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US M2 60 mm Mortar
World War II era 60 mm U.S. M2 Mortar, G.I. helmet shown for scale
Type Infantry mortar
Place of origin  USA
Service history
Wars World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War
Production history
Designer Edgar Brandt
Variants Type 31
Weight 19.05 kg (42 lb)
Barrel length 726 mm (2 ft 5 in)

Shell 1.33 kg (2 lb 15 oz)
Caliber 60 mm (2.36 in)
Elevation +40° to +85°
Rate of fire 18 rounds/minute
Muzzle velocity 158 m/s (518 ft/s)
Maximum range 1,815 m (1,985 yards)

The M2 Mortar is a smoothbore, muzzle loading, high-angle-of-fire weapon used by U.S. forces in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War for light infantry support.


M4 Collimator sight, used for both indirect fire and direct lay missions.

The U.S. M2 60 mm mortar was developed from the heavier 81 mm M1 Mortar to provide a lighter-weight alternative to company-level fire support.[1] The M2 attempted to bridge the gap between the 81 mm mortar and the hand grenade. Normally employed by the weapons platoon of a U.S. infantry company, the M2 is of the usual mortar pattern of the day.[1][2] It consists of a smoothbore metal tube on a rectangular baseplate, supported by a simple bipod with the elevation and traverse mechanisms. The firing pin was fixed in the base cap of the tube, and the bomb was fired automatically when it dropped down the barrel. Though classed as a light mortar, the M2 had considerable range compared to the 50 mm and 60 mm mortars of most other nations, and its fixed-firing pin design allowed a high rate of fire by trained crews.[1]


During the late 1920s, the US Army began examining mortars to act as a light infantry support weapon. The War Department eventually settled on a 60 mm design from Edgar Brandt, a French ordnance engineer, and purchased a license to build the weapon. The model was standardized as the Mortar, 60 mm M2. Testing took place in the late 1930s, and the first order for 1,500 M2 mortars was placed in January 1940.

The weapon was used throughout World War II by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. It saw service again in the Korean War, and by French forces in counterinsurgency campaigns in Indochina and Algeria. During the Vietnam War, the M2 was again used by the U.S. Army and Marines, as well as by South Vietnamese forces.

Chinese military forces also produced a version of the M2 called the Type 31.


60mm mortar shells for the U.S. M2 Mortar. Left-to-Right: M69 Training/Practice, M49A2 High Explosive, M302 White Phosphorus/Smoke, M83 Illuminating (parachute flare)

The M2 Mortar could fire several types of ammunition.

  • M49A2 High explosive (HE): Used against infantry and other light targets
  • M302 White phosphorus (WP): Used as a signaling, screening, smoke-producing, and casualty-producing tool
  • M83 Illuminating round: Used in night missions requiring illumination for assistance in observation.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Norris, John and Calow, Robert, Infantry Mortars of World War II, Osprey Publishing (2002), ISBN 1-84176-414-0, ISBN 978-1-84176-414-6, p. 15
  2. U.S. Army M2 60 mm Mortar
  • Hogg, Ian (2000). Twentieth-Century Artillery. Friedman/Fairfax Publishers. ISBN 1-58663-299-X
  • Norris, John and Calow, Robert, Infantry Mortars of World War II, Osprey Publishing (2002), ISBN 978-1-84176-414-6

External links

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