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Gildwiller1918

WW1 French Pneumatic Weapons

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In WW1, the French utilized several pneumatic systems employed in the use of artillery. One of these was the Brandt 60mm pneumatic mortar which was basically a tube connected to pressurized tanks which was developed in 1915 by the Brandt company. The mortar was designed with the idea of portability in supporting the infantry, as it was considered light weight at 22 kg. The tripod or cradle it rested on weighed 16 kilos, of course the tanks, hoses and pumps are not factored into this. One big advantage was that this mortar was very quiet and had no muzzle flash. Two types of shells were used, the first being type "A" (shown below) which was smooth bodied and type "B" which had fragmentation grooves added in 1916. The type "A" shells are still somewhat common, however most are missing most of the paint and the fuse assembly is usually broken or missing. 

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Here are some images of the Brandt M15. The first picture shows a gunner loading a model "A" shell into the tube. The second photo shows several mortars lined up and the one in the foreground has just fired, indicated by the faint puff of white colored gas as well as the soldiers looking to where the shell landed. Third photo is another 60mm launcher, with different types mortar rounds. Note the tanks and hoses, they do not look like something I would want to be carrying around a battlefield. 

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Another version of the Brandt mortar came in 86mm, and fired long slender rounds that look like conventional rounds, however they were made of sheet metal and were soldered together. Below is an example of a gas round. It had the same fuse that the French used on the M15 P2 grenades. You can see the fill port behind the fuse, this is where the chemical agents were filled and the hole was plugged. Once the round was fired, the fuse would spin down until it fired, exploding the shell and its contents. Being made from sheet metal, it would not take much to rupture the shell casing. These shells and other 86mm types for this gun are very rare. The last photo shows another type of round used for this gun. 

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Here is the 86mm Brandt Mortar, and these weapons were not just used by the French, but also the Germans and Austrians as well. 

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