Category Archives: Germany plus Historical East and West

17 cm mittlerer Minenwerfer Trench Mortar (17cm mMW a/A) Found in Dowagiac, MI, WWI Memorial

My wife and I were walking around downtown Dowagiac, MI, when I spotted a memorial with an odd little piece of artillery sticking out above a bush located by the intersection of South Front and Main Street.

I walked over and realized I had no idea what it was.  Given it was a WWI monument, it had that “WWI Look” and the wooden steel clad wheels – even I could figure out it was a WWI piece but what was it?  Somebody had spray painted part of it with some brass/bronze paint that was fading but it was actually in surprisingly good shape.

My first thought was that it was some kind of short barreled howitzer but didn’t turn up anything.  I then realized it might be some type of larger mortar so I searched on WWI mortar photos.  Being a visual person, I can scan a ton of photos fast and I found it pretty quick.  It was an early generation Imperial German 17 cm mittlerer Minenwerfer (17 cm mMW a/A) made by Rheinmetall.

These large mortars were for destroying fortifications in trench warfare.  Interesting minenwerfer means “mine projector”.  About 2,360 of them were made between 1913 and 1918.  Only 150 were available at the start of WWI.

The minenwerfers played a critical role in destroying fortifications – notably those containing machine guns and artillery as well as clearing field obstacles such as barricades and barbed wire.

They were compact but at 525KG (about 1,157 pounds), but anything but easy to maneuver in a rush.

As far as I can tell, the Dowagiac minenwerfer is a 17cm mMW a/A with the last meaning Alter Art which means it is the early model before they increased the barrel length in a newer model known as the 17cm mMW n/A – with the last part meaning Neur Art – or the “new alteration”

The next photo caught my eye due to the Rheinmetall logo that I also have on HK G3 magazines made my Rheinmentall.

The monument is for the men who lost their lives in WWI from Dowagiac and also Cass County.  Note the quote “It is an investment not a loss when a man gives his life for his country”.

I can’t help but wonder how the German mortar wound up in Dowagiac.  I didn’t see a plaque anywhere but hope to research it more some day.  I also hope they preserve it.  Unless I missed it, the mortar is standing on its own wooden wheels and it would be a shame if it fell.

In case you are interested, here are some great resources to learn more about the 17 cm mMW a/A:

The following page has GPS coordinates and names of the decesed:

Here’s a Google Satellite View of the WWI Memorial – it where I put the red circle:

Here’s the link to the Google Maps page – click here.


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WWI German officers visor cap

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WWI German 98/05 Butcher Bayonet dated 1916 Deutsche Maschinenfabrik A.G.

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WWI/WWII German Belt

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German WWI Artillery Luger Holster with Wood Buttstock Set

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World War I: The Definitive Visual History (Hardcover)

2014 marks the centennial of the start of World War I — DK will mark the occasion with the publication of World War I: The Definitive Visual Guide, a vividly illustrated, in-depth account of the Great War.

Written by historian R. G. Grant, and created by DK’s award-winning editorial and design team, World War I charts the developments of the war from a global perspective. Using illustrated timelines, detailed maps, and personal accounts, readers will see the oft-studied war in a new light. Key episodes are set clearly in the wider context of the conflict, in-depth profiles look at the key generals and political leaders, and full-color photo galleries showcase the weapons, inventions, and new technologies that altered the course of history.

A vivid portrait of the confrontation on land, sea, and sky, World War I: The Definitive Visual Guide offers readers a bold and thoughtful new look at this complex and explosive moment in history.


Features:  World War I The Definitive Visual History
By (author):  R. G. Grant

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Video: Ostfront 1987: Walther WA-2000 vs SVD Dragunov from InRangeTV

 

 

This 30:11 long video had me seriously drooling.  You have Ian McCollum from Forgotten Weapons and Karl Kasarda from InRangeTV squaring off on targets.  Ian is firing a rare German Walther WA-2000 sniper rifle in .300 Win Mag and Karl is shooting the Russian 7.62x54R SVD Dragunov.  They role play a bit and take this back to the Eastern Front of 1987.  I think both rifles are amazing and both presenters do a great job.  It’s very cool to see what the rifles can actually do vs. armchair myth.  Kudos to both men!

 


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The Official Soviet SVD Manual (Paperback)

Designed by noted firearms designer Evgeniy Fedorovich Dragunov to operate under the most extreme climatic and combat situations, the SVD was the first Russian rifle designed from scratch specifically for sniping. This translation of the official SVD manual contains complete operating instructions.

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Video: Walther WA-2000: The Ultimate German Sniper Rifle by Forgotten Weapons

       

The first time I saw the Walther WA-2000 I fell in love.  Wow.  It was the most amazing looking sniper rifle I had ever seen and I’ve only seen one once years and years ago.  Like the HK PSG-1, the WA-2000 was developed in response to the 1972 Munich Olympic Games incident.  Development started in the lates 1970s and only 176 rifles were produced between 1982 to 1988.  When it was sold in the 1980s it never really took off because it was incredibly expensive – only 15 were imported into the US.  The one I saw was around $10K if I remember right.  Today, the price has skyrocketed – $70K for the first gen with the wood stocks and $40K for the second gen with the synthetic stock.  With prices like that, unless I hit the lottery, the odds of my owning one is zero 🙁

I watched Ian’s video on the WA-2000 and, as usual, he does the best review of the rifle I have seen.  He goes over the history, interesting design characteristics, disassembles it and then takes it shooting.  Wow.  I would love to shoot one of these.  One misconception I had before the video was that the rifle was only chambered in 7.62X51 when it was actually available in .300 Win Mag and 7.5×55 Swiss.  The rifle in the video is a .300 Win Mag unit.

Here’s the cool 23:49 video from Forgotten Weapons:

Now if you want to learn some more about this amazing bullpup sniper rifle, check out:


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