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
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
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 capacity||10 cartridges|
|Weight of shell||1 lb|
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.
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.
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.