MORTAR 60MM - M2
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:04 PM
About 10 years ago a friend showed up at a machine gun shoot
in St. Augustine with a 60mm mortar. I asked him why he had
brought a historical display item to a live shoot. He replied
that he was going to shoot it. I was a bit skeptical as he
explained how he had created his own lifting charges and that
the rounds would "pop" out of the tube. His phrasing of the
rounds "popping" out of the tube painted a picture in my mind
of the rounds jumping out and landing a few feet away. I was
shortly to be disabused of that idea when he dropped the first
round after shouting "READY!; LOAD!; HANG!; FIRE!!!!!" The
sound of thunder pealed and reverberated from the tree lines
over three hundred yards away as the round disappeared into a
tiny spec way up in the clouds. Having reached apogee it slowly
began to get larger in size. As it drew closer we could hear
the sound of air hissing past the tail fins. Mortar rounds
don't whistle like in Hollywood's movies; they hiss. It's a soft
sound that one can miss if one isn't paying attention. The round
impacted the soft Florida soil and completely buried itself.
The gang of machine gun shooters were so impressed all shooting
halted while each impact point was marked for later retrieval
and he continued firing the remaining rounds he had.
Three of us watching that day immediately ran out and bought
our own M2 60mm Mortars... after picking our jaws off the ground
and getting over the amazement. I'VE GOT TO GET ME ONE OF THOSE!
Later I would add an 81mm Mortar (PSMCo 1942) to my collection;
however, I would sell it a few years later. It was too dangerous
and the sound of its being fired always drew the police and/ or
the state wildlife officers as I tended to shoot it in the Ocala
and Osceola National Forests. I kept a few of the rounds which
you'll see in pictures further down.
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:07 PM
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:07 PM
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:08 PM
over the years. Some are WWII, Korean War, and Viet-Nam war
era. These differ from the modern 60mm rounds in that their
tail-fins have a male portion that threads into the female
portion of the HE body. Modern rounds are visa-versa.
The fuse (fuze?) assemblies on the 60mm HE rounds are 1967-1971
dated. The fuses are fully intact and functional. The only
thing missing is the explosive priming compound in their
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:10 PM
The arming wire is actually a safety wire that threads
through a pin and holds it in position. This prevents an
accidental drop detonation. It is actually one of two
safeties that must be overcome. Removing the wire allows
free movement of a pin; however, this pin is sitting on
a spring which also holds it in place. Upon firing, the
rapid acceleration of the round allows the mass of the
pin to compress the spring below it. This small pin is
sticking into another larger pin that is horizontal and
is also under spring compression. When the first pin
moves down, the spring pressure under the second pin
pushes it outwards where to comes into contact with the
mortar tube. This pin drags along the inner wall of the
tube until the round has cleared the bore. At this point
the pin shoots away from the round and there is no longer
anything obstructing the impact fuses from the priming
compound held within its base. That priming compound
is surrounded by five pounds of high explosive (HE).
The round is armed at the instant it exits the tube, so it
is best not to place the mortar under any low hanging tree
branches or obstructions.
During WWII, Raytheon developed Radio fuses that measured
their height over the ground by beaming "radar" signals
at the ground and measuring the time of the return signal.
These rounds could be air burst just above the ground for
maximum fragmentation radius. The fuses I have are all
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:12 PM
This is one of my practice rounds. I bought a ton of 'em
back when they were cheap and plentiful. To fire these
rounds I usually take a 20ga shotgun hull (usually new store-
bought) and I cut them with a serated knife at 1 1/4" from
the base. I dump out the shot and powder, but retain the
hull and the wad. I fill the hulls with 35 (Thirty-five)
grains of Winchester 231. This will give about eight seconds
of flight time (ground to ground) with the tube at 89 degrees.
At 89 degrees of tube angle, the rounds impact around 30 yards
down range, which is great since I don't like chasing them
all over the place. On a few rare occasions, I've fired them
for distance on a 1,000+ acre ranch. Unless someone is
down range observing, you can kiss those rounds good-bye.
For long range firing, I've used 45 grains unique.
Amusing story. Once upon a time while out shooting on the ranch
we had a vehicle come up the road behind us. They couldn't see
what we were doing, so we waved and approached them. The elderly
woman apologized profusely for her husband's driving onto posted
private property, but according to her he was hearing what he
believed to be mortar fire. He was an old WWII vet.
You can imagine the shock on her face when we told her that
he was right and that we were firing WWII era mortars for
S**t's 'n' Giggles. We invited to ol' guy to drop a few with
us. That really made his day.
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:13 PM
These are the rounds I shoot. They're just solid castings.
Now that I've sold the 81mm mortar, those rounds are just for
You can see the yellow 20ga shotgun hull inside the tail-fins
of the 60mm round. That's a live lifting charge. When I
put the mortar on display at the museum or at a living history
event, I double and then triple check to make sure none of
these rounds are present. It will easily pass through the roof
of any building or the torso of any body in front of it and
won't significantly slow down such is the amount of force
The 60mm round is 5lbs and moves out the tube so fast you will
barely register it as a blur.
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:13 PM
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:15 PM
Size comparison between 60mm HE rounds and 81mm HE rounds.
81mm is approaching the threshold of artillery. The 4.2"
(105mm) mortar definitely crosses into artillery.
People have asked me why I would own mini artillery to which
I answer with these words (not mine):
"Artillery lends dignity to that which would otherwise
be a vulgar brawl."
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:41 PM
Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:50 PM
Very nice. I love high angle fire devices also. Why was the 81 more dangerous than the 60mm?
250 (Two Hundred Fifty) grains BASIC lifting charge. Additional increments up to 750 grains.
This WILL cause hearing damage to spectators without hearing protection. It causes pain to
anyone firing it. (Bone jarring!) Also, it's murder on one's back. Each part of an 81mm mortar
(Tube, Bipod, and Base) weighs as much as the entire 60mm mortar does. Due to its range,
an errant shot can go thousands of YARDS.
Posted 23 January 2008 - 03:04 PM
Posted 23 January 2008 - 05:48 PM
Thank you for a great post and for sharing this very interesting piece of history. I truly appreciate your great photos and for taking time to give us a terrific explanation.
I'm looking forward to your future entries.
Posted 24 January 2008 - 03:50 AM
If I remember right, the patoon consisted of two 60 mortars, two browning 1919 mg's, two 57 mm recoiless rifles and two 3.5 rocket launchers.
In typical Army ways, I qualified expert in every Inf company weapon except the 60 mortar. I could never set that thing up in the time allowed.
Well when I arrived in Germany as a replacement, guess were I was assigned. yep, the mortar squad. http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/crying.gif
Posted 24 January 2008 - 04:01 AM
As an aside, I've just had my French 60mm Brandt Bipod rebuilt with a mint-out-of-wrapper 1945-dated US yoke.... that was a fun bit of reworking of threads and holes from metric into whatever American National Series thread it is on the yoke! The only real problem was that the new yoke didn't come with the handle for the traversing wheel, and I had to get one made based on pics from the manual.
You'd be hard-pressed now to spot it isn't a US WWII 60mm mortar, as the baseplate is now a mint US WWII one as well. About the only obvious giveaway is that the tube clamp doesn't have any part numbers cast into it.
Will post some pics if I get a chance.
Posted 25 January 2008 - 06:32 AM
This must've been taken circa 1987, before we got our new M252s -a big improvement!
(I'm new to this forum) Excellent thread, I must say. Thanks for posting on this topic.
Posted 25 January 2008 - 12:35 PM
Posted 29 September 2008 - 06:55 PM
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