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Mortier de 58 T N°1

Trench artillery

Contributor :
Gilles Roland      http://vestiges.1914.1918.free.fr/
Association des Poilus de la Marne       http://lepoiludelamarne.free.fr/
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Location :
Epernay (51)
Association des Poilus de la Marne
Coordinates : Lat : 49.03420 / Long : 3.95750
General comments on this surviving gun :

Identical items in the same location : 1
Items covered by this file : 1

Exceptionally in this database, this is not a surviving gun, but an interesting reconstitution made by the famous association 'Les Poilus de la Marne'

Historic and technical information
Denomination :     58 T N°1 Origin :       ( Leflaive)          

Historic context :

Facing the power of the German Minenwerfers from the very first days of the war, the Frenchs took out some antique bronze mortars (the 'crapouillots') from the depots, and deployed a lot of ingeniosity to improvise explosive mine launchers able to answer to their enemy. Amongst these artisanal weapons, the one developped by the Commandant Duchêne, head of the pioneer units of the 70th infantry division, deserves a special place since it the origin of the famous 58 mm trench mortars family.

Remembering some of his pre-war thoughts while he was engaged with his unit on the Lens-Arras front sector in october 1914, this soldier designed a prototype made with a wooden mandrel planted in the ground, covered with a 75 mm fieldgun cartridge acting as a projectile and filled with explosives, shrapnells, and containing the propulsive charge.

After several tests, the Commandant Duchène managed to stabilize the bomb flight in a satisfactory trajectory thanks to the addition of fins. Having attracted the interest of the General Fayolle on these results, présentés is idéal to thé maréchal J'offre who sent hum direct l'y to Bourges on November 7 1914 to develop thé first reglementary trench artillery weapon of the French army with the active help of the Général Dumézil.

This super quick development (the first order for 70 pieces being sent to a Saint Etienne private company on December 24 1914, and the first shot on the frontline happening on January 18 1915) resulted in the 'mortier de 58 n°1'. It was the first step of the industrialization of the prototype described above, realized mainly with recuperation materials not endangering the material supply chain of the conventional artillery fabrications. It was composed with a solid steel mandrel linked at its lower end to a massive steel base that was made of a wagon buffer, and at its upper end to a 58 mm inner diameter tube. This device was mounted on a bipod allowing the vertical aiming thanks to a small dented rack.

The bomb body was equipped with fins in order to stabilize the flight and had a 150 mm diameter. A solid tail with a 58 mm diameter was fixed at its bottom. This projectile power was finally at a level close to the battlefield needs with its 16 kg weight including 6 kg of high explosive material. The gun powder propulsive charge, then the solid tail of the bomb were introduced inside the hollow tube before fire.

Although the diameters of the 'gun' (58 mm) and of the bomb (150 mm) as well as the high explosive were only selected in order to recycle existing material and not needed by the war industry, these characteristics remained in the specification for the following members of this trench mortars family...

The 'mortier de 58 nr 1' was used on the front from January 1915. It was built in less than 200 items before it was replaced by the 'Mortier de 58 nr 1 bis' for the first line light mortar mission while the heavier and more powerful 'Mortier de 58 nr 2' were already arriving in the units. 70 such mortars were still in service in June 1915. There were only 15 such left in October 1915

Technical data :

  • Complete description : 58 Nr 1 trench mortar
  • Design year : 1914
  • Calibre : 58.00 mm (tail of the projectile)
  • Weight in firing position : 114 kg
  • Weight for transportation :
  • Tube length in calibres : 2.00
  • Grooves : 0 (smooth bore)
  • Projectile weight : 16 kg
  • Initial speed : 55 m/s
  • Fire rate : 1 shot / minute
  • Range : 300 m
  • Elevation range : 45 to 80 degrees
  • Direction range : None

  • Les Crapouillots 1914-1918           Pierre Waline                   Charles Lavauzelle   1965  
  • Les canons de la Victoire 1914-1918 - Tome III - L' Artillerie de Côte et l'Artillerie de Tranchée       Général Guy François                   Histoire et Collection   2010  
  • Les Crapouillots 1914-1918       Général Rouquerol                   Payot   1935  
  • Cours d'Artillerie de Tranchée       Capitaine Bouchon                   Bourges   1918  
  • Le mortier de 58T, Partie I, les mortiers Nr1 et Nr1 bis - Guerre, Blindés et Matériel Nr 110       Général Guy François                   Histoire et Collection   2014