The 8-cm Granatwerfer 34 (GrW 34) - Heavy Grenade-Launcher Model 1934 - was a German Army favorite throughout the whole course of World War 2. Despite the official designation classification, she was often classified as a medium mortar and was produced from 1934 into 1945. The system performed highly-effectively (particularly in the hands of a trained mortar team) and was respected by Allied troops for her excellent rate-of-fire and high accuracy at distance. The weapon proved so critical to German Army operations that it was fielded wherever her troops were fighting. Her production in number and her general battlefield usefulness ensured her place in World War 2 lore.
Rheinmetall-Borsig AG was charged with the design and development of this mortar system. The protracted design period lasted from 1922 to 1933, a period which saw German rearmament in spite of the restrictive powers of the Treaty of Versailles following World War 1. The mortar system was nothing more than a revision of the influential French Brandt mle 27/31 81.4mm system of 1927, this time with a German branding. Crews were trained in her basic functions but soon - moreso through operational experience - developed speedy response times in her deployment, aiming and firing - making themselves one of the more feared adversaries of the war. German mortar crews represented some of the finest masters of their craft in the entire conflict. To keep up with demand, several manufacturing firms were enlisted to lend a hand in wartime production of the GrW 34 while still more were used for production of the all-important projectiles needed to make the GrW 34 a successful weapon system.
Despite her dedicated pages in World War history, the GrW 34 was anything but a unique and wholly special design, passing on much of the kudos to her excellently trained crews. Her design was highly conventional for its time - her arrangement consisted of nothing more than the standard base plate, a bipod (with aiming optics and handwheels) connected to the firing tube and the firing tube itself. The system could break down into these three major components for ease of travel. The firing tube itself was of a smoothbore internal design. Two barrel types existed in a steel and alloy form, differentiated by the systems overall weight gains as 136.6lbs and 125.6lbs respectively. Barrel length measured in at 45 inches (1,143MM). The base projectiles were 7.71lbs in weight and activated via percussion fuses. Range could be slightly extended through use of additional powder charges. The base plate was rectangular in shape and fitted to the bottom of the firing tube. There was a rounded handle for carrying the individual component from location to location. The bipod fitted most of the critical aiming functions of the GrW 34. There was a traversing handwheel as well as a cross-leveling handwheel for general aiming while a panoramic sight afforded for finer adjustments against a target area. Elevation fell within a range of 45- to 90-degrees while traversing was limited from 10- to 23-degrees. Muzzle velocity was listed at 571 feet per second and the weapon was ranged out to 2,624 yards (2,400 meters).