[Lone Sentry: Italian 45-mm Mortar, WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
  [Lone Sentry: Photographs, Documents and Research on World War II]
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Intel Articles by Subject

"Italian 45-mm Mortar" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on the Italian 45-mm Brixia Model 35 light mortar originally appeared in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 21, March 25, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. 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.]


Examination of this equipment has identified it as the standard Italian 45-mm light mortar, model 35, Brixia.

The mortar is a breech-loaded, trigger-fired weapon. The shell is a short-finned projectile weighing about 1 pound. It is propelled by cartridges fed from a detachable box magazine fitted on top of the receiver. The shells are loaded singly by hand. As will be noted in the accompanying sketch, the mortar is mounted on a folding tripod, with a padded frame hinged to its rear leg. It is known that the weapon has been used in both the African and Russian campaigns.

The weapon is an elaborate design, and would probably be very costly to manufacture even in mass production. Because of the complicated mechanism of the mortar, it would be subject to malfunctions and improper operation. It is reported as having a high rate of fire, is steady in action, and folds conveniently for carrying. It is understood that the mortar shell has very poor fragmentation.

a. Characteristics

The general characteristics are:

Caliber    45 mm (1.77 in)
Weight (complete with tripod)35 lbs
Reported range (maximum)585 yds
Reported range (minimum)350 yds
Maximum capacity10 cartridges
Weight of shell1 lb

b. Description

This mortar is a smooth-bore, breech-loading, trigger-operated weapon and can be fired at elevations below and above 45°. The shell is hand-loaded, and propelled by a cartridge (clip fed) from a chamber located on top of the receiver. Only one charge is used, but the range may be increased or decreased by closing or opening the ports located under the barrel. Elevation must also be taken into consideration.

[Italian 45-mm Mortar]

The mounting is a folding tripod, with a padded seat or frame hinged to its rear leg. When the mortar is in firing position, this padded frame acts as a cushion for the firer's chest, and when folded in transport it eases the load on his back.

c. Ammunition

The HE shell weighs about 1 pound. The body is constructed of a mild steel with an aluminum tail. The tail is painted to indicate the type of shell. Red is the marking for HE shells. It is reported that practice shells are painted yellow, and instructional ones are unpainted.

The shell examined is fitted with a safety cap held in position by a safety strip. This is to provide safety during handling and transport, and must be removed before loading the mortar.

On setback, the setback locking pin drops to the rear, freeing the arming vane. As the shell is propelled through the air, it is armed by the rotation of the arming vane. On impact, the firing pin contacts the primer, which in turn sets off the booster of Petn (penta-crythritol-tetranitrate) and lead styphenate, and finally the bursting charge of TNT. Located inside the body of the shell is a coil of spring steel. This gives added fragmentation to the shell when it is finally detonated.

The propelling cartridge is constructed of brass and has a mouth crimped into a six-point star.

The primer mixture was the corrosive type, containing mercury fulminate, antimony trisulfide, potassium chlorate, and ground glass. The mixture was covered with a thin film of lacquer.

The powder charge was of the double-base type, and was tamped into place with a ball of cotton wadding. Its probable function is to secure the charge during the necking and crimping operations, as well as to provide a more effective seal for the powder than the crimping does.


[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page

Web LoneSentry.com