M2 60mm Mortar: Complete

Area effect, Area-effect, Cold War, Complete builds, Custom builds, M2 60mm Mortar, Products, Weapons, WWII

The mortar is finished, and what a beauty she is too, though I say so myself.

P1010094 copy

The adjustable windage is quite smooth, the folding handle giving adequate purchase and leverage.

P1010095 copy

While the leg spreading system has its advantages, I can’t help but feel there are simpler designs that would have had the same result. Perhaps the reasoning is plainer with a live firing version.

P1010096 copy

The baseplate has a 3D printed socket for the ball to slot into. On the original this is stamped into the plate design and features a lock, but here the ball is left free so that the barrel can be quickly upended and spent shells ejected.

P1010097 copy

The spikes on the bipod should keep it raised just high enough to give access to the elevation control in the centre.

P1010099 copy

A top-down view, showing the windage lever in the stowed position.

P1010101 copy

Once packed away, this mortar isn’t actually too bad for portability. Considering the complexity and the precision you could achieve out to a respectable range on the original, you can see why modern light mortars are more closely related to this package than the T89 or SMBL 2″ families. While they may have portability and speed on their side, the ability to fine-tune fire for only a little extra weight and bulk certainly has its appeal.

P1010103

 

If you liked 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.

You can find the build posts for this mortar here.

Don’t forget you can buy some of our complete products via Etsy. If you would like to commission a build like this, please drop us a line on the above email.

 

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M2 60mm Mortar: Build 2

Area effect, Cold War, Custom builds, M2 60mm Mortar, Weapons, WWII

The first job of the next leg is to fit the leg limiter. This has two lugs on the centre column and on the left leg. Between this and the attachment at the head of the tripod it helps the user to keep the elevation adjustment vertical, even on sloped or bumpy ground.

_DSF9611

When deployed, the limiter sits pretty much horizontal. The collar it is attached to on the leg slides up and down, with a stop at the top of its travel to make it level out. In these two pictures you can also see the elevation adjustment handle. This piece of steel bar was bent and is screwed and pinned in position so that it can’t rotate without operating the elevation screw.

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The feet are welded onto sockets that fit over the bottom of the legs.

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And are in turn are spot welded onto the legs. These feet will allow the operator to dig the legs into the ground for stability when firing.

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The windage screw has a metal sheath, which I’ll be adjusting to be a nice, close fit. It will also have to have a tooth of some kind to work against the screw.

_DSF9628

With some rather happy timing, these 3D printed parts then arrived. Printed in ABS for strength, if they prove to not be up to the task I shall try casting them in aluminium. I suspect they’ll do beautifully though, these are very solid shapes.

_DSF9640

Roughly put in place, the mortar is really taking shape now. To finish off these parts, I need to fit a large screw to the barrel clamp and screw together the two halves of the windage unit. The windage screw also needs a little modifying to remain locked into the unit, rather than walking out either side.

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The two halves of the windage unit screwed together. This is a very rigid unit, as it needs to be to function. The screw thread is very stiff and it will need a little modification to work smoothly.

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With a little time on the lathe, I reduced the ends of the screw thread down so that they ran smoothly in their mountings. I also drilled and tapped each end for the stoppers that prevent it from leaving the windage control.

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The windage adjustment dial has a folding handle, like the original.
_DSF9655 _DSF9656

In place, it sits well and works quite smoothly. I think the barrel vise will need a little re-enforcing for use but it’s not bad even as is.
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A quick demo, it’s a bit awkward videoing and operating it at the same time but it’s easy to use.

M2 mortar windage
 

The last bits are the baseplate and baseplate ball, plus a fair bit of finishing. This thing will take some serious painting!

You can see the previous build post here.

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.

Don’t forget you can buy many of our complete products via Etsy.

Creating an impression: 82nd Airborne, Italy 1943-44

Creating an impression, WWII

This is part of a new series, written by contributors outside of Vintage Airsoft itself (though I am sure I and some friends will have to do some of our own as well). Although I edit, pictures and words are from them and they have done their own research. Accreditation is at the bottom of the article.

82nd Airborne: Operation Avalanche

A less common impression in both the reenacting and airsofting community, as most loadouts are based on the Normandy Campaign.

The equipment pictured can be used for Operation Husky (Invasion of Sicily), Operation Avalanche (Invasion of Italy), or Operation Overlord (Invasion of Normandy). As the war progressed, the standard M42 jump uniform, as well as most of the equipment was phased out in favor of the M43 field uniform.

This is the one of the earliest variants of the U.S. airborne uniform that saw combat during WWII, with most jump uniforms being reinforced after the invasion of Italy in late 1943.

IMG_20170715_115645

 

Head

M1C/M2 Helmet: $99.99-345.00 (UK approx £200 from Soldier of Fortune)

The standard U.S. airborne helmet used throughout the war was the M2 “D bale” helmet. This helmet differs from the standard infantry helmet in that it uses curved fixed bales that resemble the letter “D.” This design was eventually decided to be inadequate as the bales that secured the chinstrap would often break in the field, necessitating constant repairs to helmets when returning from the field.

Due to large demands for airborne helmets, a number of standard M1 infantry helmets were converted with a jump liner and paratrooper straps to meet the demands for M2 helmets.

Eventually the M1C jump helmet was introduced to replace the M2, and added swivel bales to the helmet to prevent the bales from snapping off; however, they were not common until late 1944.

All versions of the jump helmet usually also had an airborne jump liner, which was a standard infantry liner with the addition of “A yokes” to hold the leather chinstrap. This chinstrap was used to secure the helmet to the paratrooper when jumping from aircraft.

The helmet pictured was compiled from various auctions on eBay, full M2s or M1Cs can be found at: At the Front, Jmurray and Soldier of Fortune

IMG_20170715_115650

Uniform

M42 Jump Uniform: $150

The M42 jump uniform was the standard uniform for paratroopers during 1943. The uniform was later upgraded with reinforcements at the knees and elbows, and later replaced by the M43 uniform.

The uniforms are common, however At the Front has the most durable and accurate for their price.

 

Khaki summer shirt: $50

The khaki summer shirt was often worn by airborne and infantry under the M42 jump uniform during the summer months. While technically not permitted, this was a common practice due to the hot climate of Italy in late summer.

What Price Glory is one of the few vendors to still sell khaki summer uniforms. (the one pictured is an original)

1937 wool shirt: $50

The standard regulation shirt (not pictured) was worn under the m42 jump uniform. This is the same shirt used under the M41 jacket by infantry; however, there are several photos of paratroopers wearing khaki shirts under their M42s instead of the wool shirt.

At the Front, What Price Glory, and other vendors have reproduction wool shirts, and originals are still plentiful.

 

Insignia

Sewing patches: Each paratrooper was to sew on their own insignia to their uniforms, this lead to a variety in the manner in which the patches were affixed to the uniform. Some would spend time meticulously sewing intricate patterns for their insignia, like the cross stitching pictured, while others would attempt to quickly sew insignia to the uniform, creating a sloppier look to the uniform. Others, especially units like the 509th parachute infantry regiment chose not to sew on a unit insignia.

IMG_20170715_115658

Divisional patches should be sewn onto the left shoulder, approximately the width of two fingers below the shoulder seam. American flags should also be sewn two finger widths below the right shoulder seam. Rank patches should be sewn approximately one finger width below the unit patch or halfway between the elbow and the bottom of the unit patch.

At the Front makes quality patches for uniforms, as original airborne patches are nearly impossible to find.

82nd Airborne Patch: $10
The 82nd Airborne was the first airborne division to see combat in the European theater in WWII. The division fought in Sicily, Italy, France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany.

PFC Stripes: $5
Private First Class stripes, added to denote rank of private first class.

48 Star American Flag: $5
American flags were commonly sewn on the arm of invasion forces, leading to several variants of patches or armbands to be attached to paratroopers. Often, these patches would be removed after landing, so their inclusion is not necessary.

Feet

Corcoran Jump Boots: $125-256
Jump boots were issued to U.S. paratroopers throughout WWII, and are still used today. These jump boots are taller than most other boots to secure them to the paratrooper when jumping. The boots should be polished to a shine, as this was a common sign of pride among paratroopers. WWII jump boots should be brown, and polished to a dark brown shine.

At the Front, Amazon, and most other WWII vendors sell brown Corocan Jump Boots.

 

Field Gear

For the invasion of Italy, all field gear should be OD3 (khaki), there should not be any OD7 (green) field gear, as OD7 was not common until D-Day.

Webbing set: (pistol belt, rigger pouches, canteen, entrenching tool) $175
The standard web gear for U.S. airborne in 1943 consisted of a 1936 pistol belt, rigger pouches which could hold four enbloc M1 Garand clips or five M1 Carbine 15 round magazines. The canteens should be stainless steel, as original aluminum canteens contain large amounts of aluminum oxide. The T-Handle entrenching tool allowed soldiers to dig foxholes, clear brush, and could be used as a weapon of last resort. In 1943, the standard T-Handle or shortened airborne T-Handle shovels would be appropriate.

Much of the web gear pictured are originals, the e-tool was from At the Front, and the rigger pouches were from Man the Line

1936 pack system: $60
The 1936 Musette bag and suspenders are an important part of any airborne impression. The system allowed the paratrooper to be able to jump while carrying a pack, and was issued throughout the war to U.S. Airborne forces.

IMG_20170715_115702

The pack and suspenders pictured are both originals.

1916 holster: $30
The 1916 holster was designed to hold the 1911 handgun, and was issued to officers, machine gun crews, and other units who were not given an M1 Garand rifle. Additionally, U.S. paratroopers often acquired 1911s from various sources and were able to keep them for the Italy jump.

The holster pictured is an original.

Gas mask bag: $20
The 82nd Airborne jumped into Sicily and Italy still using their training gas masks. These were usually discarded soon after the jump upon the realization that the Germans were not using poison gas. These training masks were replaced by the M6 gas mask and M7 rubberized gas mask bag for the Normandy invasion.

Parachute first aid pack: $14
The parachute first aid pack was a small first aid kit for the individual’s use should they be wounded in action. Soldiers were also issued a separate bandage and pouch, however during the Italy invasion, the content of the second bandage pouch were often stuffed into the M42 jacket pockets.

The one pictured is an original.

At the Front, Man the Line, What Price Glory, World War Supply, and other vendors sell quality reproduction field gear. I would recommend against buying off eBay, as reproductions are often poorly made and poorly dyed.

 

Weapon

M1A1 Carbine (King Arms): $350
The M1A1 Carbine was a M1 carbine with a wire folding stock to allow easier use when jumping from aircraft. The rifle was folded and placed in a scabbard secured to the parachute, and unlike the M1 Garand, could be immediately used upon landing. Carbines were usually issued to machine gun crews, officers, and radiomen; however, there is evidence that some riflemen were issued carbines.

The King Arms M1A1 is CO2 powered, full metal and real wood, giving it a similar feel and weight to the real version. Unfortunately, King Arms did not base their model off the WWII version of the M1A1, and therefore the rifle needs modifications to bring it closer to WWII specifications. Additionally, the rifle shoots at 487fps using .2 bbs, making it difficult to use at normal fields.

KAAG127_3

 

1911 (WE Tech): $95
The Gen3 WE Tech 1911 GI model is an affordable, reliable sidearm. The handgun shoots reliably and possesses a 15 round magazine. A very capable sidearm, and one of the few 1911s made to WWII specification.

M3 Trench Knife: $50
The M3 trench knife was issued to U.S. soldiers who did not have an M1 Garand bayonet. This knife was used as both a fighting and utility knife from 1943-1945.

Rubber knives can be found on eBay for $40, while the M6 scabbard can be found on eBay separately for $20. 

Editor’s note: Other suitable main arms would of course include the M1 Garand, M1 or M1A1 Thompson. You can of course find some rubber knives in the Vintage Airsoft Etsy Store.

 

Vendors

There are a variety of vendors from which to source a U.S. Airborne impression, for simplicity’s sake, the links to quality vendors of reproduction equipment in the United States will be listed instead of the prices for individual items, which are subject to change at any time.

US: At the Front: www.atthefront.com 
World War Supply www.worldwarsupply.com
Man the Line www.mantheline.com

US/UK: What Price Glory www.whatpriceglory.com

UK: Soldier of Fortune www.sofmilitary.co.uk

 

As a rule of thumb, At the Front has the highest quality reproduction uniforms and field gear, however they are more expensive. Man the Line and World War Supply have some items that are of high quality, but others that tend to fall apart quickly. What Price Glory offers a larger selection of uniforms than At the Front, but often are lower quality.

Original items will vary in price greatly, and generally sell for approximately the same price of At the Front. USThey will be the highest quality, and most accurate, but due to age, they may not be as durable as good reproduction gear.

Editor’s note: Apart from strong items like helmets or garments not exposed to the elements such as shirts, I’d personally avoid using original items in the field as they are likely to succumb to wear or loss and it’s sad to lose a piece of history! That said I wear original uniforms for airsoft myself sometimes, just bear in mind historical value.

Text by Jacob Riley
Photos by Roger Harris

Edited by Dominic Evans

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 15.08.39

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.

_DSF9085

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.

_DSF9124

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.

_DSF9159

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.

_DSF9259

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.

_DSF9302

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.

_DSF9303

 

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.

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

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.

"Members_of_a_Negro_mortar_company_of_the_92nd_Division_pass_the_ammunition_and_heave_it_over_at_the_Germans_in_an_almos_-_NARA_-_535546

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.

kt3h4nf24q-FILEID-1.35.43

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.

usmortaritaly

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.

 

 

The Battle of Guadalcanal

Game write-up, WWII

Those who follow Vintage Airsoft on the Facebook page will know I attended the 34th Infantry’s WWII Pacific game last week at Fireball Squadron. I thought I would give a little writeup on the day as these games really summarise what WWII airsoft games are all about for me.

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The game format that the 34th run is based on missions. Each squad has to accomplish as many of these as they can, they choose which missions they do when. As a result, friendly and opposing teams are tracking across the field randomly, never knowing exactly where everyone else is. As a result, you can go for an hour not seeing another squad, then have a solid half-hour contact with both enemy squads!

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This randomness means you never know exactly when or where a firefight will be. You may lay an ambush carefully, wait for 20 minutes and the enemy is as likely to appear behind you as where you wanted them to be!

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For my part, I played Japanese. Our squad had a very quiet morning, only the one contact. We spent a lot of time patrolling the field, achieving lots of objectives. We came close a few times, with the US Marines clearly operating at the next set of buildings or defensive lines, but held our fire in order to complete our missions13765724_1556732241301324_3409418459314172379_o

The missions varied, there were several where we had to sabotage various facilities, placing bombs to ‘destroy’ targets. The loud bangs sometimes drew in the enemy, so it was wise to bug out as quickly as possible.

There were also search and destroy missions, where you had to simply go out and get kills from enemy squads as well as supply runs or treasure retrieval.

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For me, the highlight of the day was a Banzai charge. The squad got as close as we could to a Marine squad without being spotted, as soon as they saw us and started to fire, most of us jumped into a sprint, yelling and screaming “BANZAIIIIIIII!!!!” at the top of our voices. I went in with the Luger, firing off a magazine as I charged. About 15m away from the Americans, I copped two shots in the torso and went down. One of the great things about the format is that instead of shouting ‘Hit!’, raising a hand and walking away, you scream out and ‘die’, as dramatically as possible. This is disconcerting for people who have never seen it before but it does add to the immersion value. Once you get into it, it is also quite fun in its own right. It certainly makes taking a hit more enjoyable.

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If not all your squad are killed in a contact, there are two bandages per player that allow you to be medic’d back into the game twice. One prolonged contact in the afternoon, all my squad around me had been wounded and I was on my last Sten magazine. I ended up having to do a dance of death with my opponents, shooting and moving position, waiting for them to move up to a place where I could land my shots on them. At a crossroads in the path around which this contact happened, three of my team were lying injured, with one of the enemy.

Fortunately I had a good view of this and when people came up the path I was able to jump out with the Luger and emptied a magazine at them, taking them down. I pulled back for a bit and waited again. A Marine came back from further ahead to try and medic one of his teammates back into the game and I shot him with a short burst from the Sten. At that point enough of the Marines were out of action for me to feel comfortable healing my own teammates. Three healed, we started to pull back to our HQ, leaving the Marine squad ‘dead’ at the crossroads.

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There were also a lot of contacts where our squad got slaughtered, quickly or otherwise! One mission was to achieve two confirmed kills, we set up an excellent ambush at a checkpoint with lots of hard cover. As the US troops came into view,crossing the road about 20m away I opened fire with the Sten. Unfortunately, it turned out that both Marine squads were together at this point, resulting in our being flanked from the back, right and killed to a man!

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The sheer unpredictability of this style of game is what makes it so attractive. You have to be on the ball constantly, there is no doss period as you make your way to the start point of a mission, as soon as you leave your HQ you are fair game! You may be contacted before you reach your objective, while you are carrying out the mission or on your way back. The enemy can come from any direction, at any time. There are quiet periods, but that makes you appreciate the fight even more when it does come.

 

If you are able to make it to a game with the 34th Infantry I highly recommend it. You can find them at Fireball Squadron, near Sutton Coldfield.

 

Photographs are kind courtesy of Pedro @The Airsoft Project.

If you would like to get involved with WWII airsoft in the UK, you can find the WWII airsoft forum here.

P.S.: This rare airsoft beauty featured in the game. A Type 14 Nambu pistol, this is the first I have seen in the flesh. A truly lovely replica, with very good handling characteristics._DSF7665