The U.S. M2 60 mm mortar was developed from the heavier 81 mm M1 Mortar+ to provide a lighter-weight alternative to company-level fire support.Norris, John and Calow, Robert, ''Infantry Mortars of World War II'', Osprey Publishing (2002), ISBN 1-84176-414-0, ISBN 978-1-84176-414-6, p. 15 The M2 attempted to bridge the gap between the 81 mm mortar and the hand grenade+. Normally employed by the weapons platoon+ of a U.S. infantry company+, the M2 is of the usual mortar+ pattern of the day. It consists of a smoothbore metal tube on a rectangular baseplate, supported by a simple bipod+ with the elevation and traverse+ mechanisms. The firing pin was fixed in the base cap of the tube, and the bomb+ was fired automatically when it dropped down the barrel+. Though classed as a light mortar, the M2 had considerable range compared to the 50 mm and 60 mm mortars of most other nations, and its fixed-firing pin design allowed a high rate of fire by trained crews.
During the late 1920s, the US Army+ began examining mortars to act as a light infantry support weapon. The War Department eventually settled on a 60 mm design+ from Edgar Brandt+, a French ordnance engineer, and purchased a license to build the weapon. The model was standardized as the Mortar, 60 mm M2. Testing took place in the late 1930s, and the first order for 1,500 M2 mortars was placed in January 1940.
The weapon was used throughout World War II by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. It saw service again in the Korean War, and by French forces in counterinsurgency campaigns in Indochina+ and Algeria+. During the Vietnam War+, the M2 was again used by the U.S. Army and Marines, as well as by South Vietnamese forces.
Chinese military forces also produced a version of the M2 called the Type 31.
The M2 Mortar could fire several types of ammunition+.
* M49A2 High explosive+ (HE): Used against infantry and other light targets
* M302 White phosphorus+ (WP): Used as a signaling, screening, smoke-producing, and casualty-producing tool
* M83 Illuminating round: Used in night missions requiring illumination for assistance in observation.
* Hogg, Ian (2000). ''Twentieth-Century Artillery''. Friedman/Fairfax Publishers. ISBN 1-58663-299-X
* Norris, John and Calow, Robert, ''Infantry Mortars of World War II'', Osprey Publishing (2002), ISBN 978-1-84176-414-6