In the late twenties, the arrows of the Italian army received a reinforcement device in the form of a Tromboncino M28 rifle grenade launcher, but the combat characteristics of this product were far from ideal. Soon the development of a new light system for infantry, capable of increasing the firepower of infantry, began. Special demands were made of it, which led to a noticeable delay in work. However, in 1935, a ready-made light mortar of a new type was still tested and put into service.
General view of the mortar Brixia Modello 35. Photo by Jamesdjulia.com
A prospective sample was developed by Metallurgica Bresciana già Tempini (Brescia). He received the official designation of Mortaio d'assalto 45 / 5 Brixia, Modello 35 - "Brescia assault mortar, model 1935 g". In this case, the abbreviated name Brixia Mod was often used. 35. The mortar was named after the city of Brescia, where the developer organization was located, using the Latin spelling in the official designation.
Apparently, in the development of a new mortar, Italian gunsmiths took into account the experience of creating and operating rifle grenade launchers, but at the same time offered some new ideas. First of all, it was suggested to do it. weapon an independent sample, and not an addition to existing systems. In addition, interesting tools have been developed that are needed to improve ergonomics and simplify the operation of weapons.
In accordance with the idea of the Italian designers, the Brixia Modello 35 mortar was to be used with the original tripod. The front supports of the machine were made in the form of an A-shaped system, on which devices of vertical tooling of the body were placed. The swinging artillery unit, made on the basis of a cradle, was fixed on a pair of side supports and controlled by a screw mechanism with a side handle, which was extended to the left. The axis of the pickup drive was blocked by the lever on the right, which prevented undesirable mortar displacements.
At the level of the trunnion trunnions, two tubes joined the front supports, forming a third. In the working position, the four elements of the three legs of the machine were fastened together by a pair of struts. Behind on the third pillar was attached one of the most interesting elements of the machine - a platform with a small cushion. Depending on the characteristics of the firing position, it could be used as a seat or as a support for the gunner’s chest. Thus, the designers took care of the convenience of the mortar in different conditions.
The mortar cradle was a wide cast U-shaped device. Its side elements were installed on the machine axes and equipped with pickup sectors. In the center there was a massive mount for the mortar itself. It allowed the movement of the trunk within a sector of width 20 °. Vertical guidance ranged from + 10 ° to + 90 °.
The body of the mortar differed specific design. To obtain the desired results, the designers used a scheme with throwing mines with the help of a blank rifle cartridge. This led to the need to use uncharacteristic mortar layout with a separate receiver. In addition, I had to use means of ammunition. With all this, a small-caliber mortar should have been charged from the breech.
The mortar has received a relatively long steel receiver box, made in the form of a tube of variable cross section. Its front part served as a casing of the mobile trunk and had internal guides for it. This casing was distinguished by the complex shape of the outer surface, due to the presence of several internal grooves for the barrel. The top of the casing had a large loading window. The polygonal rear part of the receiver contained an uncomplicated trigger mechanism and means of ammunition. On top of it was placed the receiver of the store, and inside were located the means of production of the shot.
The project involved the use of a smooth barrel caliber 45 mm and length 260 mm. The relatively short barrel had several longitudinal protrusions on the outer surface that went into the slots of the casing. The barrel could move back and forth, for which a simple system of levers was used, rendered on the right side of the receiver. The control of the movement of the trunk and the descent was carried out by a common lever.
In the back of the receiver put the idle cartridge and simple trigger mechanism. Mechanically, these devices are associated with the means of moving the barrel, which simplified the operation of weapons. The means of ammunition provided the removal of the cartridge from the store with the subsequent filling in a short chamber placed directly behind the breech breech. There was also an extractor for extracting and discarding a spent cartridge case outside the weapon. Means for supplying powder gases were equipped with a valve for pressure relief, with which it was possible to change the firing range.
It was proposed to store and transport cartridges for ejecting mines from the barrel in a detachable box magazine. This device, which contained the 10 ammunition, was to be placed in the receiver on the upper side of the receiver. Ejection sleeve was carried out through the hole in its lower part.
For use with a mortar was developed a special mine of small caliber, which had the highest possible characteristics. This product was created based on the SR2 shot for an existing rifle grenade launcher, increasing its size and strengthening the charge. At the same time, the shape of the product almost did not change. The body had a hemispherical head with a cylindrical center and a conical tail fairing. On the latter was placed X-shaped plumage. The main part of the body was made of steel, the stabilizer was made of aluminum. At the head of the shock was placed fuse, equipped with a safety check. The rest of the hull volumes were filled with explosive, incendiary or smoke composition. 45-mm mortar mines of all types weighed 465-480,
The discharge of mines was provided by a blank cartridge with a sleeve length of 40 mm. 10,56 g of gunpowder placed in the sleeve, allowed to create in the barrel sufficient pressure to disperse the munition to an acceptable speed.
Light mortar Mortaio d'assalto 45 / 5 Brixia, Modello 35 differed in small dimensions and weight. The total length of the product in the combat position did not exceed 720-730 mm. Weight without ammunition - 15,5 kg. Weapons served by the calculation of two people. Carrying the mortar was assigned to one of the fighters, while the second was supposed to transport mines and ammunition. The firing characteristics of the mortar complied with the requirements for strengthening the firepower of infantry units.
Preparing for a shot: the barrel is moved forward, a mine is put in the weapon. Photo Sassik.livejournal.com
For carrying the mortar machine was equipped with a pair of shoulder straps. The front support was folded backwards, after which the mortarman could put the weapon on himself like a satchel. In this position, the barrel was pointing up, and the seat-support protected the gunner’s lower body from being hit by the back foot of the machine. Deploying the instrument to the position was not difficult. After removing the mortar from itself, the gunner had to expand the front supports and place the machine with the desired horizontal guidance.
Before shooting, it was necessary to carry out a tip-off and install a magazine with blank cartridges in the receiver of the receiver. Before the shot, the mortar was supposed to move the reload lever forward, as a result of which the barrel went to the extreme forward position. At the same time, the cartridge was removed from the store, followed by its discharging into the chamber and cocking the drummer. Going forward, the trunk opened a window for loading, in which it was necessary to lay a mine.
Then the side control lever manually returned to its original position by moving the barrel back. When moving the barrel literally wore a mine. In the extreme rear position, the barrel rested against the front wall of the receiver, which served as a shutter. After that, the trigger automatically descended. Powder gases from the idle cartridge entered the bore and pushed mine out of it. A new movement of the lever forward led to the displacement of the barrel for reloading and removing the empty case.
The mortar was equipped with a crane that regulated the flow of gas into the barrel. With the crane closed, the initial speed of the mine was 83 m / s, with the valve open - 59 m / s. A closed crane provided a direct shot range at the level of 450-460 m. Using vertical pickup drives and a gas crane, the calculation could fire at targets in different ranges of ranges. Thus, the closed crane allowed the mine to be sent along a flat trajectory to the target at distances from 100 to 500 m. The hinged trajectory of the shot flew to a distance of at least 300 m. from the angle of elevation of the trunk.
Mortar at the time of the shot. Photo Militaryfactory.com
The relative simplicity of design and operation allowed the calculation to make up to 8-10 rounds per minute. After careful training, this figure could be significantly increased. Some sources mention the possibility of shooting at a rate of up to a minute per minute 16-18. Also trained mortar could demonstrate high accuracy of fire.
Mortar Brixia Modello 35 passed all the necessary tests in the 1935 year and received a recommendation for adoption. The corresponding order was issued in early October. Soon, several weapons companies received an order for mass production of mortars. The command believed that at the disposal of the ground forces there should be the maximum possible amount of light mortars, which affected the volume of subsequent orders and production rates. According to various sources, the release of such systems continued until the fall of 1943 and the fall of the Kingdom of Italy.
45-mm light mortars were designed for use at the level of an infantry platoon. Interestingly, from a certain time the handling of tools Brixia Mod. 35 learned not only their future calculations, but all the other infantrymen. Thus, if necessary, any fighter could enter into the calculation of the mortar and effectively use it, providing support to comrades.
Despite a certain complexity of production, the first serial mortars of Mortaio d'assalto 45 / 5 Brixia, Modello 35 were transferred to the army within a few months after receiving the order. They were distributed between a number of ground units. According to reports, part of the mortars, along with their new operators quickly enough to take part in the hostilities.
In the fall of 1935, the Italian army re-entered the battlefields. In East Africa, the Second Italian-Ethiopian War began. This conflict has become a convenient platform for checking the latest weapons, including light 45-mm mortar. During the battles, it became clear that the advanced weapons are distinguished by high performance and great usability, but they cannot boast the desired fighting qualities. Light mine of small caliber had insufficient power; its fragments could hit only manpower at insignificant distances. Firing range, rate of fire and other characteristics of the mortar did not allow to get rid of such problems.
Slovenian partisans with a captured Italian mortar, 1944. Photo by Dlib.si
However, Brixia Mod mortars. 35 remained in service and continued to be mass-produced. In 1936, Italian soldiers went to Spain to take part in hostilities on the side of the Franco. They had a variety of infantry weapons at their disposal, including the latest light mortars. This time the Italians had to face a more serious opponent, and again conclusions were drawn about the insufficient combat qualities of the existing infantry mortar. However, even now, the command did not refuse him, believing that even such an ultra-light artillery was capable of increasing the firepower of infantry armed only with small arms.
The next conflict with the application of Mortaio d'assalto 45 / 5 Brixia, Modello 35 was the Italian-Greek war of 1940-41's. It should be noted that during this war the Greek troops managed to take many trophies, among which were light mortars. Enemy weapons were actively used against former owners, although the results of their use were not too remarkable. Subsequently, after the occupation of Greece by the forces of Italy and Germany, part of the 45-mm mortar returned to the former owners, but a significant number of trophies turned into guerrilla units.
Full-scale mass production allowed for several years to fully equip the army with light mortars. In accordance with the regulations of the 1939 of the year, just before the beginning of the Second World War, the 126 of the Brixia Mod mortars was to be in service with the infantry division of the Italian army. 35. Mechanized division relied 56 units of such weapons, mountain infantry - 54. Similar weapons were also supplied to units of the marines, assault units, etc.
In the basic version, the Brixia Modello 35 product was a wearable artillery system. Over time, there was a proposal to install such weapons on a self-propelled platform. A number of similar self-propelled mortars were built by insignificant processing of CV-33 / L3-33 tank shoes.
Weapons captured during a raid on partisans in Slovenia. In the center is a mortar Brixia Mod. 35. Photo of Dlib.si
For obvious reasons, the main operator of 45-mm mortars was the Italian army. Only one official agreement was signed to export such weapons. Several hundred (according to other data, thousands) products were transferred to Germany, where they received their own designation 4,5 cm Granatwerfer 176 (i). All other sides of the Second World War used only captured weapons. A significant number of mortars for a long time remained in service with the Greek partisans. In addition, they became trophies of the Yugoslav popular formations. Finally, the Brixia Mod mortars. 35 captured by the Red Army, beat off the Italians captured territory.
For a fairly long period of mass production, the Italian industry collected and transferred to the customer several tens of thousands of light mortars Mortaio d'assalto 45 / 5 Brixia, Modello 35. All these weapons were distributed among different parts, primarily from the ground forces. The presence of a mortar in an infantry platoon made it possible to significantly increase firepower, although it did not go without complaints.
The operation of such mortars continued until the end of hostilities in Europe, both before the fall of the Kingdom of Italy and after the formation of the Italian Social Republic. The end of the war led to the abandonment of light artillery systems, by which time they had lost almost their full potential. In the postwar period, a certain number of mortars Brixia Mod. 35 remained in service with several armies, but over time, all such products were written off. Most of the mortars went to the smelter, and some managed to become museum exhibits.
At the heart of the Mortaio d'assalto 45 / 5 Brixia, Modello 35 project was the desire to equip an infantry platoon with ultra-light artillery capable of increasing the existing firepower. In general, the tasks were successfully solved, but the result did not fully suit the military. Specific combat characteristics limited the actual effectiveness of the mortar. Until a certain time, they put up with similar problems, but after the end of the war and the appearance of a sufficient number of alternative systems from Brixia Mod. 35 finally abandoned. This mortar was not the most successful representative of a specific class, but still left a noticeable mark on stories infantry weapons.
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