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"81-mm Mortar (Italian Model 35)" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Intelligence report on the Italian 81-mm Model 35 mortar, from the Intelligence Bulletin, January 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on foreign tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data on foreign tactics and equipment is available in postwar publications.]




The 81-mm Italian mortar Model 35 is a smooth bore, high-angle fire, muzzle-loading Stokes-Brandt type weapon. Remarkably similar in construction to the 81-mm American M1, this mortar is a standard Italian Army weapon.

The following table gives comparative data regarding the two weapons:

  Italian 81-mm Mortar U.S. 81-mm Mortar
Caliber  81 mm (3.2 in)  81 mm (3.205 in)
Total weight in action135 lbs136 lbs
Weight of barrel47 lbs44.5 lbs
Weight of bipod42 lbs46.5 lbs
Weight of base plate46 lbs45 lbs
Internal length of barrel46 in45.55 in
Max. range (light bomb)   4,429 yds3,288 yds
Max. range (heavy bomb)   1,640 yds1,275 yds
Traverse150 mils (8°26'15")180 mils
Elevation40° to 90°40° to 85°
Method of firingpercussionpercussion
Practical rate of fire18 rpm18 rpm

The barrel is a. smooth-bored, steel tube fitted with a hollowed and threaded base cap which in turn is fitted to the socket in the base plate. The base cap is axially bored, and is threaded to accommodate the striker. A band and lifting handle are fastened to the breech end of the barrel.

[Italian 81-mm Mortar]
Italian 81-mm Mortar


The bipod consists of tubular steel legs, an elevating mechanism, and a traversing mechanism. The legs have spiked feet, and their spread is limited by an adjustable chain. To absorb shock on the legs during firing, a spring is linked with the chain. The cross-leveling mechanism is locked with a locking nut.

The elevating mechanism consists of a vertical screw operating in a threaded tube. The screw is actuated by a gear-and-handle mechanism of conventional design.

The traversing mechanism consists of a horizontal screw operating through a threaded T-yoke, the lower end of which forms a bearing for the elevating screw. An operating handle is secured to one end of the traversing screw, and a sight bracket to the other.

Two shock absorbers are mounted in a housing secured to the yoke, and are clamped to the barrel with a clamping collar.


The base plate is rectangular. It has three socket seats and a carrying handle. This is still another respect in which it is similar to the American M1.


The elevating quadrant provides for vertical adjustment, from 40 to 90 degrees.

The lateral deflection scale, graduated in conventional mils from 0 to 6,400, is equipped with a sliding scale beneath it to facilitate traverse readings. From the definition of a mil as that angle which at any range subtends 1/1000 of the range, errors in deflection can readily be estimated and corrected.


Two types of semi-fixed high explosive ammunition, a heavy and a light bomb, are used in this Italian mortar. Both are painted gray with an orange nose. Contrary to American practice, the propelling charge and fuze are not incorporated in the Italian bombs.

The maximum range of the mortar is 4,429 yard for the 7.2-pound light bomb, and 1,640 yards for the 15.1-pound heavy projectile. The corresponding American bombs used with the 81-mm M1 weigh 6.92 pounds and 15.05 pounds, and have maximum ranges of 3,288 yards and 1,275 yards, respectively.

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