[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]
CHAPTER VII. WEAPONS
Section III. MORTARS
The Germans began the war with two principal mortars: the
2. Light Mortars
a. 50-MM MORTAR (5 cm Leichter Granatenwerfer 36). (1) General description. This is a muzzle-loaded, trigger-fired weapon used solely for high angle fire. Elevation is adjusted by an elevating arm attached to the baseplate and supporting the tube, with provision for both coarse and fine adjustment. Traverse of about 15 degrees in either direction is controlled by a traversing arc of conventional design. Two cross-leveling handscrews, one on each side of the baseplate, are used for initial laying and to steady the mortar during firing.
(3) Ammunition. This weapon fires an HE shell weighing 2.2 pounds, including 4.5 ounces of TNT explosive filling.
b. 50-MM AUTOMATIC MORTAR (5 cm Maschinengranatwerfer). (1) General
description. This power-operated automatic mortar is almost twice as long as
(2) Ammunition. Standard
3. Medium Mortars
a. 81-MM MORTAR (8 cm Schwerer Granatenwerfer 34). (1) General
description. This weapon is the German equivalent of
(3) Ammunition. The HE shell contains 1.1 pounds of TNT, and the smoke shell contains 1 pound of sulphur trioxide. In addition to the standard smoke and HE ammunition, another shell known as the "bouncing bomb" was used with this mortar to provide air burst, but proved unsuccessful. This projectile weighed the same as the standard HE shell but contained only 0.8 pound of TNT.
b. SHORT 81-MM MORTAR (8 cm Kurzer Granatenwerfer 42). (1) General
description. This weapon represents an attempt to combine the hitting power
of a medium mortar with the mobility and lightness of a smaller weapon, such
(3) Ammunition. This weapon fires the same ammunition as the
4. Heavy Mortars
a. 105-MM SMOKE MORTAR (10 cm Nebelwerfer 35). (1) General
description. This is an enlarged version of the
(3) Ammunition. Both HE and smoke shells weigh 16 pounds. The HE shell contains 3.75 pounds of TNT.
b. CHEMICAL MORTAR (10 cm Nebelwerfer 40). (1) General description. This is a smooth-bore, breech-loaded weapon transported on a carriage from which it can be fired. The mortar is of monobloc construction. The unusual breech mechanism is so designed that the movement of the operating handle causes the rear of the mortar to ride over the breechblock, which is secured to the frame. A buffer cylinder is located internally on each side of the frame, the buffer pistons being attached to the sides of the breechblock. The carriage is constructed of steel tubing and provided with elevating and traversing gears and a sighting arrangement.
(3) Ammunition. This mortar fires both HE and smoke projectiles. The smoke shell weighs 0.5 pound more than the HE shell.
c. 105-MM FIXED DEFENSE MORTAR (10 cm Leichte Haubitze Turm). (1) General description. This mortar is incorporated in underground defensive systems. The mortar itself is located in the upper compartment of a large cylindrical emplacement and is completely enclosed except for a small firing aperture covered by a steel shutter. The lower compartment is used for storing ammunition and housing the crew. Ammunition is carried up to the mortar on a conveyor belt and is manually loaded. The mortar is a smooth-bore, breech-loaded weapon, fitted with a semiautomatic breech mechanism, horizontal sliding breechblock, and hydropneumatic recoil system. The mortar tube is held in a cradle which may be raised and locked into firing position. The traversing mechanism is arranged so that turning the traversing handle rotates the entire fighting compartment. Fire normally is controlled electrically from an observation post, but also can be controlled by means of a periscope in the fighting compartment.
(2) Characteristics. Details of the characteristics of this weapon are lacking. Limits of elevation are 45 degrees to 90 degrees.
(3) Ammunition. Ammunition fired is the same as that used with
d. 120-MM MORTAR (12 cm Granatenwerfer 42). (1) General
description. This is a virtually exact German copy of a standard Russian
weapon. The mortar itself is of conventional construction and consists of
a tube, a circular baseplate, and a bipod. It has the advantage of being
highly mobile, however, since it is equipped with a two-wheeled, quickly
attached axle, and the bipod is carried clamped to the mortar ready for
action. The weapon can be quickly towed or manhandled into a new firing
position. The heavy shell and long range of this weapon provide a type of fire
support comparable with that from the
(3) Ammunition. This mortar fires four types of HE projectiles.
e. 200-MM LIGHT SPIGOT MORTAR (20 cm Leichter Ladungswerfer). (1) General
description. This weapon consists of a bipod, baseplate, spigot, and
spigot arm. The baseplate is of conventional German design and is provided
with a socket to receive the base-cap knob at the lower end of the spigot. The
bipod is similar to that used with the
(3) Ammunition. This mortar fires HE or smoke projectiles. The HE shell contains 15 pounds of amatol explosive. Reports indicate ammunition known as the "harpoon projectile" is also used. This shell is said to project a cord and grapnel with which to clear mines or networks of charges.
f. 380-MM HEAVY SPIGOT MORTAR (38 cm Schwerer Ladungswerfer). (1) General
description. No details of this weapon are available, its existence having been
established from identification of a
(3) Ammunition. Both HE and smoke ammunition are fired by this mortar. The HE shell bursting charge weighs 110 pounds.
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