21cm Morser (M1899)

The 21cm Morser (M1899) was the first modern steel mortar to see service with the German Army and was still in use at the outbreak of the First World War.

The M1899 was developed as a result of two improvements in weapons technology - the development of HE shells and better quality steel for the barrels. HE shells were more effective when used in plunging fire, while the steel barrels allowed them to be fired to a useful range.

The new mortar was ordered in 1893. It was a fairly simple weapon, with a strong steel barrel mounted on a simple carriage, but it could fire a 83kg shell to 8,300m (although the rate of fire was very slow, at one round every three minutes). There was no recoil mechanism, and very limited traverse on the carriage. The carriage had solid metal sides, with a steep straight front edge and more gentle curved rear. The gun was mounted almost half way along its length.

The mortars were issued to the Fussartillerie in July 1899. They were used in batteries of up to four weapons.

Although the M1899 had been replaced by more advanced models by 1914, there were still 48 in service at the start of the First World War, and they were used by non horse-drawn reserve Fussartillerie battalions. Later on they were also issued to Landwehr-Fussartillerie battalions.


21cm Morser



Barrel Length

2,110mm (L/10)

Weight for transport


Weight in action



6 to 70 degrees


4 degrees

Shell Weight


Muzzle Velocity

394m/sec with 83kg heavy 21-cm shell 14

Maximum Range

6,800m to 8,300m

Rate of Fire

One round every three minutes

German Artillery 1914-1918, Wolfgang Fleischer. Covers over 100 guns used by the German Army and shore detachments of the Navy during the First World War, a conflict largely dominated by artillery. Each one gets a brief description, a set of technical stats and a good picture. Shows the wide range of gun types and sizes used by the Germans during the First World War, and the way in which they evolved to deal with the unexpected challenges of trench warfare. [read full review]
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 April 2018), 21cm Morser (M1899) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_21cm_morser_M1899.html

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