M1943 120mm (120-PM 43)
Heavy Field Mortar
The 120-PM-43 series 120mm mortar was introduced to Soviet ground forces during 1943.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Soviet Army of World War 2 (1939-1945) fielded a wide variety of mortar-class weapons during the conflict - ranging from light infantry-level types in the 50mm and 82mm range to heavy-minded forms in the 120mm range and siege-type models reaching 160mm caliber. The Model 1943 (120-PM 43) was a 120mm heavy form firing a 4.7 inch projectile out to ranges of 6,200 yards. As its designation would suggest, it was introduced during 1943 and was based on the Soviet Model of 1938 appearing during the pre-war years. The M1943 soldiered on into the Cold War years, seeing some of its last notable combat service during the Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-1989.
As designed, the Model 1943 was conventional with its launch tube, bipod support assembly, baseplate, and integrated optics. The weapon was muzzle-loading - the projectiles dropped through the open muzzle end, striking a firing pin at the base, and exiting the launch tube at a velocity of 890 feet per second. The weapon was cleared to fire both a general High-Explosive (HE) and special High-Explosive, FRAGmentation (HE-FRAG) projectile primarily for anti-infantry actions, particularly those foes well dug-in. The launch tube's mounting hardware allowed for an elevation span of +45 to +80 degrees of indirect fire. A well-trained and experienced crew could fire up to nine rounds-per-minute in a sustained manner. A typical crew numbered six personnel - required due to the weapon's size and ammunition.
As with other mortar systems, the M1943 held the ability to be broken down into its key components to facilitate transport by the crew. If required to displace rather quickly, the mortar could be set atop a two-wheeled Soviet Army carriage and towed by a mover vehicle to its new destination. On the whole, the M1943 gave good service when it was needed most and persisted into the Cold War years with several Soviet-supported nations and military customers (Afghanistan, China, Egypt, and Finland among others). It was eventually, itself, succeeded in the inventory of the Soviet Army by more modern forms when its battlefield usefulness had been expended - this during the 1980s.