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mortar, in warfare, term originally applied to certain types of artillery with high trajectories, but later applied to an infantry weapon that consists of a tube supported by a bipod that fires a projectile at a very high trajectory. The mortar is not usually classified as artillery. Unlike standard types of artillery, mortars need no complex recoil equipment and are usually smoothbore and muzzle-loaded. Their weight is light in relation to the weight of shell delivered, but at the expense of range and accuracy. First developed by Sir Frederick Stokes during World War I, the mortar was used by infantry in trench warfare and is standard equipment in modern armies.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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