25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer

25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer

A sMW a/A at the Waterford, Ontario
Type Heavy trench mortar
Place of origin German Empire
Service history
In service 1910–1918
Used by German Empire
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Rheinmetall
Designed 1907–09
Manufacturer Rheinmetall
Produced 1910–18
Number built approx. 1,234
Variants 25 cm sMW n/A
Weight 768 kg (1,693 lb)
Barrel length a/A: 75 cm (2 ft 6 in) L/3
n/A: 1.25 m (4 ft 1 in) L/5

Shell separate-loading, 4 disk charges
Calibre 250 millimeters (9.8 in)
Recoil hydro-spring
Carriage box trail
Elevation +45° to 75°
Traverse 12°
Rate of fire 20 rpm
Muzzle velocity 200 m/s (660 ft/s)
Effective firing range 540 m (585 yards)
Maximum firing range 970 m (1,050 yards)
Sights panoramic

The 25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer (German for "heavy mine launcher"), often abbreviated as 25 cm sMW, was a heavy trench mortar developed for the Imperial German Army in the first decade of the 20th century.

Design and development

It was developed for use by engineer troops after the Siege of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 illustrated the usefulness of this class of weapon in destroying bunkers and fortifications otherwise immune to normal artillery. The 25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer was a muzzle-loading, rifled mortar that had a hydro-spring type recoil system. It fired either a 97 kg (210 lb) shell or a 50 kg (110 lb) shell, both contained far more explosive filler than ordinary artillery shells of the same caliber. The low muzzle velocity allowed for thinner shell walls, hence more space for filler for the same weight shell. The low velocity also allowed the use of explosives like ammonium nitratecarbon that were less shock-resistant than TNT, which was in short supply at the time. Shells filled with TNT caused a large number of premature detonations, making the Minenwerfer riskier for the gun crew than normal artillery pieces.


n/A model in transport mode, with wheels attached, Warsaw

The wheels were removed and the sMW was then placed in a pit or trench at least 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) deep, protecting the mortar and its crew. Despite the extremely short range, the sMW proved to be very effective as its massive shells were almost as effective in penetrating fortifications as the largest siege guns in the German inventory, including the 42 centimeters (17 in) Dicke Bertha (Big Bertha), a howitzer that was more than 50 times the weight of the sMW. The effectiveness of the sMW is indicated by the number in service, which increased from 44 when the war broke out, to 1,234 at its end.

In 1916, a new longer barrelled version was put into production. This new model, which had a longer range, was designated the 25 cm schwerer Minenwerfer neuer Art (German for "new pattern"), which was abbreviated as 25 cm sMW n/A. The older, short-barrel model was then designated as the 25 cm sMW a/A (alter Art)(German for "old pattern").

n/A model with long barrel, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

See also

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era


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