Meet America's 'Goon Gun': The M2 4.2-Inch Mortar That Won World War II

Warfare History Network

Key point: While the mortar units were a valuable asset, they were not without their problems.

In the last days of March 1945, a soldier named Carl Getzel sat on a hill outside the city of Aschaffenburg and watched as it was slowly destroyed. The young private was part of the American 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division. His unit was tasked to take this town but it had been hard going; the German troops inside the city were putting up a determined defense.

At echelons far above Carl, the decision was made to bombard the city. Artillery and air strikes pounded the once-beautiful town, but from his vantage he saw the a third, little known weapon wreak its own havoc. Not far behind him sat Company C, 2nd Chemical Mortar Battalion, equipped with the M2 4.2-inch mortar. Bombs from the mortars flew overhead to land in the city. As he watched, the projectiles crashed into buildings, bringing several down. It was an awesome display of firepower; Company C would fire 1,519 rounds of ammunition into Aschaffenburg during the last three days of March alone.

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