Billy Rosewood knew how to operate one and used it to destroy a truck filled with illegal weapons.
The solid rocket propulsion unit was developed in the newly formed Rohm and Haas research laboratory at Redstone Arsenal in 1959, then the full system was designed by Paul V. Choate, Charles B. Weeks, Frank A. Spinale, et al. at the Hesse-Eastern Division of Norris Thermadore. American production of the weapon began by Hesse-Eastern in 1963, and was terminated by 1983; currently it is produced by Nammo Raufoss AS in Norway and their subsidiary Nammo Talley, Inc. in Arizona.
In early 1963, the M72 LAW was adopted by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps as their primary individual infantry anti-tank weapon, replacing the M31 HEAT rifle grenade and the M20A1 "Super Bazooka" in the U.S. Army. It was subsequently adopted by the U.S. Air Force to serve in an anti-emplacement/anti-armor role in Air Base Defense duties.
It had been intended that, in the early 1980s, the M72 would be replaced by the FGR-17 Viper; but this program was canceled by Congress and the M136 AT4 was introduced in its place. In that time period, its nearest comparison was the Swedish Pskott m/68 (Miniman) and the French SARPAC.
- In the 1992 movie "Falling Down", a boy shows Michael Douglas' character, Bill Foster how to operate an M72 LAW. When Foster asks how he knows this, the boy replies that he saw it in a movie. Most agree that the movie was almost certainly Beverly Hills Cop II.