The Germans had come up with the 50mm mortar in the 30s?
Now a lot of people had been using mortars in WW I of all kinds, many being weird and wonderful
British toffee apple mortar
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range was about 100yds but it made a big bang when it landed.
The British 3in mortar traces back to the Stokes mortar of 1915.
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Wilfred Stokes and an assortment of ammunition.
Again, books have been written just on mortars. The small ones (50mm and under) were usually platoon weapons. the 60mm French/US mortars were usually company level weapons
and the 70-90mm mortars were battalion level. Anything bigger was shoved off onto the Artillery. Germans sometimes had a 5th company in a battalion which was a heavy weapons company (heavier than most normal heavy weapons companies) and some times they used 12cm mortars instead of infantry guns.
Part of the problem was ammo supply.
The small bombs went around 1-2lbs (and they needed bomb carriers)
the 60mm were 2lbs plus and the 3in/81mm mortars used 7+ to 10lb bombs. Maybe the 81mm mortar itself only went around 100-130lbs and broke down into 3 loads but unless you had motor or animal transport you couldn't carry enough ammo.
US army table of 1941 shows capacity of a 1/2 ton truck as 12,500 rounds of belted .30 cal, 3,000 round of belted .50 cal., 270 rounds of 60mm mortar, 100 rounds of 81mm mortar and 200 rounds of 37mm AT-gun.
The French/US 60mm would range out close to 1900 yds, which does make it a very useful weapon, most of the 37-50 mortars were good for about 500-600 yds.
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German 5cm mortar, according to Wiki they made 22,112,000 rounds of ammunition for it and stopped in 1943.
Mortars often fired smoke bombs for signaling, local smoke screens and sometimes illuminating flares.
Most armies in the 1930s were issuing the 3in/81mm mortars at 2-6 per battalion and gave the battalion commanders some real HE firepower that he didn't have to call back to higher ups for or use carrier pigeons depending on army.
I maybe misinterpreting that chart but it looks like the mortars are in their own platoon and/or part of the heavy weapons platoon and would be a company asset.In WW2, in the US Army circa 1943-44, the 60mm mortar was a platoon level weapon. One mortar 'section' (5 men) per platoon. This gave them some significant extra firepower, if it was used right. The platoon commanders also had radios. They usually carried somewhere between 20 and 90 rounds (20 being airborne units, 90 being armored infantry). Regular leg infantry usually carried 48 rounds IIRC.
I maybe misinterpreting that chart but it looks like the mortars are in their own platoon and/or part of the heavy weapons platoon and would be a company asset.
This certainly doesn't stop the company commander from parceling them out to one mortar per platoon if he so wishes. But an organizational chart for that would have the 5 man mortar squad next to/part of the rifle platoon headquarters.
Now I noted above that a 1/2 ton truck could carry 270 60mm bombs and so, if it follows, a 1/4 ton trailer could hold 135 60mm bombs. Which is not far from the 48 (144) bombs you remember.
According to one source the M2 60mm mortar was 42lbs in action with
and the weight of the bomb does not include carrier/crate.
Modern equivalent calls for 6 bombs per waterproof chip/cardboard/plastic tube and 3 tubes per metal box for 39kg for 18 rounds.
A lot of WW II munitions came in wooden crates.
The US may have used a 10 round wooden crate with fiberboard inner tubes that went 49lbs when full?
Lugging mortar bombs by foot soldier gets expensive in manpower very quickly.
I remember on story that may have taken place in Italy? British unit (?) got one or two mortars up on a mountain and used an entire infantry company to lug one or two rounds apiece up the mountain to the mortar position before opening fire.
The US used a short version of the 60mm mortar without the bipod that was fired like the British 2in mortar. Max range 1000-1200 yds (?)
InterestingThis was supposed to be the airborne mortar team for the 60mm mortar.
"60mm mortar: Rounds per weapon: 80, each mortar jumped on 3 men. 14 riflemen jump with 1 round each. 3 [other*] mortar squad members jump with 4 each in M6 bag; 54 dropped in bundles and carried in cart (4 carts per company)."
The 60 mm mortar equipped a mortar squad in the armored or parachute infantry platoons.LPCs
Now as we can see, even at the company level, the company commander had a wider selection of weapons and capabilities available in 1940-41 than his equivalent had in 1914 or 1918.
In 1914 the company had to handle anything he was tasked to do with rifles and perhaps a bayonet charge. If he was tasked with stopping an enemy column marching down a road ho had to get his men to where they could score enough hits to stop the column which means it can't be done at long range, unless his troops are very, very good.
Two tripod mounted machine guns at 800-1000yds (with good crews) are more than equal a couple of hundred riflemen.
Having 3-9 LMGs or auto rifles that can engage at 400-600 yds is just that much more. Depending on the mortars available they can drop HE into spots the machine guns can't reach, They can drop smoke to screen a part of his force that may in danger of being cut off on the flank. If it is night the mortars may be to drop flares to prevent moving for a period of time at night. The company commander may have a radio and an FO connected to the artillery net work to help out from time to time (unheard of at the company level in WW I). Ifit gets down to close quarters the 1940-41 force has grenades, the 1914 force doesn't, the 1918 force does.
The 1940-41 force has moved away from the rifle as it's primary form of projecting force/influence on the battlefield, and the rifle, even using the same power cartridge, is becoming a shorter ranged weapon. don't open rifle fire unless you have the support weapons (LMG, MMG, Mortars, remote artillery) in place to support you. In 1914 the other sides infantry didn't much for support weapons of their own and would not be able to surprise you with support fire most of the time. Most artillery had to see you which meant most of the time you could see them and if you couldn't.... they might not be there.
The role of the rifle had changed even though it's actual capabilities had not.
The 60 mm mortar equipped a mortar squad in the armored or parachute infantry platoons.
In the infantry, three 60 mm squads were grouped in the mortar section of the heavy weapon platoon of the infantry company (the other section was a light machine gun section with two M1919A4 MGs).
The prime mover was the mortar men who carried them... (the armored infantry mortar squad had a M3A1 half track).
In the cavalry, each reconnaissance section in a mechanized cavalry troop had a 60 mm mortar (three per platoon, a total of nine in the troop).
In the Marines, there was a mortar section with three 60 mm mortars attached to the rifle company HQ.
Few things on speed of firing and let's agree, it takes practice, training. Something that most war time soldiers didn't get.
In the use back in 50s through 90s (?) they shot service rifle competitions with bolt guns and M-1s (M-14s) before the AR invasion. Bolt gun catagory was a bit loose, yes you had to use the 30-06 or .308/7.62x51 cartridge. NO it did not have to be a 1903 or 1917 rifle, 11lb Winchester M-70s with very fancy sights and very nice triggers were allowed, just use a 5 round magazine feed by a stripper clip.
The rules allowed 10 more seconds for the bolt guns than for the semi autos.
200 yds rapid 10 rounds sitting was either 50 seconds for the semi-auto or 60 seconds for the bolt guns.
300 yds rapid 10 rounds prone was either 60 second for the semi-auto or 70 seconds for the bolt guns.
Semi autos were loaded with 2 rounds and then reloaded with 8.
Bolt guns were loaded with 5 and 5.
Time started with the targets in the pits (if the ranged was set up for it) and the shooters standing, crouching, or imitating a pretzel.
Shooters had to drop down into their desired position for sitting (or for prone) which often took about 20 seconds to start shooting.
when the initial load of ammo used up the semi auto gunners either stuffed a an 8 round clip into the M-1 or changed boxes on the M-14.
Bolt gunners used a 5 round stripper clip.
This often took another 10 or more seconds.
Good bolt gunners could fire about one shot every 3 seconds.
Semi auto gunners were a bit faster. I was couched to count to 4 between shots. fast count to keep form shooting too fast.
targets changed from the 10in A-5 to the 12in SR target during that time. A5 was a 5 - V scoring system, hit the black and you got the 5. The SR target black included the 9 ring.
This was for 200yds. At 300 yds the SR target was enlarged to 18in but the black now included the 8 ring. The 9 ring was the same nominal 12ins.
Everybody used slings and shooting coats and gloves.
We had better sights (gas guns had their front sights cut down to the exact width of the black instead of being too wide like service sights) and most bolt guns shooters used an aperture front sight. Put the ring around the black.
If you are over about 22 years old trying to use a Mauser, or Japanese or Italian or French rifle is NOT going to work. Trying to use what ever front sight they are using with those little V notch rear sights was too much of a handicap unless you have 20/20 vision (or better). The Enfield No 4 with the good rear sight may be doable.
Now this was target shooting and the good shooters were keeping everything in the black or at least 8-9 shots in the black and perhaps they kept them in tight enough to make up for the one 8 or 7 on the SR target.
We also were shooting on a buff colored target that was over 5 ft tall and close to 4 ft wide with that black dot in the middle, not some soldier trying to hide next to bush or tree or wall in crappy light. We also were at known distance. Not guessing if the target was at 280 yds or 340 yds or????????
Nobody was shooting back either.
If you have crappy sights and poor light you need to take more time with either gun. IF all you want to do is hit that 5ft by 4 ft target you can shoot really fast (although I have seen people only get 5-6 hits on the whole paper when beginning)
What some guy can do on You-tube in a demonstration is not what most people can do, I have been driving for over 50 years, doesn't mean I can drive a race car at over 120mph on an oval track.