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United States War Department
Field Manual: FM 5-20A
Army Corps of Engineers



mortar camouflage combat postiion defilade
Mortars should always be sited in defilade. Since a mortar covering a designated target area has a wider choice of position than other small weapons, such defilade can almost always be found, and concealment from ground view is fairly easy.  The aerial observer is the enemy's principal means of discovering the position of mortars and the mortar must be well camouflaged against the aerial observer as well as against the possibility of enemy flanking action.

Siting in shadows and broken ground patterns, plus intelligent use of natural and artificial materials, offer the mortar concealment from the air.

A foxhole emplacement for a mortar needs camouflage.   Without camouflage, it is much easier to detect than a hasty position.   In Figure 68, the crew has dug its foxholes carefully, concealed the ammunition and spoil and pulled grass in around the emplacement. Care must be taken not to make giveaway tracks in this kind of terrain.

Figure 69 (top) shows what could have happened if the job were done by a badly trained crew. This position has taken no advantage of the characteristics of the weapon and made no provisions to conceal the ammunition.  Spoil from the foxholes marks the place for aerial observation.  The crew has not taken best advantage of their position.  Their equipment is not toned down; no attempt has been made to use natural materials on their helmets; and their faces and hands have not been toned down.


Figure 70 show excellent choice of position and use of existing natural concealment. The position above is in a creek bed under a fallen tree. The men and mortar are concealed from overhead as well as flanking views. Below, position in heavy foliage is well hidden.  From the air it would be difficult to separate the position from the foliage pattern.
mortar camouflage siting foliage combat postiion

mortar emplacement camouflageProgress stages in the camouflage of a dug-in mortar emplacement.  With Figure 71, the upper photograph shows the foxhole dug quickly for immediate protection. As yet there is no concealment.  However, although crew are exposed, the position itself is well chosen, spoil has been disposed of carefully, and tracks to position follow concealed lines.  Next, forked sticks support branches to form the framework for concealment. Natural foliage is placed on this framework.  In the third photograph the finishing touches are being put on the position. Surrounding live vines are being pulled over the emplacement.  The last photograph shows the finished job. The emplacement is ready for effective, concealed fire.


In deliberate positions, where the emplacement cannot be dug in and the terrain is broken with bushes and rocks, an igloo (Fig. 73) is an effective quick-opening cover for mortars.  Simply constructed, it is made of two garnished twine nets, each 15 by 15 feet, two sapling bows, and some wire for hinges.  A wire hook holds the top of the bows together when the igloo is closed. Lifting the hook permits igloo to fall apart.


In open terrain with little vegetation, the flat-top with an embrasure can be used for overhead cover. A 15- by 15-foot garnished net is suspended from an 18- by 18-foot No. 10 wire frame by a lacing of No. 16 wire or rope. On the side toward the enemy, a quick-opening embrasure is cut in at least 6 feet. The cut edges, reinforced with rope or wire, are fastened with a circus tie of rope or with any other quick-release fastening.

Wire hooks hold the embrasure side of the net to the wire frame. When the embrasure is opened, the hooks are released from the frame. The frame is tightened by racking the double guy wires at corner posts and by racking the two diagonal wires together at their crossing.  Spoil should always be removed and hidden.   A flat-top will rarely conceal piles of spoil around an emplacement, especially when they are near the outer borders of the position.
mortar igloo quick-opening cover


The effectiveness of an antitank gun depends upon surprise. The gun must be concealed until it fires, and it should remain difficult to detect after it fires.

57mm Anti-Tank Gun Model M-1 camouflaged positionCamouflage of antitank guns is largely a matter of good siting. Positions should be chosen which offer the gun good background against which to blend. The anti-tank gun should not be sited in a conspicuous spot, such as isolated bushes or piles of debris in an open area. Well hidden in natural foliage, which may offer numerous places for concealment, the antitank gun has an advantage over the exposed tank. Positions in natural cover should always be looked for. Here the crew has increased concealment by adding cut branches.


The angular shape of the ‘Peashooter’ 37-mm gun shield is conspicuous to the tank observer. If a simple panel, made of wood or wallboard cut in an irregular shape, is attached to the top of the gun shield, it will be easier to blend the gun with natural foliage. This reduces the amount of natural materials which need be added to disrupt its forms. A few branches at characteristic areas, such as the wheels, complete a hasty concealment job.

The 57mm Anti-Tank Gun Model M-1 gun-shield is already equipped with a scalloped edge. Painting the shield to match the background increases its effectiveness. The problem of concealing the 57-mm gun is basically the same as that of the 37-mm gun.

Figure 74 shows a 57-mm gun wheeled quickly into position in bushes. No attempt has been made to camouflage the gun here, yet note the effect of the scalloped gun shield; it is not an angular line. From a distance of 100 yards or more, even an uncamouflaged gun, well sited, is inconspicuous. The gun crew, whose heads protrude above the shield, are hard to detect because their helmets are well camouflaged with natural materials


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