M2 60mm Mortar: Build 1

Area-effect, Cold War, M2 60mm Mortar, Weapons, WWII

The project started with a good deal of research, finding pictures of all the component parts. From this I calculated dimensions and drew up plans.

The M2 is quite a bit more complicated than the SMBL 2″ used by the British. For my flat laser cut parts, I’m looking at around 3x as many pieces: plus a number of cast or printed parts.

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The baseplate is the first component to be assembled. This heavy plate is designed to stick into the ground to control and direct the recoil.

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Then the feet for the bipod legs and the hinge parts, Although the M2 is complicated, it does fold down quite tidily, which means a lot of moving parts.

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With the legs in place, the mortar starts to take shape. The tube through the middle will have the elevation control going through it, at the top of it will be the T-piece where the windage adjustment will sit.

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The thread arrived, it is a 20mm trapezoidal threaded rod which should be coarse enough to allow quick adjustments to be made, but fine enough to allow for accurate fire adjustment.

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The elevation adjustment screw in place and the T-piece at the top of the column (where the windage screw will go). There is a slit in the back of the column in which a screw sits that locks the inner column into the outer and engages the screw thread.

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When the elevation is raised to maximum, you can just see the thread through the slot at the back, but this will effectively be hidden by the barrel.

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The next components will be the windage adjustment and endcaps. These are going to be 3D printed in ABS for strength and will also have the barrel clamp.

 

If you are interested in the history of the M2, you can check out the introduction article here.

If you like this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

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M2 60mm Mortar: Introduction

Area effect, Cold War, History, M2 60mm Mortar, Weapons, WWII

The M2 Mortar was a US light service mortar designed for close support by infantry at company level. These filled the gap between hand grenades/rifle grenades and the larger (81mm) M1 used at battalion level.

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The 81mm mortar in use with a mortar company of the 92nd Division.

It has its origins, much like nearly every modern mortar, in the WWI-era Stokes design. It was smoothbore, drop-fired and used a bipod/baseplate system.

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Doughboys with the WWI Stokes mortar.

Light mortars of the inter-war/WWII period fell into two categories: The first were simple, tubes held firmly by the user when fired and aimed by direct line of sight (such as the British SMBL 2″ and Japanese T89). The latter were complex, with coarse thread screws or other systems to control elevation and windage for very accurate controlled fire.

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The M2 fell into the latter category, with an attachment for a sight that could be used for both direct and indirect fire. As a result, it could be used accurately at close to its maximum range (nearly 2,000 yards).

M4-Mortar-Sight

The sight used for the M2.

Post-WWII, the M2 served in Korea and numerous Colonial conflicts with the French, finally in Vietnam. The Chinese also locally produced their own copy. It was eventually replaced in 1978 by the M224 which is still in service today and increased range capacity by about 1/3rd.

 

You can see some footage of the M2 in action here:

The Airsoft version currently being built will fire TAGs and moscarts, with a possibility of using TLSFX shells as well.

 

 

Japanese T89 ‘knee’ mortar

Area effect, Area-effect, Complete builds, Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), T89 'Knee' Mortar, Weapons, WWII

I was recently given this replica T89 mortar replica to convert to fire TAGS. I hope someday to make my own from scratch with a bit more detailing and moving parts.

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The first step is to fit a firing pin. This is quite simple, I tapped two disks and threaded them onto a bolt to create a stable unit. This can be pushed down to the bottom of the barrel.

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The shells are steel tubes with custom-made caps. This is the prototype, there is a second hole in the production versions to allow quick refiling of the TAGs. The bottom plate is held on by spring pressure.

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There are two rows of spacers. The bottom one keeps the shell centred in the barrel, the top, thicker row allows the user to line up the shell before dropping it into the barrel for firing.

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The completed shells.

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I’ll be taking lessons learned from this design to apply to my other mortars and heavy weapons. I’ll also be offering these quickfill shells as an alternative to the standard 2″ mortar shells I’m providing with the SMBL mortar.

 

If you want a mortar of your own, please do get in touch at: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or join us on our Facebook page. Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

British SMBL 2″ Mortar prototype: complete

Area effect, Complete builds, Custom builds, Products, SMBL 2" mortar, Weapons, WWII

At last, the mortar prototype is finished. The shells are steel tube and based on (though not replicas of) the SMBL 2″ mortar shells. The six fins and band at the top hold it straight as it is dropped into the barrel.

Inside you can fit a TAG shell or other 40mm grenade. To recharge them, simply remove the tube, reset the firing pin if needed and re-gas. The tube is held in place by the spring tension of the bottom half, these are taped up for dispatch.

Time for some pictures:

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Although the early models were supplied with an adjustable sight for targeting at different ranges, these were quickly ditched in favour of the single white line up the back for quick lining up. Adjustments could be made by eye.

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This picture shows how the shells come apart to fit a 40mm grenade or TAG shell. The top half just pulls out of the bottom, held in place by spring tension. The shell on the right is taped up ready for dispatch, this isn’t needed for use.

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When loaded, these are very safe to carry. MOSCARTs are notorious for going off when dropped. These shells have a firing pin which is recessed well into the tube which reduces the chance of this happening-prarticularly important when using TAG or solid state launchers.

 

If you want a mortar of your own, please do get in touch at: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or join us on our Facebook page. Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

Heavy weapons prototype special

Anti-Tank, Area effect, Area-effect, Cold War, LAW, PIAT, SMBL 2" mortar, War on Terror, Weapons, WWII

Nothing too in-depth today, just a short video showing off some of the prototypes we’ve been working on for over a year…

All of these are now available to order by email, we will be putting up pictures of the finished articles in the next few weeks.

If these products are of interest to you, please do get in touch at: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or join us on our Facebook page. Don’t forget you can buy many of our complete products via Etsy.

 

British SMBL 2″ Mortar prototype

Area effect, Area-effect, Cold War, SMBL 2" mortar, Weapons, WWII

I’m afraid I have been somewhat remiss on photographing this build, but it’s quite a simple one in terms of components… The baseplate is an early war design which suits itself to precision rather than speed. The spiked arrangement on the bottom digs into soft ground to provide stability. The curved plate is your elevation control.
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The bottom of the barrel/chamber, shown just after welding. The main body of the barrel is easily removable to remove the shell if you need to.

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And the finished prototype! There will be a few modifications for production that allow the barrel to sit flatter for transport and the shell will have cutouts in the fins for lightness.

_DSF7247Something worth pointing out is that this is designed mainly for use with TAG shells to take out targets at long range or lay smoke screens, though you can put in any 40mm shells you like. During testing we did experiment with scatter shells and they were  effective at clearing a wide area ahead of the mortar.

Also, dropping the shell is unlikely to set it off. The firing mechanism is sat well inside the shell and will only be fired if activated by something goes that far into it. This makes it safer than just carrying moscarts which can go off when dropped on their base.

 

If this product is of interest to you, please do get in touch at: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or join us on our Facebook page. Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

Light Mortars: SMBL 2″ mortar

Area effect, Area-effect, Cold War, History, SMBL 2" mortar, Weapons, WWII

History

Mortars are artillery that fires at a steep trajectory, used originally in sieges to target buildings inside walled towns that would be unreachable by conventional artillery.

They have been used by armies ever since, though the modern mortar is a very different beast to its medieval counterpart. This pattern of man-portable mortar was developed in the Great War: when remaining in cover while targeting an enemy in cover was necessary to survive. This close-use artillery needed to be small enough to live in conventional trenches but provide greater firepower and range than rifle grenades.

Loading2inchMortarBalkanFront

The Stokes mortar was introduced by the British in 1915 and the design was widely modified and used by other countries. It is the grandfather of all modern mortars.

The Ordnance SMBL 2″

The 2″ mortar as used by the British Army in WW2 was developed from a Spanish 50mm mortar, though with modifications to make it suitable for British service. By the end of the war there had been eight marks with countless ‘*’ designations (used by the British at the time to denote small changes that did not add up to a full Mk).

595px-Men_of_1st_Royal_Ulster_Rifles,_1st_Airborne_Division,_demonstrate_the_2-inch_mortar,_29_August_1942._H23359

Originally the mortar was supplied with a collimating sight with spirit-levels and adjustment to allow for carefully aimed fire, however this was dropped on many of the marks, being replaced by a simple white line up the length of the barrel which was pointed at the enemy and fire adjusted until the bombs landed on target.

 

Vintage Airsoft have built a prototype mortar and will be demonstrating it very soon.

If this product would be of interest to you, please do get in touch at: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or join us on our Facebook page. Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

PIAT: Part Two

Anti-Tank, Area-effect, PIAT, Weapons, WWII

PIAT Part One was quite a while ago now and the project had to take a bit of a back seat for a while. Since then it has undergone a few changes to improve it and get it working!

Firstly, the shell holder is now welded onto the receiver for strength and simplicity. The whole unit now strips from the back.
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The back now uses a bayonet locking lug system to hold the internals in place.

_DSF6892 The trigger mechanism is now also smaller and smoother to operate, so it now looks like this:
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With the prototype shell in place! The production shells will be much more authentic in shape, this is just a proof of concept at this stage.

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Time for a first coat of paint. Panzer green will do to prevent rust for now, though surviving examples are painted everything from a forest green to a chocolate brown.

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Time for a bit of bang:

If you like the look of this piece and would like a build of your own or want to support this project please do get in touch! Email us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or get in touch via our Facebook page.

Don’t forget to visit our Etsy page HERE.

PIAT: Part One

Anti-Tank, Custom builds, PIAT, Products, Weapons, WWII

Using CAD has started to become a bit of a habit… The PIAT was no exception!

I wanted to use a massive spring in this, even though there are more practical ways of firing a shell it’s true to the original and has some serious man-points attached!

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This is actually my second design, my initial design was slightly different internally and used the direct power of the spring to drive the projectile. Although this worked in my initial experiments, once I made the piston captive (necessary to stop half a kilo of steel from smacking someone in the face) the ball barely fired. The redesign will use a CO2 shell or blank-firing mechanism depending on use._DSF5532

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The buttplate is 2mm folded steel, welded into place purely for aesthetic reasons, as the original was stamped steel. Once polished up that is how it will look.

Sight units next: foresight and rear sight are different shapes but much the same idea. I fitted them together before welding so that they would line up correctly.

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With these two units complete, I could make the trigger mechanism. This is my version one, I have since then made some refinements that will make it smoother to use.

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One spring resets the second sear. You can see in this photograph that the spring pushes the sear up very high, this ended up being a problem as the force of the mainspring would make it almost impossible to actuate the mechanism. The next version fixes this by keeping the second sear at a usable height against the piston.

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All welded in place, ready to be cleaned up.

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Testing rig prior to making the piston captive. I also ended up making lightening cuts to the piston to improve travel speed. You can see the size of the spring in this shot, at one point I was unfortunate enough to be in the way of the piston when the sear slipped and it gave me a smart upper-cut to the chin. Fortunately it was only at half-cock otherwise I would have been in a pretty bad way!

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So, I’ll admit I have skipped a bit ahead here but the back end of the launcher was pretty well finished at this stage except for some adjustments to be made just before completion. Like the original, re-cocking is achieved by standing on the buttplate and lifting the rest of the launcher. I set to work on the fore-end that would hold the projectile.

This is a spare piece of mild steel tube I had left over from a previous build. I marked out the cutout on the top and removed it with an angle grinder.

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I then cut out a steel disk for the back of the head, drilling the centre for the ‘spigot’ (the steel rod that in the real version would fire the explosive charge in the shell) to come out of. This could then be welded in place along with the collar that attaches the head to the body. Five screws distributed around the circumference hold it in place.

As well as the mainspring, at this point I added a smaller spring that sits around the spigot to absorb the shock of the piston finishing its travel. This spring just bounces freely off the back of the head.

As I said at the start, this is the point where testing became less successful. Without the weight of the piston carrying the tennis balls I was firing originally they only just left the barrel. As a result, the design is being modified to take CO2 grenades. In the longer run it will also be able to fire blanks for re-enactment purposes.

 

 

If you are interested in this build, have any questions or would like a build of your own, let me know! Our email is: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or you can contact us through our Facebook page!

Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank

Anti-Tank, Cold War, Custom builds, PIAT, Products, Weapons, WWII

A_PIAT_(Projectile_Infantry_Anti-Tank)_in_action_at_a_firing_range_in_Tunisia,_19_February_1943._NA756

At the beginning of the Second World War, every major nation had a tanks of some description. What very few nations had was an effective way for infantry to counter them. At the time, the only way to disable a tank was with a risky sprint and throwing of a satchel charge (unofficially) or use of an anti-tank rifle. However anti-tank rifle technology was a hangover from the Great War and was already pretty outdated by the quality of armour on most tanks and was only useful against light armour and soft-skinned targets.

After the Battle of France, the British Army studied reports of infantry/tank contacts and failed to find a single example of the Boys anti-tank rifle actually destroying a tank.

Boys_Mk_I_AT_Rifle

The Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank or PIAT was what Britain came up with. Designed by Major Jefferis of MD1, the toy box of the War Office, with a great deal of input from Major Blacker of Blacker bombard fame. The basic design was that of a Spigot mortar, adapted for use as a direct-fire system.

A Spigot mortar uses a combination of a hefty spring and a small explosive charge at the base of the projectile to operate the weapon. The warhead, instead of sitting inside a barrel as per a regular mortar, sits over a small diameter tube and is actuated by a bar hitting the priming cap. A diagram explains this far better than words do:

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In this diagram you can just make out the guide tube in the centre of the projectile support. The missile slots over this and the firing pin travels through it.

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The effectiveness of the PIAT in use is much debated. Some sources cite that ammunition was unreliable, others that accuracy was a major issue at any kind of range and many that recoil was truly horrendous (some users said that you deserved the Victoria Cross just for firing it!). However a study of Canadian Officers ranked the PIAT as the number one most “outstandingly effective” weapon, above even the Bren, so in spite of its many foibles it was clearly well enough liked!

The PIAT was used by British and Empire forces throughout the war both as a direct fire anti-tank weapon and indirect fire support weapon. It was also given to the Soviet Union as part of lend-lease, dropped to partisans throughout Europe as well as by Israel post-war. It was last used officially by the Australians at the start of the Korean War, but it was quickly replaced.

The_British_Army_in_North-west_Europe_1944-45_B11928

As progress occurs we shall of course keep you posted on this build (follow the blog to help you keep track!), if this has inspired you to want a project of your own or you have any questions, do drop us a line! Our email is: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com. Also, ‘Like’ our Facebook page for updates and interesting articles.