The XM70 rocket launcher was developed for the U.S. Marine Corps. Rock Island Arsenal's Research and Development Division was involved in the project from 1959 until it was terminated in 1963. A total of seven pilot models were constructed, tested at Rock Island Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and modified. The launcher displayed at Memorial Field is serial number 5 and was made at Rock Island Arsenal in June of 1961.

Rockets and Revolvers

A unique take on rocket launching systems, the XM70 used a revolving chamber to load, fire and discharge rockets. The revolving function of the firing chamber meant that the launcher utilized a single tube, similar to field artillery weapon systems. Previous rocket launchers allowed for rocket exhaust to exit the rear of the firing platform, but the XM70 employed a closed breach and a hydraulic recoil mechanism to compensate for this. As a result, crew members did not need to maintain distance from the firing platform. It also meant that the crew could aim individual rockets, aim more rapidly and readily reload. The XM70 also had longer arms in its split trail, similar to howitzers. Additional benefits included increased accuracy, lower weight, mobility, and better visibility.

Exhaust from rockets fired from previous rocket launchers gave away allied positions. This was negated by laying down heavy rocket fire on enemy positions in the hopes of destroying any potential counter attack. The XM70's employment of a closed breach eliminated this problem.

Rockets fired from the XM70 were fin-stabilized and spun on firing to improve accuracy. This is evident from the rifling within the barrel.

Only seven of these rocket launchers were produced, with a self-propelled variant proposed but never built. The project was cancelled in 1963 due to advancements in field artillery systems and the deployment of smaller, faster surface-to-surface missile systems.