Wednesday 9 December 2020

German 81mm Mortar Teams

This week I have been finishing off another set of models for my 15mm Germans for Chain of Command. These are from Peter Pig and aren't really suitable for the game, as mortars of this size are usually off-table support and don't require a model. I'd already bought the figures when I realised this so painting these was more a case of "well I've got them now...". Unlike other teams I have painted, I decided to base these on slightly larger round bases to accommodate all three crew. Practical experience has taught me that marking off casualties on these teams is easier than basing them individually. Now that I have finished them it would be a pity not to see them on the games table so I'll have to find an excuse to use them, regardless of what the rules say! 

A simple piece of kit

The 81mm Mortar (the Granatwerfer 34) was designed by Rheinmetall, went into production in 1934 and was used throughout the war with relatively little modification. I think it's fair to say the Mortar is a fairly simple weapon and the design was so elementary it was incredibly similar to the American M1 81mm mortar which saw service in WWII right up to the '50s. I found a great little training manual for US troops which illustrated the similarity perfectly describing to the US serviceman how anyone familiar with the M1 could operate the German equivalent easily, should they capture one and need to use it. 

As with the American version, the Granatenwafer 34 broke down into three parts for ease of transport, with the smoothbore barrel, bipod and baseplate being carried by different members of the team. The aiming mechanism was attached to the bipod and consisted of a traversing handwheel, a cross-levelling handwheel and a panoramic sight for fine adjustments. The weapon had an effective firing range of between 400–1,200 m (440–1,310 yds) and a maximum range of 2.4km (1.5mi) although it lost a lot of accuracy at that range. A well-trained team, with plenty of ammunition, could get a rate of fire of between 15-25 rounds per minute although from what I have read that would rarely be sustained for very long. 

Over 75,000 of these were manufactured so they can often be found in museum displays and I have even seen them for sale at historical reenactment events. I'm not sure if my long-suffering wife would approve if I lugged one of these home. 


  1. Nicely painted minis mate and good bit of info to boot.

  2. I have a similar situation with various mortar teams I have acquired. They can always be an objective at the CoC scale game, but really they are for battalion level actions... so you are just getting ready for O Group? ;)

    And multi basing looks good when the figures are obviously "in action" and not just supernumeraries waiting around to fetch more ammo or such.

  3. Reminds me of the good ole days when I was a lieutenant and had an 81mm platoon. Good job.

  4. Nicely done Lee. C'mon a mortar in the lounge-room, surely your wife would love it?!!
    Regards, James


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