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Empty 3inch Mortar Rounds ..Why ?


Staff member
Premium Member
In the last couple of days weve recovered a lot of Fired but EMPTY 3inch mortar rounds at work,Found in the UK They have no fuzes no gain/adapters just an empty casting.Any ideas why theyre like this,was it the wartime way of training when no purposely made practice rounds were available ?
thanks for reading ...spotter
nope like everything we recover at work they will be melted down
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re-empty 3" mortors

Hi Spotter,
In 1981 dug up quite a few of these plus empty 4.2" phos mortors on the Southdowns near Woodingdean,wilst we were digging up MK5 anti tank mines ect left by the Canadians, an old boy from the Home Guard said they used to fire them into the mine field to set of the mines and because they were not fused orfilled withexplosive they coul tell if the mine field was live???

Thank you EODONE , on the area we are doing there are no mines,Just the usual WW2 era mortar and artillery rounds,The empty mortars have penetrated the rocky ground very well they are on average 3 feet down and full of rocks and clay they have picked up on the way down
Ive just received some more info on the mortars we are finding,just been talking to one of my team mates and he says one of the ones he recovered at the same site was still partially filled with lead balls
couple of pics of the rounds we are finding,ive seen the lead balls from inside they are a lot smaller than the usual shrapnel balls a bit bigger than shotgun shot and not uniformly round (shape could be because of decay),weve not found any fitted with plugs/caps but one did have remains of some wadding in the nose,possibly to keep the shot inside ? With them having this shot and no explosive charge i think they were just used for firing practice


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hi spotter you say
the balls a bit bigger than shotgun shot and not uniformly round (shape could be because of decay),
could they just be deformed because there soft lead and the impact of them hitting the ground or being launched had deformed them ? kinda squashed them against each other ? just a theory what do you think ?

cheers from chris
Good theory Chris ,never thought of that ,all the rounds have a lot of earth and rocks forced into them from impact and penetrating the earth,so that will deform them as well...
cheers Spotter
Red Paint !

If I am not mistaken it looks like there is a a trace of Red paint on your third photograph near the nose where a fill band would have gone ???

I am with Bazooka Chris on the deformed Lead balls as no matter how hard a grade of lead they are the impact of that round hitting the deck would be phenominal !

Chris :tinysmile_shy_t:
some more pics of some of these Practice mortars we recovered these today.One was in very good condition having gone into clay.It still had a large amount of the varnished finish left and the red band to indicate filled and what i believe is a very faded Yellow band which in the 1940s was used to indicate practice.Another of these rounds was found externally not in the best of shape but internally beyond the usual impacted earth clay etc was the remains of a wadding Pad possibly used to keep the shot in situ during firing ,once dug out the shot came out and looks to have been set into or in front of a set plaster filler.(see pictures)
1st set of images is the nicely preserved one


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The one with the wadding ,shot ,and plaster ???


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Might be they were testing variations in the lifting charges against set barrel elevations and weights. Or developing range tables for the bomb style if something had changed in materials or design.
When identifying ordnance by colour that Britain and the Commonwealth had 1 color coding prior to 1945, another from '45 to '48, another from '48 to '61 when it finally adopted a NATO standard.
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