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Ordnance, ML Mortar, 3 inch

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

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    The first 3-in (76,2-mm) mortar was the original Stokes Mortar that was first used in March 1917. This version remained in use for many years after World War I, and as funds for weapon development were sparse between the wars it remained in service virtually unchanged for some years, However there was some work carried out on the basic design to the point at which it was decided during the early 1930s that the Ordnance, ML Mortar, 3 inch would be the standard infantry support weapon. This was the Mortar, 3 inch Mk II, the weapon that was used by the army when World War II broke out in September 1939. This Mk II had numerous changes from the original World War I Mk I, especially in the ammunition which used many of the features of the French Brandt design innovations.
    It was not long after the start of the war when it was noticed that although the Mk II was a sturdy and reliable weapon, it lacked the range of many of its contemporaries. The early versions had a range of only some 1463 m (1,600 yards), which compared badly with the 2400 m (2,625 yards) of its German equivalent, the 8-cm GrW 34. A long series of experiments and trials using new propellants increased this range to 2515m (2,750 yards), which overcame many of the original drawbacks, but these new propellants took time to get into the hands of front-line troops, so at times many German and Italian mortars were used by British troops, especially during the North African campaigns.

    The 3-inch Mortar was the standard infantry support weapon of the British and Commonwealth armies in World War II, but it generally lacked range compared to weapons in service elsewhere. During the war gradual ammunition changes improved the range, and the 3-inch Mortar was a handy and popular weapon in action.


    Apart from the ammunition changes other alterations were made to the basic design, Later marks were equipped with a new base-plate design and improved sighting arrangements, and there was even a special version (Mortar, 3 inch Mk V) developed for use in the Far East, but only 5,000 of them were made and some were used by the airborne divisions. The usual method of getting the weapon into action was pack carriage in three loads by men, but the mechanized battalions carried their weapons on specially equipped Universal Carriers. On these the mortar was carried on the back of the vehicle ready to be assembled for normal ground use; it was not fired from the Carrier. The Carrier also had stowage for the ammunition. When dropped by parachute the barrel and bipod were dropped in one container. Another container carried the base-plate while yet another container held the ammunition.
    The ammunition for the family was largely confined to HE and smoke, although other payloads such as illuminants were developed. By juggling with the propelling charge increments and barrel elevation angles it was possible to drop a bomb as close as 114 m (125 yards) away, a useful feature in close-quarter combat.
    Somehow the weapon never achieved the respect that was given to its opponents, but once the original range shortcomings had been rectified it proved to be a sound enough weapon that remained in service with the British army until the 1960s, It is used by some of the smaller ex-Commonwealth armies.

    Specification: [​IMG]
    Mortar, 3-inch Mk II
    Calibre: 3 in (76.2 mm)
    Lengths: overall 1.295 m (51 in); barrel 1.19 m (46.85 in)
    Weight: in action 57,2 kg (126 lb)
    Elevation: +45° to +80°
    Traverse: 11°
    Maximum range: 2515 m (2,750 yards)
    Bomb weight: HE 4.54 kg (10 lb)

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