Russian Mortar in the Fiftieth State

By Mark Genovese

The very last time I saw one of these puppy’s, I was a ten on the pucker meter, I’m talking wired tight and this single phrase from the Wizard of Oz “There’s no place like home” kept running through my head. I broke out in a cold sweat and continued to unwrap the latest treasure from the master of oddball ordnance, Mr. Bob Landies of Ohio Ordnance, Chardon, OH. All you reasonably knowledgeable individuals out there are scratching your heads, saying wait a minute, isn’t Hawaii the land of socialist anti-gun fruits and nuts? But absolutely no Class Three firearms? You’re partially right. The people’s state of Hawaii did allow locally registered USAS-12s, StreetSweepers and Striker 12 shotguns to be papered on a Form One. (More on this subject in a later issue).

The mortar that I have is officially rendered unserviceable according to BATF specifications. However, these are still considered Title One firearms and transferred on a standard FFL license. What is “unserviceable”? It appears the Treasury Secretary is very clear on this one. There shall be a hole in the sidewall of the tube equal to the bore size of the tube, a steel bar hard welded across the inside of the bore obstructing the tube, the end cap (which is considered the receiver) hard welded to the tube and the firing pin hole welded up as well. With all of the above you may own one of these magnificent Model 1937 82mm Russian mortars rich with military history. Gentlemen, please beware, if you plan to add any demilled ordnance to your collection make very sure it is in compliance.

My wife and I were attending the 1997 Soldier of Fortune Convention in LOST WAGES NEVADA with some good friends from the great state of Maine. We got to the show a day early, so I had a unique opportunity to scan all the tables before the public did. I was like a shark trolling through a sea of gourmet pupu’s and then I spotted it and started to tighten my circle around this U.S. M2 60mm mortar. By the second day I was nipping at the salesmen’s feet, how much? Where is it from, and can I take a closer look at it? To my surprise, no bar across the top, and another look revealed the firing pin hole was wide open (there was a bore size hole drilled in the tube). Then I put the million dollar question to the sales guy, “Do I have to fill out a 4473”? No he said, “I picked it up just like you see it, no paper.” My brain froze. The scene from National Lampoon’s Animal House where the young girl is passed out drunk and this little devil in a red outfit pops up on one of the kid’s shoulders, then the angel on the other, one saying, “Go ahead, do it”, the other saying “Don’t you dare”! I wanted this to round out my collection so bad I could taste it.

There was only one thing I could do, go to my friend from Maine (and in my opinion the Don Corleone of RKI’s) and have him give me the straight skinny. We got within ten feet of the weapon and my friend did a 360, figuratively grabbed the short hairs of my sideburns, lifted up smartly and uttered these words “You should know better”. What it boils down to are those age old proverbial words of wisdom, that everyone has heard but fails to remember “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is”. Out one 60mm dream.

The good news is, I still had the 82mm Russian waiting back on Maui in desperate need of a refinish. When I got the piece it was painted with some sort of desert camouflage pattern and I wanted to keep it that way. Looked like a “Crew level” job. First and foremost I had to find a sand blaster who wouldn’t have a coronary and call the police at the sight of yours truly dropping off the mortar.

Then from an old tee-shirt I made some stencils, several cans of spray paint in different shades of tan, a lot of time and presto-chango, my 82mm display piece was ready. It turned out real nice, and everything works as far as the shock absorber, traversing and elevating mechanism and of course the NSB/3 sight unit. The only thing missing was a few display rounds. It seems like there are no Russian 82mm inert projectile out there. Had to settle for U.S. 81mm and they had four one inch holes drilled right through them. I got around that by wrapping tape to the outside and then filling each unit with fiberglass resin and sanding back to original, topped them off with an original two piece inert training fuze. They’re not Russian, bit it will have to do until the right ones turn up. I will keep cruising the ads and shows. All and all it looks like a completely restored museum quality show piece.

Last year, I had the opportunity to refinish two M/20, 3.5 inch rocket launchers, one early manufacture and one late. Being made of aluminum and heavily painted several times, I used a chemical paint remover instead of sand blasting because of the soft metal. With two AT/4 launchers and a complete law M/72, 66mm with inert rocket that pretty much fills up the wall in the gun room. While they are not live, they do make one hell of an impressive display. Even in the places where we can’t own live Class 3 items, it is still possible to have an interesting historical collection.

Aloha Nui Loa from up country Maui, make sure you get out vote, and join the NRA today.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V3N3 (December 1999)
and was posted online on November 6, 2015


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