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A Local Life: Bazooka co-inventor Edward Uhl

When then-Lt. Edward Uhl was testing an experimental rocket launcher in the early 1940s, he launched the weapon's warhead into the idle waters of the Potomac.

He and and a colleague, Leslie Skinner, were tasked with devising an anti-tank weapon capable of penetrating German armor.

Their invention was a shoulder mounted tube rocket launcher that came to be known as the bazooka.

When the Army officer overseeing Mr. Uhl and Skinner's project first laid eyes on the device---which was later so successful in battle, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called it one of World War II's "tools of victory"---he said it looked like a certain musical instrument.

Bob Burns was a comedian who popularized a tuba-like instrument that was called a "bazooka." The soldiers in the field who used the rocket launcher called it other things such as the "stovepipe" and the "Buck Rogers gun."

Mr. Uhl left the Army in 1947 and started working in the private defense industry. He retired as one of the top leaders at Fairchild Industries which developed the A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support plane.

The pilots didn't think the "Thunderbolt" name fit the plane's description very well. They also had a moniker for it: the Warthog.

By T. Rees Shapiro  |  May 23, 2010; 8:54 AM ET
Categories:  Local Lives  | Tags: Bazooka, Bob Burns, Edward Uhl, Eisenhower, rocket propelled grenade  
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