Mortars (and Indirect Fire)

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Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:10 pm

Mortars (and Indirect Fire)

Postby Brandon_C » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:14 pm

(This has taken more time than the previous posts on rifle grenades and grenade launchers, as I had no easy reference numbers for HE shell damage)


Mortars are light, short-ranged artillery, and are an integral part of infantry units at the company level or higher. They normally consist of a tube (smoothbore barrel), bipod (which can be adjusted for elevation and traverse) and a baseplate (to take the recoil of firing). Most light and medium mortars can be broken down into these three parts to be carried by men on foot.

Medium and heavy mortars are often mounted in vehicles and heavy mortars sometimes have a wheeled carriage, which allows them to towed.

Mortars are muzzle loaded, with the bomb simply being dropped down the tube. The primer in the base of the tail fin strikes the firing pin at the bottom of the tube, which fires the shell. Unlike most other Heavy Weapons, most mortars have a minimum range (caused by physical limitations of the weapon's elevation settings).

Mortars fall into light, medium and heavy categories, with "commando" mortars being a specific type of light mortar. Also, although rare, there are gun-mortars, a weapon that looks like a normal breech-loading tank gun but fires mortar bombs or special shells.

--Commando Mortars--
Commando mortars are very light mortars (around 5kg, with 1-1.5kg shells) intended to be carried and operated by one man, although they can be operated by two or three men to improve efficiency (and carry extra shells). The bipod is replaced by a sling (often marked with ranges, the gunner placing his foot on the correct mark for his intended range) and the baseplate is reduced in size. Unlike other mortars which are drop fired, they are usually fired by pulling a trigger or lanyard. thus commando mortars can be carried loaded. Those with slings do no have a mechanical minimum range, but there may be one for safety when firing explosive shells.

Commando mortars can be assigned to platoons or even special operations squads.

The Japanese Type 89 "knee mortar" of the 1930's and 40's fired specially made grenades to a useful range from a rifled barrel but could also launch standard hand grenades with the use of an adapter fitted to the grenade, at shorter range. The Type 89 was intended to be fired with the buttplate on the ground or against some solid, heavy object. If fired from the leg, the heavy recoil invariably led to a broken leg bone. The earlier Type 10 used a smoothbore barrel with greatly reduced range (20/40/85m). Although not termed a commando mortar, the Type 89 fits that role.

Tech 20, Damage 17, Ammo 1, Range 75/150/325 or 20/40/85, Price 100 (10) , Medium Blast

The British 2" (51mm) mortar was operated by two men, with one holding the barrel at the correct angle and firing the mortar, with the other serving as loader. Aiming was done by lining up a white stripe painted atop the barrel and lobbing bombs until the correct angle was achieved to hit the target. France and Germany used 50mm mortars similar in game terms (they used bipods attached to a fairly large baseplate), although the French version was underpowered (damage 14) and the German version was excessively heavy (14kg). India uses an updated version of the British mortar as the 51mm E1. The modern French LGI Mle F1 is similar, but with longer range (75/150/325).

Tech 20, Damage 19, Ammo 1, Range 50/100/250, Price 300 (11) , Medium Blast

(While these are not normally considered commando mortars, they share several characteristics of them and are included here. They also fit what may be available in the Nile Empire)

The Hirtenberger M6C-210 is a 60mm mortar. It has a carrying handle atop the barrel, which includes the trigger. It is used by several European militaries as well as Japan.

Tech 22, Damage 21, Ammo 1, Range 200/400/800, Price 1000 (15) , Medium Blast

--Light Mortars--
Light mortars are typically 50-60mm and weigh 10-20kg. These are what a company commander (in charge of 100-150 men) usually has under his command, frequently in sections of three. A typical light mortar team consists of a commander, gunner (who aims the weapon and makes the Heavy Weapons roll), assistant gunner (who loads the mortar) and two ammo bearers (who also serve as security if enemy troops appear in rifle range).

The US 60mm M224 is a common light mortar. It weighs 21 kg and fires a 2kg shell. Minimum range is 70m. The older M2 weighed 19kg and had a range of 200/450/900.

Tech 22, Damage 21, Ammo 1, Range 300/800/1.7, Price 1000 (15) , Medium Blast

--Medium Mortars--
Medium mortars are 70mm to 90mm (with 81 or 82mm being very common) and weigh 40-50kg. Medium mortars are a battalion (400-600 men) level weapon. Crew is generally the same as a light mortar.

The Russian 82mm 2B14 Podnos is typical of medium mortars. It weighs 41kg assembled and fires a 3kg shell, with a minimum range of 80m. The earlier (Tech 20) M-37 is generally the same, but weighs 56kg and range is 300/750/1.5k. Almost every country that ever received Soviet assistance uses some version of the M-37 or improved models.

Tech 23, Damage 25, Ammo 1, Range 500/1k/2.1k, Price 3000 (18) , Medium Blast

The British L16 81mm mortar is widely used around the world; most countries that didn't use a Russian 82mm mortar used some version of the L16. It weighs 35kg and has a range of 700/1.4k/2.8k, with a 90m minimum range. It is designated the L2 in Australia and M252 in the US. Otherwise, treat as the 82mm 2B14 Podnos.

--Heavy Mortars--
Heavy mortars vary greatly in bore size, but 120mm is most common.

The Israeli 120mm Soltam K6 is 145 kg (with a 180kg trailer) and shells are 14kg. Minimum range is 200m. Several countries use the K6, most notably the US as the M120. An insert for the M120 allows it to fire 81mm mortar shells, if required. The Russian 2S12 Sani is similar, but slightly heavier (190kg).

Tech 23, Damage 27, Ammo 1, Range 750/1.5k/3.6k, Price 6000 (19) , Medium Blast


Gun-mortars resemble short-barreled cannons, but due to lower gunpowder charges, are lighter and produce less recoil. Some armored vehicles use them instead of cannons while a handful are placed on wheeled carriages and resemble light field guns.

The Russian 82mm 2B9 Vasilek is an automatic towed gun-mortar. Unusually for a mortar, it loads from a four round magazine. It weighs 630 kg with 3.25 kg shells.

--Indirect Fire--

Indirect fire, as the term implies, is not aimed directly at a target but at some point (usually a map coordinate) with the effect of the shells relayed by a forward observer back to the gun crew (typically by radio). Such fire is normally out of visual range of the gun crew (either because of range or objects such as trees or hills being fired over), so accurate reports by the forward observer is critical.

Indirect fire cannot be Aimed normally; the gun crew requires a map where they they can find their location and that of the target (this can be accomplished at Tech 20 and higher). All shots are considered Blind Fire. Called Shots cannot be made. Concealment does not affect the Heavy Weapon roll of the gunner, but does affect the Find roll of the forward observer. Likewise, Darkness affects the observer but not the gunner. Range penalties apply normally. Also, indirect fire is not suited for firing at moving targets; if a target is moving at all, apply a -4 modifier in addition to any for actual target speed (p.132).

Each time a shell lands, the forward observer must make an Easy (DN 6) Find test to accurately report the information to the gun crew (eg, "100m long" or "75m right"). On a regular success, reduce the Blind Fire penalty by 1, on a Good Success by 2 and on an Outstanding Success by 3.

Once on target (Blind Fire penalty eliminated), the gunner may take the Aim action if he was not yet able to.

If a member of the gun crew can see target (often the case with commando or light mortars), treat as above, but there is no need for a forward observer to help adjust fire and the Blind Fire penalty does not apply.

(Rather than Find, some GMs may prefer to use a Profession (Forward Observer) skill)

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