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Private Ryan scene was possible

'Private Ryan' scene was possible

     Concerning "The real thing or Hollywood BS" — When we were in training, an officer showed us how you could remove the safety pin from a 60mm mortar shell and then tap the front end without causing an explosion. It made me nervous to watch him.

     He then explained that there was a spring-loaded safety button between the detonator and the impact end. The button was held in place with another spring-loaded pin. When the shell was accelerated up the motor tube, inertia pulled back the spring-loaded pin and as the shell cleared the motor tube the safety button was expelled from the shell, arming it for detonation.

     I read in Stars and Stripes that someone got a high award by throwing mortar shells from the upper stories of a building. He was arming them by striking the fin end on the floor. It was described as discovering a new weapon.

     The fins of the mortar extend well below the shotgun shell in the base of the mortar shell (protecting from an accidental discharge) so it could be struck on a smooth surface to arm it.

     The "Private Ryan" scene is entirely possible.

Radford Carroll E/393