90th IDPG Original Research


Tableau Number 1
The 81mm Mortar Squad

Date: January 2013
Author: Chris Guska - 90th IDPG

Notes from the manuals on equipment:

Here is what is prescribed for the squad, when both the TO&E and The Infantry Journal - 81mm Mortar Handbook are synthesized:

Member Weapon Carries Accessories
Squad Leader Garand Sight, M4, Case, M14, Aiming Post, Firing Tables Binoculars, Compass, Flashlight
Gunner 1911A1 Bipod Pad, M2
Assistant Gunner 1 1911A1 Tube Pad, M2, Asbestos Mitten
Assistant Gunner 2 1911A1 Baseplate Pad, M2, Asbestos Mitten
Ammo Bearer 1 Carbine Ammo (6 M43 , or 4 M56 / M57) Bag, M2, Cleaning Staff
Ammo Bearer 2 Carbine Ammo (6 M43 , or 4 M56 / M57) Bag, M2
Ammo Bearer 3 Carbine Ammo (6 M43 , or 4 M56 / M57) Bag, M2
Driver / Ammo Bearer 4 Carbine + M8 Launcher Rifle Grenades + Ammo as needed Compass (Wrist),

I've expanded upon the list above with descriptions from the 1942 Infantry Journal - 81mm Mortar Handbook. Italicized text are direct quotes from the manual.

"Bag, ammunition, M2 - The ammunition bag is a reinforced strip of canvas with a central opening which admits the head of the ammunition carrier. Pockets are provided in front and rear to carry the ammunition"

"Cover, muzzle, M307 - The leather muzzle cover is used for protection of the mortar bore from foreign matter and moisture."

"Cover, traversing screw, M505 - The cylindrical leather cover is used to cover the traversing screw mechanism when the mortar bipod is being man transported."

"Pad, shoulder, M2 - The shoulder pad consist of two pads, one for the left and one for the right shoulder. They are strapped together and provide protection for the shoulders of the members of the squad.

"Staff, cleaning, M4 (aluminum) / M8 (wood)- The cleaning staff has a four-prong fork fastened at one end to hold rags or waste with which the firing pin and bore of the mortar may be cleaned."

"Strap, carrying, M1 - The carrying strap M1 consists of a V-shaped strap and a pad. The strap is fastened to the link and loops of the base plate and slipped over the shoulders. The pad eases the load on the carrier's back."

The Infantry Journal - 81mm Mortar Handbook goes further to list additional equipment.

Sight, M4 - The sight, M4, provided with the 81mm mortar for laying in elevation and direction, is likewise the standard sight for the 60mm mortar. The sight includes a collimator, elevating and lateral deflection mechanism, and longitudinal and cross levels, all supported by a bracket with a dovetailed base which fits in a slot in the mortar yoke and latches in place.

Case, M14 & Asbestos Mittens

The Case, M14 is a protective leather case with a holding block for the Sight, M4.

Asbestos mittens are a heat resistant protective glove for handling the mortar tube after firing.

Binocular, M3 -The binocular M3 is an observation instrument of 6-power with an 8 degree field of view. It contains a graduated mil scale for the measurement of small horizontal and vertical angles. There is also provided an inverted sight leaf scale for the rapid computation of certain fire data. The binocular complete consists of the glass and its carrying case and neck strap.

Compass, Lensatic - The lensatic compass is standard for fire control with the 81mm mortar; several similar models are issued. The prismatic compass may be used for fire control, but the watch compass is unsuitable for such use.

Firing Tables - These tables give range in yards and elevation in degrees as indicated. The appropriate elevation for a given range and propelling charge is shown in the columns headed "Elevation" and "Charge".

A heavy paper firing table is included with each packaging unit of ammunition. For example, 1 firing table was included with each crate of ammunition.

A separate firing table was printed for each type of round, M43 series, M56, M57...

On the reverse of the range table (front) was a deflection table.

Post, aiming, 2 ft., M5 (Aluminum) (POST, aiming, 2 ft., M9 (Wood) may be issued in lieu.

These were simple round rods tapered to a point. They were painted red and white. The example illustrated below has a luminous disk affixed - this is occasionally seen.

Spare Parts & Tools for the Mortar

Here's the excerpts from ORD 9 SNL A-33 specifying what was allocated.

Excerpt from 1943 Addendum

In discussing these accessories and spare parts with veterans, most never remember seeing the spare parts at all in theater - or if they did, they were stored on the jeep and never messed with.

On to Section 3: Original Photographs - Key Observations


Section 1: By the book - TO&E
Section 2: Notes from the manuals on equipment (you are here)
Section 3: Original Photographs - Key Observations
Section 4: Preparing for Fire - Operational Concepts
Section 5: Conducting Fire - Modern Interpretation



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