In an effort to reduce production costs and speed up delivery, the Type 97 mortar of 1937 was developed from the existing Type 94 design of 1935. The original Type 94 series was developed for Imperial Japanese Army forces prior to World War 2. It was of a smoothbore design and of quite conventional appearance with a base plate, bipod and smoothbore tube. Traverse and elevation controls were found at the hinge and support near the muzzle end of the weapon in the typical fashion. A recoil cylinder was affixed to the side of the tube to help absorb the violent forces inherent in mortar weapons of any kind. The type was first introduced in 1935 and was ranged out to 4,000 meters. Being of the 90mm caliber, the Type 94 was a large instrument requiring multiple crew and weighing in at 350lbs. It was ultimately fielded across all of the major Japanese fronts of World War 2 including China.
The major difference between the two designs was the Type 97's lack of the recoil mechanism found on the Type 94. It retained the same 90mm caliber, fired the same shell stocks and was ranged out to 3,800-4,000 meters as in the original. About 600 examples of the simplified Type 97 were reportedly produced and went on to see combat service with the Japanese Army in World War 2.
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