Hero IS2 Company – Heavy Mortar Review.

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Avid readers will recall my 1st Breakthrough Assault post covered my plans for a new Hero IS2 company. I shared some of my motivation for building this new army and wrote up two lists for the most popular point levels in my area. You can find that post here

 

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Soviet 160mm mortar beside a Soviet 120mm Mortar

In this 2nd post, I share the first of my units to roll off the production line.

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A view of the 160mm mortar showing the mechanism to raise and lower the barrel

 

History:

Following on from the initial Barbarossa campaign, the Soviets needed a cost effective method of increasing it’s high explosive bombardments against prepared positions. Traditionally this role would be serviced by howitzers and heavy artillery. As a cheaper alternative, the Soviets developed a larger scale, 160mm mortar based on the design of the earlier 120mm mortar.

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160mm mortar limbered

The 120mm mortar was a very successful piece of Soviet equipment largely due to the simplicity of design. It could be easily manufactured and was relatively easy to use in the field. However, a new Mortar design taller than a man and weighing in at more than a tonne would present a new set of challenges. Engineers now had to work out, how a muzzle-loaded shell could be dropped into a mortar tube more than 3m long? The answer? Simple – Don’t. The design featured a breach loading point. The barrel was hinged and the shell was loaded into the bottom half before being closed again. Additionally due to the recoil of the huge round firing, a new suspension system was installed. Finally, to enable the weapon to be maneuvered on the field, wheels were added.

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View of Mortar base plate and recoil suspension.

These new heavy caliber mortars served the Soviet Union’s war machine from 1943 until the end of the war.

 

Review:

Battlefront blister SU752 contains 4 x 160mm mortars, each with 5 crew, a command team of 3 and a spotter stand with 2 figs. My blister was complete. Each mortar is made up of a barrel piece, a lower frame piece, a base plate, and 2 wheels. Upon cleanup I noticed that the connection to attach the barrel piece to the frame piece was very thin. 2 of my mortars were also slightly mis-cast. The connections were thinner than they should have been and had too much flash on them. I am sure that had I contacted Battlefront customer service, these pieces would have been replaced. However, I was in the mood to paint up these mortars so glued them in as best I could. Two of the four mortars are therefore on more of a horizontal angle than they should be. No biggie!

 

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Mortars assembled.

These mortars also use the new brown bases with figure holes. I quite like these as the bases don’t stick out as far as they did with the old gray bases. I used less filler to build up the base levels.

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In the Game:

In my list, these mortars are rated fearless trained. They should therefore be able to unpin in most instances. They would normally hit on a skill test of 4+, being hero though, this becomes a 3+. Very handy indeed. In the 1750 point list I will use 6 of these mortars. This will either allow a double wide template or a single template with a re-roll to hit.

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The Bombardment stats are really where this mortar excels. 160mm mortars are AT 4 and firepower 2+. This is better than the majority of most artillery. Against infantry and gun-teams, fire power of 2+ will dig out teams really quickly. Once enemy teams fail their saves, these mortars will destroy teams 83% of the time. 105mm arttilery with a firepower of 4+ will only destroy enemy teams 50% of the time. Against tanks, At 4 is every bit as good as most 100mm plus artillery but with a superior firepower.

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I hope you enjoyed this review. Please stay tuned for the next post.