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"German 120-mm Mortar" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on the German 120-mm heavy mortar was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, Dec. 17, 1942.

[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.]


Recent reports indicate that the German Army is preparing to adopt a 120-mm mortar either identical with or based on the Finnish 120-mm mortars made by Tampella.

This mortar is muzzle-loaded and fired by means of a trigger. Its most effective angle of fire is 45 degrees. Its range, however, is controlled more by a variation of charges, of which there are 5, than by a variation of the angle of fire.

An optical sight is used with the mortar.

Smoke bombs, which are the same weight as the high explosive, may be fired. The light bomb contains 2 3/4 pints, and the heavy, 1 gallon, of the smoke producing compound. Tested in an atmospheric temperature of minus 15 degrees Centigrade, the heavy bomb produced a smoke cloud about 40 yards in diameter.

Particulars of the Finnish 120-mm mortar, which the Germans are copying, are shown below:

Muzzle velocity       1,083 f/s
Maximum range - light7,546 yds
Maximum range - heavy4,921 yds
Weight of bomb - light27.5 lbs
Weight of bomb - heavy47.3 lbs
Total weight in action562 lbs
Weight of barrel187 lbs
Weight of bipod154 lbs
Weight of base plate220 lbs
Effective radius of burst - HE131 ft
Practical rate of fire6 rpm

The Finnish Army transported this weapon on a two-wheeled carriage with or without a limber, drawn by one horse. The equipment included pneumatic tires, and on the Finnish model there is no indication of a spring suspension. For use in the German Army, the suspension may have been modified to permit transport by motor vehicles in the same way as the light antitank guns. It could be very easily transported in a light truck.

Further reports indicate that the Germans intend to equip their airborne troops, including parachutists, with this mortar. As the weights of the three main parts are each not above that of a fully equipped soldier, it appears suitable for this purpose.


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