3" Mortar Emplacement
A 3" Mortar Emplacement dug into a hillside
|Role||Light field artillery emplacement|
|Produced By||Infantry Section|
|Production XP||+23 xp|
|Primary armament||OML 3" Mortar|
The 3" Mortar Emplacement, or simply the Mortar Pit, is a British Defensive Structure featured in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. It provides light indirect fire for the British forces, much like the American and Wehrmacht Mortar Squads - except stationary. 3" Mortar Emplacements are used in the preliminary defense of the British front line.
During the early stages of the battle, the British forces attempt to capture as much territory as they can, and proceed to entrench it against enemy counter-attacks. Since the enemy is likely to have little more than infantry and light vehicles for some time, the 3" Mortar Emplacement is constructed to fend these threats off by providing light artillery cover to crucial sectors.
A 3" Mortar Emplacement can be built very early, by Infantry Sections. It costs only 280, and takes 2 to maintain, making it one of the cheapest units in the British arsenal. It is, in fact, nothing more than a square area lined with Sand Bags, within which a 3" Mortar is placed. Two crewmen are assigned to operate the mortar.
Unlike other artillery pieces, the 3" Mortar Emplacement will automatically open fire at any enemy unit discovered within its firing range. The mortar shells explode over a relatively wide radius, but inflict only a small amount of damage beyond the impact point. They can also suppress infantry.
Mortars fire slowly, but can be told to execute a 3" Mortar Bombardment which will quickly fire a succession of rounds at a manually-specified target. With the Royal Artillery Support tech, the 3" Mortar Emplacement gains several other useful abilities.
Eventually, 3" Mortar Emplacements outlive some of their usefulness, and are gradually removed or replaced with the heavier 25 Pounder Gun Howitzer. Nonetheless, they are still useful for 360-degree defense, and especially useful against enemy mortar fire.
The 3" Mortar Emplacement has only one weapon: the Ordnance ML 3" Mortar. This is a light infantry-support weapon, firing small high-explosive shells. The Mortar crew have no other weapons with which to defend themselves.
OML 3" Mortar Edit
This is a slow-firing anti-infantry light mortar. It can lob shells at enemies detected within 20–75 meters of its position.
The shells explode within a circular area of 6 meter radius. Within 2 meters of the blast point, infantry receive about 40 points of damage - almost (but not quite) enough to kill them. Airborne infantry are apparently less vulnerable, receiving only 20 points of damage (1/3 of their health). The further beyond 2 meters a target is, the less damage is inflicted. The mortar can also penetrate the armor of most vehicles (including tanks), but will cause relatively minimal damage except against non-armored light vehicles. Note that some (but not all) bunkers receive additional damage from mortar shells.
Mortar shells are lobbed at a slow rate - about 1 every 4–5 seconds. This rate can be increased for a short period of time with the 3" Mortar Bombardment ability. The 3" Mortar Emplacement will automatically fire at targets within its 20-75 meter firing range, unlike other artillery units.
The accuracy of the shells depends greatly on range, with high accuracy when firing at close targets. When the mortar fires at enemy buildings (garrisoned buildings, etc.) it receives a good accuracy bonus - but only when left to fire automatically (i.e. not using the 3" Mortar Bombardment or other such abilities).
Like other artillery pieces, the 3" Mortar Emplacement can be told to initiate a quick barrage of several shells a specified target area, though the mortar also fires automatically at its normal (slow) speed whenever it detects enemies within its range.
The Royal Artillery Support tree can unlock three new abilities for the 3" Mortar Emplacement, including the 3" Supercharge Barrage, Overwatch Barrage and Counter Battery.
3" Mortar Bombardment Edit
- Costs nothing
- Activation: Select Ground (within 20 to 75 meters from the mortar)
- Cooldown: 30 seconds
When this ability is activated, select any ground point within 20 to 75 meters of the 3" Mortar Emplacement. The mortar will fire 6 shells at this target, at a significantly-increased rate. You may fire this ability into the Fog of War, if required.
This ability simply increases the firing rate of the mortar, offering no other bonuses. It is only useful when you are certain that the target area contains enemy unit that are unlikely to get away quickly, otherwise the mortar will waste its time firing at empty terrain.
The best time to use this ability is when a stationary target is discovered - either an enemy emplacement, an enemy rally point, or infantry that has been suppressed by your other units. Since it can't get away, the target will suffer the full wrath of 6 mortar shells.
Note that the cooldown period begins when the Bombardment is ordered, and its duration is just slightly shorter than the time it takes to fire those 6 shells. In other words, if you do not interrupt the bombardment, the ability will become available again as soon as the mortar finishes firing the 6-shell salvo. You can therefore continuously use this ability over and over at different targets, if you so wish.
3" Supercharge Barrage Edit
- Costs nothing
- Requires the Royal Artillery Support: Super Charge Artillery ability
- Replaces the 3" Mortar Bombardment ability
- Activation: Select Ground (within 30 to 90 meters from the mortar)
- Cooldown: 30 seconds
When this ability is acquired through the Royal Artillery Support tree, it replaces the normal 3" Mortar Bombardment ability. It is identical to the 3" Mortar Bombardment ability in everything but range: you may now fire shells at targets up to 90 meters away.
The 3" Supercharge Barrage allows the mortar to attack enemy units much further away. One important upside is that enemy mortars can no longer out-range the 3" Mortar. Another upside is that you can place the 3" mortar slightly further backwards from your own defensive lines, giving it more protection without sacrificing too much range. However, you still need to keep it relatively close to the front lines.
A downside to this ability is that the mortar can now only fire at targets more than 30 meters away from its position. This practically mandates that you keep it a little further back if you want it to support the defense of your own lines, and renders it incapable of firing at enemies attacking the emplacement unless they are almost at sight-range.
Overwatch Barrage Edit
- Costs nothing
- Activation: Select Ground (within visible territory up to 90 meters away)
- Requires the Royal Artillery Support: Overwatch Artillery ability
- Permanent until deactivated
- While active, Prevents the use of other abilities.
- Cooldown: 10 seconds (on deactivation)
When Overwatch Barrage is activated, select a ground target within visible territory. The 3" Mortar will rotate to face that target, and wait until it detects enemy units within ~15 meters of the targeted point.
If any unit is detected entering the target area, the 3" Mortar will quickly fire 2 shells at it. If the target remains within the area (or another target appears), the mortar will continue to fire groups of 2 shells until the target area is cleared.
Note that the target area can only be placed within visible territory, and within 120 meters of the mortar itself. If visibility to that area is lost, the mortar won't fire because it can't detect targets there. However, the Overwatch Barrage order will not cancel itself. You can re-establish eye-contact with the target area to resume bombardment.
While Overwatch Barrage is active, the mortar cannot use any of its other abilities, and cannot fire automatically at any target except those entering the Overwatch area. In addition, it will not participate in any Victor Target barrages (see Captain). You can order the mortar to stand down from Overwatch Barrage mode at any time. It takes 10 seconds to reset the mortar for normal operations.
Overwatch Barrage for a mortar is not very effective. It takes a while for the mortar shells to travel to the target area, and so isn't terribly effective at destroying targets moving through it. The only practical use is to target your own resource points with an Overwatch Barrage, meaning that if by chance any enemy infantry try to take the point, the mortar will automatically open fire at them.
Counter Battery Edit
- Costs nothing
- Activation: Immediate
- Requires the Royal Artillery Support: Counter Battery ability
- Permanent until deactivated
- While active, Prevents the use of other abilities
- Cooldown: 10 seconds (on deactivation)
When Counter Battery is activated, the 3" Mortar will immediately set itself to "search and destroy" mode. It will sit still and wait until an enemy artillery piece (most likely enemy Mortars) fires its weapons at your units.
At that point, the 3" Mortar will begin firing at the target, which will remain visible (whether in the Fog of War or not) as long as it is within about 50 meters from the mortar. Other mortars nearby will also fire at the revealed target as long as it remains visible.
The 3" Mortar itself does not get any special firing properties - it does not barrage the target artillery, simply fires shells at the normal rate. The difference is that the target remains visible as long as it doesn't back away.
Unfortunately, most German artillery units are very mobile. All they have to do is to launch their rockets/shells and quickly retreat, in which case the counter-battery fire will simply hit the position they were in, doing no actual damage, and the enemy unit will quickly disappear if it backs away far enough. This is especially true when playing against the AI, which virtually always retreats its artillery after firing a barrage. Also, the range of the 3" Mortar's Counter Battery ability is quite limited: it will only open fire at targets within 50 meters of itself, despite super-charged shells having a range of 90 meters.
While Counter Battery is active, the mortar cannot use any of its other abilities. In addition, it will not participate in any Victor Target barrages (see Captain). You can order the mortar to stand down from Counter Battery mode at any time. It takes 10 seconds to reset the weapon for normal operations.
Early in the battle, British Infantry Sections scramble to capture and secure as much territory as they can. They have little with which to protect themselves, and so much place down various Defensive Structures to protect the newly-captured territory. These structures are expected to protect the front line until they can secure enough of the resources required for Sappers to build more powerful emplacements.
The 3" Mortar is one such defensive solution. An Infantry Section can place the Mortar Pit to protect them from enemy units while setting up other defenses (like Slit Trenches or Vickers Machine Gun Emplacements). It can also fire back at any mortar units shelling your infantry.
Since it has no defensive firepower, the 3" Mortar must always be protected by other units or emplacements. The best combination would be to protect it with a Vickers Machine Gun Emplacement, which can suppress infantry and turn them into perfect targets for a mortar barrage.
Eventually, the 3" Mortar ceases to have any use other than shelling enemy bunkers or units in their own territory, since it has little effect on vehicles and tanks, nor the accuracy to hit them while they are moving. Nonetheless, it is the only British emplacement with the necessary range to hit enemy mortars firing at your position, other than the 25 Pounder Gun Howitzer.
Once the Howitzer becomes feasible to construct, of course, the 3" Mortar is usually rendered obsolete. Several such positions can be replaced with a single Howitzer, which gives more firepower at longer ranges. The downside to this is that the Howitzer consumes more Population Cap points, has a much longer delay between shots, and does not fire without specific orders. The trade-off is usually worth it anyway.
Given their relatively short range (compared to other artillery units), 3" Mortars should be placed as close to the front lines as possible without exposing them to enemy fire. For example, behind a hillside, behind other emplacements, or behind other units.
The best early defensive combination is a 3" Mortar placed a few meters behind a Vickers Machine Gun Emplacement. Enemy infantry attacking this position will come under fire from the Vickers and quickly become suppressed or pinned-down. At this stage, these infantrymen are virtually stationary targets and thus perfect for mortar bombardment.
With the Supercharge Artillery Rounds ability from the Royal Artillery Support Command Tree, mortars have a significantly increased range. Nonetheless, they are still best when placed close to the front lines. This way they can bombard enemy units in their own territory, including enemy bunkers (which receive extra damage from these bombardments) and infantry in buildings. It is however recommended to place the mortar about 20–30 meters behind your defensive line, as it has a minimum range for firing shells, and is always vulnerable to enemy attacks.
Royal Artillery SupportEdit
The Royal Artillery Support command tree concentrates on artillery-related bonuses. While it mostly benefits heavy artillery, the 3" Mortar does receive some bonus abilities in the process.
The most important Command Upgrade for the mortar is Supercharge Artillery Rounds. It increases the mortar's relatively-short range from 75 meters to 120 meters. This allows it to out-range any enemy mortar fire, and allows striking well into enemy territory. You can use it to soften-up enemy positions prior to an advance, or to shell enemy forward structures.
The other two Command Upgrades affecting the 3" Mortar are Overwatch Artillery and Counter Battery. These open up two special abilities for the mortar which are discussed above in this article. Unfortunately, neither ability is very good, especially given the long period of time it takes for mortar shells to reach their target, their low explosive yield compared to other artillery shells, etcetera. Once these abilities are acquired, the other artillery pieces available to you become much more superior to a 3" Mortar Emplacement, though they do cost more Population Cap points.
Like other artillery pieces, the 3" Mortar Emplacement can participate in a Victor Target order issued by a Captain. However, unlike other artillery, a mortar can only participate if the target is within its firing range.
As an emplacement, the Mortar Pit is an immobile unit, and is thus vulnerable to enemy attacks. The enemy can shell it with long-range artillery or aircraft, and can even bombard it with its own mortars. Since it has no close-combat defenses of its own, a Mortar Pit will quickly be destroyed when assaulted face-to-face by enemy units. Never put it directly on the front lines, always keep it somewhat back.
Additionally, as with all other British emplacements, if the 3" Mortar Emplacement is damaged severely but not destroyed, its crew will be killed and it will become a neutral weapon. In that case it can be captured by an enemy infantry squad. Allowing this would pose a major threat to you, giving the enemy a gun that can be used to bombard your own position. Prevent it at all costs!!
Historical Data Edit
From the experience during World War I, the British Army's need for light artillery infantry support became clear. Heavy field batteries were used, but this was phased out due to complexities in fire control, and cost-cutting at the time. Thus a mortar weapons system was created instead.
Specifically labeled as "Ordnance ML 3-inch Mortar" by the War Office in 1917; it was designed to complement infantry assaults. It was not created as a mobile light artillery piece, due to the British Army's defensively-orientated doctrine. It was instead designed for an immobile role, where it would operate in a makeshift trech. This trench would keep the crew safe from direct fire. It worked...until their targets were out of range.