Original Vietnam Era 2.75” LAW Rocket with Experimental and Prototype Components Attributed to Rocket Scientist and Engineer Irwin Spiess of Picatinny Arsenal

Item Description

Original Items: Only Ones Available. This is an incredible find which came straight to IMA from the estate of Irwin Spiess, an engineer and rocket scientist who worked on rocket based ordnance at Picatinny Arsenal from the 1950s-1970s. This Government Issued Briefcase is exactly the way we found it! It is a time capsule most likely dating to Spiess’ retirement when he was doing the proverbial “desk cleanout”.


Initially, what drew our attention to this lot was the inert test sample 2.75” LAW Rocket, which are very difficult to find on their own. The rocket itself is a piece which apparently was used for testing purposes, and has no internal components. All six spring loaded fins are intact, and deploy perfectly with strong springs. Inert Law Rockets themselves are very difficult to come by, with them reaching $1,200-1,500 occasionally at auction.

The Other interesting item is a prototype/ “shop copy” of a M127A1 “pop flare”. This appears to be a crudely constructed concept piece, made for study and prototyping purposes. The Tube is weighted, and filled with inert substance. The aluminum Cap has a screw fitted where the later production M127A1 Flares would have a fixed firing pin. In addition, a fin assembly and deployable parachute with shroud lines and deploying bag accompany the tube.

Other items of interest are numerous inert components for the M-71 Rocket’s B-300 Motor and the bodies of the M-72 Rocket Housing itself; test sample pieces which include five flash tube assemblies (some with internal components), three rocket housings, a miniature rocket housing, copper shaped charge cones, three metal samples, Component Wire, various Plexiglas samples, four various sized flechette darts, two pieces of unused expanding fragmentation aluminum, brackets, etc.

Most likely these components are associated with study conducted by Irwin Spiess and William Muth in which they improved the rocket capabilities of the M-72. Their findings were published in a Picatinny Arsenal publication in November, 1972 (see link for a copy of the original study):

Other links pertaining to other studies conducted by Spiess:

A list of Patents by Irwin Spiess:

This is an incredible lot which simply cannot be duplicated! An outstanding crossover of Military History and Science and Technology!

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