240 mm mortar M240

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240 mm mortar M240
240 mm mortar M-240-4043.JPG
Type Mortar
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
Wars Yom Kippur War
First Chechen War
Syrian Civil War
Specifications
Weight
  • static: 3,610 kg
  • combat: 4,150 kg
Barrel length 534 cm (17 ft 6 ins)

Shell (HE) 130 kg (286 lbs)
Caliber 240 mm
Elevation +45° to +65°
Traverse 17°
Rate of fire 1 round/minute
Maximum firing range 9,700 m

The Soviet 240 mm Mortar M240 is a 240 millimetres (9.4 in) breech loading smoothbore heavy mortar that fires a 130 kilograms (290 lb) projectile.

Description[edit]

The mortar consists of a smooth-bored barrel with a breech and a breech-block frame, a frame with shock absorbers, mount with training and equilibrating mechanisms, a two-wheel traveling carriage with the suspension, a boom for changing from the firing to the traveling configuration, a baseplate and a towing bar with a lunette. The sights are carried separately and are mounted on the mortar only when firing. The shock absorbers are used to protect the sights from firing vibrations and also provide the link between the ordnance and the mount. It is also used when the mounting returns to the loading position after firing. The boom provides stability when firing and also has two winches to convert the mortar from the firing to the traveling configuration.

It is mounted on a wheeled carriage that supports the cradle and barrel much as in a conventional field gun. Unlike most other mortars, there is no bipod. The barrel is mounted at its centre of gravity in trunnions, which allow the barrel to be depressed to the horizontal for loading.

The M-240 has a minimum range of 800 m and a maximum range of 9,700 m. Traverse is limited to 18°, while elevation ranges from +45 to +65°. The sights, elevation and traverse gears are on the left side of the barrel. The mortar is normally towed, at a maximum speed of 40 km/h, muzzle first by an AT-P, AT-L or AT-S tractor, which also carries the 11-man crew. Additional vehicles carry the ammunition and emplacing equipment. On arrival at the firing position, which has to be on firm ground, the mortar is uncoupled from the tractor and the towing lunette is removed. The large circular welded baseplate is lowered to the ground and packed with earth to provide a stable firing platform.

The smoothbore barrel is 5.34 m (22.25 calibers) long and for loading is swung into the horizontal position. At the lower end of the barrel is the breech-block and projectile guide. Bringing the M-240 into action takes at least 25 minutes, slightly less to move it after firing. The weight in action is approximately 4,150 kg. The HE bomb weighs 130 kg, of which 34 kg is payload. The bomb, which is almost 1.5 m long, is brought to the mortar on a two-wheeled trolley and a team of five is used for loading. Large tongs/gripping pincers are used to lift the bomb from the trolley onto the projectile guide, with two men on each handle and the fifth steadying the fins. The bomb is then pushed into the barrel and the breech is closed. The barrel is then raised to the firing position. The rate of fire is about 1 rd/min.[1] [2]

A 2S4 Tyulpan

As part of the 2S4 Tyulpan, the mortar is also used in a self-propelled configuration.

Specialized Munitions[edit]

In addition to the standard F-864 high-explosive round used by the M240, a number of specialized munitions exist for the 240mm mortar using 3M15 rocket motors to extend the range to 20 kilometers. The variants include:

  • 3F2 Gagara (High Explosives)
  • 3O8 Nerpa (cargo-can carry various payloads, including 14x O10 HE-FRAG parachute submunitions and A-01SCh cluster munitions)
  • 3B11 (nuclear)
  • Sayda (incendiary)[3]

The Soviet Union also developed laser-guided Daredevil rounds that were effective for precision strikes against fortifications.[4]

Operational History[edit]

Yom Kippur War[edit]

The Syrian Army deployed 240mm mortars to the frontline in the Yom Kippur War. On the opening day of the war, they struck the Israeli outposts at Tel Fares and Hermon, succeeding in disrupting Israeli intelligence-gathering and communications.[5] The Egyptian Army also used 240mm mortars in its assault on the fortifications of the Suez canal, favoring the heavy shells for destroying Israeli fortifications.[6]

The 240mm mortars were greatly feared because their enormous warheads were effective even against targets under cover. The Syrian mortars continued to fire on Hermon after the official end of hostilities, and were nicknamed 'Goliaths' by Israelis both because of their size, and also after the codename of a concrete underground bunker one of the batteries was firing from. One source implies that a covert Israeli raid was launched to destroy this position.[7]

Afghanistan[edit]

The first use in combat by the Soviet Union of 240mm mortars was in 1985 during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. A battery from the 1074th artillery battalion of the 108th Motor Rifle Division used 240mm mortars towed by MT-LB tractors against the Muhajeddin forces of Ahmed Shah Massoud in the Charikorskoy and Panjshir valley, including the first use of specialized laser-guided 'Daredevil' rounds. After encountering DShK machine gun fire from one of Massoud's fortress, the 240mm battery engaged the target and destroyed it in 12-15 minutes with five to six rounds, the mortar's high angle of fire proving effective in circumventing the fortress walls where 122mm bombardments had failed. Troops reported that the mortar was highly accurate and usually a single hit sufficed to destroy a target; furthermore, the heavy shells were little affected by weather conditions. However, the mortar was vulnerable to jamming if the barrel was dirty or damaged.[8][9]

Lebanese Civil War[edit]

During the Lebanese Civil War, Syrian Army 2S4 240mm mortars and S-23 180mm guns shelled East Beirut in 1989 as part of an offensive to dislodge Christian Lebanese Army faction leader General Michel Aoun, inflicting over 900 casualties.[10]

Syrian Civil War[edit]

The Syrian Army employed towed M240 240mm mortars in the Syrian Civil War starting in 2012 against the city of Homs, making it the largest mortar weapon employed in contemporary warfare. (Some reports cited the use of 2S4 Tyulpan instead, but their presence has not been confirmed, unlike that of the M240).[11] The use of such heavy weapons in heavy-populated civilian areas was first confirmed from the tail fin of an exploded 240mm shell in Homs in 2012, raising an outcry from human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch.[12] [13] Later, videos documented both 240mm mortars firing, and the shells landing on buildings in Syria.

Reports of M240 mortar use became scarce after 2012, possibly because of depletion of munition stock, but in 2015 and 2016 the exploded casings of two-dozen rocket-assisted 3O8 240mm shells were identified in the suburbs of Damascus, as well as in East Ghouta and Dhouma, accompanied by un-exploded O10 frag cluster munitions, which had never before been confirmed used in combat, causing some to speculate their employment may reflect renewed Russian support. [14]

Operators[edit]

Map with M240 operators in blue with former operators in red

Current operators[edit]

Former Operators[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://riv.co.nz/rnza/hist/mortar/mort24.htm
  2. ^ http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/irfna/irfna_refs/n28en023/firespt.htm
  3. ^ Laymin, Yuri. "Soviet 3O8 240 mm rocket-assisted cargo projectiles in Syria". Hoplite. ARES armament research services. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Scherbakov, Constantin. "On the combat use of mortar M-240 in Afghanistan". Courage. otvaga2004.ru. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Asher, Dani (2014). Inside Israel's Northern Command: The Yom Kippur War on the Syrian Border (2016 US ed.). Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press. ISBN 978-0-8131-6766-4. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  6. ^ Dunstan, Simon (2008). Israeli Fortifications of the October War 1973. Osprey Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-84603-361-2. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  7. ^ Harksberg, Alon. "Artillery Effect". Usenet Archive. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  8. ^ Belogurd, V.V. "The Use of Artillery in Afghanistan". Courage. www.otvaga2004.ru. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  9. ^ Scherbakov, Constantin. "On the combat use of mortar M-240 in Afghanistan". Courage. otvaga2004.ru. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  10. ^ Rabin. "114 Statement in the Knesset by Defense Minister Rabin on the Situation in Lebanon- 29 November 1989". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  11. ^ Jenzen-Jones, N.R. "240mm Heavy Mortars in Syria – a closer examination". The Rogue Adventurer. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "'Friends of Syria': Push to End Indiscriminate Shelling". Human Rights Watch. 
  13. ^ "Written Testimony of Maria McFarland to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on the Human Rights Crisis in Syria". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  14. ^ Laymin, Yuri. "Soviet 3O8 240 mm rocket-assisted cargo projectiles in Syria". Hoplite. ARES armament research services. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  15. ^ Jane's Armour and Artillery 1997-98 ISBN 0-7106-1542-6
  16. ^ Adrian Stroea; Gheorghe Băjenaru (2010). Artileria româna în date si imagini (PDF) (in Romanian). Editura Centrului Tehnic-Editorial al Armatei. pp. 135–136. ISBN 978-606-524-080-3. 

External links[edit]