Germany’s Not-So-Light 5cm Le GrW 36 Light Mortar

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The 5cm 5CM Leichter Granatwerfer 36 was the standard German light infantry mortar going into World War Two. It was designed by Rheinmetall-Borsig in the mid 1930s and adopted in 1936. It fired a 0.9kg / 2 pound mortar bomb with a range of up to 550 meters. In theory, it occupied the same role as the French Mle 1937 50mm light mortar – except it was far heavier than was practical, and substantially more complex to use. The LeGrW 36 weighed in at a hefty 31 pounds (14kg) – nearly four times as much as its French counterpart.

It was a striker fired design, with a trigger lever and thus did not fire immediately upon a round being loaded. It used adjustments in angle to determine range, with a constant projectile velocity (as opposed to venting a varying amount of propellent gas to adjust range). By the middle of the war, it was being pulled out of front-line use, as its weight and relative complexity made it impractical for its intended role.

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