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Soltam K5 (M65)

When Israel started producing its own weapons, one of the most important was the Soltam 120mm mortar based on a Finnish design. The Israeli Soltam 120-mm M-65 mortar comes in two versions -- a heavy model that can be carried in a tracked APC and used as mobile artillery with infantry brigades, and a lightweight model that can be broken down to be man-portable. The M-65 is similar to the K-6 120-mm light mortar, its major difference being the shape of the base plate. A circular base plate is used on the M-65.

This weapon was simple to manufacture, making it ideal for Israelís fledgling armaments industry, yet packed a hefty punch. Nearly half of Israelís artillery battalions were equipped with 120mm mortars in 1967. Unusually for mortars, these weapons are fielded by the artillery and have the skills, equipment, and ammunition to fire sustained bombardments.

Due to major general Vilho Nenonen's initiative, Finland has built mortars since the early 1930s and although they have not been exported, the designs have been used in many countries. The largest technological transfer of Finnish mortar technology took place in the 1950s, when the technology was transferred to Israel for Soltam.

The Soltam M-65 is a 120 mm mortar that was developed by Tampella in 1953 via introduction of new baseplate for 120 Krh/40 invented by Hans Otto Donner. In 1960s Soltam Systems of Israel bought a license. The mortar system comes in two versions, a standard mortar and a long-range version. The mortar is used to support battalions and companies in battle with indirect fire, to give support fire for infantry troops and coastal fortifications, and to apply smoke or illumination on the battlefield. It is usually transported by vehicle and the maximum towing speed is 80 km/h. The mortar is operated by a seven-man crew.

These 120 mm mortars were designed to provide infantry with a mortar capable of very effective 120 mm ammunition fire but sufficiently light to enable it to be moved by Jeep-type vehicles, transported by a mule, carried by a detachment of three soldiers, moved in a helicopter or dropped by parachute.The K6 (maximum range 7,200 m) is an updated version of the older K5 light mortar (maximum range 6,200 m) and has been adopted by the US Army as the M120/121 (see separate entry for details). Both types can fire any type of qualified 120 mm bomb in use worldwide.The Iranian Hadid 120 mm HM16 mortar appears to be a very close copy of the K6.

The barrel is a high-quality alloy steel tube with a honed interior. The lower end is externally screw-threaded to take the breech piece. The breech piece holds the fixed firing pin. To ensure safety while dealing with a misfire, there is a safety catch which, when rotated, draws the pin back into the interior of the breech piece. The lower end of the breech piece is shaped into a ball which enters a socket in the baseplate. The K6 model has a reinforced barrel, and it is this barrel that the manufacturer recommends when firing long-range M57 ammunition to a maximum range of 7,200 m.The bipod legs have spikes at the bottom and are joined at the elevation gear housing.

The distance between the legs is controlled by an adjustable length of chain. The lower end of the elevation column, which contains the elevation screw thread, is attached to the left leg of the bipod by a cylinder containing a screw thread. The rotation of the handle at the end of this thread moves the elevation column out of the vertical and so permits the mortar to be cross-levelled to allow for irregularities in the ground. At the top end of the elevating column is the yoke, which holds the sight at the left and the traversing handle at the right. The thread of the traversing gear, like all the threads in this mortar, is completely enclosed.

This heavy mortar is light enough to be transported by helicopter sling load, drop by parachute or carried in an APC such as the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. It can also be towed as a normal artillery piece or even manhandled if necessary. The wheels on the carriage are the same as fitted to the M151 Jeep, and have handling rings to aid in manhandling it. All components are made of chrome-plated or stainless steel to resist wear and corrosion.

The 120 mm A7 long-range Mortar is a further development of the Soltam made, former models M-65 and A 4, which are in service for decades. The A 7 was designed for rapid deployment units and for operation by fewer personnel than previous models, and fires to range of 8,500 m using the M59 bomb and 9,500 m with the M100 bomb. The A7 model is operated by 4 crew members due to its unique design carriage, from which the weapon is not dismounted for use (although, when being fired the Mortar does not rest on its wheels).

Barrel assy', bipod, base Ė plate and the sight unit are of the same pattern like the K 5 and K 6 Mortars, but are enlarged and reinforced to enable firing to longer ranges. The carriage is a lightweight two-wheeled carriage with a torsion-bar suspension. It enables the Mortar to be towed behind any vehicle with a towing hook of the right height and size, as well as being pulled by troops or air lifted.

In some roles the carriage is not used and the Mortar is brought into action without it. The A 7 Mortar can be brought in and out of action by 4 crewmembers in less than 1 minute. In addition to supporting the Mortar, the carriage carries the ccessories and tools that are required for operating and maintaining the weapon. Tools supplied include extractor, to enable Bomb's withdraw it in the event of a misfire.

Page last modified: 03-07-2022 15:26:02 Zulu