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- British 9.45-Inch Mortar, Mark III -
"The Flying Pig"
World War I

9.45-Right

The Kit:

Stated to be molded to 1/35th scale but appears to be more in line with 1/32nd scale, this model is produced by MR Modellbau. It is a multi-media kit that is cast in white metal and resin, and is one of their earlier produced kits.

9.45-Front-Right

Casting of the resin parts for the platform was good, although there were a number of pits to be found, and those were easily dealt with. The mortar tube was beautifully cast with the diameter of the bore scaling out perfectly.

9.45-Front-Left The white metal parts required a fair amount of clean-up. most not being cast very well. I corrected this somewhat with strip styrene plastic and I replaced numerous bolt/rivet heads with styrene discs punched out with a punch set.
9.45-Left My sample was missing several parts, and there were no assembly instructions provided in the kit, only a parts listing written in German.

The limited pictorial reference that I was able to obtain on this weapon seemed to have various arrangements of the wood platform assembly, differing from the kit parts provided.

9.45 in the field

Despite the extra work and the minor difficulties involved in the building of this kit, it was a fun and enjoyable kit to build.

     

Base and Groundwork:

   

The base is constructed from scrap oak and is five inches in diameter. The groundwork is built up from Sculptamold that was mixed with roughly 75% white glue and 25% water. Once the Sculptamold cured, I lightly coated the surface with diluted white glue and sprinkled fine dirt sifted through a nylon stocking for the earth texture.

     
The Details:    
9.45-Periscope-Top

The "Post, No.4 Mark I Periscope" assembly was scratch-built. It is made from styrene tube, brass rod, styrene bits and a few parts from my spares box. The reference obtained was not very clear as to the smaller details or how this was mounted to the cradle, so I took a guess. The general profile of the periscope and sight is there. The optical periscope was not always fitted. The other means of sighting (and leveling) this weapon was by use of a dial sight that would be mounted to the top of periscope post. The post was height adjustable. The 'lens' areas were filled with Micro Scale Krystal Kleer.

9.45 Right-Front

The firing mechanism (not included in the kit) was similar in appearance to a cut-down Lee-Enfield rifle. This appeared to be of stamped metal and steel construction. It is a single shot, bolt action item, and this fired a blank cartridge into an igniter that was housed within the base of the tube. To this device, a lanyard was clipped to the trigger and after the bomb was loaded into the muzzle, and when fully seated at the bottom of the tube, the lanyard was pulled to fire the weapon. To represent the firing device, I modified a SMLE (Short Magazine, Lee-Enfield) rifle by cutting it down to the receiver assembly, as well as cutting off most of the stock. To this I added fine wire bent to represent the clip on the trigger as well as the lanyard guide frame. The lanyard is constructed of twisted sewing thread and diluted white glue. The location of the firing device on this model was estimated.

9.45 Close Left-Front
9.45 Rear

In order to get the mortar to sit level on the platform base, and to raise the sub-bed up above the side platform beams, I had to add a few .010 inch thick shims of styrene plastic. I also reinforced the platform assembly by adding strips of styrene to the underside.

Grandt Line eyebolts and styrene plates were added to the four corners of the platform base. The only color photo of this mortar that I could find of a surviving and restored Mark III mortar, clearly shows these eyebolts in place. They are not provided in the kit.

9.45 Bombs

The fictitious markings on the bomb casings were applied by using an Artist's pencil with a very sharp point. I could not locate any reference to the actual bomb stenciling.

The 'tarp' is a piece of material cut from a current issue US Army medical bandage, and it was set in place on the groundwork with diluted white glue.
 
The Figure:
9.45 Figure-Front 9.45 Fig-Close-Front 9.45 Figure-Left-Rear 9.45 Figure-Right-Rear.jpg (95232 bytes)

Cast in resin, this is a Model Cellar 1/35th scale figure. Very nicely cast, the only imperfections found were in the detailing of the hands. The only item added to the figure was the Gas Mask strap, and this was made from a thin strip of lead foil.

The Lance Corporal's sleeve rankings are dry-transfer decals from Archer Fine Transfers. The printing and registration of these decals are very beautifully done.

The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) is a product of Ultracast. Nicely cast in resin, I preferred this casting over the Model Cellar version that came with the figure. I added the rifle sling from lead foil and I also made its associated 'hardware' from fine wire and plastic.

Painting, Weathering and Finishing:
Painted with PollyS/PollyScale acrylic paints and flat coat. Winsor and Newton Oils thinned with Loew-Cornell Odorless Brush Cleaner and Thinner were used for the washes. Weathering on the mortar was accomplished in part by using a Berol Prismacolor silver colored pencil.

General Mortar Info:

Developed from the French 240mm Mortar in 1915, the British began to field this weapon towards the end of 1916 after a troublesome testing process during the previous summer. The first version of the 9.45-Inch Mortar to reach the battlefields of France, was known as the Mark I. During 1917, the Mark I (and Mk. II) were gradually replaced by the Mark III Heavy Trench Mortar.

A formidable weapon, the Mark I bomb with No. 31 time fuse fired from this weapon would demolish 10 yards of trench section and would produce a crater 10 feet deep by 30 feet in diameter in fairly compacted earth. The bomb became affectionately known as the "The Flying Pig" in reference to its size, shape and flight visual.
Assigned to the Royal Garrison Artillery, the 9.45-Inch Mortar, Mark III, was to become the standard heavy mortar for the remainder of the Great War, and by 1918, there were four 9.45-Inch Heavy Trench Mortars assigned per each Heavy Trench Mortar Battery. The HTMB's reported to the Divisional Commander until 1918 when all HTMB's were reorganized at the Corps Level. This weapon was also used in action on the Western Front by the Australians.
Normal Crew complement consisted of three Officers and 66 other ranks per HTM Battery.

Production:
Mark I, (1916 to 1917): 203.
Mark II, (1917 to 1918): 336.
Mark III, (1917 to 1918): 162. Firing Mechanism Diagram Bomb Diagrams
Mark IV, (1917 to 1918): 11.    
Total 9.45-Inch Mortar production (1916 to 1918): 712
Total Bomb production of all 9.45-Inch ammunition (1916 to 1918): 338,915 rounds.

Actual Mortar Data:  
Caliber: 9.45 Inch (240mm).  
Ammunition Type(s): High Explosive, Chemical Filled (not fielded).
Bursting Charge: Amotol or Ammoal 80/20.
Bomb Weight: 179lbs.
Maximum Range: 2,265yds.  
Elevation: 80 (?) Maximum, 45 Minimum.  
Traverse: +/-? mils from center.  
Length of assembled steel barrel: 79.3in.  
Weight with elevating gear (minus platform): 644lbs.  

Sources:
Mr. Tom Bebbington - UK
Mr. Rod Butcher - Australia, Author of The 9.45-Inch Heavy Mortar Page.
"British Tommy 1914-1918" - Martin Pegler and Mike Chappell, Osprey Warrior Series #16.
"World War I Trench Warfare (2) - Dr. Stephen Bull and Adam Hook, Osprey Elite Series.

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Unless otherwise specified, all models built, painted, photographed and are owned by the author.
Mortars in Miniature, Created and Maintained by
Kevin Robert Keefe, Copyright 2014
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