hazard that can be expected is hearing loss... To place this hazard in perspective, a gunner wearing earplugs and firing the loudest combination (the Dragon from within a masonry building) is exposed to less noise hazard than if he fired a LAW in the open without earplugs.
(f) The only difference between firing these weapons from enclosures and firing them in the open is the duration of the pressure fluctuation.
(g) Frame buildings, especially small ones, can suffer structural damage to the rear walls, windows and doors. Large rooms suffer slight damage, if any.
Recoilless weapons fired from within enclosures create some obscuration inside the room, but almost none from the gunner's position looking out. Inside the room, obscuration can be intense, but the room remains inhabitable.
The Dragon causes the most structural damage but only in frame buildings. There does no seem to be any threat of injury to the gunner... The most damage and debris is from flying plaster and pieces of wood trim."
- Panzerfausts do have a backblast, but it is comparatively mild compared to most weapons of the era - during the Battle for Berlin, German and Russian soldiers exploited this, with the Germans firing it from basement windows to destroy Soviet tanks (which could not elevate their guns low enough to return fire) and Soviets using captured weapons in room-to-room fighting, mainly as a means of dynamic entry (blowing your way through a connecting wall with a Panzerfaust was safer than leaving the building onto the street and running to the next door down).
- Bear in mind that the Panzerfaust's backblast is comparatively milder; the end of the tube still had to be pointed away from the user. The Germans were aware enough to inscribe a warning at the rear end of the launcher ("Achtung! Feuerstrahl!")note to admonish its users. There were numerous cases of soldiers, generally Finns who were issued with Panzerfausts but not trained in their use (since they couldn't read the German warning on the tube) killing themselves by bracing the tube against their shoulder like a regular rifle and firing.
- The RPG-7 uses a two-stage rocket enabling it to be fired within buildings, provided you leave a two metre space to the rear.
- Bosnian soldiers during the Siege of Sarajevo sometimes used to destroy Serbian tanks with recoilless rifles from within cramped apartments for the surprise factor. Especially in Dobrinja, where all open space was very lacking in concealment and cover but apartment complexes were huge and plentiful. The soldier doing the shooting would put on multiple layers of clothing and blankets, soak them with water and still try to get as much free space behind him as possible. The method was successful, in that it only resulted in unconsciousness and profuse bleeding from eyes, nose, mouth and ears (and, if they were lucky, one dead tank).
- The United States' FGM-148 Javelin was specifically designed to be fire-able from inside enclosed spaces, and is the only US item in the inventory certified to do so. The backblast itself however is still very dangerous, and the area behind the shooter should be clear of personnel and equipment before firing.
- There is an infamous headcam video from the Syrian Civil War on the Internet, captured from the Islamic State and then shared with Vice Media, showing a failed offensive against entrenched Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers from the POV of some of the luckless ISIS participants. Almost everything that can go wrong, does, including an RPG gunner who manages to toast his teammates with the backblast (despite being specifically warned about this in the video) and the memetically incompetent Abu Hajaar, whose feats include spraying his teammates with hot brass from his machine gun and nearly killing them with ricochets.
- In the Battle of Mogadishu, US troops were aware that the Somalians knew this trope didn't apply to real life, and they didn't expect the Somalis to kill themselves to take a crack at a US helicopter. That said, the Americans didn't think the RPG-7s used by the Somalis were suitable for taking out helicopters that stayed above the rooftops; anyone trying it would be badly burned by the backblast bouncing off the asphalt. The US troops did not count on the Somalis placing shields to deflect the backblast onto the RPG-7, resulting in a weapon that could be fired up at the helicopters. The result is chronicled, infamously, in Black Hawk Down.
- The Carl Gustav recoilless rifle has parachute flares for nighttime illumination as an ammunition option. Due to the obvious issue of firing a weapon with backblast at a near-vertical angle, most nations never bothered to use them at all.