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Post Info TOPIC: British "Hand Mortar"
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Legend

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British "Hand Mortar"
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In Plastic Soldier Review's review of Emhar's British Infantry, theyname a hand mortar.

Was there ever a weapon like this, in real life? I can't find any photos of a British soldier using a weapon like this, in this manner.



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http://www.activeboard.com/forum.spark?aBID=63528&p=3&topicID=20772055

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Legend

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Hi PDAI think its meant to be a stokes but the bipods missing and it may be small or not... the other type it may work as is a "Toffee apple" mortar but again some parts are missing...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Loading2inchMortarBalkanFront.jpg

the mortars at gallipoli were japanese spigot mortars...

Alternatively remove the tube and use the figure as the loader( remembering to load from correct side)for the Vickers etc

Cheerswink



-- Edited by Ironsides on Saturday 30th of April 2011 02:01:53 PM

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Legend

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I think PDA's observation is correct. The unsupported 2" mortar seems to have been developed between the Wars. I've seen pics/films of it in use at Arnhem and, I think, in a jungle setting - possibly Burma or PNG.



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Apparently the 3 inch Stokes mortar could be fitted with leather handles so it could be moved more easily without the need for a bipod, but i've never seen a photo of it, and the size of the mortar tube and baseplate are nowhere near as big as a Stokes 3 inch Mortar.

The WW1 2 inch 'Toffee Apple' mortar was a lot different from the WW2 version, and was actually operated by troops 'higher up' than the 3 inch Stokes. The 3 inch Stokes was operated by the Infantry, whereas the 2 inch was operated by the Royal Artillery. It's certainly not a 2 inch mortar, this image shows what it looked like;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2inchTrenchMortarDiagram.jpg



-- Edited by PDA on Saturday 30th of April 2011 10:38:02 PM

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Major

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Looks like a Stokes to me. It gave the Brits a big tactical advantage (read "Through German Eyes") because it was portable and effective.

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PDA


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Thanks, gentlemen.

I've always thought it looked wrong.And now that I've opened up that dusty box of soldiers, I thought maybe somebody more knowledgeable could set matters straight.

Putting a bipod on it sounds like a good idea, but judging by the images in everyone's links, it still wouldn't match up to any real, contemporary, piece of equipment.

I have some few seconds of footage of a chap firing a toffee apple mortar. The camera is in the dugout, looking out into the mortar pit, where the chap loads the round, and then retreats towards the camera. He pulls a string, and the mortar fires. He certainly did not want to be near the thing as it fired - it looked like it had a hefty kick, and it certainly needed re-laying. I wonder if any of them ever exploded on launch?!

Making him into a loader for a Vickers sounds like a wizard idea. And of course the corect side is on the firer's... left ....right? smile

He could also be turned into a crewman for the Emhar 18pdr, I suppose, bringing the number up to 3. Big wow. smile



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Legend

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Hi PDA the Emhar Vickers gun has the ammo box on the wrong side the left, it should be on the right.. remove the box leave the dangling belt.. give the mortar man an ammo box and a thin strip of plastic card suitably scoured or somthing similar for an ammo belt, position it so it enters the gun at the right point ,you may need to remove the bit of belt on the right side of the gun first...

I think the artillery crew make better mortar Crewmen there are several fairly decent Stokes trench howitzers available from Ht although you probarbly know that already, and in May the new artillery British crew should be available as well...

Maxim 08s are loaded from the left of coursewink

Cheerssmile



-- Edited by Ironsides on Sunday 1st of May 2011 08:20:32 AM

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Legend

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PDA wrote:

...Putting a bipod on it sounds like a good idea, but judging by the images in everyone's links, it still wouldn't match up to any real, contemporary, piece of equipment. ...
(toffee apple mortar) I wonder if any of them ever exploded on launch?! ...


Closest seems to be the 2-inch Ordnance mortar but too big for that and, as has been said, not contemporary. But I would like to say the 2-inch was/is a most useful piece of equipment (I see the Indian Army might still be using it). There's nothing else I've seen, under the control of small formations, quite as good as is it for illumination - and the other shells were handy too.

Preemies ... generally mortar fuses are touchy (usually not as robust as artillery types) ... in theory they (mostly) complete arming a second or two after launch (still not a brilliant idea to fire from under overhanging branches) but it's not unheard of them to have received the preliminary thump to start arming before being fired. Air-dropped fuses (i.e. on re-supply) are especially suspect. No doubt current fuses are much safer but I doubt many mortar crews would be completely trusting in that. Consequences make Russian roulette seem like child's play.

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Legend

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Reminded me of this damaged Stokes at the AVM...

"This damaged Stokes 3 inch trench mortar barrel was collected by the Australian War Records Section at Ville-sur-Ancre, south west of Dernancourt in France on 15 June 1918. The barrel shows the damage caused by a premature exploding 3 inch Stokes bomb. In May 1918 the 6th Brigade attacked the village and captured it from the Germans. While at Ville-sur Ancre on 15 June two men from 6 Australian Light Mortar Battery were killed when firing this Stokes mortar. "

http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/RELAWM00768

manual for the use of...

http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/p4013coll9&CISOPTR=198&CISOBOX=1&REC=1

A note on Emhar figures: the earlier issues are made from an almost ungluable plastic, later issues usually marked "made in china" are glueable with ordinary polystyrene cement but are overall of a lower quality... this includes all Emhar sets earlier then the US infantry ie the Germans and British Infantry and Artillery..

Cheerscry



-- Edited by Ironsides on Sunday 1st of May 2011 10:35:40 AM

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Legend

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Interesting - according to the US manual (above), the Stokes shells used a time fuse. Those are much more proof against premature detonation than the "point impact" type used with HE shells in, for instance, the (later) ML Ordnance 3 inch mortar - yet obviously premature detonation sometimes happened with the Stokes. If the fuse line is damaged so as to lose a proportion of its granular blackpowder filling from the powder train then the burn time can be drastically reduced - though reliability of setting off the detonator is also reduced.

But elsewhere (Bruce N. Canfield it is said the Stokes used a Mk VI "all ways" impact fuse (grazing fuse) with the Mk I HE shell. Those are infernal devices indeed, with many more ways to go wrong.

Anyway, the 3" Stokes certainly could be used as a "bare tube" and I think that has been discussed here before. And the size looks about right. But it wouldn't be much fun, even with the minimum propulsion charge. With tube weighing only 3-4 times the weight of the projectile the tube would recoil at a little over one third to one quarter of the muzzle velocity. Pretty lively - energy equivalent (for, say, 200 fps MV) to the 43 lb tube falling 46 feet. But "doable" on firm ground. Now to find that previous discussion ...

[edit] I seem to have over-compensated for air resistance (which apparently would affect maximum range by only about 40 feet for the basic propellant charge). That muzzle velocity of a 3" Stokes on basic charge from the 240 yards maximum range at 45 elevation given in the US manual would be more like 160 fps and the recoil energy in the tube would accordingly be more like an equivalent of a 30 ft free drop (1270 ft-lbs). Still quite lively - a bit scary in comparison with small arms - but even more feasible in terms of handling without the bipod than first thought.

-- Edited by Rectalgia on Tuesday 3rd of May 2011 07:13:41 AM

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Legend

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Ironsides wrote:

the mortars at gallipoli were japanese spigot mortars...



-- Edited by Ironsides on Saturday 30th of April 2011 02:01:53 PM


No they were not.A spigot mortar has a spigot (spike), rather than a barrel,over which the tail of the round fits, the propelling charge being in the tail . The Japanese mortars used at Gallipolihad barrels into which the tail of the round fitted and the propellant charge was in the barrel. They fell into the same class as the Krupp Trench Howitzer, the Vickers Trench Howitzer, the 2 inch 'Toffee Apple' mortar and some similar French trench mortars. All of these fired a tailed round with a warhead that was external to the barrel but they were not spigots. The Austrian Priestewerfer and the German Granitwerfers were spigots. AFAIK the only Japanese spigot mortars were WW2 affairs that fired huge rounds (known to the Americans as "Screaming Jesuses"



-- Edited by Centurion on Monday 2nd of May 2011 11:27:10 AM

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Legend

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My word, this is inconvenient.

From Osprey's British Territorial Units in World War I.

"Lance Corporal, 126th Brigade Light Trench Mortar Battery; France, 1918 .

Note the handles and sling on the mortar, replacing a bipod for the attack."

I think the resemblance to the Emhar figure cannot be ignored.



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Legend

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Hi Centurion

Definition of a spigot mortar: spigot mortar [spikt mrdr]

(ordnance)
A mortar which propels a warhead larger than the bore of the mortar by means of a closed tube (spigot) attached to the warhead and extending into the mortar; the force of the propellant within the mortar acts upon the tube, thus propelling the warhead toward the target.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

This is the sense in whichI referred to the japanese mortars as spigot mortars..

The reverse would also be true...

Cheerswink



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Legend

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James H wrote:

My word, this is inconvenient.

From Osprey's British Territorial Units in World War I.

"Lance Corporal, 126th Brigade Light Trench Mortar Battery; France, 1918 .

Note the handles and sling on the mortar, replacing a bipod for the attack."

I think the resemblance to the Emhar figure cannot be ignored.


Ahah! Very nice. I've tried looking again and still haven't found any photos of this version of the Stokes, however you'd certainly hope the drawing is based on some real evidence



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Legend

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Rob wrote:
you'd certainly hope the drawing is based on some real evidence

Ah, yes. We could be in a loop.



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PDA


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James H wrote:
Ah, yes. We could be in a loop.

Could be. But I think not.

Couldit be the lesser known Stokes 3" Anti-Aircraft Mortar?



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Legend

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PDA wrote:
James H wrote:
Ah, yes. We could be in a loop.

Could be. But I think not.

Couldit be the lesser known Stokes 3" Anti-Aircraft Mortar?


Hi PDA funny you should mention that theres several accounts of the Stokes being used in the AA role here but no details on the mounting or sights used....

With the Trench Mortars in Franceclick the title for online text

Pg48-49

During our two months of trench warfare following the battle of Messines we experimented with the Stokes for anti-aircraft defence, and found it most successful. In this branch we(at that time I was in the 4th Light Trench Mortar Battalion)were the first battery to try this exciting means of stopping Hun aircraft from flying over our trenches.

I remember the first day we tried the Stokes out in its new capacity, how excited we all were at the possibility of bringing down an enemy 'plane. We set up three guns at intervals of about 150 yards along the front: one gun with fuses cut to burst at three seconds, another at four seconds, and another at five seconds; and patiently awaited developments. It was not long before our patience was rewarded, and a big enemy plane crossed our line at a height of about 500 feet. The nearest gun opened on him with two fine bursts just above him, while simultaneously the second gun put two equally good bursts underneath. The Infantry were very interested and excited at the thought of the possibility of bringing down a 'plane, and the machine seemed to falter and fall and then right itself and made off back to the enemy lines. Other enemy planes came over that day to investigate this new method of ours in anti-aircraft defence, but were very wary, and kept at a height where our mortars could not reach them.

In effect, the result obtained was this: that our lines were very seldom crossed by low-flying enemy 'planes in this sector.

pg 71-72

Before leaving Ypres the Stokes was used on many occasions in its new capacity against enemy aircraft, and many of those who were in the line at Ypres will remember some very exciting moments when one of the German flight commanders of Baron Richthoven's famous circus used to come over the line flying very low and, to a certain extent, "putting the wind up" the Infantry with his machine gun. On these occasions the men of the detachment whose guns were set up for anti-aircraft firing were very keen to bring down the Bosche "king pin," as they called him, and on one occasion the fire of two of our guns with shells bursting above and below him injured his 'plane and brought him almost to the ground, but he managed to right himself in time to make off home. This fellow did not make his appearance on the sector again for a number of days, and so we concluded that we had done his 'plane a considerable amount of damage

Pg 89

"The 3rd Battery made its tour of the line from 1st to 6th May. On 2nd May one of this Battery's gun crews was engaged in antiaircraft firing with one of their guns, which prematured and killed two of the gun crew that were feeding it. This was a very regrettable incident, and was hard to account for, as it was very seldom that a "premature" occurred, except in very cold weather."

Cheerssmile



-- Edited by Ironsides on Friday 15th of July 2011 08:06:47 AM



-- Edited by Ironsides on Friday 15th of July 2011 10:18:48 AM

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Rob


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Ironsides, where did you find that book from? Would love to get hold of a copy

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Legend

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Hi Rob just click the title for the online text, I cant find a pdf copy anywhere but I may well create one for my own library...

Cheerswink



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Legend

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It seems to me that to hit an aircraft, or even get close to one, with a hand-held mortar would require a remarkable amount of good fortune and a very low-flying aeroplane. I found a U.S. training manual somewhere that contained detailed instructions for setting up the Stokes, including fairly elaborate arrangements for bedding in the baseplate. Nothing about straps or handles. I find it hard to see how this could be a drop-and-fire weapon, ready for action the moment an enemy aircraft approaches.

Puzzled of Prestwich.



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Legend

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Hi James, From what I can see the weapons were set up as normal... Im not sure the AA version in the pics ever saw any service and I think may have only been a prototype, the mortar bombs were fused to explode at different times/hieghts and multiple mortars firing quickly would create a kind of barrage that didnt need to be that accurate more a deterent though then anything else, they dont seem to have actually shot any aircraft down but clearly frightened them off and maybe did some damage...

Cheerssmile



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PDA


Legend

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I think I would be rather unnerved by my friends firing mortar shells straight up, when I was anywhere nearby. And I'd be very surprised if they actually hit what they were trying to hit.

Nevertheless, the 3" was configured for AA use:

Handbook of the Stokes 3 inch Mortar

The pictures of the equipment dont look very much like the Emhar and Osprey versions, but I can imagine the good old British Tommy adjusting the "official" method/layout to a more "battlefield" or practical orientation.



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Legend

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Good find PDA thats one of the manuals Ive been looking for, it is however 1919...

The Jan 1918 US reprint of the British Strokes manual doesnt show any of that stuff about AA,and neither hasany kind of "Assault order"... it could of course be too early to be in printfor the AA and the US manual doesnt say which date the British manualwaspublishon (they often do)....

Cheersconfuse



-- Edited by Ironsides on Friday 15th of July 2011 06:49:34 PM

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Legend

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PDA wrote:

I think I would be rather unnerved by my friends firing mortar shells straight up, when I was anywhere nearby. And I'd be very surprised if they actually hit what they were trying to hit.


Indeed - as we know the Stokes doesn't throw very far and it's sort of a rule of AA that if you can see the airburst from the ground you are in range of the splinters/fragments that are even then very quickly descending (I think there was a WW2 German poster to that effect, to warn any citizenary that might be caught out of shelter not to gawk at the fireworks). I suppose the Stokes rounds were relatively thin-walled, with somewhat less risk - but then they were closer (it's an inverse cube of the distance sort of thing).

But yes, the "freehand" rig illustrated above would probably be handy on lightning land assaults with the conventional ammunition (and very great discipline).



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