Shovel mortar VM-37. Reasons for failure


Mortar shovel with bipod (inserted incorrectly) and bipod separately

The idea of ​​combining several radically different functions in one product has long attracted designers, but not all such projects end with success. An example of the problems of this approach can be considered the Soviet mortar-shovel VM-37, intended for fragments of trenches and firing at the enemy. For a number of objective reasons, such weapon turned out to be unsuccessful and was quickly removed from service.

Platoon mortar

At the end of the thirties, in our country, the issue of strengthening the firepower of rifle units was being worked out, incl. by developing new small caliber mortars. It was precisely these needs of the Red Army that soon led to the emergence of the original design of the mortar-shovel.

Earlier, various sources reported that the original mortar was created in the late thirties under the leadership of the famous engineer M.G. Dyakonov. The product had a number of shortcomings, due to which it failed tests and did not enter service. However, it is now known that story this project looked different.

Work on a promising universal tool began shortly after the attack of Nazi Germany. The shovel mortar project was based on the original and bold idea of ​​combining two completely different objects with different functions. It was assumed that the product will be carried in a standard case from the shovel and will allow tearing trenches, and in battle it will be used to fire at the enemy.

Museum VM-37, no bipod

The development of the mortar was carried out at the Research Institute-13 of the People's Commissariat of Arms. It took only a few weeks to create the project and manufacture prototypes. Already in August, the product passed state tests, and on September 3 it was put into service. The new sample was named "platoon mortar-shovel of 37 mm caliber" and the index VM-37. Soon there were orders for the serial production of mortars and mines for them.

Technical features

The VM-37 mortar looked like a shovel, which was determined by one of its functions. In the stowed position, the base plate performed the tasks of a shovel blade, and the barrel with a one-legged bipod became a handle. The total length of such a product was 650 mm, the canvas was 198 x 150 mm. Construction weight - approx. 1,5 kg. Thus, the VM-37 was significantly longer and heavier than the standard blade.

The barrel was proposed to be made of a steel pipe with an inner diameter of 37 mm and a wall thickness of 2,5 mm. The muzzle was made in the form of a bell for easier loading. A conical breech was placed at the other end. A firing pin was pressed into its flat end. The breech tapered shank ended with a ball for connection to the base plate. Outside, on the breech of the barrel, there was a rotary lock ring to secure the barrel in the position of the handle. To protect the hands of the mortarman, a canvas tubular sleeve was put on the barrel.

The base plate, aka the blade of the shovel, repeated the shape of the serial product, but in its center there was a recess with a riveted lid - they served as a hinge for installing the breech.

Shovel mortar VM-37. Reasons for failure

General view of the mortar, drawing from the instructions for use

The bipod for VM-37 was a metal rod, one of the ends of which had a spike for installation on the ground. A wooden cork-lid moved freely along the rod. The other end of the bipod was equipped with a lyre spring for mounting on the barrel. In the stowed position, the bipod was placed in the barrel, with the lyre to the breech; the stopper covered the muzzle.

The mortar did not have sights, it was proposed to shoot only with the use of an eye and guided by the gaps. Guidance was carried out manually by tilting the barrel. Shooting with angles over 45 ° was considered optimal, because at a lower elevation, there was a risk of misfire due to insufficient acceleration of the mine in the barrel. The design of the hinge allowed for horizontal guidance by 12 ° to the right and left without moving the plate.

A special mine weighing 450-500 g was intended for the mortar. It had a torpedo-shaped body with an explosive charge and a tubular shank with stabilizers, into which an expelling cartridge was placed. The ignition was carried out by samonakol. The energy of the cartridge was enough for firing at a distance of 60 to 250 m, depending on the elevation angle.

It was proposed to carry the mines in a special bandolier. Its basis was a waist and shoulder belts made of tarpaulin. On the belt, 15 metal cells-cases for mines were fixed. On top of the case, a spring was provided to fix the mine in place.

Mortar components

Short service

According to the order of the beginning of September 1941, by the end of the month it was necessary to establish production and transfer to the army 10 thousand new VM-37 mortars. In December, the issue had to be increased to 100 thousand. In total, by the end of the year, they were going to receive 250 thousand items. It also required the manufacture of more than 7,5 million mines of a new type.

However, already in October, the Main Artillery Directorate conducted new tests of the mortar and criticized it. In December, regular inspections took place - with similar results. It turned out that the VM-37 as a shovel is inconvenient and fragile, and the combat characteristics leave much to be desired. The mortar, devoid of sighting devices, lacked accuracy. The fragmentation effect of 37-mm mines was low and did not allow to compensate for misses. In addition, the base plate was deformed during the shooting.

GAU did not allow the continued operation of the shovel mortar, but a number of serial products still ended up in the troops. In February 1942, the Office requested to stop the production of the mortar due to insufficient performance. On February 24, by a resolution of the State Defense Committee, VM-37 was removed from the series and from service.

According to various sources, in a few months, the troops received no more than 15 thousand mortars and hundreds of thousands of mines for them. As a result, unusual weapons quickly disappeared from combat units. However, the last mentions of the use of the VM-37 in battles date back to 1943, but these, most likely, were isolated episodes.

37 mm mine for VM-37

The accumulated stocks of mines for the VM-37 did not remain idle. In 1942, the POMZ-37 antipersonnel mine was developed. The standard detonator and shank were removed from the mortar round. Instead, an MUV tension fuse and a peg were placed in the nests. POMZ-37 were limitedly used to install "stretch marks".

Reasons for failure

As it is now clear, the failure of the VM-37 project was predetermined by a number of objective factors. In fact, the problems of the project began already at the level of the basic concept - it was from it that new difficulties and disadvantages followed. Thus, the very idea of ​​combining two radically different products looks interesting, but ambiguous or even dubious. Despite the obvious advantages, the mortar shovel had to have significant disadvantages.

The poor characteristics of the VM-37 as a shovel were associated with the presence of a hinged connection between the shank-trunk and the canvas-plate. Such a connection did not provide adequate rigidity, which, at least, made work difficult. The use of a shovel on frozen ground was generally not possible due to the risk of damage to the hinge and the failure of the mortar.

The ergonomics of the shovel limited the diameter of the handle, and with it the caliber of the barrel. This led to a reduction in the mass of the mine and its warhead - with a corresponding loss of basic combat qualities. In addition, the small knockout cartridge could not provide a high firing range.

Bandolier for mines

The already low combat characteristics of the VM-37 were further worsened by the lack of sighting devices. Accurate shooting "by eye" was extremely difficult, and the low parameters of the mine further worsened the shooting results.

Thus, the original concept of a weapon combined with an entrenching tool automatically imposes a number of specific restrictions. Each of them affected the design of the mortar-shovel and in one way or another worsened various characteristics - technical, combat and operational. Apparently, the creation of a convenient and effective mortar-shovel like VM-37 was fundamentally impossible.

The VM-37 product remained in the series for only several months, after which it was removed from production and from service. Since then, production plans have only been partially fulfilled. As a result of the VM-37 project, the Red Army abandoned the idea of ​​a combined weapon and an entrenching tool. However, not forever. A similar sample was developed several decades later, and again without much success.
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  1. +15
    February 9 2021
    the creation of a convenient and effective mortar-shovel like the VM-37 was fundamentally impossible.

    It's like crossing the uncrossed or pushing the uncrossable. We wanted the best, as they say ..
    1. AUL
      February 9 2021
      According to my father, it was an extremely unfortunate thing. It is of little use both as a shovel and as a mortar. And, if the owner of such a miracle could get a normal shovel, this hybrid was broken (it was simply impossible to throw it out - the loss of a military weapon!). Well, they were removed from the troops pretty quickly.
      1. +6
        February 9 2021
        From my father's story.
        In the summer of 1942, he and his soldiers had to crawl several hundred meters under fire across an open field in the middle of the day. At the same time, successively suppress two machine guns from such a mortar shovel.
        And after completing the task, go back and crush these machine guns again.
        According to him, it was hardly possible to get through without a mortar without losses.
        1. 0
          February 9 2021
          Quote: Captain Pushkin
          According to him, it was hardly possible to get through without a mortar without losses.

          The need ... to throw something at these machine guns. Well, there were no grenade launchers then. The engineering thought didn't work.
          1. 0
            February 9 2021
            Quote: Mountain Shooter
            ... Well, there were no grenade launchers then. The engineering thought didn't work.
            Dyakov mortar
            shot for the Dyakonv grenade launcher
            Dyakonv's mortar presented for testing 8 March 1916.
            According to the staffing of the rifle regiment 1939g each rifle squad had Dyakonov's grenade launcher.
            Mosin's grenade launcher
            There is such a photo (no explanation), but the idea is right... soldier
            1. 0
              February 9 2021
              Quote: cat Rusich
              There is such a photo (without explanation), but the idea is correct ...

              The recoil of these grenade launchers was devastating. So they did not use it.
              1. +3
                February 9 2021
                Quote: Mountain Shooter

                The recoil of these grenade launchers was devastating. So they did not use it.
                barrel mortar
                It is necessary to use the mind - direct the recoil into the ground ...
      2. +1
        February 10 2021
        I think it was removed due to the fact that the training of the infantry did not allow each fighter to use such a weapon. The quality of the junior officers was similarly low. As they say - away from sin. And then came normal mortars, with competent artillerymen, the question disappeared by itself.
    2. +12
      February 9 2021
      as the soldiers said, "shoots like a shovel, digs like a mortar"
  2. 0
    February 9 2021
    Thank you, Kirill. Once I read a short note without illustrations about this attempt to increase the firepower of the Red Army. Refreshed in memory.
    1. +2
      February 9 2021
      I join the Leader, thanks! The illustrations from the manual are really wonderful.
    2. +5
      February 9 2021
      I remember too. There was a note in the journal "Technology of Youth". Some of the bosses noticed this unique device. To the question: what is it? he replied that the Red Army men were proposing how to strengthen the infantry. There seems to be a reference to 45mm. And the summary was: this is what a commendable zeal of the fighters, but the industry has ensured the production of normal mortars.
      My favorite spread in the magazine, there were scientific curiosities and little-known facts of history, like this note, and notes from readers about the unique samples of technology still preserved in the vastness of that country.
      By the way, a year ago I came across a magazine of the year 1991 with a note by V. Shpakovsky about armored "freaks" assembled from various chassis and turrets in some museum. When I subscribed to the magazine, I did not know the author's name, but then I looked and immediately understood. This is our Vyacheslav Olegovich!
  3. +6
    February 9 2021
    It is difficult to contain a sufficient charge in such a caliber. It is practically of little use as a shovel, except on loose and loose soils. Sights - of course, it would be a little better with them, but with a certain skill, you can achieve acceptable accuracy. But in the first months of the war there was no time to teach and conduct training.
    Without failures and falls, there are no ups.
    Article plus, thank you.
  4. +4
    February 9 2021
    It didn't work out to cross "The Horse and the Quivering Doe"
    Yes, probably for the best, extra hemorrhoids for a fighter
  5. +5
    February 9 2021
    In the 80s, they dug this. Well, how did you dig that? Everything is on top. Mine is dangerous! With a fuse screwed in, it's better to go straight into a separate fire. Better to let it bang in a fire in the lowlands. Than they will find in their hands.
    The museum was not handed over. I do not know why. Right now, you probably won't find it in a normal save.
    1. +6
      February 9 2021
      I saw this in the Vologda Museum of Local Lore in the 70s - 80s (I was several times). Zero as a sample of products in WWII
  6. +5
    February 9 2021
    The Japanese had something similar, but better. Type 89, the so-called "knee mortar". Caliber 50mm, weight 4,5kg. Even the Vietnamese used trophy copies against the Americans. And the Americans called it the knee mortar, because of the curved base plate, because they thought that they needed to get down on one knee, put the mortar support on the other knee, and then shoot. So of course it was possible to shoot, but only once, the second time to shoot with a broken tibia or knee is very difficult :-). By the way, Type 89, as a last resort, could be used not as a mortar, but as a grenade launcher. Direct fire. For paratroopers or commandos - a great thing.
  7. +6
    February 9 2021
    Light small-caliber mortars (caliber up to 60 mm) during the Second World War were used by many countries, but in almost all cases it was just a mortar. It never occurred to anyone to combine it with a shovel. The closest caliber to the VM-37 was the Italian 45 mm Brixia Model 35 and the Polish 46 mm Granatnik wz. 36

  8. +4
    February 9 2021
    photo from Vicky. American 60 mm M224 weighing 16 kilos did not cause any complaints. Used in Afghanistan. Donetsk militias somewhere in the open spaces of Runet wrote that the ukers used 60mm mines against them, they say that the fall of the mine is not heard.
  9. +2
    February 9 2021
    Then there was a general epidemic of universalization, which was not suggested. Alas, it is also a surrogate in Africa.
  10. -2
    February 9 2021
    It's just that the users were probably lousy, but the fact is that the product was.
    On the one hand, from those. I agree with the data, but there is one nuance, but grenade launchers today do not perform the same role?
  11. +1
    February 9 2021
    when I first saw this device, I fell in love))
    I want this toy. With the advent of grenade launchers, the issue of small caliber mortars is not relevant.
    But this is a thing !!!))
  12. +6
    February 9 2021
    Fir-trees! You think, VM-37! After all, after the VM-37, a 40-mm mortar-shovel was created ... "Option"!

    In 1978, TsKIB SOO designer Viktor Rebrikov returned to the idea of ​​combining a shovel with a support weapon. By this time, the Soviet Army was already armed with a folding small infantry shovel and a VOG-25 fragmentation grenade, used in the GP-25 grenade launcher, which served as the starting point for creating a grenade shovel.

    As conceived by the designer, the shovel-grenade launcher was intended for the crews of combat vehicles, gun crews, as well as for all fighters armed with an assault rifle, without a grenade launcher, forced to dig in and acting on the front line and in the neutral zone ...
  13. +5
    February 9 2021
    A bike or not?
    “Once in the rear warehouse, Leonid Ilyich discovered more than 200 pieces of 37-mm mortars-shovels with an impressive supply of fragmentation mines (this thing, which could dig at one end and shoot at the other, entered service with the rifle units of the Red Army in July 1941).
    Knowing that the mortar is a formidable weapon on the bridgehead, Brezhnev had the idea to increase the firepower of the small-landowners by using cunning shovels.
    True, in the troops, the soldiers did not like this weapon, since due to the lack of any sighting devices, the mines flew to God knows where.
       Nevertheless, the head of the political department decided to make sure of this personally and organized experimental shooting on Malaya Zemlya near Stanichka.
       In a couple of hours, about a thousand pieces of shovel ammunition flew towards the enemy.
       Leonid Ilyich himself fired up to a hundred fragmentation mines at German positions.
       The results of the shooting remained unknown, but it must be assumed that they hit someone, since the Nazis could not stand it and fired from six-barreled mortars.
    Ours answered them from regimental 120-mm mortars - and a fiery tornado raged on the bridgehead.
    Brezhnev stopped his experiments, sensibly judging that the question of using mortars-shovels should be decided by the soldiers and commanders themselves. " 
    1. +2
      February 9 2021
      The reason for the failure of the shovel mortar is in the inertial thinking of its designer, the famous engineer M.G. Dyakonov, I thought to do it as is customary for mortars, that is, a mine inside the barrel, but it had to be done according to the principle of a rifle mine, the mine had to be put on the "handle" of a shovel, and the caliber was not 37mm, but more, then everything would have turned out as it should and dig the earth, and shoot, and of course there must be a sight
      1. +1
        February 9 2021
        Quote: agond
        The reason for the failure of the mortar shovel in the inertial thinking of its designer
        We wanted to make an "engineering and design solution" - the designer came up with it on paper - so it should work like on paper ...
        The truth of life is stronger - "the dreams of the designer" ... Here in Britain they made it easier -
        British mortar
        Adapted a simple grenade for throwing soldier
      2. 0
        February 10 2021
        The stem-shank hinge would still be a weak point in terms of structural strength. Digging the ground would not have become easier, but the firepower would definitely have increased.
  14. +1
    February 9 2021
    Thanks to the author, interesting))
  15. -4
    February 9 2021
    Eto "izdelie" na statiu 58 ne khilo tyanet. :)
  16. -7
    February 9 2021
    Instead of providing enough rifle companies and battalions with 82mm caliber mortars tested and proven in battle
    The People's Commissariat of Armaments wasted time and precious resources on all sorts of nonsense like a shovel-mortar ...
    As a result, the Red Army soldiers, not receiving even minimal fire support, went to certain death, rising with three lines against machine guns ...
    1. -3
      February 10 2021
      These "freaks" that minus, would be sent to the bayonet, but without artillery and mortar cover, with only "miracle - shovels" ...
      Better is the enemy of the good !!!
      1. 0
        February 10 2021
        Quote: cat Rusich
        Adapted a simple grenade for throwing

        Now, if this British device was attached to a sapper shovel, and made removable and to throw standard hand grenades at short distances from a prone position, because if a person standing can throw a lemon 50-60 m and even further, then lying and in an overcoat how to throw long away.
      2. 0
        February 10 2021
        Quote: assault
        with some "miracle - shovels".

        Have you heard anything about the paratroopers? By the end of the war, these "miracle shovels" that they all remained with them turned out to be .. I wonder why?
  17. +1
    February 11 2021
    From my point of view, the device was simply doomed to fail. The mine, due to its small size, clearly had a low destructive effect, and weighed, I believe, more than the same F-1. Moreover, the shooter itself on the hump of a fighter. The use of this thing is minuscule, and the additional load (extra weight) is provided to the soldier. Besides, they left the soldier without a shovel. I believe that if a soldier had a choice, he would rather have a couple of grenades or a hundred rounds instead of this pribluda.
    And I have read for a long time that even 60 mm (if I am not mistaken with the caliber), as it is fashionable nowadays to say, "did not enter". But the 82 mm mortar was already a serious and very useful thing.
  18. 0
    April 14 2021
    that's after all ... The war is in full swing, resources must be saved and these stupid mortars-shovels started to be released ... I hope the enemies of the people who started this in such a difficult period were punished by shooting! Like, how could you immediately guess that this is outright stupidity? - Let's stamp many thousands of these stupid shovels and then remove them from service ... Why not all those who need to be shot ...

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