Mortars are 'The infantry's artillery', providing artillery-like fire support to small infantry units when artillery is either not available, or cannot be moved forward fast enough. In the U.S. Military, the typical deployment is that light 60 mm mortars are at the platoon or company level, supported by 81 mm mortars at battalion, and by the 4.2 inch mortars (now 120 mm) at regimental level.

Marine Reserve Cpl. Jason Burket positions an M252 81mm mortar during an exercise in Jaramijo, Ecuador, 10 September 2002
Marine Reserve Cpl. Jason Burket positions an M252 81mm mortar during an exercise in Jaramijo, Ecuador, 10 September 2002.

Today in WW II: 10 May 1940 German Blitzkrieg ["lightning war"] begins with air attacks on Dutch cities and invasion of Belgium and Luxembourg.  More 
10 May 1940 British Prime Minister Chamberlain resigns and is replaced by Winston Churchill.
10 May 1940 Iceland invaded by the United Kingdom [Operation Fork] to prevent a German presence there.
10 May 1941 Savage climax to the Blitz as 507 German aircraft drop 711 tons of bombs on London [10-11 May].
10 May 1941 Rudolf Hess files to Scotland [10-11 May].
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Infantry Mortars

Click on the link to go to individual Olive-Drab pages for each type of mortar:

Charactaristics of Mortars

A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that consists of a tube into which a mortar shell is dropped. The shell hits bottom on a fixed firing pin, setting off a detonation which propels the shell out with a high ballistic trajectory. Mortar rounds have fins to stabilize their flight and cause the shell to strike fuze-end first.

Since before World War II, mortars have had these components:

  • a lightweight tube
  • a bipod lifting and supporting the forward, open end of the tube
  • a relatively large base plate supporting the closed end of the tube at ground level
  • a sight, elevating and traversing mechanism, and other accessories

Light (60 mm) and medium (81 mm) mortars are portable, carried into combat by their crew. Heavy mortars are installed in custom gun carriages and are employed like artillery.

Mortars are used for battlefield illumination at night, to lay down smoke to conceal troop movements, and for anti-personnel fire using high explosive rounds. Chemical mortars have been used in the past but are not now part of the U.S. inventory.

Types of rounds for modern U.S. mortars
Types of rounds for modern U.S. mortars.

Find More Information on the Internet

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