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Monday, July 18, 2016

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Weapons of the War in Afghanistan: Mortar Systems Part II

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan
Sun rising over the mountain over Firebase Vegas, Korengal Valley, Afghanistan.

In the world of war, weapons and technology are ever changing, each war is characterized by the weapons and tactics used to fight it. As new environments and enemies are encountered, the parties to those wars develop new - more effective tactics, technologies, and weapons to counter and defeat their adversaries. The ingenuity seen in war has existed since (and most certainly before) the first wars of recorded history and continue to this very day. 

Keeping with that theory, let’s take a look at the weapons that have characterized the wars and conflicts that the United States has been a party to over the course of it’s history. During the course of this series, I aim to breakdown the weapons used in each conflict by their classification, and to which party they were employed by. Having served in combat operations in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, I would like to start our series with the War in Afghanistan. 

For our eighth installment, let’s take a look at the most commonly encountered mortar systems in the War in Afghanistan.

Part II: AAF / ACF


The M-37 or 82-BM-37 is a Soviet 82mm caliber mortar designed by B.I. Szayrin and accepted into service in 1937. The design of the M-37 is based on the earlier French Brandt mle 27/31 mortar with Russian modifications.

The M-37M is an improved version with lighter base plate and a device to prevent double loading.

  • Cartridge: 82mm round
  • Effective Range: Maximum firing range 3,040 m
  • Weight: 123 lbs / 56 kg
  • Rate of Fire: 25 -30 rounds per minute
  • Capacity: Single shot


The 82-PM-41, or the 82mm mortar Model 1941, was a Soviet 82mm mortar developed during the Second World War as an infantry battalion mortar, and which begun production in 1941. It differed from the Model 1937 by the presence of a removable wheel base, by the arched construction base plate (as in 107mm and 120mm mortars), and also a different two-legged construction. Wheels were slipped over the semi-axis of the bipod feet and removed during firing. Design improvements were made to reduce weight and production cost, and improve maneuverability. The ballistic data of the Model 1941 mortar were comparable to the Model 1937. The 82mm mortar Model 1941 was more convenient to transport than the Model 1937, but was less steady during firing and had a worse center of gravity.

To correct shortcomings of the 82mm mortar Model 1941 it was modernized during initial production; the construction of the bipod, wheel and fastening of the sight was changed. The modernized mortar was called the 82mm mortar Model 1943.
  • Cartridge: 82mm round
  • Effective Range: 3,040 m
  • Weight: 123 lbs / 56 kg
  • Rate of Fire: 15-25 rounds per minute
  • Capacity: Single shot

2B14 Podnos

The 2B14 Podnos is a Soviet 82mm mortar. The 2B14 was designed in the early 1980s as a light indirect fire weapon for the use of airborne and other light infantry forces. Despite the intent to field the 2B14 with light infantry units, the 2B14 appears to have been fielded with regular motor rifle units as well at a scale of six per battalion.
  • Cartridge: 82mm round
  • Effective Range: 80 m Min; 4,270 m Max
  • Weight: 92.3 lbs / 41.88 kg
  • Rate of Fire: 24-30 rounds per minute
  • Capacity: Single shot


The M1943 Mortar also known as the SMADRARE is a Soviet 120 millimeter caliber smooth-bore mortar first introduced in 1943 as a modified version of the M1938 mortar. It virtually replaced the M1938 as the standard weapon for mortar batteries in all Soviet infantry battalions by the late 1980s, though the armies of the Warsaw Pact utilized both in their forces.

This muzzle-loading mortar can be easily broken down into three parts - barrel, bipod and baseplate - for movement over short distances or towed by a GAZ-66 truck on a two-wheel tubular carriage. The baseplate mounting permits all-azimuth firing, however as with most Soviet mortars it was difficult to turn rapidly over a wide traverse. It could accommodate small-angle shifts of up to 6 degrees without having to shift the baseplate though.
  • Cartridge: 120mm round
  • Effective Range: 500 m  min; 5,700 m max
  • Weight: 1,150 lbs / 521.5 kg 
  • Rate of Fire: 9 rounds per minute maximum; 70 rds/hr sustained
  • Capacity: Single shot

2B11 Sani

The 2B11 Sani (Sleigh) is a 120 mm mortar developed by the Soviet Union in 1981 and subsequently fielded in the Soviet Army. The basic design for the 2B11 was taken from the classic Model 1943 120 mm mortar, and incorporated changes to make the mortar less heavy.

The 2B11 has proliferated to other countries primarily as result of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • Cartridge: 120mm round
  • Effective Range: 460 m Min; 7,180 m Max
  • Weight: 460 lbs / 210 kg
  • Rate of Fire: 15 rounds per minute
  • Capacity: Single shot

.50 Cal. Browning M2 Machinegun at OP Rock, Firebase Vegas, Korengal Valley, Afghanistan.

Shawn G in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

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Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."


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