37mm spade mortar

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37mm spade mortar
TypeInfantry mortar
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1939–1942
Used bySoviet Union
WarsWinter War
World War II
Mass1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz)
Barrel length52 cm (1 ft 8 in)[1]

Shell0.5 kg (1 lb 2 oz) bomb
Caliber37 mm (1.5 in)
Breechmuzzle loaded
Traverse1 degrees
Maximum firing range250 m (270 yd)

The 37mm spade mortar is a Soviet 37 mm light infantry mortar used in the Second World War. The mortar was produced from 1939 until the end of 1941.


The weapon is a dual-purpose device in that it can also be used as a spade. When a leg is removed from the handle, the spade part of the weapon locks into position as a base plate for the mortar. The weapon was apparently intended to serve as a fire support weapon for every infantryman as it was designed to be operated by one man. There was no aiming device and the soldier simply pointed the mortar at its target. The soldier carried 15 rounds of ammunition on a fabric belt for the mortar.

The German Army designated the weapon the 3.7 cm Spatengranatwerfer 161(r), although the true Soviet designation was simply "37mm mortar" (Russian: 37-мм Миномет). It is likely that the weapon was an attempt to boost the firepower of Soviet rifle units. Although a rifle grenade-launcher (which the Red Army also had) can fire shells of similar weight, they are slower to load and cannot serve as rifles while firing grenades. The spade mortar was used during the Winter War with Finland, where the weapon was found ineffective in the heavy snow. Initially used on the Eastern Front in World War II, the spade mortar fell into disuse after 1942.

During the Iran–Iraq War, the Iranian Army developed a similar device, the 37mm marsh mortar, for use on marshy ground, as 37mm was the maximum shell size for which recoil did not drive the mortar into the soft ground.

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Notes and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Chamberlain, Peter (1975). Mortars and rockets. Gander, Terry. New York: Arco Pub. Co. p. 25. ISBN 0668038179. OCLC 2067459.

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