A mortar is defined as a device that fires projectiles at low velocities to short ranges. Mortars have traditionally been used as weapons for propelling mortar bombs in ballistic trajectories with high arches. These weapons typically have a short smoothbore barrel, that is generally less than 15 times its caliber, and are muzzle loading. Mortars may also be used for the firing of non-weapons, such as deploying ballistic parachutes. This application has included the deployment of drogue parachutes in preparation for the water landing of the Gemini, Mercury, and Apollo space capsules.
Relatively simple to operate, a modern mortar consists of a tube in which assistant gunners drop the bomb; the tube is generally set at an angle ranging between 45 and 85 degrees to the round. The bomb has no cartridge case and a small baseline charge. When it reaches the tube’s base, the bomb hits a fixed firing pin that detonates the baseline charge to fire the projectile.
The mortar’s attributes contrast with its larger siblings, including howitzers and field guns, which fire shells at longer rangers with higher velocities and flatter arcs, sometimes using direct fire. While most mortars are muzzle-loaded, these larger weapons are breech-loaded. Modern mortars and their ammunition are generally much lighter and smaller than artillery weapons. In fact, they are considered to be light weapons, or capable of transport by personnel without any assistance from vehicles. They are designed for short-range use and are generally more effective than artillery for targets within their short range. Heavy mortars are typically between 120mm and 300mm in caliber. These types of weapons are usually towed or are vehicle-mounted and are normally employed by infantry units. Even at this heavier size, mortars are easier to operate and may be more cost-effective that comparable field guns.
The following are examples of mortars that are available through UDC USA:
- M224 60mm Mortar
- M-4 Commando Mortar
- M29\M-29A1 81mm Medium mortar
- M1 81mm Medium Mortar
- M30 107mm Mortar
- 120mm M120 Mortar
- M-43 120mm Heavy Mortar
- 2B11 120mm Mortar
- M2 107mm Heavy Mortar
- M19 60mm Light Mortar
- 120mm Rifled Mortar
For more information on mortars, defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
M224 60mm Lightweight Mortar
Barrel Length: 1 m (3.3 ft.)
Weight: 21.1 kg (47 lbs.)
Rate of Fire: Maximum – 30 rpm, Sustained – 20 rpm
Maximum Effective Range: 2.17 mi
The M224 60mm lightweight mortar is a muzzle-loading, smoothbore weapon that is typically used for the close-in support of ground troops. It is ideally suited to support airborne, air assault, mountain, ranger, and light infantry forces. The M224 replaced the older World War II-era M2 and M19 mortars, as these weapons had only 2,200 yards of effective range. The M224 60mm was designed to fire all of the older types of ammunitions, but it primarily fires news, longer-range rounds.
This mortar composed of the barrel, a combination base cap, and the firing mechanism. The mount is made up of a bipod and base plate with a screw-type elevating and traversing mechanism. The M64 sight may be attached to the bipod mount with a standard dovetail. The M224 60mm may be drop-fired (conventional mode) or trigger-fired (conventional or hand-held mode). A lightweight auxiliary baseplate must be used when firing the mortar in hand-held mode.
M224 60mm mortars can fire the following kinds of ammunition:
- High Explosive (HE) – Designations M888, M720, and M720A1
- Smoke Cartridge (WP) – Designation M722
- Illumination (ILLUM)
- Training Practice (TP) – Designation M50A2/A3
- Red Phosphorus
- Full-Range Practice Cartridges (FRPC) – Designation M769
- M1061 MAPAM
There are three fuse types used with M224 rounds, including the Multi-option Fuse (M734), the Point-Detonating Fuse (M525), and the Timer Fuse.
For more information on the M334 60mm Lightweight Mortar, defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
M-4 Commando Mortar
Barrel Length: 650mm
Weight: Total – 7.2 kg, Barrel – 3.2 kg, Breech – 0.9 kg, Baseplate – 1.9 kg, Sight/Handle – 1.1 kg
Rate of Fire: 12 rpm
Maximum Effective Range: 2100 m (1.3 mi)
Better known as the “patrol mortar,” the M-4 is a lightweight 60mm commando mortar that is manufactured by Denel Land Systems. It uses the M-61 series of bombs in smoke, high explosive, illumination, and practice versions. As with other mortars of this type, the M-4 commando mortar is intended for rapid use over short ranges as fire support.
This mortar is operated via a lanyard trigger mechanism in the breech that allows it to be carried while loaded with a bomb – this is unlike most other mortars, which use firing pins. The M-4 commando lacks a bipod, which means that is may not be quite as accurate as a conventional mortar.
The sighting system of the M-4 commando is incorporated into the handle and consists of two curved spirit levels – one to indicate when it is in the upright lateral plane and the other to indicate the range with a charge table. When being used a night, the sight is illuminated by beta lights.
For more information on the M-4 commando mortar, other available weapons and mortars, defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
M29/M29A1 81mm Medium Mortar
The United States Government designed the M29 mortar as a replacement for the standard Army and Marine Corps 81mm service mortar of World War II and the Korean War. The straight tube of the M29 was chosen as the best option for two reasons: range and portability. This mortar had a greater range than its predecessors and was also lighter, allowing for it to be a more portable weapon. The M1 weighed around 61.7 kg (136 lbs.), while the M29 weighed a considerably lighter 42.4 kg (93.5 lbs.). This lighter design allowed for it to be put into position quickly while also carrying more mortar rounds and could effectively engage the enemy at a further distance.
Many different projectiles were available for firing with the M29 mortar.
- M364 High-Explosive (HE) rounds were able to reach a range of 4,934 yards.
- M364A1 HE hit targets out to a range of 5,180 yards.
- M375, a general white phosphorous round, had a range of 4,934 yards.
- The M301A1 Illumination round burned in the sky for up to 75 seconds and hit a range up to 2,296 yards.
- This would illuminate an area of up to 1,200 yards.
In 1964, the United States Army and Marine Corps created the M29A1 as an improved version of the M29. The M29A1 featured a chrome-plated hard bore tube that allowed for an increased rate of fire and allowed for easier cleaning. Its chrome plating made it more resistant to battlefield wear-and-tear as well.
For more information on the M29 or M29A1 medium mortar, other available weapons and mortars, defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
M1 81mm Medium Mortar
Length: 1.19 m (3 ft. 11 in)
Weight: Total – 136 lbs. (62 kg), Tube – 20 kg (44.5 lbs.), Mount – 21 kg (46.5 lbs.), Base plate – 20 kg (45 lbs.)
Sustained Rate of Fire: 18 rpm
Maximum Rate of Fire: 30-35 rpm
Maximum Effective Range: 3,300 yd (3,000 m)
The American-made M1 81mm mortar was a derivative of the MLE-27/31 system made in France. It became the standard mortar of American battalions during World War II and saw action in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War until the lighter M29 system was designed.
The M1 81mm mortar was made up of three main components: the firing tube, bipod, and the baseplate. When fully assembled, this mortar weighed 136 pounds. Muzzle velocity was noted at 700 feet per second thanks to the smoothbore firing tube. The sustained rate fire for this weapon was 18 rounds per minute; the operated loaded the M1 by dropping the prepared projectiles into the muzzle. The projectile’s primer and the ignition cartridge were activated via a firing pin at the base of the firing tube followed by the corresponding action launching the round at the desired angle. Since the operator(s) only needed to protect themselves after the projectile was dropped in the tube, a maximum rate of fire of 30 to 35 rounds per minute was achievable. The M1 could fire at a maximum range of 3,300 yards with an elevation of +40 to +85 and a traverse of 14 degrees.
M1 81mm mortars could utilize a wide variety of ammunition types, including:
- M43A1 Light High-Explosive
- M45 and M45B1 Heavy High-Explosive
- M56 Heavy High-Explosive
- M57 FS White Smoke Round
- M57 White Phosphorus
- M301 Illuminating Round
This mortar was transported via a two-man handcart that was simply designated as the “Hand Cart M6A1.” This allowed the M1 to be transported into defensive positions with relatively little issue and for the least about of crew to move the system about. The M3 Halftrack was another effective way to transport the M1, as it allowed for the crew and the weapon to stay on the vehicle. A specially devised harness could be placed on a mule as another option.
For more information on the M1 81mm mortar, other available weapons and mortars, defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
M30 107mm Mortar
Weight: 307.5 kg (678 lbs.)
Length: 1.524 m (5 ft.)
Caliber: 106.7mm (4.2 in)
Maximum Rate of Fire: 18 rpm
Sustained Rate of Fire: 3 rpm
Maximum Firing Range: 6,840 m (7,480 yd)
The M30 107mm heavy mortar is a muzzle-loading, American rifled weapon that is used for long-range indirect firing to support infantry units. The M30 first entered service with the United States Army in 1951 as a replacement for the M2 mortar as it offered an extended range. However, it was significantly heavier. Due to its weight, the M30 was often mounted in a tracked mortar carrier from the M113 family.
This mortar weighs a total of 307.5 kilograms including the complete system with a welded steel rotator, M24A1 base plate, and M53 sight. An interesting feature of this system’s design is the rifled barrel of the mortar. A rifled barrel requires the rounds to be very tight fit to the bore in order for the rifling to correctly engage the round and impart rotation onto it. It is may be complicated for a muzzle-loading mortar to be rifled, as the round must also be loose enough in the bore so that the round may be dropped in from the front. The rounds must have an expandable ring at their base that can expand into the rifling when under the pressure of the explosion created by the firing charge that propels the round. The computation for setting the direction for firing at a specific target must be carefully calculated, as imparting a spin to a round may cause it to drift away from the direction of firing during a flight – the longer the flight or range to the target, the farther the drift.
M30 mortars may fire several different types of rounds:
- HE M329A1 – Maximum range of 5,650 m (6,180 yds.)
- HE M329A2 – Maximum range of 6,840 m (7,480 yds.)
- HE M34A1 – Maximum range of 4,620 m (5,050 yds.)
- WP M328A1 – Maximum range 5,650 m (6,180 yds.)
- ILLUM M335A2 – Maximum range – 5,490 m (6,000 yds.)
HE and WP (white phosphorus) rounds can be fitted with different with various types of fuses before firing to maximize the effected target area; a sub-caliber training device that uses blank 20-gauge shotgun shells to propel the round a few hundred meters as training for gunnery skills.
For more information on the M30 107mm heavy mortar, other available weapons and mortars, defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
120mm M120 Mortar
Weight: 144.7 kg (319 lbs.)
Rate of Fire: 16 rpm
Feed: Single-shot, reusable
Firing Range: 7,239 m (23,750 ft.)
Action: Smoothbore, Muzzle-Loading
Adopted for use by the United States Army in 1991, the 120mm M120 mortar system is the Israeli Soltam K6 120mm heavy field mortar. This weapon retains the same for am function as its Israeli counterpart. The 120mm M120 Mortar is transported via the M1100-series trailer due to its enormous size and weight. The vehicle-mounted forms of the M120 are known as the M121. The M326 MSS (Mortar Stowage System) is another form of the M21 that is vehicle-mounted and designed to feature a quick-release function so that the weapon could be settled on terrain in short order.
The 120mm M120 mortar consists of the launch tube, baseplate, bipod support, and optics. It is a muzzle-fed weapon, meaning the impact upon an awaiting pin actuates the projectile’s launch process. A trained crew may fire up to 16 rounds per minute at maximum with four rounds in sustained actions. A typical crew consists of five personnel members. The 120mm M120 mortar’s firing range can reach out to a maximum of approximately 7, 223 meters. Although the total system weighs in at 320 pounds, it is thought of as a lightweight “heavy” battlefield weapon, as it is still much lighter than most field artillery pieces.
For more information on the 120mm M120 mortar, other available weapons and mortars, defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
M-43 120mm Heavy Mortar
Caliber: 120mm (4.7in)
Rate of Fire: Maximum – 9 rpm, Sustained – 70 rds/hr.
Muzzle Velocity – 272 m/s (890 ft../s)
Effective Firing Range: 5,700m (6,200 yd) maximum
Also known as the M1938 or PM-38, the M-43 120mm heavy mortar is a smoothbore mortar with Russian origins. The M-43 is an updated version of its predecessor, the M38, and was widely exported and produced until the final stages of the Cold War. Russia has been the main user of this mortar, although most of its allies also received it. Although it is considered to be an older weapon, the M-43 120mm mortar is still one of the most common heavy mortars used in the world.
The design of the M-43 was based upon the French Brandt MLE 35 mortar with the conventional smoothbore, muzzle-loading capabilities of the M38. Aside from having longer shock absorbers and a few other minor differences, the M43 is very similar to its predecessors. The system is made up of four major parts, including the barrel, base-plate, bipod, and two-wheel carriage. Its fixed spread bipod allows for manual traverse and elevation. For a heavy mortar, the M-43 is surprisingly mobile thanks to its well-designed two-wheel carriage. It is normally towed or transported via a light truck, but it may be hand-drawn by infantrymen over short distances. A crew of six is necessary to operate the weapon. The M-43 120mm heavy mortar provides a large amount of firepower thanks to its ability to fire 12 to 15 rounds per minute at targets as far as 5,700 meters away.
For more information on the M-43 120mm heavy mortar, other available mortars and weapons, defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
2B11 120mm Mortar
Weight: 210 kg (460 lbs.)
Shell: HE, smoke, illuminating, incendiary
Carriage: 2F510 2×1 wheeled transport chassis, GAZ-66 4×4 truck
Rate of Fire: 15 rpm
The 2B11 120mm “Sani” (Sleigh) mortar was developed by the Soviet Union in 1981 as a replacement for the World War II-era 120mm Model 1943 series. Its basic design was based upon the Model 1943 and included features such as improved engagement ranges, tactical flexibility, improved transportability, and lowered operating weight. These improvements also allowed the number of crew members to be decreased from six to five. After the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1991, the Russian Army absorbed the weapon in its ranks. Other countries that employ the 2B11 120mm mortar include Azerbaijan, Georgia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Egypt.
Taking on the conventional field mortar form, the 2B11 is made up of a launch tube, bipod assembly, baseplate, and an MPM-44M optics set. A two-wheeled carriage with rubber tires is the preferred mode of transportation for the 2B11, as it allows for quick transport and displacement under defense conditions. The total system weighs 460 pounds. An experienced crew can fire approximately 15 rounds per minute in sustained fire, with a minimum engagement range of 0.30 miles and a maximum of 4.46 miles.
For additional information on the 2B11 120mm mortar, other available mortars, weapons and defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
M2 107mm Heavy Mortar
Weight: 151 kg (332.89 lbs.)
Barrel Length: 1.22 m (4 ft..)
Caliber: 107mm (4.2 in)
Rate of Fire: 5 rpm for 20 minutes, 1 rpm indefinitely
Effective Firing Range: 515 m (523.21 yd)
Maximum Firing Range: 4,032 m (4,400 yd)
Introduced into service in 1943, the M2 107mm heavy mortar was a rifled mortar used by the United States during the World War II and the Korean War. It was nicknamed the “Four-Deuce,” as its bore size is 4.2 inches. The design of the M2 107mm mortar was based on the M1 chemical mortar and the British 4-inch Mk1 smoothbore mortar.
After the United States entered into World War II, the U.S. Army decided that it was necessary to develop a high-explosive round for the mortar so that it could be used as a fragmentation weapon against the enemy. More propellant charge was added and parts of the mortar were enhanced so that the effective range could be extended to 3,200 yards (2,900 meters). After the range of the mortar was extended even further to 4,400 yards (4,000 meters), the modified mortar was designated as the M2. It proved to be especially useful in areas of rough terrain, such as mountains or jungle areas, where artillery pieces typically could not venture.
The M2 107mm mortar could be disassembled into three separate parts, which allowed it to be carried by its crew. The mortar tube itself weighed 105 pounds, or 48 kilograms, including its screw-in cap, which contained a built-in fixed firing pin, at the base. The “standard,” a hydraulic recoiling monopod that could be adjusted for elevation, weighed in at 53 pounds (24 kilograms). With long handles on either side for easier carrying, the baseplate weighted in at 175 pounds (79 kilograms).
The rifled barreling of the M2 107mm mortar was somewhat unusual for a mortar, as its ammunition lacked the stabilizing tailfins that were common to most mortars. The mortar’s M3 HE (high-explosive) shell packed 3.64 kilograms of explosive charge, which placed it between the M1 105mm HE shell with 2.18 kilograms of charge and the M102 155mm HE shell with 6.88 kilograms of charge based on blast effect. The M2 could also fire mustard gas shells and white phosphorous-based smoke shells.
For additional information on the M2 107mm mortar, other available mortars, weapons and defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
M19 60mm Light Mortar
Weight: 23.4 kg (52 lbs.) with M5 mount, 9.3 kg (21 lbs.) with M1 mount
Length: 81.9 cm (32.2 in)
Caliber: 60 mm (2.4 in)
Muzzle Velocity: 168 m/s
Effective Firing Range: 1,790 m (5,870 ft.)
Feeding System: Manual
The M19 60mm light mortar is a lightweight, smoothbore muzzle-loading infantry support weapon developed and produced by the United States. It was developed during World War II for support actions as a reusable, high angle of fire weapon system to replace the existing M2 mortars. Development of the M19 began in 1942 under the name T18E6. The M5 conventional mount for the M2 was fitted to this weapon.
Of conventional mortar design by most respects, the M19 closely resembled the British 2-inch mortar family. Its launch tube could fire projectiles of 60mm caliber with warheads that include high explosive (HE), illumination, and smoke rounds. The M19 could be called upon to “light up” the immediate battlefield at night or offer protective “walls” of moving smoke to help conceal movements during the daytime. The crew actuated the M19 by placing an armed projectile down the smoothbore muzzle. The base would the contact the firing pin to enact the projectile’s propellant, sending it across he pre-determined trajectory. Muzzle velocity was calculated at 550 feet per second while the effective range was approximated at 5,870 feet.
The M19 mortar fired the same ammunition that the M2 mortar, which it would eventually replace. The help keep the system as lightweight as possible, a simplified spade baseplate was used as part of the M1 mount. This allowed for complete freedom when addressing the traverse angles and elevation.
Operators of the M19 mortar include Belgium, Canada, Greece, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States.
For additional information on the M19 60mm light mortar, other available mortars, weapons and defense procurement services, or military training and education, contact the experts at UDC USA today.
MO-120 RT-61 120mm Rifled Mortar
Weight: 582 kg (1,283 lbs.)
Barrel Length: 280 cm (9ft 2in)
Shell: 18.7 kg (41 lbs.)
Caliber: 120mm (4.7 in) NATO mortar round
Rate of Fire: 6 to 10 rpm
Effective Firing Range: 8,140 m (8,900 yd.) with standard projectile, 12,850 m (14,050 yd.) with a rocket projectile
The MO-120 RT-61 120mm rifled mortar, or Mortier 120mm Rayé Tracté Modèle F1, is a heavy mortar of French origin. Thomson-Brandt designed it to be the successor to the MO-120-AM-50. The “RT” in its designator stands for rayé, tracté, meaning rifled and towed. The RT-61 rifled mortar is currently being used by the French Army, and is produced under licenses by Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Turkey, and Japan.
In French service, the MO-120 RT-61 rifled mortar is normally towed by the VTM 120, a wheeled armored vehicle derived from the VAB 4×4 series of armored personnel carries. A towing hitch is screwed onto the muzzle of the weapon for towing purposes. The VTM 120 also carries up to 70 rounds for the mortar and offers protection from shrapnel and small arms fire for the crew. Originally equipping infantry regiments, the mortars have now been transferred to artillery regiments, where they augment the 155mm towed artillery.
Most militaries generally rely on three classes of mortar protection – 60mm, 1mm, and 120mm calibers. The 120mm systems offer the most power at longer ranges. As a 120mm system, the MO-120 RT-16 rifled mortar weighs in at 1,283 pounds with a barrel measuring in at 9 feet, 2 inches. The rifled launch tube fires 120mm, 41-pound projectiles out to effective ranges of 8,900 yards and rocket assisted projectiles up to 14,000 yards. Its support assembly provides and elevation span of -30 to +85 degree firing angles with traverse from the centerline of +/- 14 degrees. The rate of fire ranges from 6 to 10 rounds per minute.
The MO-120 RT-16 rifled mortar was developed to fire standard NATO mortar projectiles. It also features two modes of fire built into its design: the initial function is the standard mortar “drop-and-fire” approach and the alternative function is a delayed, lanyard-actuated feature. The latter offers more direct control to be given to the operator.
For additional information on the MO-120 RT-61 120mm rifled mortar, other available mortars and weapons, military training and education, or defense procurement services, contact the experts at UDC USA today.