25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer
|25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer|
A sMW a/A at the Waterford, Ontario
|Type||Heavy trench mortar|
|Place of origin||German Empire|
|Used by||German Empire|
|Wars||World War I|
|Number built||approx. 1,234|
|Variants||25 cm sMW n/A|
|Weight||768 kg (1,693 lb)|
|Barrel length||a/A: 75 cm (2 ft 6 in) L/3
n/A: 1.25 m (4 ft 1 in) L/5
|Shell||separate-loading, 4 disk charges|
|Calibre||250 millimeters (9.8 in)|
|Elevation||+45° to 75°|
|Rate of fire||20 rpm|
|Muzzle velocity||200 m/s (660 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||540 m (585 yards)|
|Maximum firing range||970 m (1,050 yards)|
The 25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer (German for "heavy mine launcher"), often abbreviated as 25 cm sMW, was a heavy trench mortar developed for the Imperial German Army in the first decade of the 20th century.
Design and development
It was developed for use by engineer troops after the Siege of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 illustrated the usefulness of this class of weapon in destroying bunkers and fortifications otherwise immune to normal artillery. The 25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer was a muzzle-loading, rifled mortar that had a hydro-spring type recoil system. It fired either a 97 kg (210 lb) shell or a 50 kg (110 lb) shell, both contained far more explosive filler than ordinary artillery shells of the same caliber. The low muzzle velocity allowed for thinner shell walls, hence more space for filler for the same weight shell. The low velocity also allowed the use of explosives like ammonium nitrate–carbon that were less shock-resistant than TNT, which was in short supply at the time. Shells filled with TNT caused a large number of premature detonations, making the Minenwerfer riskier for the gun crew than normal artillery pieces.
The wheels were removed and the sMW was then placed in a pit or trench at least 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) deep, protecting the mortar and its crew. Despite the extremely short range, the sMW proved to be very effective as its massive shells were almost as effective in penetrating fortifications as the largest siege guns in the German inventory, including the 42 centimeters (17 in) Dicke Bertha (Big Bertha), a howitzer that was more than 50 times the weight of the sMW. The effectiveness of the sMW is indicated by the number in service, which increased from 44 when the war broke out, to 1,234 at its end.
In 1916, a new longer barrelled version was put into production. This new model, which had a longer range, was designated the 25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer neuer Art (German for "new pattern"), which was abbreviated as 25 cm sMW n/A. The older, short-barrel model was then designated as the 25 cm sMW a/A (alter Art)(German for "old pattern").
Weapons of comparable role, performance and era
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