The Soviet M1938 120-millimeter mortar was an improved version (its base-plate was changed from square to round form, etc.) of the Mortier Brandt de 120 mm mle 1935, which was imported to the USSR before the capitulation of France in 1940. and later produced by the Soviets in large quantities with an estimated 12,000 12 cm mortars being produced by the end of World War II. Its large production allowed the Red Army to make significant use of this mortar by treating it as an artillery piece in World War II in addition to using it as regimental high angle fire support. The Germans captured large quantities of this weapon and adopted it for their own use, eventually leading to the development of their own 12 cm Granatwerfer 42. The Finnish and Romanians also made use of captured stocks of French and Soviet weapons and eventually Romanians also created their own designs, the Reșița Model 1942. These mortars were kept in production long after the war and sold to Soviet allies.
Its last significant use in battle was seen in the Vietnam War, used by the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam. Users have particularly liked the weapon for its uniquely designed towing carriage, which made it easy to limber up in a single movement, using hooks on the weapon's base-plate. It is typically deployed to support infantry units, and is the heaviest weapon that can be reasonably transported by soldiers on foot.
The weapon weighed 282 kg (622 lb), and could be separated into three parts. Its maximum range was 5,900 m (6,500 yd) (its German version can fire the shell to 6,050 m (6,620 yd)).