|Type Medium trench mortar|
In service 1913–1918
Wars World War I
|Place of origin German Empire|
Used by German Empire
The 17 cm mittlerer Minenwerfer (17 cm mMW) was a mortar used by Germany in World War I.
Development and Use
The weapon was developed for use by engineer troops after the Siege of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. It illustrated the usefulness of this type of weapon in destroying bunkers and field fortifications otherwise immune to normal artillery. It was a muzzle-loading, rifled mortar that had a standard hydro-spring recoil system. It fired 50 kilogram (110 lb) HE shells, which 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. Furthermore, the low velocity allowed for the use of explosives like Ammonium Nitrate-Carbon that were less shock-resistant than TNT, which was in short supply. This caused a large number of premature detonations that made crewing the minenwerfer riskier than normal artillery pieces.
A new version of the weapon, with a longer barrel, was put into production at some point during the war. It was called the 17 cm mMW n/A (neuer Art) or new pattern, while the older model was termed the a/A (alter Art) or old pattern.
In action the mMW was emplaced in a pit, after its wheels were removed, not less than 1.5 meters deep to protect it and its crew. It could be towed short distances by four men or carried by 17. Despite its extremely short range, the mMW proved to be very effective at destroying bunkers and other field fortifications. Consequently, its numbers went from 116 in service when the war broke out to some 2,361 in 1918.