an obsolete artillery weapon with a short barrel designed primarily to destroy especially strong defensive structures. Heavy-artillery mortar fire was conducted at barrel elevations of 50°–75°.
In the 15th century the mortar had a barrel 2–4 calibers in length, and by external appearance it resembled a mortar, from which it took its name. In the 17th to 19th centuries mortars were used for high-angle fire to hit defensive structures and troops behind enclosures (siege and fortress mortars) and to hit the decks of ships (coastal mortars). In World War I (1914–18) siege and coastal mortars of 230–280 mm caliber with a range of fire of up to 8.7 km were used. On the eve of World War II (1939–45), Germany had the 210-mm 1938-model mortar, Italy had the 260-mm mortar, and France had the 280-mm mortar. In the USSR a 280-mm 1939-model mortar with a range of fire of 10.4 km and a shell weight of 246 kg was built. At the end of the war an experimental model of a 914-mm mortar called Little David was developed in the USA. Heavy-artillery mortars are not used in present-day armies.