Military Review

Mortar's Swan Song

Mortars - large-caliber guns with a short (15 caliber) barrel, bombarded their shells along a hinged trajectory, were born along with the bombardment. Like her, mortar shot stone cores. But only her shells fell on the enemy's head, flying over the walls of castles and fortresses. And if these walls themselves could at least somehow protect their inhabitants from the bombardment cores, then it was impossible to defend against mortar fire. In the Military History Museum of Vienna, the mortar "Pumhard" of the early 15th century is exhibited. Its caliber is 890 mm, that is, it is equal to the caliber of our famous "Tsar Cannon", and she fired a stone core weighing 800 kg! But although no roof could protect it, it soon became clear that it was not very effective. weapon for war. After all, the stone cores are not torn! Therefore, the military soon decided to shoot mortars with pig iron "bombs" filled with gunpowder. To ignite the charge, an ignition tube with pressed gunpowder served, which powder gases, which escaped with the projectile from the barrel, were set on fire immediately at the moment of the shot. The bomb flew, and the tube burned, and when it fell, then ... after some time an explosion occurred. Moreover, the defeat was inflicted and its own weight, and the explosion of its charge. Peter I, however, ordered the gunners "first to fire a bomb in the mortar and then to fire it behind," which was quite dangerous, but it made sure that the projectile would necessarily explode.

The effectiveness of mortar fire was very high, especially if it was necessary to shoot at the fortifications. After all, among the British and French during the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, there was no superiority in artillery over the defenders. On the contrary, it was at the besieged Russian garrison! But only the Sevastopol residents mainly had cannons that shot hard with their cores, and the allies, who outnumbered the defenders of the fortress with the number of heavy mortars, bombarded them day and night with destructive explosive shells. And their fire was so effective that our troops had to leave Sevastopol! They were used in navy, on special bombardment ships or, as they were also called "bombing caches." They had deck reinforcements and several heavy mortars. They were shot at coastal fortifications, but also at the enemy fleet. Of course, getting from an mortar to an enemy ship was more difficult than from a lay gun, but on the other hand, the damage to it from an explosive bomb was incomparable. A bomb pierced the deck, or even more than one, and exploded inside the ship, which often led to a fire.

At the same time, the weight of mortars was very large, besides their installation in positions required a lot of time. When firing, they jumped strongly, causing their tip to go astray. Known, for example, the Dictator 330-mm mortar, which the northerners used during the siege of Petersburg in Virginia in the 1864, weighed 7,7 t, so it was even put on the railway platform. The shell for her weight 100 kg raised two people with special tongs, and her carriage served as a staircase.

It can be said that it was the war between the North and the South that became the “swan song” of smooth-bore mortars. Then mortars became rifled and acted quite efficiently at times, but their role was steadily decreasing. Well, today mortars and did become the property of museums, where their stupid, “backward”, heavy and often huge is kept a lot. Well, it is very interesting to consider them, and this is what we are going to do now.

Here it is, mortar "Pumhard" of the Military History Museum of Vienna. It is clearly seen that it is made of two layers of iron. The inner layer is made of strips laid along, the outer layer is made of rings attached to it, that is, located across. They put on the outer rings in a heated state, so that when they cooled down, they tightened the barrel, giving it greater strength.

Another forged mortar from the Museum of the Army in Paris. About 1450 d. Length: 2 m, caliber 486-mm. Weight: kg 1,500, weight kg 130 core, firing range 100-200 m.

Then mortars were cast from a special copper alloy. And the imagination of some of the masters of the casting possibilities was so cleared that such samples as this eighteenth-century mortar made in India for Tipu-Sultan (“The Tiger of the Garbage”), which is today in the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich, England, appeared. .

Spanish mortar on a metal carriage of the 18th century in the Historical Museum of Cordoba in Argentina also looks quite "modern".

The French mortar 1828 of the year was also cast in bronze.

And this is our Russian 335-mm mortar1805 of the Artillery Museum in St. Petersburg.

A completely monstrous mortar used in the siege of Antwerp in 1832, the design of Henri-Joseph Peksan.

Mortar's Swan Song

English mortar from Fort Nelson.

British gunners firing at Sevastopol from 13-inch siege mortars.

The famous American mortar "Dictator".

Virginia, Yorktown, position mortar battery №1.

Richmond, 1865 g., 8-inch mortar 1841 g.

Federal mortar battery 10-inch 1841 mortars of the year on Morris Island in Charston Harbor.

Appotomax River, Virginia. 24-pound mortars of Confederates.

10-inch mortars 1841, the northerners.

Interestingly, these German mortars, exhibited in the citadel of the Spandau fortress, do not have any tools for raising the trunk, as they are cast together with the carriage, like Tipu-Sultan's tool. Obviously, the range was adjusted by changing the charge.

London, Woolwich, Greenhill Terrace: Malnira 1854's unique mortar of the year, which had a caliber ... 920-mm!

Plate on Mallet's mortar. As you can see, she successfully shot 19 times! But not fought!

Then rifled mortars appeared, and the same Americans thought of using them against the fleet. The 305-mm mortars of the 1890 sample of the year were located in such mortar pits, which were absolutely impossible to hit with table fire from ships! Fort Desoto, Florida.

And so these mortars shot ... Photo 1915 of the year.
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  1. dokusib
    dokusib 4 December 2015 08: 21
    An interesting selection. Thanks to the author!
  2. Gray 43
    Gray 43 4 December 2015 08: 29
    Yeah, a powerful weapon, sorry it’s not very accurate
    1. Throw
      Throw 4 December 2015 08: 38
      With a caliber per meter, this is not very important)

      Article +!
    2. Amurets
      Amurets 4 December 2015 08: 39
      Quote: Gray 43
      Yeah, a powerful weapon, sorry it’s not very accurate

      Over time, it became quite accurate. Read about the defense of Sevastopol 1941-1942. How the Germans stormed the Coastal batteries. And the article is really interesting and useful. And due to the accuracy, for various reasons, the accuracy of the old smooth-bore guns was low. Especially because of the quality of the gunpowder.
    3. mirag2
      mirag2 4 December 2015 21: 02
      mighty weapon
      At that time, it probably looked colossal at all, and it was obviously powerful.
  3. Captain45
    Captain45 4 December 2015 08: 45
    On the "Dictator" mortar, I was surprised by the thickness of the barrel walls. What a charge of gunpowder was there if the walls were of such thickness what
    1. bootlegger
      bootlegger 4 December 2015 11: 32
      It's not gunpowder. The barrel was then cast, the technology for assembling the barrel by hot landing the outer part of the barrel on the inside has not yet been mastered. Therefore, it was compensated by the thickness.
  4. Siberia M 54
    Siberia M 54 4 December 2015 09: 00
    Mortar and mortar bomb grandmother!)))
    1. avt
      avt 4 December 2015 09: 19
      Quote: Siberia M 54
      Mortar and mortar bomb grandmother!)))

      Well, in principle, they simply renamed. And the selection is beautiful good
      1. Alexey RA
        Alexey RA 4 December 2015 10: 09
        Quote: avt
        Well basically just renamed

        They didn’t even rename it - the mortar in the west is called mortar (mortar):
        M224 60mm Lightweight Company Mortar System.
      2. Chiropractor
        Chiropractor 5 December 2015 13: 32
        Well, if you just translate into "ancient Roman":
        mortira - ballista (throws along a ballistic trajectory)
        bombard - catapult (throws stones)

        smile Nosovsky to help me

        from the same field:
        Horde fire-breathing Serpent-Gorynych - why not the Tiger from Garbage?
        Three-headed? - battery!!!
        1. Secta haki
          Secta haki 6 December 2015 04: 01
          Simply translated, mortar is "deadly"
      3. AK64
        AK64 6 December 2015 17: 33
        In English, still mortar = "trench mortar"
        1. Secta haki
          Secta haki 7 December 2015 03: 31
          there is no word "trench", you can hit from buildings, even climb a tree
  5. parusnik
    parusnik 4 December 2015 09: 57
    the same Americans thought up against the fleet. They placed the 305-mm mortars of the 1890 model in such "mortar pits" that it was completely impossible to hit with flat fire from ships!..And the effectiveness of the mortar, it was interesting what .. At least once on the ship hit ..?
    Thank you, an interesting tour ...
  6. kvs207
    kvs207 4 December 2015 10: 09
    Quote: avt
    Quote: Siberia M 54
    Mortar and mortar bomb grandmother!)))
    Well, basically just renamed.

    In my opinion, these are completely different tools. They have in common, only outboard shooting. The progenitor of the mortar, was just a gun.
  7. Alexey RA
    Alexey RA 4 December 2015 10: 12
    Then there were rifled mortars, and the Americans thought of using them against the fleet.

    And not only Americans. In the Russian Empire, 9 "and 11" mortars were widely used in coastal defense.

    In principle, in the specific conditions of the Gulf of Finland or the Bosphorus (9 "mortars" of a special stock were supposed to be installed immediately after the landing in the Straits) mortars could be effective against ships constrained in maneuvering.
  8. bionik
    bionik 4 December 2015 11: 15
    Russian-Japanese war. Japanese 280-mm mortar. Port Arthur.
  9. Vasia kruger
    Vasia kruger 4 December 2015 11: 37
    Great article, thanks, read and looked with great interest.
  10. Snail N9
    Snail N9 4 December 2015 11: 48
    It was German mortars and howitzers that "decided" the fate of Sevastopol during its famous siege in 1942. So, most likely, it was the use of mortars near Sevastopol in 1942 that should be called "swan song". Then they were replaced by mortars.
    1. Secta haki
      Secta haki 5 December 2015 05: 55
      Not later, but long before, a mortar is a type of mortar, which is distinguished by feathered ammunition, which, unlike a howitzer shell, falls vertically.
      German mortars with a caliber of 50-120mm also decided that the Red Army, due to the absence of an armored personnel carrier, suffered much greater manpower losses in the Second World War on the battlefields than the Germans - the main means of defeating infantry in the WWII was a mortar and not a machine gun.
      In the forest, from mortar shelling, unlike artillery or attack by attack aircraft / dive-bombers or tanks, you can also hide haphazardly without opening a dugout, crevice or a proper trench.
  11. AlNick
    AlNick 4 December 2015 15: 48
    The monument to the heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812 in the city of Vitebsk (Belarus) is a granite obelisk 26 meters high mounted on a rectangular pedestal and crowned with a bronze double-headed eagle on a ball. On the pedestal there is a plate with the inscription: “Immortal valor of the heroes of World War II, participants in the battles of Vitebsk on July 13, 14, 15 and October 26, 1812”.

    At the corners of the slab of the base of the monument are four cast-iron cannons, cast according to the samples of the mortars of the times of Peter I.
  12. Denimax
    Denimax 4 December 2015 16: 04
    Quote: Alexey RA
    They didn’t even rename it - the mortar in the west is called mortar (mortar):

    In German, the mortar and mortar are also called mörser, and the stupa, too.)
    1. Condor-a
      Condor-a 10 December 2015 02: 29
      And they killed the largest number of soldiers in WWII, primarily Soviet ones, since the Red Army infantry usually didn’t tear open trenches correctly and didn’t have armored personnel carriers with anti-fragmentation armor, on which the Wehrmacht passed the mortar shelling zone. The Red Army infantry at best were tank paratroopers, preferring to be a group target for a machine gun and rifles, whether to pass the zone of mortar shelling as quickly as possible.
      Shrapnel wounds are treated much harder than bullet wounds. In the Second World War, the doctors had the first question "splinter" or not, and then two lines. After a cursory examination, splinter patients with their lacerated wounds were usually simply put on the grass and dealt with bullet wounds.
      The feathered mine falls steeply, so more than 90% of all its fragments fly parallel to the ground. An artillery projectile has about 5%. In a dismounted infantry only that flies parallel to the ground. Therefore, despite the smaller number of explosives, each mine is much less humane than an artillery shell, and mortars of 50-120 mm caliber are more massive and have a higher rate of fire than field guns.
  13. Denimax
    Denimax 4 December 2015 16: 08
    On the Internet there are many video clips on mortars from America. There, communities organize competitions, there is even a 13-inch shot and a bomb burst.
  14. Gr. Engineer
    Gr. Engineer 4 December 2015 20: 17
    On old maps of St. Petersburg you can find a mortar battery. She was in a pit behind a huge rampart at the spot where the Kirov Stadium was later built. Actually, the shaft remained the same, the field, stands and changing rooms were added. And once from this pit mortars were supposed to shell the Gulf of Finland, but it was not needed.
  15. Bayonet
    Bayonet 4 December 2015 20: 23
    Self-propelled mortar "Karl" - German heavy self-propelled mortar during the Second World War. (Click) One of the most powerful self-propelled guns of its period. A total of 7 copies were built. The picture shows "Adam".
    The artillery part of the machine was a 600 mm rifled mortar mounted in the machine in the middle of the hull. The mortar barrel is a monoblock. Horizontal wedge lock, with a cylinder-prismatic wedge. With the help of lifting mechanisms, the maximum angle of elevation of the barrel + 70 ° was achieved, the angle of horizontal aiming was 4 °. The aiming mechanisms were manually actuated. To repay the strong recoil of the mortar, a two-stage rollback system was developed - when firing, not only the barrel in the cradle was rolled back, but the entire machine in the machine body.
    Light and heavy concrete-piercing shells with a weight of 1700 kg (including 280 kg of explosives) and 2170 kg (of which 348 kg of explosives), as well as high-explosive (Sprenggranate) weighing 1250 kg (of which 460 kg of explosives) were developed for firing )
    Concrete projectile weighing 2170 kg was fired at an initial speed of 220 m / s and punched a concrete wall with a thickness of 3 to 3,5 m or a steel plate 450 mm thick. The initial velocity of the high-explosive projectile was 283 m / s, they were fired at a range of 6700 meters. The maximum projectile flight time was 49 seconds.
    The rate of fire of the gun was 1 shot in 10 minutes.
    ALEA IACTA EST 4 December 2015 20: 23
    The true gods of war!
  17. Bayonet
    Bayonet 4 December 2015 20: 24
    Little David is an American mortar designed at the end of World War II to destroy Japanese bunkers and fortifications.
    The mass of the artillery mount - 82 808 kg
    Barrel length - 7,12 meters
    Caliber - 914 mm
    The initial velocity of the projectile is 381 m / s
    Projectile weight - 1678,32 kg
    Explosive mass in the shell - 726 kg
    The maximum range of the projectiles is about 9 km (9500 yards)
  18. kvs207
    kvs207 4 December 2015 21: 04
    Quote: Gr. Engineer
    On old maps of St. Petersburg you can find a mortar battery. She was in a pit behind a huge rampart at the spot where the Kirov Stadium was later built.

    And the road was called - Battery
  19. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 4 December 2015 21: 05
    Very interesting!
    Taught a lot about artillery from the article.
  20. Rassamaha
    Rassamaha 5 December 2015 21: 39
    The famous American mortar "Dictator". Everything with regards to the American everything famous about our mortars not a word))))))))))
    1. AK64
      AK64 6 December 2015 17: 43
      Well, this is an obvious retelling into Russian of some English-language "encyclopedia of young marmots"
  21. AK64
    AK64 6 December 2015 17: 42
    In the first two paragraphs I found two fundamental errors that IMHO makes this article not only useless, but directly harmful.

    I did not read further