A mortar is a short tube that fires projectiles (missiles) at a 45 degree angle or higher so that it falls directly on the enemy trenches. A few advantages are that it was lighter and more mobile than other weapons used.
The first mortar was believed to be introduced in the 1453 siege of Constantinople, which was mainly used in heavy bombards. There is no exact inventor but eventually it was modified. Germans observed the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), allowing new ideas for mortar bombs. They developed a stockpile, leading them to have 150 mortars by World War I in 1914.
Trench mortars were first used in November 1914 during W.W.I. Germany was the first country to use them in battle.
Sir Wilfred Stokes modified the mortar that surpassed the Germans first mortar. Stokes design consisted of a metal tube attached to a base plate with a bipod mount. When a bomb was dropped into the tube a impact sensitive cartridge would make contact with a firing pin at the base of the tube so the bomb would be ejected. The French saw Stokes success, borrowed the model and made more advancements to it. Other advancements to the mortar include the Vickers, with a solid shaft surmounted by a bomb, these were designed to land on its nose and then explode. They were unreliable because they would break into two pieces most of the time.
The Canadians also invented a mortar and nicknamed it “The blind pig” but it was not very reliable because it had a short 400 yards range.
A French soldier with a trench mortar
Mortars changed the war because it allowed the stalemate to diminish. You could fire the weapon at the enemy from the trenches, making it easier to fight. The mortar has influenced modern weaponry in the way that it is still used. The W.W.II. era mortars were replaced by more modern version like the M224 60mm. This model is able to fire more types of ammunition rather than the older versions. It also has a shock absorber to take in or absorb the shock of the recoil after firing. Today, mortars are still used today. The United States Military has three versions of the 120mm mortar systems.
Mortars are still used today by the military. For example, the Islamic terrorist group, Hezbollah use mortars to attack villages over Lebanon's border and the Irish Republican Army uses homemade mortars to harm police stations and other governments in Northern Ireland. It is a valuable, ancient weapon still part of modern technology.