[Lone Sentry: 5-cm Light Mortar, Model 36; WWII German Infantry Weapons]
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German Infantry Weapons
Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 14, May 25, 1943
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Special Series publication. 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.]


14.  5-CM15 LIGHT MORTAR, MODEL 3616

a. General

This 5-cm weapon, which is comparable to the U.S. 60-mm mortar, is the standard light mortar17 of the German Army. It is a small light weapon, easy to carry but somewhat slow to set up.

b. How to Identify

The l.Gr.W. 36 is identified by—

(1) Rectangular base plate (no bipod legs).

(2) Position of the traversing and elevating mechanisms.

(3) Cleaning rod clipped to the base plate.

c. Characteristics

(1) General.—Like U.S. mortars, this German weapon is a muzzle loader, but unlike the U.S. models it is fired by a trigger arrangement. The 5-cm is designed for high-angle fire and cannot be depressed below a 45-degree elevation. It is a two-man load,17 the base plate and the traversing and cross-leveling gear being carried by one man, and the barrel and elevating screw by another. A third man carries ammunition.

(2) Table of characteristics.

 German 5-cmU.S. 60-mm
Principle of operation Muzzle loader, triggerMuzzle loader, not trigger fired.
Weight in action31 pounds42 pounds.
Caliber50 mm (1.97 inches)60 mm (2.4 inches).
Length of barrel18 inches28.6 inches.
Maximum range568 yards1,935 yards.
Minimum range55 yards100 yards.
Type of shellHEHE.
    Over-all length8.5 inches9.54 inches.
    Maximum diameter50 mm60 mm.
    Weight2 pounds2.96 pounds.
    HE fillingTNTTNT.
    No. of charges, or zones  14.
    MarkingsBomb painted maroon, stenciled in black.HE, dull olive drab; practice, blue.
SightsEarly models have a telescopic sight. Later ones are laid by means of a white line on the barrel. Elevation is established by a quadrant. 
Traverse600 mils (change in deflection).140 mils (70 either way).
Elevation45 degrees to 90 degrees 
Rate of fire6 rounds in 8 seconds (but this rate cannot be maintained). Maximum: 1 round in 2 seconds; normal: 1 round in 4 seconds (this rate can be maintained).

d. How to Operate (Figs. 52 and 53)

(1) Safety.—After releasing the mortar shell, the loader and pointer lower their faces to the ground.

If a misfire occurs, the trigger lever should be immediately pulled several times. If this fails, wait at least 1 minute before unloading.

[Figure 52. Left side of 5-cm mortar.]
Figure 52.—Left side of 5-cm mortar.

(2) To unload.—Pull out the barrel hinge pin, lower the elevation indicator, and gently raise the bottom of the barrel until the shell slides into the hands of the man waiting to receive it.

(3) Preparation for action.—(a) Adjust the traversing handwheel to zero. Pull out the hinge pin connecting the barrel to the base plate. Be sure that the range indicator is folded down.

(b) Hold the barrel by its handle and adjust the elevating screw to its minimum elevation.

(c) Insert the barrel in the base-plate socket. Squeeze the catches at the lower end of the elevating-screw pillar, and engage them in recesses in the front end of the traversing bracket.

[Figure 53. Right side of 5-cm mortar.]
Figure 53.—Right side of 5-cm mortar.

(d) Push in the hinge pin and raise the range indicator.

(e) If time permits, loosen the ground on which the base plate is placed.

(f) Place the mortar in position, and lay it roughly on the target by moving the base plate and by using the white line on the barrel. Bed the base plate into the ground by pressing down on the barrel-plate handles so that the base plate will slope slightly in the direction of the target.

(4) Leveling.—The mortar is leveled by means of the two leveling handles situated on each side of the base plate and connected by a cross bar. A leveling bubble is mounted on the traversing bracket on the left side of the barrel socket.

To center the bubble: (a) to move the bubble toward the firer, turn both handles to the right; (b) to move the bubble toward the target, tuth both handles to the left; (c) to move the bubble to the right, turn both handles inward; (d) to move the bubble to the left, turn both handles outward.

(5) Elevation.—Range is shown on an arc fixed on the left side of the barrel by the rear edge of an indicator hinged on the traversing bracket. The arc is graduated from 60 to 520 meters (65.4 to 568.8 yards), and the indicator can be folded down when the mortar is dismantled.

A rough adjustment of elevation can be effected in the following manner: pressing a quick-release lever unlocks the catch of the sliding collar connected to the upper end of the elevating screw pillar; the collar is then free to slide along its guide, and the barrel can be elevated by means of the barrel handle.

As soon as the range ordered is indicated approximately on the range scale, the sliding collar is locked in its guide by the release of the quick-release lever. Fine adjustments are effected by rotation of the sleeve of the elevating-screw pillar.

(6) Laying for line.—The mortar can be laid direct or by means of aiming stakes. Rough adjustments for line are effected by moving the base plate with the traverse set at zero. A deflection scale consisting of two rows of graduations is marked on the cross bar which connects the two leveling handles. The distance between the graduations in each row is 20 mils, but the rows are offset so that graduations on one row are halfway between those on the other. This permits measurement of deflection to the nearest 10 mils.

The total traverse—300 mils right and 300 left—is 600 mils (33°45'). Fine adjustments are made by rotating the traversing knob until the desired deflection is shown on the traverse scale.

(7) To load and fire.—The layer's position during loading and firing is on the left behind the mortar. He lies on his stomach, holding the leveling handles and steadying the base plate with his forearms.

The loader, lying on the right of the layer, loads by inserting the shell in the muzzle, tail first. The loader then grasps the trigger, and both he and the layer lower their faces to the ground, the layer still steadying the base plate by resting his weight on it. To fire, the loader pulls the trigger slowly and evenly.

e. Ammunition

(1) Shell.—The 5-cm mortar shell, model 36 (5-cm Wgr. 36),19 has a cast-steel shell casing with a fin assembly screwed into the base and is fired by a propellant charge, contained in a shot-gun cartridge-type container, which fits into the hollow-fin assembly and is held there by a set screw.

(2) Fuze.—The fuze (Wgr. Z. 38)20 is a nose-percussion type fitted for graze, and becomes armed when approximately 60 yards from the muzzle of the mortar barrel.

Ammunition is carried in a steel container that holds 10 rounds and has handles for carrying.

f. Maintenance

This mortar requires no more maintenance than the U.S. 60-mm mortar. Bearing surfaces are well protected from the entrance of dust, and the threaded sections of the elevating and traversing mechanisms are completely enclosed in tubes or long nuts. A cleaning rod and brush are attached to the base plate.

15 Note that the German practice is to designate in centimeters weapons with calibers of 20 mm and higher. (See par. 21, p. 161, below). The German style will be followed in the descriptions of German weapons in order to avoid confusion with similar U.S. weapons.
16 Leichter Granatwerfer 36 (l.Gr.W. 36).
17 The German tactical symbol for a light mortar is [German Light Mortar Symbol] or [German Light Mortar Symbol].
18 In combat this weapon could be carried complete by one man; a second man would then carry the ammunition.
19 5-cm Werfergranate 36 (50-mm mortar shell 36).
20 Werfergranatzünder 38 (mortar shell fuze 38).

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