Original British WWII Era 2-Inch Mortar Set with Transit Chest, Inert Bombs and Cleaning Kit Bag

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Demilitarized to specifications provided by the BATF, this is a fantastic 2-inch Mark 8* British Mortar. The set includes-

• 2-inch Mk 8* Mortar tube with base plate and trigger.
• Correct wooden transit chest.
• Two inert 2 mortar bombs.
• Correct 1945 dated cleaning kit bag (empty).

Overall this set is in excellent condition.

History of the British mortar-

The British Army had two types of mortar in service at the outbreak of the Second World War, one of which was the 2-inch weapon for use with infantry platoons. The 2-inch mortar had been developed during the 1930s after the British Army had inspected weapons of a similar caliber in service with other European countries, including the Spanish 50mm mortar. Although deemed unsuitable for the British Army as it stood, the Spanish mortar did serve as the starting point from which the Armament Research Department could begin development of its own version.

In November 1937 ten examples of the new weapon were readied with 1600 rounds each of high explosive and smoke bombs. The resulting trials confirmed the reliability and dependability of the weapon. The Director of Artillery ordered the weapon to be placed in production in February 1938, only four months after the initial field trials, which meant that by 1939 some 500 of the weapons and their associated ammunition were already established in service as the Mk II with crews trained in the use of the weapon.

Over the duration of the war the 2-inch mortar was developed into no fewer than eight separate marks, from which also stemmed a number of other variations. Some were successful and others less so.

The standard service version of the 2-inch (51 mm) mortar had a barrel length of 21 inches (530 mm) and could fire a high explosive bomb weighing 2.25 lb (1.02 kg) out to a range of 500 yards. With such a short barrel the normal firing method, where the bomb was dropped down the tube and a pin in the base of the barrel struck the detonator in the tail of the bomb, would not work so firing was by a small trigger mechanism at the breech. Originally the 2-inch (51 mm) mortar was fitted with a large collimating sight with elevating and cross-level bubbles, but this was soon dropped as unnecessary in a front-line unit. It was replaced instead with a simple white line painted up the length of the barrel.

The firer only had to line this up in the direction of the target and fire a number of bombs for effect. Whilst this method of operation may sound rather haphazard, it worked well and the practice continued long after the war. The mortar evolved in other directions too, with the original large base plate being replaced by a simple curved model, to give it a combat weight of 10.25 lb (4.65 kg).

Due to its small size, and for simplicity the mortar had no forward strut or bipod like larger designs needed. The barrel would be held at the correct angle by one soldier while the other loaded and fired the round. It could achieve a firing rate of some eight rounds per minute. The bombs were cylindrical with a (perforated) four finned tail. For the HE projectile an impact fuze was fitted in the nose of the bomb. The illuminating round weighed 1 lb (0.45 kg) and the smoke round weighed 2.25 lb (1.02 kg). A whole range of other ammunition was also developed including a specialized bomb that cast a lightweight explosive-filled net over patches in minefields so that it could be detonated to clear a path.

Post war, the 2-inch mortar was kept in service to fire smoke and illuminating rounds. The mortar remained in service until the late 1980s when it was replaced by the Royal Ordnance 51 mm infantry mortar.

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