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Ordnance, ML 2-inch Mortar

Discussion in 'Allied Light Weapons' started by Jim, Jan 25, 2008.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The first of the British 2-in (50.8-mm) mortars appeared in 1918, but it was not in service for long being rendered obsolete in 1919. It was not until the 1930s that the notion of reintroducing a light mortar for use at platoon or squad level was put forward, and as there was no ‘history’ of the development of such small mortars in the UK at that time it was decided to run a selection competition between the offerings from various armaments manufacturers. The result was a flood of models from a number of concerns, and after a series of trials one was selected. The winner was a design from the Spanish manufacturer ECIA. In its original form this weapon was thought suitable for improvement, and the extra further work was carried out in the UK, leading to full production during 1938. The first production version was the Ordnance, ML 2-inch Mortar Mk II (ML for muzzle loading), but this was only the first of a long string of marks and sub-marks. In basic terms there were two types of 2-inch Mortar, One was the pure infantry version, which was a simple barrel with a small base-plate and a trigger mechanism to fire the bomb after loading. The second type was meant for use on Bren Gun or Universal Carriers and had a much larger base-plate and a more complicated aiming system. If required the carrier version could be dismounted for ground use and a handle was supplied for this purpose. However, between these two types there were at the least 14 different variants, with differences in barrel length, sighting arrangements and production variations.

    A drill book demonstration of the loading of a 2-inch Mortar. As the loader drops the bomb into the muzzle, he taps the firer on the back to order him to pull the trigger lever via a cord lanyard. The model is the Carrier version with the large base-plate.

    [​IMG]


    There were even special versions for use by the Indian Army and by airborne divisions.
    To go with this array of weapon variations there was an equally daunting range of types of ammunition. The usual bomb fired by the 2-inch Mortar was HE, but smoke and flares were also fired, the latter being particularly useful for target illumination at night. Having a trigger firing mechanism the weapon could be used at angles close to the horizontal, a factor that was particularly useful in house-to-house combat. The bombs were normally carried in tubes, each holding three, and arranged in handy packs of three tubes. The normal 2-inch Mortar team consisted of two men, one carrying the mortar and the other carrying the ammunition.
    The 2-inch Mortar is still around. The British army uses it for firing flares and other pyrotechnics pending the service debut of the new Light Mortar, and many other nations keep the weapon ‘on the books’. These days the only version likely to be encountered is the infantry model with its small base-plate, the carrier version having long since passed away.


    Specification: [​IMG]
    2-inch Mortar Mk II
    Calibre: 2 in (50,8 mm)
    Lengths: barrel 0.665 m (26.2 in); bore 0.5065 m (19.94 in)
    Weight: 4.1kg (9 lb)
    Maximum range: 457 m (500 yards)
    Bomb weight: HE 1.02 kg (2,25 lb)
     

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