Newton 6 inch Mortar

Newton 6 inch Mortar
NewtonMortar.jpg
Canadian troops firing the 6-inch (152.4 mm) Mortar in the open at Valenciennes in 1918
Type Medium mortar
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1917 - 1918
Used by British Empire
 United States
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Captain H Newton, 5th Btn Sherwood Foresters
Designed 1916
Number built UK : 2,538[1]
Specifications
Barrel length Bore: 4 ft 6 in (1.37 m)
Total: 4 ft 9 in (1.45 m)[2]

Shell HE 52 lb (24 kg)[3]
Calibre 6 inches (152.4 mm)
Elevation 77°–45°
Rate of fire 8 rounds/min[4]
Effective range 100 - 1,420 yds
(91 - 1,298 m)
Maximum range 1,950 yd (1,780 m)[5]
Filling Amatol, Ammonal or Sabulite
Filling weight 22 pounds (9.98 kg)

The Newton 6 inch Mortar was the standard British medium mortar in World War I from early 1917 onwards.

Contents

Description

The Newton 6 inch replaced the 2 inch Medium Mortar beginning in February 1917.

It was a simple smooth bore muzzle-loading (SBML) mortar consisting of a 57-inch (1,448 mm) one-piece steel tube barrel, with a "striker stud" inside the centre of the closed base of the tube. The rounded external base of the tube sat in a socket in the flat cast steel base, which in turn sat on a wooden platform. An "elevating guy" (cable) connected to a loop in the upper side of the barrel and the rear end of the bed. "Traversing guys" (cables) connected to loops on each side of the barrel and eyebolts on the upper sides of the bed. Hence aiming of the barrel was done by adjusting the length of the guys via adjusting screws. A socket in the barrel base allowed for emergency firing via a "misfire plug" in the case of misfires (i.e. if the bomb remained in the barrel due to failure of the propellant to ignite).[6]

Combat service

Loading bomb in typical trench emplacement, Mesopotamia 1918

British Empire Divisions were initially equipped with 3 batteries of 4 mortars designated X, Y, Z. From February 1918 onwards these were consolidated into 2 batteries, X and Y, of 6 mortars each, and Z was dissolved. In British use they were operated by the Royal Field Artillery and formed part of the Divisional Artillery with 1 battery attached to each of the Divisional artillery brigades.

The United States Army began production and equipping with this mortar late in the war but it is doubtful whether any were used in combat.

3rd Australian Medium Trench Mortar Battery in action, Ville-sur-Ancre, Somme, 29 May 1918

The mortar was operated from concealed pits close to the front line during trench warfare, and was used in the open during the final "mobile warfare" phase of the First World War, as demonstrated in the photograph, depending on available transport. The disassembled weapon was usually transported on horsedrawn carts but the Canadian Automobile Machine Gun Brigade (the Canadian Independent Force or "Brutinel's Brigade") is known to have successfully used the mortar both mounted on motor trucks and dismounted in the closing months of the war.[7][8]

The 52-pound cast-iron fin-stabilised high explosive bomb carried the percussion primer at the base in the intersection of the 4 vanes (fins), consisting of a specially loaded blank .303 rifle cartridge. The basic propellant charges were contained in 4 small white cambric bags each containing 1 oz of guncotton yarn. These were held in place in the 4 angles between the bomb's fins. For ranges less than 1000 yards 1 or more bags could be removed, as per range tables.

For ranges above 1,000 yards (910 m), additional charges were loaded before the bomb, held in 2 white cambric bags each containing 1 oz 4 drm cordite.[9]

In action the gunners would adjust the angle of the barrel via the elevating guy (for distance) and traversing guys (for direction). The manual warns: "See that the elevating and traversing screws of the guys are always tight. A slack guy leads to inaccurate shooting, and the stresses on firing are not equally distributed; this is usually the cause of the guys breaking".[10]

The range tables specified the barrel angle and propellant charges required. The additional cordite propelling charge bags were dropped down the barrel if necessary, or necessary number of propellant charges removed from the bomb, and the bomb's fuze was set. The gunners stood back, the bomb was dropped down the barrel, the detonator in the base of the .303 cartridge in the base of the bomb struck a pin in the bottom of the barrel and fired, igniting the guncotton charges in the base of the bomb, which in turn ignited the cordite charges if present. The resulting rapid gas expansion propelled the bomb up the barrel and to its target.

1917 Range tables

52 lb Bomb, ML 6 inch Trench Mortar.
Propellant : 1-4 one ounce guncotton charges in the base of the bomb, plus optional 2.5 oz cordite charge.[11]

Range
(yards)
1 oz charge
degrees
2 oz charge
degrees
3 oz charge
degrees
4 oz charge
degrees
4 oz + 2.5 oz cordite
degrees seconds
100 77          
120 74          
140 71          
160 67.5          
180 63.5          
200 59          
220 47.5 77.25        
226 45          
240   76        
260   74.75        
280   73.25        
300   72        
320   70.5 77.5      
340   69 76.75      
360   67.5 76      
380   66 75      
400   64.25 74.25      
420   62.25 73.25      
440   60.25 72.25 77.25    
460   57.75 71.5 76.5    
480   55 70.5 76    
500   50.5 69.5 75.25    
510   45        
520     68.5 74.5    
540     67.5 74    
560     66.25 73.25    
580     65.25 72.5    
600     64 72    
620     62.75 71.25    
640     61.25 70.5    
660     59.75 69.75    
680     58.25 69    
700     56.5 68.25 75.25 23.9
720     54.5 67.5 74.75 23.9
740     51.75 66.75 74.25 23.8
760     45.5 65.75 73.75 23.8
761     45      
780       65 73.25 23.7
800       64 72.75 23.6
820       63.25 72.25 23.6
840       62.25 71.75 23.5
860       61 71.25 23.4
880       60 70.75 23.4
900       58.75 70.25 23.3
920       57.5 69.75 23.2
940       56 69.25 23.1
960       54.5 68.75 23.1
980       52.5 68.25 23.0
1000       50 67.5 22.9
1016       45    
1020         67 22.8
1040         66.5 22.7
1060         66 22.6
1080         65.25 22.5
1100         64.5 22.8
1120         64 22.2
1140         63.25 22.1
1160         62.75 22.0
1180         62 21.8
1200         61.25 21.7
1220         60.5 21.5
1240         59.5 21.3
1260         58.75 21.1
1280         57.75 20.9
1300         56.75 20.7
1320         55.75 20.4
1340         54.75 20.2
1360         53.5 19.9
1380         52 19.5
1400         50 19.0
1420         45 17.5

Image gallery

See also

  • List of heavy mortars

Surviving examples

Notes and references

  1. ^ Ministry of Munitions 1922, pages 130-131
  2. ^ Preliminary Notes on the M.L. 6-Inch Trench Mortar Mark I. 1917
  3. ^ 52 lb total weight for bomb is quoted in Range Tables. Preliminary Notes on the M L 6-inch Trench Mortar, Mark I. Handbook of the M L 6-inch Trench Mortar Mark I.
  4. ^ Ministry of Munitions 1922, page 66
  5. ^ A maximum range of 1,950 yards was eventually achieved after improvements. Ministry of Munitions 1922, page 66
  6. ^ Preliminary Notes on the M.L. 6-Inch Trench Mortar, Mark I, 1917, page 1
  7. ^ Michael Holden, University of New Brunswick, "Training, Multi-National Formations, and Tactical Efficiency: The Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigades in 1918"
  8. ^ Danish Military History Society, "The Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, Part 1"
  9. ^ Handbook of the M.L. 6-Inch Trench Mortar Mark I. 1918
  10. ^ Handbook of the M.L. 6-Inch Trench Mortar Mark I. 1918, page 10
  11. ^ Preliminary Notes, 1917

Bibliography

External links


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