5 Things You Didn't Know About Mortars

Nathan S
by Nathan S

Mortars… a rifleman’s best friend (you know, outside of A-10s, artillery, Apache’s, Cobra’s, and other high-explosive weapons. Military.com takes a quick look at a few interesting facts on the systems, which are basically unchanged since their introduction.

I have always marveled at a well-drilled and well-trained mortar team. While I do not envy them (the tubs, plate, and ammo is HEAVY, I do thank them for being able to lob high-explosives overhead quickly and accurately.

Hit the video below to improve your firearms trivia knowledge.

Nathan S
Nathan S

One of TFB's resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR's, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.

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  • Zebra Dun Zebra Dun on Sep 26, 2015

    I wasn't a mortar man, I did however hump the base plate (inner and outer ring) when deployed to 29 stumps for a while, a short while thankfully! Then was assigned something even more unpleasant.
    I got to hump up, prepare and stack ammo, "they even let me shoot it some!" and watch them boys work, it's like a science.
    My old Survey team leader where I worked as the dumb end of the chain (rodman) was a mortar man with the 82d AA he said it was very similar to setting up a land survey theodolite and finding property corners except when you did you mortared them. Best job I ever had surveying.

  • Archie Montgomery Archie Montgomery on Sep 26, 2015

    Actually, I knew all of that except for the rifled mortar. I was last released from active duty in 1976 and I don't think the rifled mortar was in use in the U. S. inventory at that time. I note the rifled mortar is NOT a typical drop fired device; the gun is fired manually after loading. It seems sort of a cross between a small howitzer and a mortar.

    I was not familiar with the term 'Stokes'. I was aware that up until about the First World War, mortars were heavy, emplacement type devises. They were getting to the point where strategists and tacticians were considering them marginally obsolete. The development of the portable mortar actually generated new life into the concept.

    One possible misleading statement in the video. The speaker shows an aiming device for directing fire 'accurately'. A smooth bore mortar is an area fire device; consequently, 'accurate' fire is fire which lands within the blast range of the ammunition used. But don't get the idea the mortar is a sniper type device. (I will admit the rifled mortar is quite possibly more 'pinpoint' accurate than the smooth bore type with which I am more or less familiar.)

    The Japanese "knee mortar" was so called as the non-detachable base plate was a semi-circular piece of metal. This part seemed - I emphasize 'seemed' - to fit on the upper thigh just above the knee. Recoil is typically more than a normal human can withstand. (Bad juju.)

    Good video, however.

    • Zebra Dun Zebra Dun on Sep 26, 2015

      @Archie Montgomery I always mused the Japanese knee mortar was similar to an M-79 except no stock.
      Calibers and usage not withstanding.
      I wonder if that weapon led to the thump gun?
      Then again having only seen a Knee mortar in a museum and actually firing an M-79 are two different things.