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17cm Mittlerer Minenwerfer (Middle Mortar)

One of approximately 11 remaining world-wide

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  • Origin German Empire
  • Designer Rheinmetall
  • Years built 1913-1918
  • Projectile 170 millimeter at 656 fps

This muzzle-loading, rifled mortar was originally developed for use during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 for effective destruction of bunkers and field fortifications. The 17cm, 110lb high explosive shells contained far more explosive filler than ordinary artillery shells of the same caliber. The lower velocity allowed for the use of explosives like Ammonium Nitrate-Carbon that were less shock-resistant than TNT, which was in short supply during WWI. The unstable nature of that material caused many premature detonations, making the job of crewing the Minenwerfer very dangerous.

Its portability made it very effective in trench warfare. It could be towed short distances with its removable wheels by four soldiers or carried by seventeen soldiers. Once it was in place, the wheels were removed and it was situated in a pit at least 5 feet in depth before use.

Out of over 2,361 examples manufactured, this Minenwerfer is one of roughly 11 remaining world-wide.



The American Heritage Museum is open today, Monday, May 29th from 10:00am to 5:00pm for Memorial Day,